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Two worlds collide at Arsenal AGM

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Gordon Farquhar | 17:00 UK time, Thursday, 22 October 2009

I can't quite work Arsenal out.

I was at the club's AGM and to be honest, from the outside looking in, it's a bit like watching two worlds collide. Leave aside the football for the moment, and consider Arsenal, the institution.

With board members past and present like Sir Chips Keswick, Lord Harris of Peckham and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, there was a distinctly old public-school feel to proceedings, with chairman Peter Hill-Wood running the show a bit like the headmaster on speech day who forgot to put on his glasses.

He began proceedings with a somewhat under-rehearsed opening address and proceeded to lose his place in the running order (several times), generating much unintentional mirth from the floor.

In closing, apologising for the late running, he invited us to try the coffee and, "rather nice looking cakes" or to make a trip to the pub to "have a drink of beer". Perhaps, but looking around, I reckon at least two-thirds of the shareholders are tapas and pinot gris types.

I fear he might be missing the zeitgeist. All of this old-schoolery, of course, took place in somewhat incongruous surroundings: with such a cast list, you'd expect to be inside the panelled hall of some gothic pile, not the super-modern glass and concrete edifice that is the Emirates Stadium.

It's not until Ivan Gazidis got to his feet that we saw the new order. He's a man whose style fits his workplace, but he's smart enough to make sure he chimes with the past. He's really tuned in to Arsenal-ness, Arsenality, or whatever the collective mind-set should be called.

Arsenal's Emirates Stadium
Arsenal moved from Highbury to the newly-built Emirates Stadium in 2006

With four young, eager recruits, he's forging ahead with a modernisation programme, and there's a good chance he'll take the St Trinian's staffroom along with him. He speaks fluently of the Arsenal way of doing things, finding and nurturing young talent, and retaining it, not shipping it in by the busload on a Bosman.

It's this philosophy of course, which by his own admission, has kept manager Arsene Wenger loyal to the club for 13-and-a-half years. There was a lot of talk about brand, growth and strategy, but also of the club's values, rather than its value. Gazidis summed up the current Arsenal thinking thus: "Success that is built is more rewarding than success that is bought."

I was half expecting a spontaneous chant of "Are you watching Man City" from the floor. What we did get, eventually, was the elephant-in-the-sitting-room question: "What are the intentions of Mr Stan Kroenke?" The major shareholder, who's put himself in pole position for a takeover was at the top table, but didn't answer.

However, I doubt he'll be content with Peter Hill-Wood's explanation that he's "very happy to be a long-term shareholder" before adding he couldn't say any more with the Stock Exchange takeover panel looming and the club's lawyers getting twitchy.

He did offer the insight that the club wasn't, "looking for a new custodian", and I don't think he was talking about goalkeeper Manuel Almunia's job being secure. It might have to contemplate one soon however, and that's the great unknown.

I just wonder how much longer this blend of the old Corinthian values and modern thinking is going to survive.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Kroenke would be a disaster for the club. With all his other sports teams will he really offer stability and ongetivity and patience for when things dont quite go well?

  • Comment number 2.

    Great Article - if looking from a business perspective, how much weight do you think Kroenke gives Arsenals idelogy? Or, how much global support would he lose if he invested heavily in players for a new manager (presumably Wenger would leave if he did that)?

    http://thoughtsonfootball.wordpress.com/


  • Comment number 3.

    Interesting article and insight in the modern game and the situation at Arsenal. Its clear that Arsenal need some 'dry-powder' financing to to either protect the current squad from the yearly need to sell and to be opportunistic in the market. Fitzman and the board have made and taken their money, I just hope that Kroneke wont be afraid to spend some of his wifes money (his wife is an hier to the Wal-mart billions)

  • Comment number 4.

    I think the club is in good hands - theres debt for sure as the club had to borrow huge amounts to cover the staduim build, but the income now generated exceeds this figure easily. All the club needs now is some Silverware.

  • Comment number 5.

    1. It's not just Arsenal where there is a clash of civilisations, it's the entire European football world.

    a. Organic growth of self-sustaining clubs vs extremely rich sugar daddy looking to bring his wife/girlfriend/business associates along on his ego-driven ride to glory funded solely by his/her deep pockets.
    b. Fans being deferential vs fans expecting to voice cogent opinions.
    c. Debt-driven takeovers vs free stadia courtesy of the local council.
    d. Superclubs vs national federations.
    e. European media houses vs Sky/ESPN/others.

    2. There's also a natural changing of the guard in management styles as a club goes from:
    i. Gaining most income from turnstiles, with a bit from shirt sales and TV; to
    ii. Wallowing in TV money; to
    iii. Balancing and optimising the three revenue streams, namely matchday, commercial and TV; with future evolution to
    iv. Globalising exposure and revenue sources, including from new media.

    Arsenal changed their business model in 2006 with Emirates Stadium - matchday revenues now £100m, TV good, but commercial revenues still to be brought up to par. The old guard were great at i, ii and starting iii, but the new team are there to transform to stage iv. Professional sports marketers in other words.

    3. I do, however, think there's a difference between management and custodianship. And it's important for foreign owners to understand that the UK is not the US is not South Africa etc etc. Custodianship is about intergenerational issues and whether the club is a focus for families or not. Management is about the annual accounts, their evolution over 5 years and football managerial performance. Taking on the mantle of custodian is different to becoming the CEO, although Gazidis is going the right way about it.

    Custodianship is what Britain has done very badly since 1979. As a nation we lost our sense of strategic identity and hence we seem to hand this over to others more often than others do. Ask the French, the Germans, the Spaniards and the Americans.....my comments are neutral as to implications of that reality....

    That's the level of worlds colliding in my view. And when worlds collide, what you read isn't necessarily reality, what's said is often for show with underlying meaning to be discerned and intentions are wrapped up in agendas which are not always on show but show signs of persistent germination to those whose eyes and ears are open......

    Arsene knows, they say.

    I'd make a shrewd guess that he knows exactly what's going on.

    The question which remains unspoken is whether the silent unknowing majority would WANT it to go on.

    And as I can't prove what MIGHT be going on, I'll be keeping schtumm like the Arsenal Board.....

  • Comment number 6.

    if looking from a business perspective, how much weight do you think Kroenke gives Arsenals idelogy? Or, how much global support would he lose if he invested heavily in players for a new manager (presumably Wenger would leave if he did that)?
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    It's a simple certainty...Kroenke will take the club over within 6 months (if he doesn't the Usmanov will); wads of cash will be presented to Wenger as well as the potential, world class, players who have been identified as available to buy; Wenger refuses out of principal cos he insists on choosing his own unknown players to buy; Kroenke & Gazidis insist he plays ball...Wenger resigns.

  • Comment number 7.

    Wenger will not leave before his contract ends. I think even for wenger himself, he has a limit to his philosophies and experimentation with his methods of rebuilding his latest squad.

    Who could have envisioned that the same players that were part of the 2003/4 invincibles would all collectively decline over the following 2 seasons? I believed it was Wengers intention to bed in some youth players with the veterans while they were still at their prime, but was forced to play more youth players than he would have wanted which disrupted the balance of the team. His error, if any, was his refusal to spend the cash to bring in big money veteran to take over the departed ones, even if it was for the short term.

    Refusing to buy instead of growing your own stars is admirable, but refusing to buy experience even if they are meant as a means to an end to help balance our young squad while they mature. Wenger's reasoning? Experience would hurt the progress of young player, but I also think that throwing them at the deep end of things without the guidance of experince could also have long lasting negative effects on the player's growth.

    The bottomline is, Wenger had only intended the "transition years" to last maybe a couple seasons, not 4. But with the sudden departure and decline of many senior players without adequately replacing them, those transition years became more of a transition "era". This era is likely going to last until the end of Wenger's current contract at the end of 2011. If Arsenal is still trophiless then Wenger would likely be pressured to augment his strategy and buy some experience players as a stop gap. If Wenger insist in his current ways then he would probably leave the club citing irreconcilible differences with the board.

    Wenger has too much pride to ditch his managerial philosophy for what everyone else's doing. That is both his strength and weakness. I personally don't mind if Arsenal do not win silverware for another couple season but it would be extremely difficult to retain current talented players and if they leave it would once again distrupt this transtion period and we'll remain there forever.

    The manager has done everything he can for this current crop of players. It's time for THEM to repay the favours and work their asses off to get Arsene and Arsenal the silverware it deserves

  • Comment number 8.

    Excellent analysis

  • Comment number 9.

    Great article. The "Arsenalisation" of the football club is under way in a big way. It is evident on all home games and also posters being put inside the stadium. It gives me a huge pride to be a part of this Arsenal culture. Over the timeline of last 60-70 years, of course we have gone a lot of change in the management heirarchy, shareholders.. But one thing that is commonly linked to all the changes is - working together to betterment of Arsenal Football.

    The comment by Usmanov is simply superb!!! How true is it that Wenger has built success and it is just round the corner.

    In Wenger We Trust!! With Arsenal We'll Celebrate!! We'll be Champions Soon!!

  • Comment number 10.

    Well I'm obviously in a position of knowledge far beyond the BBC here, given that I have spoken to Mr Kroenke after a chance meeting in the VIP departure lounge at Heathrow this summer.

    I can't tell you what his intentions are - but I can tell you that a big part of what attracted him to Arsenal was the Old Etonian, Corinthian values of the way the club has always operated.

    I find it highly doubtful that even he ends up in control he would want to destroy that very fabric which so much appealed to him.

    As for the suggestion that Gazidis would ever try to force Wenger to buy.... you've obvioulsy not listened to a word the man has said since his appointment. He's talked about the need for the club to respect its model and be frugal as much as anybody.

    That's why Arsenal works. Because the board, the Chief Exec and the Manager are singing from the same hymn sheet and are chasing the same vision.

    What is required no is the Premier League title in May. The ultimate vindication.

  • Comment number 11.

    hill-wood has remained chairman despite not being majority shareholder because directors like continuity at arsenal, but the club isn't run by these people but by business professionals, ie gazidis, david mills, ken friar and danny fizman.

    remember this. if uefa/EU get their plans on sustainability through, it's arsenal, man utd, villa, stoke and everton in the top 5. bye-bye chelski, citeeee and galaticos!

    arsenal is still a football club run on behalf of that club and the directors have taken ZERO dividends out of the club in the last 10 years.
    that's ZERO. no divi's, no management charges, only standard renumeration.

  • Comment number 12.

    rjagger - Excellent points with which I totally agree. Probably the most interesting comment I have read on these blogs.

  • Comment number 13.

    if looking from a business perspective, how much weight do you think Kroenke gives Arsenals idelogy? Or, how much global support would he lose if he invested heavily in players for a new manager (presumably Wenger would leave if he did that)?
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    It's a simple certainty...Kroenke will take the club over within 6 months (if he doesn't the Usmanov will); wads of cash will be presented to Wenger as well as the potential, world class, players who have been identified as available to buy; Wenger refuses out of principal cos he insists on choosing his own unknown players to buy; Kroenke & Gazidis insist he plays ball...Wenger resigns.

    -------------------------------------------------------------
    What a load of rubbish!
    There is a lot of nonsense being written regarding Arsenal by people speculating on the American influence. The most important person at Arsenal football club is Arsene Wenger - whether you agree with this or not he is the central figure in everything the club does. The entire Arsenal brand is designed around his philosophy and as their head of marketing said the club dont go on money making tours of the far east on Wenger's say so. Regarding Kroenke it is quite clear they are trying to stop the highly dubious civil rights offender Usmanov being able to take control of the club. Kroenke right now is quite happy seeing his investment appreciate and at some point in the future if there is a chance to take over he may do.

  • Comment number 14.

    #11 richyroyston

    The problem with your idea is that the governing bodies do not know what they mean by sustainability, do not know what is possible with the idea of sustainability, and ultimately will be compromised by trying to marry footballing ideas with the pragmatism that it is the clubs that make football, not the governing bodies.

    If the governing bodies have purely footballing objectives then they would simply deal with the imbalance of wealth distribution that they can very much control. Anything is ultimately politics and rhetoric that doesn't really solve any of the supposed problems that the game is facing.

  • Comment number 15.

    Gordon I can't understand how you "can't quite work Arsenal out!". Being a sports journalist you should know that Arsenal is steeped in tradition and is run by the directors that only have the best interest of the club at heart. People buy shares in Arsenal not for dividends but for the love of the club and it's values. Well that's if they can afford them as they are about £8,500 a share so "tapas and pinot gris types" is more to the mark instead of beer and coffee.

    I can't see anything wrong in the way they run the club and bring in modern business men and women that help move the club forward in how they do everything but within the Arsenal way. How many other clubs can you look at today and say they still hold the same values even with the change of directors recently and majority shareholders as well.

    From what Kroenke has said in the past he admires the way the club is being run and its philosophy so why would he decide to change it if he takes over total control. But with the debt coming down and the repayments that are manageable then the club should be debt free within a decade or two.

    How come the BBC always seem to portray Arsenal in a negative light when the club listen to the fans and run a football club properly which has also helped transform a part of London and was one of the biggest privately funded regeneration programs in years. Also as some have said with the new UEFA rulings about clubs managing living within their own means you should be applauding the way they are being run!!

  • Comment number 16.

    Arsenal are THE shining example in THE WORLD of how football clubs should be run.

    i hope that Kroenke is as true to Arsenals heritage as he can be - and in fairness to him he has very quietly gone about his business during his association with Arsenal and always been very respectful of the other board members and the "arsenal way".... hopefully even if he does become "the owner" then he will continue to operate in the way he has thus far.

    I obvioulsy do not know Stan Kroenke personally - but he seems to have done things right to me so far - he hasn't been sounding off about anything (big signings, big sales, lack of trophies, even his intentions)... not all rich people are idiots!... some are good guys who respect others and history

  • Comment number 17.

    I am of course biased being an Arsenal fan, but i would have thought that Arsenal should be heralded as the way all football clubs should be run, not cause confusion.

    Stable stewardship for the team (which is ALWAYS the most important thing, whatever financial figures are generated), a coherent and incisive modernisation of directorship, based on keeping the clubs values at heart, and at the same time running a business based on self sufficiency, long term growth and stability etc etc.

    This is without mentioning the fact that as a project, the Emirates Stadium is only half complete, with more (affordable) housing to be built with shops and community facilities.

    And all this whilst keeping a team in the Champions League every season, 60,000 supporters every week, and developing talent not by buying them for £30 million, but by nurturing them through their own academy!!

    If all clubs were run this way, wouldn't that truly be a level playing field, as opposed to the constant complaint that the Premier League is dull because of the 'Big Four'.

    If you ask me, Arsenal are the benchmark by which others should be assessed. But that gets forgotten because of the media's obsession with silverware.

  • Comment number 18.

    #16 boomshalak

    So, just what are Kroenke's intentions then? It he a fan of football and it just happens that his wealth gives him access to the inner sanctum of a club such that he can take part in the running of it?

    By way of comparison, what are the Glazers intentions for Man U? I suspect that long term it is to make money but I don't think returns over and above the cost of buying that club will be realised anytime soon.

    Hicks and Gillett at Liverpool? Again, I suspect it is to make money but who knows with those two.

    Abramovich at Chelsea? I think his intention is to enjoy the game, is prepared to put his money where his mouth is and ultimately get the club to help itself a bit more.

    We could go down the league. Carson Yeung for example comes to mind.

    It seems that intentions can only be two things. An interest in football and an interest in money/the business of football. If you can start to see where on that scale Kroenke fits then you might start to get near an answer of whether he is likely to be better or worse for your club.

    Ok?

  • Comment number 19.

    Please stop Mr Kroenke or that ghastly Mongolian warlord Usmanov from taking over an English institution. I am not an Arsenal fan, but they are part of the old order of football. An order which no longer counts the likes of Preston and Blackpool. Giants Liverpool and Manchester United have been taken over by US hedge fund locusts, and look at the mess they are in!

    Sadly, the shunning of good old British values, food and industries has created an extremely superficial society in which a Neo Liberal (masquerading as Socialist)experiment has turned into a nightmare.

    There is no such thing as a British car, the railways have disintegrated into a cesspit of profiteering, the Great British schooling and apprenticeship system is on its knees, not to mention the NHS (try finding someone who speaks English in a public hospital these days) and now the one unifying, sporting institution the public love has been put on the market like cattle awaiting slaughter.

    When will boards realise that these foreign tycoons have absolutely no interest in the health of our game and our fans. If that means not being able to buy the best foreign talent in the world so be it. I would prefer to watch home grown talent playing honest football.

    Maybe I should have been born in the 50s, and I wish I was, because this modern era of plastic junk is intolerable. So, my message to Peter Hill-Wood - don't succumb to the artificial world of tapas, blackberries and overrated French wine! Keep with the Bitter, tea and scones! It's a shame the days of Highbury and the fighting spirit of Adams, Bould and co.

    I don't have much time for Wenger's pretty passing, it is pleasing on the eye, the actors, though, are very transient.

    Me, I shall conentrate more on watching Rugby and Cricket - two sports which still have their integrity intact.

  • Comment number 20.

    #19,

    Rugby, integrity - in the same sentence? Struggling to remember when a footballer was found chewing on fake blood capsules.

  • Comment number 21.

    Let's not forget that it's the "Old Corinthians" that have put Arsenal where they are today. The Hill-Woods of this world have stuck with Arsenal through thick and thin for generations. Who's to say that some "here today, gone tomorrow" investor wouldn't be off like a rat up up a drainpipe at the first hint of a downturn in the clubs fortunes.

  • Comment number 22.

    #16 - "Arsenal are THE shining example in THE WORLD of how football clubs should be run"

    In terms of finances & the manager of the team being given time & space to do his job, I would agree.

    Where we are falling short as a "shining example" in recent years is with our youth development. Until we can start to produce players, in house, of the quality of the teenagers that we are scouring the world to buy (Vela, Fabregas, Anelka as a few examples....) and they then start to produce in the 1st team, then we can say we are there.

    I appreciate this is a wider issue & not exclusive to Arsenal FC but I hope it's one that we can solve.

  • Comment number 23.

    @#19

    sounds like you're on the wrong blog, old bean and should be supporting mr griffin on the question time shenanigans.

  • Comment number 24.

    #19

    Cricket, integrity - in the same sentence? Stanford Series was promoted by a crook and ball tampering.

  • Comment number 25.

    Arsenal is all about Arsene. In Arsene we 'trust'!

  • Comment number 26.

    Gordon can't quite work Arsena out - I wonder what it is Gordon is struggling with? Is it Wenger as usual? Seems to me all the etonian palls in the club and the modernist whose combination is giving this journalist migraine headaches, are all crusing on starship Arsene!

    So Gordon, what makes Arsenal tick is Arsene. Repeat - what makes Arsenal tick is Arsene. Its not beer - he threw that out the window long ago. As a comparison ManU has an old guard married to the modernist business acumen of the Glazers. I suppose this also puzzles Gordon.

    How long will the Corinthian values and modern thinking last - I don't know, but I do know this, it will last as long as Arsene is there. There are so many institutions with this formula - the monarcy, wimbledon, oxford university - it is laughable to see it as unworkable.

    Its all about the visionary who holds the aces... in Arsenal, its Arsene!

  • Comment number 27.

    I see this process of change as part of the professionalism that the new CEO Ivan Gazidis considers essential to the development of Arsenal. You may recall, for example, that he expressed surprise on discovering that Arsenal did not have a Human Resources department. Well it does now, and as everyone knows HR exists for one reason - to get rid of people that senior management want to get rid of. I call it Human Divorces. So yes, the culture of Arsenal will very much change, off the pitch at least.
    As for the theory that Mr Gazidis fully supports Arsene Wengers approach of developing young players, you have to bear in mind that he reports to a Board that currently endorses that strategy. If however a new owner, with a more bullish strategy, arrived, it would then be incumbent upon Mr Gazidis to change too. The relationship between Wenger and Gazidis over the next year will be very telling for the future of the football club.

  • Comment number 28.

    #27 - Human Resources, what a disgusting word! What was ever wrong with "Staff Management" oe "Personnel"?

    Football is a game for everyone, not just the super rich. Unfortunately it is now controlled by the super-rich. People like Abramovich, Usmanov, The Glazers are a cancer of football, it is time they got cancer and the People, the Fans took over. I know it's not going to happen, but I do dream of a revolution when the nouveau riche will be impaled on Westminster Bridge, and a Republic of Great Britain instated.

  • Comment number 29.

    What exactly is "The Arsenal Way" that keeps being mentioned, and does it actually exist. The use of the term implies a touch of class, that Arsenal FC is run in a principled and moral way, and that the club is above the money grubbing culture prevalent in modern football. The Old Etonian type figureheads on the board certainly help to sustain this image. An image fostered despite Arsenal being recognised as the most expensive club in the world to support. I can give a true example of the "Arsenal Way" and you can make up your own minds. Until September 2008 Arsenal had its own warehouse in the Crouch End area of North London employing 13 full time staff. On the very same day in 2008 that the club announced that they had rewarded that loyal servant Adebayour with a new improved contract, the Commercial Director, Adrian Ford told those staff that the warehouse activity was being outsourced to Leeds, and that unless they were willing to move to Leeds then they would be made redundant. Thirteen people, all Arsenal supporters, with family, friends, mortgages and commitments in London, expected to uproot and move to Leeds of all places. Some of the staff had been there for up to 20 years, and two were a couple of years from retirement. In the event 12 were made redundant and one was kept on. This behaviour from a club trumpeting massive profits. So forget about the "Arsenal Way", the club is no different from the rest in its pursuit of cash and profit regardless of the impact it has on peoples lives. Regarding the future the present board will continue to sell their shares when it is to their benefit alone, and anyone who thinks otherwise needs a reality check.

  • Comment number 30.

    Are you sure you were at the AGM? I was. Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith is no longer a director - she may have been there - but if she was then she was among the ordinary shareholders. It looks to me like the bones of the article were drafted before the AGM happened.

    And the majority of shareholders are, in fact, a reflection of the cross section of Arsenal's support (and no, two thirds are not wine bar types) but also recognising the fact that the share price has been over £1,000 (currently around £8,500 per share) since I can remember. There were black, white, brown, Jewish, Christan, Rasta, Moslem, etc., old and younger.

    Peter Hill-Wood does indeed come across as a bumbling fool. Maybe he is - I don't know him - but I think he sold most of his shares to David Dein for a pittance compared to their current value, alledgedly saying there's no money in owning a football club - which is true in most cases. So he nmay not be the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    There is an Arsenal way - one of probity with the long term in mind. The club is famous for it. That doesn't mean you can't make tough business decisions but you can be honest and act for the good of the club. Football is run by a bunch of idiots and most clubs are run with scant attention to the real world - taxes, honouring contracts etc. I know, I own non-league club. If costs more to be straight - but you sleep at night, don't go bust and see the fans' pride evolve.

    I hope that the changes at Arsenal will be an evolution rather than a revolution. I was unexpectedly impressed by Gazidis, who seems to get it. But I'm nervous about the motives of any individual shareholder who feels the need to control the club - whether Kroenke, Usmanov or anybody else. The earlier post was right, it's Gazidis and his team that run the club - the board should be watching that they stay on the rails. And hopefull;y the new order will do just that.

  • Comment number 31.

    #19 Many thanks - I did literally laugh out loud when I read the sentence containing the words "integrity", "rugby" and "cricket". Also the concept that three successive EPL titles, two successive UCL finals (winning one) and sundry other pieces of silverware constitutes being in a mess is a little strange.

  • Comment number 32.

    ad No. 30

    I was there too--my shareholder friend was on holiday so he gave me his proxy and I jumped at the chance to attend. Some observations for people who aren't experienced with company law, etc.

    1. How many big clubs are publicly held and have shareholder meetings? My impression is, none in England except Arsenal. The result is that things at Arsenal are much more transparent than elsewhere and the members of the public are given access to management (and the manager) that are not even dreamed of elsewhere. People were allowed to ask questions without having had them screened before the meeting which shows management are willing to take some risks. However, my overriding impression was of a shared purpose at all levels (including the 500 or so shareholders in attendance), which I am sure is down to the manager.

    2. Stan Kroenke attended the Board meeting as a member of the Board, and a non-executive member at that. The question about his intentions as a shareholder, although understandable, was as out of order as asking about what he planned to have for lunch.

    3. Mr Hill-Wood gave a masterful performance, deflecting awkward questions with apparent bumbling good humour. He was totally in control of the meeting.

    4. My impression was that Mr Kroenke is very comfortable forming a majority bloc with some of the other large shareholders, and while this is the case there is no reason for the situation to become unstable, at least not given the very sound financial condition of the Club reflected in the balance sheet.

    5. Finally my chance to weigh in regarding the manager and his style of running the club. For those of us present, his statement that he believed one or more trophies would come this year was very powerful. However, I am very tired listening to this repeated mantra about lack of trophies from so-called supporters. The club have played consistently at the highest levels of the game for a long time, including Champions League participation every season. That's all any manager can deliver, the opportunity to be in a position to win a trophy. When that is delivered consistently, experience shows that trophies will come. Once a trophy is won, the glow wears off very quickly (apparently the many trophies the club has won don't count for much now). I prefer the glow of watching players develop, suffer together and grow together and, oh yeah, play beautiful football. Long may it continue.

  • Comment number 33.

    AW is a genius-it is as simple as that. People can criticize him all they want with their tinted and biased views but for many of us Arsenal true fans we appreciate what he has done for the club.

    I remember the Gorge Graham days when it was boring, boring Arsenal and financially, we were behind the like of Spurs, Leeds etc. We were almost a no body in the football world as we didn’t have the financial muscles of the Manchester United or the history and prestige of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Milan etc…

    Fast forward today, and look at where we are as a cub in general- One of the best stadium in the world, we can compete for the best players in the world-In the past, the likes of Ramsey will never have turned Man u down to come to Arsenal. We play with the best teams in the CL and we compete very well. We play a brand of football that is second only to that of Barcelona. We are the second richest football club in Britain; we have a state of the Art training ground and facilities and on top of all this a few titles over the years to show for. I tell you gunners, we have never had it better!

    Just take a look down the road, spurs! All that money, all that fame they had in the 70s and considered then, to be one of England’s biggest club-What have they archived in the last 10 years?!

    Then take a look at Liverpool! Yes they won the ultimate prize in football, but at what cost? Huge debt, They cant afford to build a stadium- the mighty Liverpool, they play really boring football, their owners are in 6s and 7s about what to do with the club, and off course, never won the title in recent history-despite haven spent twice or three times the amount of money we’ve spent over the same period of time.

    Yes we haven’t wont the title in four years but, if the PL is all about wining the title then there is really no point the rest teams outside the top four competing, they might as well pack up and go home. And, if throwing money at it was the solution as critics would like us to believe, take a good look at Real Madrid, Leeds, and Bryan Munich etc…..

    AW has done a fantastic job. I very much doubt Sir Alex Ferguson would have been able to turn a club with very little money and world status into what we are today.

    Thank you Arsen Wenger, Thank you!

  • Comment number 34.

    #22 wrote: "Where we are falling short as a "shining example" in recent years is with our youth development. Until we can start to produce players, in house, of the quality of the teenagers that we are scouring the world to buy (Vela, Fabregas, Anelka as a few examples....) and they then start to produce in the 1st team, then we can say we are there."

    That may have been true a few years ago, but at the moment Arsenal have a very talented group of young homegrown players. Wilshire and Gibbs are already in the first team squad. The likes of Lansbury, Randall, Watt and Simpson will follow within a few years. Last year Arsenal won the FA youth Cup, with a team dominated by homegrown English players.

  • Comment number 35.

    On the sustainability question do you think UEFA would really want the richest clubs with the biggest stars not in their competitions even if the clubs do rely on external money?

  • Comment number 36.


    Thanks for all your posts, a good discussion. Let me assure any doubters I was at the AGM, plonked at the back with the rest of the media, but grateful at least to get an insight into the workings of a top club...not many of them are so accessible these days, or accountable. At least in a public meeting of shareholders with open questions, you get to hear about people's genuine concerns and issues...whether that be the intentions of the major shareholder, or the hot topic of whether mascot Gunnersaurus would be travelling to Jersey on his promotional tours......

  • Comment number 37.

    I am of course biased being an
    Arsenal fan, but i would have
    thought that Arsenal should be
    heralded as the way all football
    clubs should be run, not cause
    confusion.
    Stable stewardship for the team
    (which is ALWAYS the most
    important thing, whatever
    financial figures are generated),
    a coherent and incisive
    modernisation of directorship,
    based on keeping the clubs
    values at heart, and at the same
    time running a business based on
    self sufficiency, long term
    growth and stability etc etc.
    This is without mentioning the
    fact that as a project, the
    Emirates Stadium is only half
    complete, with more (affordable)
    housing to be built with shops
    and community facilities.
    And all this whilst keeping a team
    in the Champions League every
    season, 60,000 supporters every
    week, and developing talent not
    by buying them for £30 million,
    but by nurturing them through
    their own academy!!
    If all clubs were run this way,
    wouldn't that truly be a level
    playing field, as opposed to the
    constant complaint that the
    Premier League is dull because
    of the 'Big Four'.
    If you ask me, Arsenal are the
    benchmark by which others
    should be assessed. But that
    gets forgotten because of the
    media's obsession with
    silverware bt not only d media bt trofy crazy fans or supporters as dey do call themselves. In ARSENE I TRUST n now its all about d ARSENAL WAY. Our troph is this season. We wil get our prize.

 

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