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Arsenal AGM leaves fans underwhelmed

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Matt Slater | 06:52 UK time, Friday, 28 October 2011

When Stan finally spoke at Arsenal's Annual General Meeting (AGM) it was worth the wait.

Forthright, honest and impassioned, it was exactly what you would expect from a man with a significant emotional and financial stake in the North London club.

"I've been coming for 30 years and that was probably the worst AGM I've ever attended. The club often talks about respect but there was a complete lack of respect shown today. It was awful."

That Stan was Stanley Salter, a long-term shareholder and Highbury veteran.

The other Stan, Stanley Kroenke, the majority shareholder and Emirates parvenu, also spoke at Thursday's meeting. It was...well, a bit underwhelming.

"I've been asked to say a few things," the 64-year-old American said coyly. "I'm not sure why but people seem to be interested."

What followed were about two minutes of polite small-talk - believe me, I had a lot of offers but this was the only club for me; Arsene Wenger and the board make great decisions; my family loves London, you better get used to us - but absolutely nothing an Arsenal fan could pin his or her hopes on for brighter days around the corner.

Stanley Kroenke

Stan Kroenke is a regular at his NBA team, the Denver Nuggets, but is rarely seen, or heard, at Arsenal PHOTO: Getty

It was, in Salter's words, a disrespectfully vague statement from a man who had made only one previous visit to the club in the six months since he more than doubled his holding in Arsenal to become the de facto owner. The fact that he had only just arrived from Denver, leaving no leeway for delays, was also noted.

"Of course, we are interested in what you have to say," was the general response from the audience. "But is that it?"

But by saying so little, mostly Silent Stan at least avoided antagonising anybody. If only club chairman Peter Hill-Wood had been so wise.

The 75-year-old businessman has been chairman for nearly 30 years. His father did it before him and his grandfather before that. The Hill-Woods and Arsenal share a long and proud history - and that is exactly where many at the meeting would like to leave it.

For the first time in anybody's memory, all questions from the floor had to be pre-submitted and there was no chance to ask follow-ups.

But there is a problem with doing things this way, the questions tend to be quite good: far better, it has to be said, than the scripted answers Hill-Wood read out in very unconvincing tones.

When are we going to start winning things again? Why won't you issue more shares to raise funds? How can you raise prices by 6.5% and then not adequately replace world-class players who leave? We lost 8-2 to Manchester United and Spurs have a better team, what's going on?!?

Twelve times Hill-Wood was asked to explain and/or justify club policy and 12 times he left the crowd wanting more. More energy, more hope, more passion.

The meeting's biggest round of applause came when one shareholder told Hill-Wood he was "so out-of-touch" that he must go, with former vice-chairman David Dein coming back to replace him. Ouch, even Sepp Blatter gets an easier ride than that.

Kroenke, to be fair, did get out of his seat at that point to defend his chairman, saying "we're fans too" and "we're going to a certain place, we are with you".

Nope, I'm not sure what that means either.

As so often with Arsenal, it was left to Kroenke's most important employee to pick up the standard, speak from the heart and rally the troops.

Arsene Wenger's star has dimmed somewhat in recent seasons but there is no denying his ability to speak to the wide-eyed optimist that resides in every football fan.

"I see fear and discontent amongst you and I understand it," started the infamously short-sighted manager, "but we fight against clubs with high resources".

He then detailed last season's disappointments - "the most difficult to accept" in his 15 years at the club - and admitted he sometimes blames himself for thinking his eternally young squad could win it all.

Having conceded some ground, the Frenchman then reclaimed it.

The club played 27 games in three months over the winter and it was those efforts that derailed us at the end, he explained.

Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie played only 24 league games between them, we were unlucky with injuries.

Remember how close we were to beating Barca, our best ever performance.

"People always used to say I needed to buy a goalkeeper but look at us now, we have great goalkeepers," he continued.

Then we got to the heart of his message: Arsene still knows, trust me, stay united, we can finish fourth.

So that is the level of the club's aspirations: fourth, the league's third-best loser.

carling cup

Arsenal's defeat by Birmingham in the Carling Cup final was the start of a dire run for the club PHOTO: Getty

A 15th straight season of Champions League football (a record only Manchester United and Real Madrid would be able to match) is very impressive.

But is it enough for a team that went unbeaten through an entire season only seven years ago, has the highest ticket prices in Europe and a beautiful new ground in one of the wealthiest cities in the world?

As goals go, it is certainly better than the one suggested earlier in the meeting by club chief executive Ivan Gazidis of reaching 10m followers on Facebook this season.

One wonders if that will be one of the key performance indicators Gazidis will be measured on next year, as he met all his targets this year, hence his £1.7m pay packet, which makes him the second best-paid CEO in the league.

It is often easy to overdo the gloom on occasions like these and there are clearly clubs in crisis and clubs who need to keep things in perspective (this observer couldn't help looking around Arsenal's well appointed home and thinking they have problems most clubs would love to have) but things aren't right at the Emirates.

There is, however, a potential solution. His name is Alisher Usmanov. He owns almost 30% of the club, actually goes to Arsenal games and is one of the richest men in the world. He even owns a slice of Facebook, which should delight Gazidis.

Sadly, he is about as welcome at the Emirates as Spurs mascot Chirpy.

Might that change? Not with this board. They make the Soviet Union's last Politburo look like a student union entertainments committee. But then, the Politburo did not see the end coming either.

In the meantime, the club is doomed to go forth in pursuit of fourth.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at http://twitter.com/mattslaterbbc

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Not all doom to finish 4th this season.

  • Comment number 2.

    and the purpose of this blog is ?

  • Comment number 3.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 4.

    totally agree, & am not even so sure about finishing top 6!!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    I guess BBC is trying to create doubts in minds of Arsenal fans ahead of Chelsea game.

    We lost 8-2 to manchester 4-3 to blackburn but still fans were there right till the end. Unlike when manchester lost 6-1 to its rival club and fans left half way through in second half.

  • Comment number 6.

    as a gooner I'm very alarmed the Club is even remotely interested in closer ties with that site for muppets facebook.

    as for the rest, hearsay,gossip and innuendo spring to mind.

    poor article to say the least.

  • Comment number 7.

    I agree that a 30% shareholder with a clear and consistent desire to be involved with the club deserves better treatment from the Board.

    I also agree that Dein would be a better frontman for us than Hill-Wood or Gazidis.

    But we can't abandon everything we've stood for in recent times in terms of a sustainable business model in the hope of competing for resources with Man City. Until the oil money runs out, that just isn't going to happen.

    So we have to be patient, we have to build. And we have to accept that players like Nasri will leave us to play a bit part at City rather than be at the heart of the team. We need more Frimpongs and Wilshere's - players who are Arsenal through and through. That means less glory boy signings, more players who really get what Arsenal is all about. Players who care as much about the club as we do. And if in the long run, we stay competitive, play great, entertaining football, that surely is the true measure of a club - has been since Chapman's days, and remains so today.

  • Comment number 8.

    Talk about aiming high - fourth is the new first!

    I am the 8th comment on here - can I get a medal Arsene?

  • Comment number 9.

    Arsenal have built, or are trying to build, a self sustaining club. Something that is not easy to do whilst remaining successful. Man City and Chelsea have thrown nearly half a billion pounds each at the same problem in the last 5-7 years. The football authorities are, rightly, trying to bring in rules to curb the amount of influence that a rich owner can have on the present and future fortunes of a club. However in spite of this and everything that Arsenal have been working towards you think they should just give up and cosy up to a man with a lot of money.

    You have not identified a particular problem or set of problems at Arsenal, but you have come up with a solution....
    I can only assume that by saying Arsenal need to get Usminov on board you are implying that they don't have enough money to spend. However they have run a surplus over the last 10 years. Also Stan Kronke is pretty loaded. So that can't be right.

    Perhaps you are saying that we just need to spend more money. We have money to spend, so you need Usminov to 'persuade' Wenger to buy more players. Or maybe you think that Wenger shouldn't be in charge of transfer policy and Usminov should?

    Or you recognise that Arsenal have money but in order to compete with the best teams in Europe we need even more. We need money that we can't generate ourselves so a benefactor is the only way. That way we can spend spend spend. So financial fair play and sustainability is not something you are interested in.

    Your solution is the football equivalent of quantative easing...

  • Comment number 10.

    One of the best articles on this site for some time. 4th best is surely not good enough for those ticket prices.

    @2 maybe you never go to a game so it doesn't matter to you..

  • Comment number 11.

    excellent report Matt. this clearly states the boards ambitions and attitude.

    I am sorry to learn that Lady Bracewell-Smith was totally right with her words when she stepped down.

    I just would like to know what was her problem with David Dein? Could you make an interview with her?

  • Comment number 12.

    This blog is a rather negative review of the AGM. For anyone who hasn't watched it, there's a video of the main presentations on the Arsenal site.

    I share in the frustration that many of us gooners feel about the current situation but the Arsenal position has been clear for a number of years now: Arsenal have made the business decision to be self-sustaining. In other words, no matter the riches of Kroenke or Usmanov, the sort of cash splashed by Man City, Man Utd, and Chelsea (or, for that matter, Spurs and Liverpool) on transfer fees and player wages will not happen. The plan has been, and remains to be, to produce a team that can compete at the highest level but not to go into unsustainable debt to do so.

    The other route would be to expect these rich owners to stop looking at this as a business, throw caution to the wind and spend tens or hundreds of millions of their own money without little chance of seeing a return. To expect this of them is unreasonable. After all, it's one thing to be spendthrift with your own money but to claim the right to be spendthrift with other people's money is quite another thing. The arab sheik who owns Man City and the russian mobster who owns Chelsea, bought the clubs as their personal playthings. The clubs are in a good looking position now but their long term prospects will always be a bit shaky, dependent as they are on the whims and fortunes of these individuals. Man Utd, on the strength of its established world wide brand and commercial success is better placed, but none in England have the stability and financial clout to stay at the top of the game as does Arsenal.

    It might be hard to take, but a top 4 finish must be considered a success. And a team that can compete at the top in the Premiership and in the CL will always have a chance of winning something.

    Once the commercial side improves, as it will over the next 4 or 5 years, then perhaps Arsenal could close the buying power gap on these other big spending clubs. Perhaps not. Either way, it remains important for fans to stick behind the team on the pitch.

    It might not be as satisfying as the Double years or as glorious as the Invincibles but that, my friends, in today's market, is the reality. Stop whining and get behind the team.

  • Comment number 13.

    Who gives a rat's arse about qualifying for the champs league??
    All we do is get out the group stage and then get pumped by the first decent team we play.

    Give me a run in FA-CC cup any day, at least we stand a realistic chance of winning it.

  • Comment number 14.

    @Mouse149: good post.

    Although much of the discontent coming from the Gooner ranks is understandable, the solution most often presented seems to be no solution at all. For them, the solution to the problem is solely to be found in the guise of a billionaire sugar daddy. Currently, due to the fact that Silent Sam appears not be that type of suitor, they are turning their lustful gaze toward the fat eastern oligarch.

  • Comment number 15.

    @13,

    The money men give a rats a***

  • Comment number 16.

    Something has gone wrong at the club, and for fans it is frustrating as it often seems apparent we are being taken for a ride. When you are paying the highest ticket prices in European football (and therefore the world I would imagine) you are entitled to expect to see a team that is competetive at the highest level. Unfortunately Arsenal are not this season, hence the increasing number of empty seats at The Emirates.

  • Comment number 17.

    People judgement is clouded by the clubs who have bought success (funny article from Chelsea today following the vote loss about buying their ground back - they claim that a 42000 capacity doesn't allow them to compete financially with Arsenal who have 60000!!! Taking the p**s or what???).
    Man City are obscene and even Spurs and Liverpool have spent way beyond their means consistently over the last 5-10 years. Not only have we built a new ground, but we have also been financially sustainable - we can only hope that that level of common sense is rewarded in the future (particularly when the new financial rules come in. although I'm not holding my breath!).
    Two big, big mistakes from Arsenal this season:
    1. Starting the season with such a weak squad knowing that we had some massive games early on.
    2. Putting up ticket prices without ensuring that the above didn't happen! Now paying the price by not selling out home games.

    The squad now is not far off being able to compete - not for top 2 but probably third/fourth spot. And when you compare resources available that's not bad. If we could nick a pot as well that would be great - but isn't essential.
    Let's not forget, all this criticism is aimed at a team that's won 7 of its last 8 games!

  • Comment number 18.

    "Give me a run in FA-CC cup any day, at least we stand a realistic chance of winning it. "

    whilst i sympathise with frustration

    two things:

    No1 remember birmingham? ( and where not the " big " players who want to " win
    trophies " present ) one whom is so big he's now shipped of to City to help them win
    the CC as a bit part player, by the way, we lost!

    and

    No2 we are at present on a " run " in the CC

  • Comment number 19.

    "hence the increasing number of empty seats at The Emirates."

    not half as empty as at the theatre of screams

  • Comment number 20.

    Matt Slater spent all that time reporting on portsmouth and their financial mire but once again jumps on the bandwagon to say we need a benefactor cause financial reality is for mugs.
    I hope he gets some financial reality when the BBC cut some costs.

  • Comment number 21.

    This is yet another attempt by BBC to malign Arsenal. You have never said about any problems at arsenal but managed to slam it in every possible way.

    You insulted everyone like Wenger by the famous short sighted man (I know u will say its a joke but all of us know that you guys want him out every time).

    You invented a new term for coming fourth. (3rd best loser) I remember when Arsenal was about to come second last year you guys started calling him a loser. But if Liverpool wants to come fourth you will hail Daglish as the turnaround man. Why these double standards.

    You want Usemanov a say in Arsenal but will that do. Will he be a good coach. noooooooooooooooo. He will just disagree with evberything at Arsenal. Do you mean to say that Roman Abravomich is a better owner than Stan. One who fires a coach in every 2 years for his obsession with CL. How will Usmanov be any different.

    COME BACK AND i WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A PROPER DEBATE WITH YOU IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. LET ME SEE IF YOU CAN REALLY BACK YOUR WORDS....

  • Comment number 22.

    What did you really expect from the meeting? Guy Fawkes night is a week away so no fireworks please!
    With the club on a delicate situation on the field we don't want anyone stirring up the proverbial. AWMust be tired of mupps always asking when are we going to buy this player and why haven't we won anything for a few years.
    The fact is Arsenal are the most successful English club for the last 10 years bar ManU of course and possibly Chelsea. Non stop Euro action including a narrow defeat in the Champions league final with A squad that cost half Chelskis ( and now one third of Manchester Etihad), financially in a very good place.
    I'd say fourth is good, or are you just hoping someone like Usimov will plow hundreds of millions into the club? How boring!

  • Comment number 23.

    7. At 07:57 28th Oct 2011, Wengerpore wrote:
    And if in the long run, we stay competitive, play great, entertaining football, that surely is the true measure of a club - has been since Chapman's days, and remains so today.

    ==============================

    What a truly refreshing attitude! It always irks me to hear of the crisis at Arsenal, having not won a trophy for, what, 6 years? Well so what. Consistently finishing in the top 4, and playing arguably the best football in the country (perhaps not at the moment, mind) should surely give some satisfaction to the fans.

    Combine that with the nicest stadium in the country, and the sustainable model the club has that should ensure you don't implode in the near future, and I'd say Arsenal are in a pretty good place now.

    Sure, it could be better, but its hardly a crisis! Try being the on the wrong side of administration!

  • Comment number 24.

    Good old BBC - can't slag Arsenal off for on pitch performance since they've won 8 of the last 9. Let's have a go at them off the pitch instead.

  • Comment number 25.

    I may have missed something here so I am prepared to be shot down as I am not an Arsenal fan; however, the blog seems to me more about an issue with leadership and transparency in my opinion. There is the on-going debate had by English football fans concerning Arsenal's business model and the pros and cons of such a thing; I think many Arsenal fans are quite proud (and rightly so in my opinion) with regards to how Wenger and the club conduct themselves in the transfer market and the level of investment made into developing young talent, but I don't think this is the primary issue. I thought this blog was more about the issues relating to sufficient leadership and the lack of communication regarding genuine questions such as; is the money received for Fabregas, Clichy and Nasri going to be reinvested and why were no replacements identified when it was clear they may be leaving?

    I don't think this issue is Arsenal specific, but is one that many supporters across the country could empathise with. Club and supporter are becoming more and more disenfranchised. As an investor (albeit relatively small compared to people like Kroenke), the supporters will have questions and I think it is not unfair to expect reasonable answers by the people who control the direction of the football club. The more transparency with regards to decisions the better... at least then there is an understanding why a certain level of player investment hasn't been made, and whether you agree with it or not, at least there is a reason. The Swiss Ramble tries to address some of the financial questions at Arsenal at http://swissramble.blogspot.com/search/label/Arsenal, but I am sure Arsenal supporters, as would any supporter, would rather hear the club communicate some of the reasons why decisions have been made rather than speculate or read elsewhere.

    Finally, I don't think Wenger is a failure for claiming that fourth spot would be successful; I think this is generally the perception of many clubs in the Premier League and represents, in my view, what's wrong with top-flight football. For a few clubs, 4th represents success; for many, it's 17th. Somehow it just doesn't seem right.

    http://thethoughtsofphil.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 26.

    Same old media; what is it all about.........totally negative comments about Arsene,then the players, now the board.

    If you really cannot find anything good to say why don't you shut up and go away.

    I for one am completely sick of the one sided views that constantly follow the club who play by far the most entertaining, creative and interesting football outside Spain.

  • Comment number 27.

    not half as empty as at the theatre of screams

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes but there's thousands of empty seats at the Emirates at the START of the game, not just the end. Fans are voting with their feet and it's easy to see why. Paying more than anyone in Europe to watch Arsenal in the hope of finishing 4th and possibly a Carling Cup run. And even a lot of Gooners on other blogs have siad they're a Van Persie injury away from mid-table.

    Interestingly as well, Van Persie is in the shop window and is suddenly in red-hot form. Playing for a move away perhaps?

  • Comment number 28.

    25. At 09:56 28th okt. 2011, thoughtfulphil wrote:

    In many respects I agree with you as most comments were about the reader's feelings of Arsenal's situation not about what was revealed in this particular report.

    IMO it clearly stated that Arsenal have decent issues in leadership and communications to address for a long time and the board refused to do it again.

    the AGM should have answered for the many questions regarding Arsenal's future plans but more about the failures of the board this summer (AW is member of the board!) and the AGM provided nothing which is a clear message.


    the question is: why should I buy more merchandise or pay 6,5% more for the Emirates when as a supporter I am not respected in any way? in any parts of the world when I am not respected as a buyer I do not buy. (whatever are the heroics of a certain Mr. Wenger and RVP).

    Now it is clear:
    1. if I go to the Emirates I can see (mostly) a win against a lesser opponent with nothing of a very excellent play and the team looses against a better one - so why should I go?
    2. I can buy an Arsenal T-shirt with the name of Wenger on it as (probably) he is the only team member not to be sold in the near future - so why should I buy an RVP t-shirt?

    PS: to those who are dissatisfied with my comment: I do exactly what the Arsenal board does so well: not investing in the team and having a prudent, self-sustainable business modell... :-)

  • Comment number 29.

    @ 25 you didn't miss anything, this is the same siege mentality AW tries to instill in his young players (a certain quote from Star Wars Ep. IV creeps up). It's everyone else trying to make Arsenal look bad. The board is awesome, so are the players and the manager (he never sees it, hence the short sight reference).

  • Comment number 30.

    biased wenger-bashing, rabble-rousing nonsense. unsurprisingly, written by a non-supporter. you're just another tabloid style hack trying to peddle and sensationalise negative gossip, not much different from a trolling WUM on forum. your complete lack of objectivity is shown in your lack of even an attempt to explain the long-term business strategy of the board and it's connection to a changing regulatory environment (financial fair play). how is selling to an oligarch going to help arsenal become a sustainable company which is able to compete for success based only on it's own organic footballing profits? it's not. yet that is the trend which all clubs are going to have to move towards to, not what you're suggesting. you've got everything the wrong way round.

  • Comment number 31.

    " Playing for a move away perhaps? "

    others obviously hope so judging by the " gossip " columns

    as i said my only worry is Arsenals ties with facebook anyone linked to such a site should be " certified " in this case: gazadis get ya chuffin coat!

  • Comment number 32.

    your complete lack of objectivity is shown in your lack of even an attempt to explain the long-term business strategy of the board and it's connection to a changing regulatory environment (financial fair play). how is selling to an oligarch going to help arsenal become a sustainable company which is able to compete for success based only on it's own organic footballing profits?

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    This is only IF the fair-play rules work as people think. Whilst a lot of clubs hope they do, I can't help but feel they'll be loopholes that will get exploited by clubs. I think at the moment both Barcelona and Real Madrid fail to meet the rules, do you really think Platini and Blatter will simply exclude them from the Champions League?

  • Comment number 33.

    @31


    i forgot to include twitter

  • Comment number 34.

    In my 60 odd years of supporting Arsenal i can honestly say that i am totally confused as to what direction our club is headed. Arsene Wenger has been a fantastic Manager for Arsenal and after the great invincibles side he put together i have continued to believe that the young team he has been assembling over the past few years would come good. It appears the reliance on a team of young players maturing together has ended in failure so am i to believe we are creating a new young team or has the manager changed his mind. The call over these last years was for a few experienced players in certain key positions. This was largely ignored as the faith had to be kept with the youngsters, a policy that was highlighted by the lack of a credibal goalkeeper. It seems that we now have a dependable goalkeeper but what would our team of youngsters achieved with a Shay Given. This is just one position that we should and could of strengthened.

    This year i witnessed the worst summer of non decision making resulting in the worst team we put out at Manchester United in all my years of supporting our club. The subsequent panic buying of players has done little to convince me that the board and the Manager are working as one. I am sure we could have used the money better if we had acted earlier and the team would have been ready for the United game.

    The lack of investment in the team is a real snub to the unfortunate fans that pay the prices in the ground. How is it that we cannot buy the best players but our salary bill is amongst the highest in the league?

    Sorry if ive gone on a bit but this is my first and probably last rant after years of being a faithful supporter.

  • Comment number 35.

    The lack of investment in the team is a real snub to the unfortunate fans that pay the prices in the ground.

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Hence the number of empty seats recently. A lot of people won't pay the most expensive ticket prices in the whole of Europe to watch mediocre football but then if the board get a nice tidy bonus at the end of the year why would they care about fleecing the fans?

  • Comment number 36.

    Sad to see but it just shows how hard Alex Fergusons job at Manchester United is..... It also shows just how well he has done in his quarter of a century to keep Manchester United at the top.......

    This is not all Arsene Wengers fault but he is the one who went out and paid small amounts for footballers and expected huge rewards. It was he who replaced a £20mil Nasri and a £30mil fabregas with a £15mil 17 year old who no one has heard of ouitside of England........

    The board have obviously not completely tied his arms behind his back when it comes to transfers otherwise he would not have had the money to spend on Chamberlain, Arteta and Mertersacker. I just believe he should have gone out and just bought two players and used the £15mil he spent on Chamberlain to bring in two better players than Mertersacker and Arteta. The name Cahill pops up......

    He liek his team have not been clinical enough in their aims, Wenger will always be the greatest foreign import into the Premier League, but if Arsenal are to be competitive once again (and that does not mean challenging for 4th place) then maybe it is time for Arsene to step aside and take a role upstairs. This isn't just someone jumping to conclusion this is someone who is looking at what will be an 8th season without trophies, at a club like Arsenal it is unacceptable. Ferguson could not last at Old Trafford for 8 years without not winning anything. (AND HE IS THE GREATEST)

  • Comment number 37.

    Welcome to the club matt! Yet another BBC Arsenal basher. But why change the habits of 80 odd years eh?

    First up, I agree with those who are concerned about where Arsenal are (or not as the case may be) going. Wenger's obsession with 'winning with youth' has once again cost the club he's running dear. At the same time the board are not backing the manager with transfer money as they try and balance the books for the 'Emirates white elephant'.

    However, Wenger bashing is a dangerous game. He IS a proud man and if Arsenal fans allow the press to sway them into baying for blood, they, not the fans, will be happy indeed. It's no use saying Arsenal have a siege mentality and then ignoring the fact that the football establishment does hate us. Wenger going would make their day, and who out there, that's available, is better?

    At the same time, love it or loathe it, the boards prudence when all around are spending unsustainable amounts for short term success, is good business sense. Slagging the board for their lack of PR skills is hilarious. How many AGM's are 'dynamic' and 'inclusive'. Try asking Newcastle, Utd etc's fans and I'm sure they'll just laugh.

    Lastly, having a dig at the recent transfers is not on. Mertsacker is a German international and one of the best CB's in Europe. The press have (surprise) empathised his speed, but his skill's elsewhere will make up for that. Someone said Cahill is better than Arteta? Are you kidding? Areta is a player I've admired for years and is already pulling the strings in midfield. As for the others, we'll see......... ............ but slagging them off before giving them a chance is sheer sour grapes.

  • Comment number 38.

    12.At 08:45 28th Oct 2011, theoddgoal wrote:

    You have summed up what I believe, try not winning a cup for 25 years? 50 years? Since when did the Arsenal fans become so materialistic that we need silverware to cement our support.
    Arsenal could finish 17th and I would be proud of their acheivement for another year in the EPL.

  • Comment number 39.

    "to watch mediocre football '


    speaking from experience due to your humiliation in front of a semi-packed crowd at old shatford where not only were you resoundly thrashed any hopes u might have had going the season unbeaten and thus emulate Arsenal.

    and to think, it was your 1st 11 as well.

  • Comment number 40.

    @32 We all follow United: something's got to give. the league has always been one of haves and have nots, but it's not being run in a profit-driven way by some which makes it unfair for other competing clubs. where's the entertainment when an already stratified and predictable competition becomes nothing more than a marathon for a top three who can afford to make structural losses? it's unhealthy when most clubs can only progress by risking bankruptcy like leeds, plymouth and portsmouth. the path that's being headed down currently is in the direction of the la liga, where only two clubs really have a chance at the title and those without billionaires have trouble just staying afloat (despite the difference in tv distribution rights). it's an uneven playing field that's only getting more loaded in favour of a few teams.

  • Comment number 41.

    An interesting blog although i'm not sure that it feels totally fair....a crisis at arsenal became a crisis because we got heavily beaten by Man Utd....to what extent does this not fit for them after their drubbing by City?

    They, the Arsenal board, have been clear about running a team with tight financial management and we are clearly operating within those parameters. I am glad that Nasri, for example, has left because he clearly didnt want to play for us anymore and so it is better he left anyway...

    I'm more interested in the idea of buying success...clearly having oodles of money available helps (eg Manchester City and currently Paris St Germain in the French ligue) in springboarding a team into the ball park when it comes to competing for titles.

    However it is not the only factor that creates Premiership winning teams and Champions league titles. I will be interested to see how Manchester City cope with the tougher times in January and February when more psychological factors come into play, the ability to dig in, eeek out victories in the face of fatigue, adversity and bad weather....i think too much money and wages can breed a lack of hunger and a petulance that we've seen recently with Tevez as one example.

    These qualities can't necessarily be bought but have to be cultivated. An environment with lots of money flying around isn't always conducive to the development of these characteristics.

    Arsenal clearly have some work to do in this area as they could sometimes do with a bit more clinicalness in killing games that we have seen in the past from Manchester United for example.

    However we, as a gooner, are heading in a better direction right now and I would continue to back Wenger's skills to develop ability and re-find their winning touch over chucking money around willy nilly.

  • Comment number 42.

    I find it frustrating as all true Gooners do that we are not where we would like, ie. at or near the top spot, fighting for the title.

    However, I have supported Arsenal through thick and thin - in the early years more thin! - and would prefer to continue supporting a team based on tradition and solid foundations that one funded by some individuals who have finished playing Football Manager 2010 and want to play around with the real thing. They will get bored at some stage and move away leaving behind no legacy!

    Us Gooners need to get behind the team and one of the main things we can do is create the type of atmosphere at the Emirates as we used to have at Highbury and you currently see at teams like Stoke.

    C'mon Gooners, support Arsene, the team and the club!

  • Comment number 43.

    Morning all, lively stuff. Thought it might be when I wrote this (yesterday afternoon). Here are some replies:

    Nelly (37) - What on earth are you talking about? The BBC has been "bashing" Arsenal for 80 years? Not sure how much football we did pre-WW2 but I find it very difficult to believe that Lord Reith had it in for Herbert Chapman & co. As for these days, I think you need to get a grip. There is absolutely no anti-Arsenal bias here....I'm surrounded by Gooners! And if you're talking about me personally, I should draw your attention to the numerous previous articles I have written about the club.....nearly all of them praising your adherence to a self-sustaining business model and a plurality of ownership.

    Me on Fanshare:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/mattslater/2011/02/fans_club_together_to_claim_fa.html

    Me on why Kroenke/Usmanov want to buy Arsenal:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/mattslater/2010/03/arsenals_suitors_start_saving.html

    And again here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/mattslater/2010/04/no_change_in_arsenal_stock_sta.html

    I'm also not sure why you are putting words like dynamic and inclusive in quotes as if I said them. I haven't. But since you've brought them up, do you think the Arsenal board is dynamic and inclusive. The average age is about 70.

    But the point you, and others, are missing most of all - and I think you know you are missing it - is that this is a REPORT of the AGM. It is entirely based on the questions that came from the floor and numerous conversations I had with some very disillusioned shareholders are the meeting. There were 300 in the room (the shareholder base has halved in the last year or so) and only one said anything remotely positive about the board's performance to me.

    Here are just two (and there were many, many more) who felt otherwise:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/15482392.stm

  • Comment number 44.

    Can those of you backing the board and AW please answer this question

    If you are saying we can not compete with the likes of city and Chelsea due to their bottomless pocket then why are we now struggling to keep up with the likes of spurs and Liverpool?

    The self-sustain model i believe is the best way to run the club but, where do you draw the line that between being a football club and then a business?

    Let me be clear about one thing as a season ticket holder ...We are not saying go spend like Chelsea or city. What we are upset about is that AW is not using the funds we have at is disposal that will in no way what so ever affect the club in balancing it's books.

    It is well documented that we are cursed with injuries over the years, has it anything improve?...NO. January is always a good time to access the level and fitness of the team and decide weather to bring in one or two players. The argument that the market is over inflated is a complete nonsense because you can get players on loan like Manu did with henrik larrson the ended their three season with out a trophy. Real mardrid loaned Adebayor when Benzema was out long term. He got them lots of goals and they kept heels with barcerlona till the very end. If he is against it why has is now loaned Benayoun?

    AW just can't stand the thought of spending money regardless the situation and for our club it's a double edge sword...

  • Comment number 45.

    37. At 11:32 28th Oct 2011, Nelly wrote:

    Arteta Pulling the Strings in midfield!!! Do me a favour.

  • Comment number 46.

    Thanks HAHA Charadeyouare for having me in stitches. You have to be one of the most blinkered football fans ever (and that is saying something).
    Unfortunately Arsenal are a team in decline. You can abuse United as much as you like but the truth of the matter is that they have been winning things for years and Arsenal have been nothing but 'also rans' . If Arsenal do not start reinvesting in players it really won't matter if the club is financially stable because you will be floating around mid table.
    On the subject of Facebook.......commenting on here isn't a lot different. The difference is that on Facebook you tend to have these discussions with friends rather than strangers.

    You really have made my morning at work so much more interesting with your slowly but surely more crazy comments! Thanks!

  • Comment number 47.

    **Cahill absolutely not...he was overpriced in summer and also in last season's Jan transfer window. Or also some may suggest Cahill has now stopped performing for Bolton just because he wants a move away.


    **(unless you mean Tim Cahill from Everton)

  • Comment number 48.

    @ 41. "An interesting blog although i'm not sure that it feels totally fair....a crisis at arsenal became a crisis because we got heavily beaten by Man Utd....to what extent does this not fit for them after their drubbing by City?"

    This is a joke right? To what exent can you compare Arsenal to Manchester United? You can't, because one is a genuine contender for every prize in cup football year after year, while the other is content to stay in the "top 4". If you had bothered to read David Bond's analysis on Arsenal finances you'd know there is more at hand than an 8-2 humiliation.

  • Comment number 49.

    I don't think Arsenal fans (like me) expect some billionaire to come in and pay huge fees and wages but something competitive would be nice.

    Two examples of cheapness from the board

    1. Arteta had to take a pay cut to join Arsenal from Everton - One of the most cash strapped clubs in the PL, why is our wage structure so un-alluring to players?
    2. £6m offered to Bolton for Cahill, thats not the market rate. Its a waste of time offering such pathetic money for a England International.

    How Gazidis get paid so much but the wage structure and transfer fees are so pathertic??

    I fail to understand how a team like Arsenal can't afford to have a net spend of say £20-30m per season which is all thats needed to get some half decent players through the door.

  • Comment number 50.

    spanishnik (34) - You're not alone. The vast majority of those present yesterday - mainly men of your, ahem, noble vintage - agree with you. I found that very interesting. As a very neutral observer, I had suspected that the growing signs of frustration with AW & the board came from the younger supporters, those who had grown accustomed to the regular arrival of silverware under Graham and early Wenger era. But yesterday told me this isn't a generational thing. Some of the strongest views I heard were from the oldest shareholders. I think their view was that Arsenal was wasting a wonderful opportunity to become the type of club - a global superpower - they had spent so long hoping for. They found the lack of ambition, the reluctance to adapt to the new reality of petro-dollar wealth in the PL and beyond, horribly frustrating. Particularly against the backdrop of massive hikes in ticket prices. A couple of guys with very similar Arsenal CVs to yours told me their season tickets averaged out at £90 a game. And they weren't in the prawn sandwich section.

    I ask all of you again, is a stated ambition of fourth place good enough?

  • Comment number 51.

    Excellent article - don't shoot the messenger.

    Sorry, the only version I saw of the AGM was the censored version on the website. As a season ticket holder for many years, I think most fans support the manager but not the board.

    The club rips off its supporters with its prices and then pleads poverty when it has to spend any money. If you were Van Persie would you stay at a club with such limited ambition?

    Kronke's eyes light up for $$ not trophies - as for Hill-Wood, most supporters view of the dinosaur are unprintable. The board needs a major shake-up!

  • Comment number 52.

    Matt - saw the video where Fynn says AW is wrong when he said we aim to finish 4th and we should aim higher. I have great respect for Fynn and have read his books he has written about Arsenal and he has lot of Insider Information on Arsenal. But surely his comment about aiming higher is without a second perspective.

    Look at this way - AW promises in AGM that Arsenal will fight to finish in Top 2 and still the fans/shareholders or from media would have slated AW for being over ambitious and if we fail to achieve anyways there would be backlash. So what is wrong in sometimes being less demanding about the club for this season. We've already had a bad start..just about rebuilding and gaining some sort of confidence from the run of results in last 7-8 games or so... just have to be patient and take whatever comes our way for this season. 4th is the least we can hope for and if we get lucky FA Cup or Carling Cup trophy.

  • Comment number 53.

    I'm not sure how desirable this Usmanov character can possibly be, really. Surely he is just another bloke who got rich quick when the wall came down - when 'they' were ready for the wall to come down; one of the chosen ones, a friend of the west, someone deigned fit to hold money out of general circulation so that the transition can be managed in his homeland and the general status quo can be maintained ie widespread poverty, living from hand to mouth, the masses compliant with the wishes of the sate - in other words the ideal backdrop for the industrial capitalism free market model to 'liberate' the Russian people. These are obviously moral and ethical objections, but surely there actually is a conflict of interest with his 'interest' in the once secret service backed Dinamo Moscow, an interest fronted by his Metalloinvest venture?


    as an aside, I still find it amusing the blase way the 03/04 season is described as a season without defeats as well - weren't there about 10 defeats for Arsenal that season? Most top teams - including Arsenal during that period - wouldn't dream of losing out on cups to concentrate on drawing games that didn't matter in a season where the league was a stick-on already. Maybe that psychological 'weakness' could be identified as a root cause for the run of winless seasons that have followed?

  • Comment number 54.

    Once again just want to clarify that finishing 4th is the aim set for this season looking at the current table. That is a fair enough assessment.

  • Comment number 55.

    For the people saying we didn't replace Nasri, have they missed a certain Gervinho? done pretty well so far.

    And as for the Arteta pay cut, so what? In any event he got an year longer on his contract so it evens out. I'm not sure that is really a stick used to beat Arsenal with, so what if they negotiated a good deal cause the player really wanted to play for them. I'm sure they won't be the only club to have done that.

  • Comment number 56.

    #39 1-6 was indeed a dreadful result, albeit with 10 men. But it wasn't as bad as 8-2. That is all.

    #40 I don't doubt that the new fair play rules are a step forward, no one wants the Premier League to become like the SPL or La Liga with two clubs having all the money and simply steam-rolling everyone else year upon year (or one club as La Liga has become). I just think that if any of the big clubs i.e AC Milan, Barca, Real Madrid, Inter, Bayern Munich, United etc were struggling to meet the new rules they'd be relaxed slightly to allow them into Europe. If teams like City, Chelsea, PSG etc are the only ones affected they won't care as much.

    These new rules (if properly applied) are though simply going to keep the stutus quo as it is now. The 'big' clubs i've alreadt mentioned will still be able to spend more than anyone else due to their massive turnovers so will it really level the playing field?

  • Comment number 57.

    #43

    Good on you Matt. Nice to see a pundit coming out and defending his views from blinkered assaults, hope more of your colleagues do the same in future. I'm tired of fans on here (this time an Arsenal fan but you can normally substitue that for Utd/City/Liver/Chelsea fan) bleating on about the blogger being biased against his/her club.

    Good article. Why are the tickets soooo expensive? Why were the board so reluctant to engage with fans at the meeting and ONLY take scripted questions? Open for debate....NOT!

  • Comment number 58.

    plath (30) - Deary me. Since when should only Arsenal-supporting journalists write about your club? If that's what you want, stick to the programme and website (although it might surprise you to learn not all of them support the club either). As for sensationalising 'negative gossip'...hey? This is practically a verbatim report of what was said by shareholders in an open forum. I suggest you look at some of the newspapers to see how they gauged the mood, although not all of their stories are written by Arsenal fans either. Sorry. As for your claim I don't understand the business model. Please. I've been writing about that for years, in very impressed tones. I also wrote about FFP long before it was fashionable. I'm still the only journalist to interview the man who will run it. So it's OK, I get the 'changing regulatory' landscape.

  • Comment number 59.

    There is a certain amount of soul searching going on for Arsenal fans at the moment, on the one hand we are proud of the business model that allows the club to make a profit and be self sustaining, this is really how football clubs, like all businesses, should be run, but on the other hand we also desperately want to see our club suceed, as all football fans do.

    The stark reality today is that we cannot compete with the spending power of Man City, who bought one of our crown jewels in the summer and can afford to put him on the bench at OT and play him in the league cup and who can afford to write off Tevez, one of the best strikers in the game, Chelsea or Man Utd.

    The board cannot admit that they are happy with a 4th place finish every year, as that would be suicide with the fans, but they are for the time being as we have hung our hat on Financial Fair Play levelling the field. All of football should hope this has the desired effect as all across Europe leagues are becoming less competitive, La Liga is a 2 horse race, PSG are buying Ligue 1, Man City could potentially walk away with the title for years to come, which is overall bad for the game

  • Comment number 60.

    There is something about Arsenal that I just do not understand. This is a team that have a clear objective of finishing in the top 4 (well, 4th to be honest), and yet you see blog after blog about Arsenal. Why? In any other country this team would be an irrelevance. Who cares about teams that aim for 4th place year after year? 15 straight appeareances in the CL and 15 years without winning it! What a great record to fail 15 times on the trott. Maybe winning it never crossed their minds..

    Could it be that Arsenal was the first club that turned its back on everything British that makes it so interesting to the media?

  • Comment number 61.

    Great blog Matt!

  • Comment number 62.

    52. At 12:12 28th okt. 2011, SS11 wrote:

    "So what is wrong in sometimes being less demanding about the club for this season."

    - I could accept anything from the board (member Wenger also) if they would say: sorry guys we made a mistake this summer or sorry, we have to rethink our methods with youngsters as they are too injury prone or we sell them (from Ashley Cole on) when/before they actually become winners. have they done it? NOT!


    "We've already had a bad start..just about rebuilding and gaining some sort of confidence from the run of results in last 7-8 games or so... just have to be patient and take whatever comes our way for this season. 4th is the least we can hope for and if we get lucky FA Cup or Carling Cup trophy."

    - so many maybes here what the board should do is PLANNING! have plan A, B, C. THAT IS THEIR JOB! but how could they do that when even WEnger have no plan B on the field or in the summer when two of the best midfielders are about to go?????????????????

  • Comment number 63.

    50 Matt Slater

    It's an interesting question to which I suppose the answer should be no, but is actually probably yes. Look at the last 7 seasons and Arsenal have clearly slipped form 2nd to 3rd behind Chelsea and United in the pecking order anyway, so this season a fight for 4th due to the sugar-daddy at City is about right.

    If you compare the Goons situation with the furore surrounding the Glazer takeover you see that a fairly widely held view, in fanzine/andersred land at least, at the time was that United's ambition would inevitably be restated as mere qualification for the CL, with the owners focusing on keeping bums on seats with just enough transfer funds to sustain CL football whilst the asset-stripping commenced. As we have seen, this was so far off the mark it isn't even funny.

    On a similar tack, the Mike Henson article on the BBC website this very day about Liverpool, in which he states that missed chances threaten their target of finishing in the top 4 is interesting. If a target finish of 4th place is good enough this season for the 2nd most successful team in English football, then it follows that 4th must be good enough for the 3rd most successful, I suppose.

    In my opinion the last thing English football needs right now is for another top side to follow the path set by "the new reality of petro-dollar wealth in the PL". Arsenal have had a few problems with attracting and keeping top players - as have United, even if theirs are at a slightly higher level (due to their 75,000 capacity and all that follows) - but the PL needs more of them, and it needs them to continue to be successful in the face of the sugar-daddy distortion that threatens to wreck the entire competition.

    I did have a point when I started that btw!

  • Comment number 64.

    55.At 12:18 28th Oct 2011, Count Zero wrote:

    And as for the Arteta pay cut, so what?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I appreciate its a small issue, but what if said "no thanks" like alot of players do to our uncompetitive wages - another player we lost due to being uncompetitive.

    We lost Nasri (wages), Gallas (wages) and countless other players who are better than what we have because we don't pay the market rate for top players.

    Van der Vaart cost £8m which is great but would he come to Arsenal? No we wouldn't pay him enough.

    Has anyone ever heard the saying "success breeds success" we are losing quality and not being successful, a one-off splurge in the transfer market, one trophy and you never know it might help financially in the long run (full stadiums, players want to join us, best players don't want to leave.)

    I doubt the sponsors are lining up to put their names alongside Arsenal (lack of success affects finances).

    Speculate to accumulate - fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

  • Comment number 65.

    So what is wrong in sometimes being less demanding about the club for this season. We've already had a bad start..just about rebuilding and gaining some sort of confidence from the run of results in last 7-8 games or so... just have to be patient and take whatever comes our way for this season.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think the problem is that Arsenal fans (the ones that actually go to games) are being charged the most expensive ticket prices in all of Europe for home games, before aways and Europe are even considered, only for the club to turn around and pretty much say 'we don't actually aim to win anymore'.

  • Comment number 66.

    bobmacdonald (26) - Interesting opinion and fair enough. But do you talk to many other Arsenal fans? Look at the fans' sites? Listen to phone-ins? You want to try it.

    thoughtfulphil (25) - My word. Did you actually read the piece? Thanks!

    Jack (24) - It's 7 of the last 8 but let's not worry about that because your main point (your only point) that we're biased against your club is childish nonsense, frankly.

    Here are some questions for you:
    Why are so many Arsenal fans upset about the club's direction?
    Why can't they see that among the big clubs they (and United) are the best-positioned to take advantage of FFP?
    Is it that some fans have lost all perspective and now assume they should win something every year?

  • Comment number 67.

    cliveeta (22) - But here's the thing...there were fireworks at the meeting! Of the 12 questions the board agreed to take (and it was the first time in 15 years that AW didn't take any), nine were overtly critical of one element of board strategy or another, one was to raise a concern about a lax attitude to travel arrangements, another flagged up the difficulties faced by the AST's excellent Fanshare scheme and one was a 'cheer up, everyone, it's not so bad' question. No need for me, or anybody else there, to stoke things up or sensationalise.

  • Comment number 68.

    Another blog that tells us how bad Arsenal are why am I not surprised.

    I find it funny to hear guys who keep calling for Arsene Wenger to go I would love to see what the difference would be, do you narrow minded people believe that if he goes all of a sudden we will sign Messi for 100m and offer huge contracts out to players? NO that will never happen and I wish it never does because that isn't football.

    Way don't the BBC write a blog about how bad Man U are for shipping six goals against there biggest rivarls at home the same way they slated Arsenal when we lost 8-2 to United at Old Trafford with a reserve team.

    Not at any point did Wenger say he wants to finish fourth and that is his only goal like this blogs tries to make us believe he probably said finishing fourth wouldn't be that bad but lets take a look at whats going on in football these days players getting paid stupid amounts of money clubs paying stupid amounts of money to buy players who arent even worth it most of the time and fans paying stupid amounts to go watch games and that isnt what football is about at all the quicker this stops the better look at the power players have these days we just have to look at the summer and Nasri, Modric, Tevez transfer sagas so why are these blogers and journalist after ruining the beustiful game and forcing clubs to spend more money instead of saying enough is enough. Do you ever think we will have a repeat of what Brian Clough did with Notts Forest.

    I believe with Arsenal the board have totally lost it Hill Wood has lost it he got rid of David Dein who was the main man with Wenger at Arsenal any club today would die to have him on there board and Hill Wood in some stupid moment got rid of him not sure if Hill Wood feels bitterness towards Dein after selling his shares to him and then claiming that Dein had wasted his money in buying Arsenal shares for Dein then to wait over a decade and sell those same shares he bought for around 200K for round 65-75M and when Hill Wood sold his shares it means that another Hill Wood will not be Arsenal chairman as they have been since the start of time. Another thing that is baffling about the Dein issue is they got rid of him because he was the one that wanted Kronke to take over the club because after the move from Highbury and Roman buying Chelsea he felt that Arsenal would fall behind other clubs as we have done if we didnt sell the club to someone so Hill Wood and Co got rid of him and what they do waited 3-4 years and sold to the same person Dein wanted anyone else thinking Hill Wood doesn't have a clue. Years ago him and his mate owned some telecommunications business they sold that for round 20M that company is now Vodafone worth what Billions and when Pat Rice was a youth level he said he was awful and shouldnt be in the team and what did Pat Rice go on to become. Hence Hill Wood doesn't have a clue.

    Answer to Arsenal problems get rid of Hill Wood and Gazidis, Keep Wenger and get Dein back and we will see the good old days again and the fans to get fully behind the team.

    COME ON YOU GOONERS

  • Comment number 69.

    I agree 100% with this article, I have been frustrated for the last 4 years with Arsenal management. It is not all about money but jugement. After the near disaster we had last year and not buying a CB during the summer was criminal!
    What in the world Squilacci is still doing at Arsenal?!
    When was the last time France produced a world class CB,Why do we have 2 in our club?
    Chamakh a waste of space and of wages
    Arshavin should be sold to a Russian club for 15-20 mil
    This team badly needs a creative midfielder, Arteta is not the solution
    It is not all about funds, it is about choices on who to buy and when to buy them

  • Comment number 70.

    @SS11

    "5.At 07:50 28th Oct 2011, SS11 wrote:
    I guess BBC is trying to create doubts in minds of Arsenal fans ahead of Chelsea game.

    We lost 8-2 to manchester 4-3 to blackburn but still fans were there right till the end. Unlike when manchester lost 6-1 to its rival club and fans left half way through in second half."

    Not too sure about this one:

    The match v. United was at Old Trafford and therefore the away fans cannot leave the ground until full time; and v. Blackburn, your fans obviously were going to stay as the match hung in the balence.

    The manchester derby was as good as over as soon as JEvans got sent off.....

  • Comment number 71.

    In response to Matts Questions:
    1. Because the summer was a complete shambles and the club has gone backwards as a result. 2 of our best players left because they saw better chances to win titles elsewhere. This should rightly be a worry. Then there is the lack of coherent or specific message from the club. They say they want to be 'successful' but fail to define that, after AW stated we couldn't be considered a big club if we sold Nasri and Fabregas, we failed to spend the money on replacements of similar quality so we don't know what the direction of the club is.
    2. Intelligent fans do see this, but worry that the rules won't be implemented properly or will be worked around - £400m 'campus' sponsorship for example
    3. Arsenal have been close to winning trophies in the years since the last one, and the frustration is that almost always we have not won them due to poor defending/goalkeeping and this never seems to be addressed.

  • Comment number 72.

    The match v. United was at Old Trafford and therefore the away fans cannot leave the ground until full time;

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    If that's the case then three quarters of them must have been stood in the concourse after the fifth and sixth went in with 25 minutes left. Hats off to the fans that did stay though.

  • Comment number 73.

    "Way don't the BBC write a blog about how bad Man U are for shipping six goals against there biggest rivarls at home the same way they slated Arsenal when we lost 8-2 to United at Old Trafford with a reserve team. "


    Err, they did, a couple actually.

    The difference is most United fans went walkabout, or just held their hands up and said they were not good enough.

    Arsenal fans bleated on about BBC and press bias and how its so unfair, and the ref ruined the game, injury's caught up with them and they would have won it if it were not for those pesky kids.

  • Comment number 74.

    Abishek Kumar (21) - Congratulations. Your's is by far the daftest comment. What evidence do you have that the BBC 'slam' your club? Do you mean that when you lose heavily one of the pundits on MOTD says you didn't play very well? As for the jokes (well done for spotting one of them) about Wenger's selective myopia and my other definition of fourth place, you are at least aware of that these are fairly commonplace?? The rest of your comment is too hysterical to get into but you and others are missing a very important detail: the suggestion that Usmanov might help isn't MY suggestion, it is the suggestion of a sizeable section of the Arsenal support and was mentioned in two of the 12 questions the board agreed to answer. I have stated my concerns about the benefactor model many, many times, what surprises me is how many Arsenal fans now think that to compete with Man City, Chelsea etc etc (ie be a 'top club') the old Arsenal way is finished.

    For the record, I disagree. I think you should wait to see how FFP pans out.

  • Comment number 75.

    Very fair blog. Not quite sure why some fellow Gooners are complaining that the BBC are forever being negative on us. I don't feel that way.

    At the end of the day, the shareholder who said that Hill-Wood is "out of touch", got it spot on. The whole point of these things is for a fair and open discussion. Hill-Wood only allowing pre-submitted questions and reading answers from a sheet is an absolute disgrace.

    There is something wrong at the club and I think it starts from the top downwards. There needs to be a change. I don't claim to know what the change should be, but there is definitely something wrong and it needs to be looked at.

    I think it was underestimated how big a loss it would be when David Dein left. We need the man back, that is obvious. He may not have a magic wand, but it seems to be far too much of a coincidence that our downward slump (slump maybe a bit of a strong word, as we continually end up in the Top 4) coincided with his departure.

    I still believe in Arsene Wenger, as do the majority of the Arsenal fans (or at least the rational ones), and the man has done more for the game of football than, arguably, any modern day manager. He needs to stay, the people above him need to change.

  • Comment number 76.

    richard crisford (20) - Charming. Anyway, gettting past your hope that I lose my job, what exactly is your point about my reporting of Portsmouth? Are you saying there is some kind of contradiction between my interest in that club and this apparent criticism I have of Arsenal's self-sustaining model? Rubbish. Not only have I written a lot about Pompey but I've also reported on the (genuine) crises at clubs like Sheff Wed and Plymouth. Those are examples where terrible mismanagement threatened the very existence of those clubs. There is no comparison with what is happening at Arsenal, hence my suggestion that people may be losing their sense of perspective here and the club having 'problems' the rest of us would love our clubs to have. I think you need to stop being angry with journalists accurately reporting the increasingly significant debate within your support, and start examining what type of club you want Arsenal to be.

  • Comment number 77.

    Arsenal may 'hope' to finish fourth but they haven't got a chance of out-competing both Spurs and Liverpool.

    Looking at the competitors for 6th and 7th I don't think they can achieve anything more than 8th.

    The real worry for Arsenal fans is the future however - by dropping out of the Champion's League places and with shocking attendances there is big problems ahead.

  • Comment number 78.

    theoddgoal (12) - I think most of your comment is spot on but I have to say something about your first remark....were you at the AGM? Because if you were you will know that the Arsenal website's 'coverage' of the meeting is Pravda-esque....and I don't mean it's designer quality. Where are the shots of the audience? Where are the questions from shareholders? Where is anybody apart from a member of the board or AW? Trust me, Wenger said the most honest thing anybody on the main stage said....I sense a lot of fear and discontent amongst you.

    That's it for me. Thanks for reading.

  • Comment number 79.

    "That's it for me. Thanks for reading."


    Can I just say, that regardless of who you support, and no matter what your opinions on this matter are we should all be holding our hands and applauding Matt.

    It does not matter if you agree with his views, but he has voiced them and also argued his corner on this blog, and I for one wish more of the BBC bloggers would do the same.

  • Comment number 80.

    :
    7. At 07:57 28th Oct 2011, Wengerpore wrote:
    And if in the long run, we stay competitive, play great, entertaining football, that surely is the true measure of a club - has been since Chapman's days, and remains so today.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That has to be the most ridiculous statement I've seen on here. All of a sudden history has changed. It was Wenger who introduced the style of play for which Arsenal are now known today. Some obviously cannot remember Bertie Mee and Don Howes teams or even George Graham's team. Speaking of Chapman, way back in the thirties Arsenal were the Man Utd of today, yes they bought players to make a great team.

    Personally I rate Wenger highly and the Arsenal way that it is today, I also respect what they are trying to do. The problem is, the world has changed, players no longer want a fantastic wage playing for an institution like Arsenal with all it's history. Recently they have lost extremely well paid players who have shown that the club does not have the same meaning, as it has for the fans.

    I applaud Arsenal for sticking to their guns but the days of Arsenal regularly winning trophies for them are past and that does make me sad.

  • Comment number 81.

    We all knew that the move to the Emirates would have a significant short-term effect on the club's ability to compete in the transfer market, and hence trophies. That said, Arsenal have done remarkably well to have remained in European competition and challenging for titles during this period.

    Who can say what might have happened if it wasn't for Man City "winning the lottery" or if we had avoided a few key injuries at crucial periods in the season?

    That said, the latest financial results show that the debt from the stadium build should no longer be an issue and it is getting to the stage where we as fans should be expecting to see some significant investment in the team. For the past 3 - 4 seasons Arsenal have made a profit in the transfer market. Good for the business, not so good for the club. I don't expect or want a spending spree of Chelsea or Man City proportions, but the purchase of one marquee (£25m+) player per year over and above the normal transfer business would go a long way towards demonstrating the board's committment to results on the pitch

  • Comment number 82.

    Intersting article. Confirms what I've thought for ages - that Hill-Wood is clueless.

  • Comment number 83.

    Remember how close we were to beating Barca, our best ever performance.
    ___________________________________________

    If I remeber correctly Arsenal had no attempt on or off goal during that match, and were confined to their own half for over 75% of the match.. That was Arsenal's best ever performance! Wow.

  • Comment number 84.

    "83. At 13:30 28th Oct 2011, A wet windy night in Stoke wrote:
    Remember how close we were to beating Barca, our best ever performance.
    ___________________________________________

    If I remeber correctly Arsenal had no attempt on or off goal during that match, and were confined to their own half for over 75% of the match.. That was Arsenal's best ever performance! Wow."

    I think the point being made here is that we are the only club that even came close to knocking Barca out last year. When you look at the one sided final, I think you'd agree that to lose by the odd goal as a result of being (somewhat controversially) down to 10 men is a pretty impressive statistic.

  • Comment number 85.

    @83

    Yup, that's how I recall it too - if there was ever an example of being owned that was it, but Wenger always has been selective with his long and short term mermory.

    I don't know why the fans stick by Wenger - he has lost the plot. They need a manager like Sam Allardyce to make the best of what's left of the squad.

  • Comment number 86.

    I think people should stop slating Matt off for writing this article. I know it's not his best article and I have in the past enjoyed the articles he has written about Arsenal. He is far from Arsenal bashing. A lot of other BBC pundits and writers do slam the club and Matt should acknowledge that, as is the same with a lot of the written press.

    The Arsenal board have a lot of problems to deal with. As Matt has said the board is over 70 and it's about time that they change it. We need more drive within the club. Everyone has got so stayed that there is no new life coming through. Why s the clubs commercial ventures so far behind other clubs? Why is their ticketing system so 3rd rate that even buying a theatre ticket is easier. Why is their marketing department so poor that they don't pick up on and promote things that are happening in the world with fans of the clubs.

    I understand the board not wanting to splash the cash and keep a sustainable model but you also have to make some financial looses in some years for investing. Maybe they don't want to over spend in the transfer market and new wages but it's reported that Bendtner is on about £52k a week!! Surely if that is true what are or were the club thinking about payng someone over the odds who is at best a bench warmer for us. No wonder he couldn't get transfered as no one else would pay that kind of wage for him.

    Also I don't think Wenger is a board member but is invited to sit in on board meetings.

    As for the muppet that said "Could it be that Arsenal was the first club that turned its back on everything British that makes it so interesting to the media?". You have just proved how ignorant of the game and club you are. Chelsea were the 1st team to play a completely foreign side and not Arsenal. We couldn't afford overrated English players.

    Hopefully the FFP will come in and the likes of Man City will not be allowed to get around it with this supposed £400million deal with Eithad.

    I will still support the club and go to as many matches as I can afford as a red member. The stadium might not be full now but at least there are true supporters there now getting behind the team.

  • Comment number 87.

    "85. At 13:38 28th Oct 2011, dogeared wrote:
    @83

    Yup, that's how I recall it too - if there was ever an example of being owned that was it, but Wenger always has been selective with his long and short term mermory.

    I don't know why the fans stick by Wenger - he has lost the plot. They need a manager like Sam Allardyce to make the best of what's left of the squad."

    Allardyce??? I can only assume that you're a Spurs supporter!

  • Comment number 88.

    Wenger's problem is his openess, his friendly disposition that invites debate and opinion, that is his problem because no one else can attempt to discuss all footballing matters with a friendly funny open manner in the highest intellectual way, if you tie this in with consumer credit card johnnie fan's that are so used to having their cake and eating it and have no real grasp of the economics of the transfer market and it's worth then you have an explosive concoction of overbearing spoilt brats screaming soft excrement, that is not conclusive to friendly customer relations, so do like the other clubs do, don't enter into discussion with the consumerist credit card johnnies that accept debt is a way of life.

  • Comment number 89.

    Sir Alex Ferguson retires or he becomes ill, Man Utd finish 6th one year then 5th the next, the Banks will sell Rooney and that monstrous debt becomes truely ugly !

  • Comment number 90.

    This is one of the most pointless blogs I have ever read on the increasingly dumbing-down BBC. So, are you going to blog on every football club's AGM? If your rationale for this one is the fans are interested then why not strip bare the AGMs of the remaining 89 or however many clubs? You know, there are fans out there who support clubs other than Arsenal. Please stop this Arsenal witch hunt. It is too easy and makes for lazy journalism.

  • Comment number 91.

    @83. Again you are completely incompetent. He was talking about the home game in which we beat them 2-1 and not the away game. Don't forget we also had a player sent off for kicking the ball away less than half a second after the whistle which everyone agrees was a joke.

  • Comment number 92.

    "@83. Again you are completely incompetent. He was talking about the home game in which we beat them 2-1 and not the away game. Don't forget we also had a player sent off for kicking the ball away less than half a second after the whistle which everyone agrees was a joke."


    - everyone + Arsenal fans

  • Comment number 93.

    63.At 12:35 28th Oct 2011, TheTrawler wrote:

    "I did have a point when I started that btw!"

    Brilliant! That gave me a good laugh.

  • Comment number 94.

    68.At 12:47 28th Oct 2011, TheProfessorLivesOn wrote:
    @88.At 13:43 28th Oct 2011, goonergetit wrote:

    Can I suggest you try a full stop or two (or do you actually talk like that)?

  • Comment number 95.

    Spending big money for Man City to buy the player two years later, then having developed the player his agent tells him where the grass is greener, pay structures, player power and the economics of playing for fourth spot, if Wenger splashes then Roman Abromavich spends a little bit more, then Mancini can usurp the whole process by purchasing three world class players on a whim and stick them in the reserves, because he can, as he's just raped the Gunners with a cheque book, who can afford the loss and who can not ?

  • Comment number 96.

    Absolutely spot on blog. The idea that it is overly negative or "arsenal bashing" is absurd, it is simply a reality. The current board have led us nowhere but backwards the last few years. We need a serious change

    @83, the game being referred to was clearly the home leg which was absolutely our best game for a long long time

  • Comment number 97.

    Thanks for your comments and support as one of the older Gooners around.

    I think us older supporters remeber when it felt like the entire club/supporters were pulling in the same direction. The main difference now is that our owners are purely worried about their investment and will only worry when the club stops increasing its profit year on year. Its the difference between and investment (Arsenal shareholders) versus rich man's plaything (City, Chelsea etc) and i'm not sure which one i would vote for.

    If you have the information can you let me know why it is that our salary bill is right up there with the top clubs, i know our top player earns 70K per week but most of the other clubs have players earning substantially more.

    Concerned but always a gooner.

  • Comment number 98.

    Can I just say thankyou Matt Slater. It's a breath of fresh air to see a proper blog on this website from a report who is actually using his position to speak from an informed position on a subject that he clearly has an interest in, namely the rise of the football sugar-daddy.

    It makes such a nice change from the usual dross we get, where a reporter just C&P's a load of hackneyed tabloid nonsense, presents it in a tired old soap opera/ talksport style of soundbites and cliches, and then has absolutely nothing of note to back it up with.

  • Comment number 99.

    I think the biggest problem most people have with the whole "wait for FFP to kick in" concept is that we know that it will make no difference whatsoever. there are a number of big clubs who look to have no chance of complying with the regulations as they stand but UEFA will not punish them for fear of opening the door to a breakaway European league.

  • Comment number 100.

    On the point of the FFP rules, isn't the result of failing them that you aren't allowed to compete in Europe? If so, that doesn't exactly stop teams like City, Chelsea, PSG, Barca and Real (although they're very much second in Spain) dominating domestically through their owners wallets does it? Or am I getting it wrong?

 

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