The Arsenal AGM

Gazidis, Peter Hill-Wood and Kroenke were all under attack

After back-to-back defeats against Norwich and Schalke, the timing of the Arsenal AGM couldn’t really have been much worse. It was expected to be a fiery affair especially with the summer sale of ex-skipper Robin Van Persie to Manchester United. However, the abject displays the team put on show for us over the last few days, has led to a renewed sense of skepticism around the clubs ambition. Everything from their inability to reinvest in the squad to the ridiculously over-priced fish and chips was discussed in great detail. There was even a satirical flyer handed out by fans before the AGM started. Ivan Gazidis, Peter Hill-Wood and Stan Kroenke were at the centre of the storm, which eventually led Arsene Wenger to step in and make his famous ‘fourth place is like a trophy’ speech. TKTG scouts the web, to bring you the low down on the Arsenal AGM, which was probably the most eventful in recent memory.

Miguel Delaney from reports:

‘As it was, the AGM took place after two successive defeats and, worse, two of the most typical type of Arsenal defeats: utterly deflating. After a dismal atmosphere and performance at Emirates Stadium against Schalke the immediate night before, emotions were always going to be escalated.’

‘The key to the entire meeting, however, was chief executive Ivan Gazidis’s promise as regards a timescale of success.’

“We will have the financial resources to compete among the leading clubs in the next two years, which is an extraordinary achievement,” he said.

‘The biggest problem with that promise, though, is that there have been absolutely no minor achievements in the meantime to make the majority of fans believe; no suggestions of steps taken. Instead, the club appears to have stagnated.’

‘It isn’t just the content of the AGM that has been repeated but the general situation every season: key players sold, no trophies won, a Champions League place just about secured but ultimately no real impact on that competition either. The only spike in the chart since Arsenal reached the semi-final of the Champions League in 2008-09 was the 2011 Carling Cup final. Even the somewhat comical nature of that defeat, though, seemed to only illustrate the Sisyphean cycle Arsenal are caught up in. With that in mind, you can understand shareholders refusing to take Gazidis’s promise at face value.’

Owen Gibson from the Guardian argues:

‘The promise of jam tomorrow is no longer enough for Arsenal fans paying the highest ticket prices in the country and stung by the loss of a string of marquee names. Yet even before the promised land of FFP is reached, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust estimates the club has around £70m sitting in the bank that has not been spent.’

‘They fear Kroenke has broken his contract with Arsenal fans. His invisibility has extended to a failure to meet them as promised in his offer document and concerns about the future of the Fanshare scheme once held up as a model for fan engagement.’

Fabregas and RVP have been sold in consecutive seasons

‘Moreover, they fear that as long as the upward curve of income continues, Kroenke will measure success in financial terms, content to sit back and allow his asset to appreciate in value.’

‘Worse, he could look to take money out in the form of dividends. “It would be a bitter pill to swallow if we were told to buy into self-sufficiency only to wake up one day and find our money had been taken out of the club,” said a spokesman.’

Sam Limbert takes the point a bit further by stating that:

‘What was clear again from the Arsenal AGM is that Stan Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis and Peter Hill-Wood have a strong philosophy that they want to follow with the club. That isn’t necessarily a problem; the problem comes when not adapting that philosophy to stay competitive in a changing game and market. Financial Fair Play will come into effect in some way, but there’s still uncertainty about when that’ll happen. That’s been the case for at least four years and Arsenal haven’t been quick enough to attempt to adapt their plan. With that in mind, the board are lucky that Arsene Wenger has kept Arsenal relatively near the top of the table.’

‘What really rankles with fans is the lack of attachment it seems some of the key men at Arsenal appear to have to the club, especially when compared with supporters. The fans put such emotional — and in some cases financial — investment into Arsenal Football Club that they understandably want those at the top of the club to show the same kind of passion and desire to see it succeed. That’s why Wenger also gets more respect at the AGM than others. He respects the fans and is visibly distraught when Arsenal don’t win. The fact that he started his address to those attending with an apology for Wednesday night’s defeat highlighted this.’

And finally John Cross from the mirror, discusses the impact of Arsene Wenger’s speech at the meeting:

‘Arsenal boss Wenger turned around the whole mood with a passionate speech – and also an insistence that seven years without a trophy isn’t all bad.’

Wenger tried to lift the mood of the members in attendace

‘Wenger claimed that Champions League qualification – finishing in the top four – is third in his list of priorities ahead of the FA Cup, Capital One Cup and only behind winning the Premier or Champions League.’

Wenger said: “For me, there are five trophies every season: Premier League, Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League.”

Do you agree with Arsene Wenger? Is finishing fourth really ‘like a trophy’? Tweet us @toknowthegame or visit our facebook page to get involved in the debate.

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