Arsenal Annual General Meeting ended with a show of unity between Wenger, Gazidis, Keswick and Kroenke but a widening differences between the board and the Arsenal Supporters Trust was evident amid calls for changes at the top of the board.
The attending shareholders voted against the re-election of Sir Chips Keswick as the Chairman of the board, and Josh Kroenke, the son of the majority holder Stan, as a member of the board of directors but the votes were merely symbolic as the vote of the majority shareholder swept both of them back to office.
Sir Chips Keswick was forced to defend the bonus paid to Ivan Gazidis, despite the fact that the club dropped from 2nd position from the 2015/2016 to 5th position the following year and thereby losing out of the Champions League spot with a financial lost of £20m in the process. Gazidis on the other hand points to Arsenal’s refusal to sell Ozil and Sanchez as an indication of the club’s ambition.
Sanchez was keen to leave Arsenal at the end of last season, with Manchester City coming close to signing the forward. A £60m offer was widely reported to have been accepted by the club but last minute failed deal to sign Monaco’s Thomas Lemar stopped Alexis move to City. Ozil was also keen but interest in his services was not forthcoming, although he has refused to sign a new contract, both players may now leave for free in July, however, the club is presenting their presence in the team this year as a reason for fans to believe in the board.
Perhaps, the most notable address was by Arsene Wenger who insist that fans should get behind the club regardless and judge at the end of the season.
GAZIDIS & WENGER HIGHLIGHTS:
IVAN GAZIDIS ON WENGER:
‘We do have targets every year but they are not discussed in public. To do so only fuels speculation when we need to focus on critical games for the club.
He has been given a new two-year deal in the belief that he has the experience, quality and values to lead us to success with the right support.
We want to compete at the top and win more trophies and make more history for our football club.’
IVAN GAZIDIS ON OZIL & SNACHEZ CONTRACT:
‘Those on the outside don’t know the dynamics or demands being made.
Decisions on Alexis and Ozil do not fit the narrative that we put money first. Taken stance as best chance to compete for trophies.’
IVAN GAZIDIS ON SIR CHIPS KESWICK:
‘I think people need to understand we have a long standing passionate Arsenal fan and not just one, the same kind of people sitting in this room who do care about this club.
‘Sir Chips Keswick’s experience is extensive. He brings this tremendous wealth of experience and high end knowledge to out club and is a lifelong fan.
‘He is beholden to no-one and always speaks his mind.
‘he good of the club is his only consideration.He cares about this club in the same way everyone in this room does and we are fortunate to have a long standing fan with these kind of credentials and this kind of experience on our board.’
IVAN GAZIDIS ON SPENDING:
‘All of our club’s resources are made available for reinvestment. Unprecedented increase in recent years.
‘We have spent over £200m in last three years.
‘We are not where we want to be but we are not standing still.’
He adds that Wenger is ‘increasingly supported by a range of experts’ in making signings.
ARSENE WENGER ON TROPHIES:
‘The present for me is about style of play, winning trophies, winning every single game. Don’t think I don’t know that.
‘As soon as we lose one game there is a preconceived idea that we are not good enough.
‘My hunger, my commitment is bigger than ever. I question myself a lot, don’t worry, I will sit down every year to see where I go.
‘No matter what happens one day I will always love this club forever and be an eternal fan.’
ARSENE WENGER ON HIS COMMITMENT TO CLUB:
He said: ‘I dedicate 99 per cent of my lifetime to try to make you happy. Looking at what happened today, it is not easy.
‘Arsenal is highly respected. We represent something that is exceptional. It’s a tradition of class.
‘Be behind the team. We accept the verdict at the end of the season but we want you to be behind us.’