Arsenal AGM: Wenger says financial shackles are off
Wenger in bullish mood as he promises to 'buy proven quality' and Gazidis aims dig at Spurs
ARSENAL'S top brass faced shareholders at the Emirates today as the club held its AGM. Things might look rosy for the Gunners, as they sit top of the table with record signing Mesut Ozil in fine form, but there is still discontent over their eight-year trophy drought and high ticket prices.
Here's how the meeting panned out.
What was the main message?
Club owner Stan Kroenke and manager Arsene Wenger both focused on the need for Arsenal to end their eight-year trophy drought. "None of us up here [on the board], fans, players, or Arsene are happy until we have won trophies, we have said that over again and are committed to that," insisted Kroenke. He expressed satisfaction at the success of Arsenal's commercial operation, but added: "Nothing works unless we have success on the pitch."
What did Arsene Wenger say?
The Gunners boss was as bullish as he ever gets. "We have huge ambition to win the league this season," he told the meeting. "We are top [of the Premier League] in a very strong position, but the end of November will give a much clearer indication of where everyone lies. I am confident that at the end of May we will all be happy."
Did he talk about transfers?
Yes, and he made it clear that the financial shackles were off. "We were restricted financially and had to be strict, but we have come out of that," he told shareholders, and hinted at more big money signings. "We will also look to buy proven quality... I am pleased we have shown you we are not afraid to spend."
— Perrie Young (@Pez78) October 17, 2013
Does that mean a change of emphasis?
There may be money to spend, but Wenger's speech made it clear where his priorities lie. "We have to defend our style of play and values," he insisted. "That comes from developing our own players, with youth policy and that should be core of our club." He admitted that the sale of Robin van Persie "destabilised" the team last season but said that their form since beating Bayern Munich in March last year had created "huge emotion".
Wonder who Arsenal will appoint as the Head of Youth Development.
Developing players was the main message sent out by Arsene at todays AGM
— Walid Arsenal (@1Walid1) October 17, 2013
What about other fan concerns?
There were questions about Arsenal's high ticket prices, but chief executive Ivan Gazidis insisted the prices, frozen for this season, were fair. He pointed out that tickets for the weekend's game against Norwich were available for £26. There was also criticism of Kroenke's failure to meet fans, according to the Evening Standard.
Were there protests?
Members of the Black Scarf movement staged a small protest outside the Emirates. "[They] carried a banner reading 'kick greed out of football – where has our Arsenal gone?' and handed out leaflets highlighting the differences between the running of Arsenal and European champions Bayern Munich, plus copies of a letter sent to Kroenke in September calling for direct meetings with the American tycoon," reports the Daily Telegraph.
What was the mood like?
Despite some pointed questions there was still time for levity. The meeting was hosted by Sir Chips Keswick, the new Arsenal chairman, who adopted a light-hearted tone. When asked for his thoughts on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar the 73-year-old replied: "I won't be going – I probably won't still be alive!" Ivan Gazidis even got in on the act with a quip about Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale. "He now plays for one of our rivals," said Gazidis, taking a swipe at Bale's former club Tottenham Hotspur.
Sounds like a lolz riot at the Arsenal AGM. Hope Sir Chips doesn't tell the one about the space monkey.
— Nick Miller (@NickMiller79) October 17, 2013