Arsenal AGM: five questions for Wenger and Kroenke
Payments to Kroenke, Wenger's transfer activity and the manager's accountability to come under scrutiny
Arsenal's annual general meeting, which takes place on Thursday, is shaping up to be another feisty affair after a decidedly mixed start to the season for the Gunners and a summer in which Arsene Wenger signed only one player, goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Club owner 'Silent' Stan Kroenke will be in attendance and will address shareholders, along with Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis.
"The AGM isn't home to the poisonous atmosphere it was at the beginning of the decade," says the Daily Mirror. "Success in the FA Cup and Community Shield has placated some – but supporters paying the highest ticket prices in world football are not easily satisfied."
There are several key questions that they will want addressed.
Why is Stan Kroenke being paid £3m a year?
Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal's second-largest shareholder, has written to the club ahead of the meeting asking for a detailed explanation of the payment, says the Daily Telegraph.
Last year Arsenal chairman Chips Keswick explained that the payment was for a "wide range of services" provided by Kroenke Sports and Entertainment.
Usmanov "has become sufficiently concerned by the prospect of an annual payment to take the unusual step of writing directly," says the Telegraph. It adds that the two billionaires have not sppken to each other since they began vying for control of the club eight years ago.
That is Arsenal's transfer strategy?
Fans will demand that an independent review is launched into the club's transfer strategy after Petr Cech was the only addition to the first-team squad this summer, reports the London Evening Standard.
The Gunners were the only club in Europe's top five divisions not to sign an outfield player in the summer. "The signing of Petr Cech should have been the beginning of a raft of signings that propelled the Gunners towards being Premier League title favourites," says the Mirror.
What about ticket prices?
Arsenal season tickets are the most expensive in the country notes the Telegraph. "The board will be asked whether, in the light of the new broadcast deal and unprecedented levels of income, the club can commit to freezing or even reducing ticket prices in the period until 2019."
Questions could also be asked about whether the club supports the call for the introduction of £20 tickets for away fans, who have to travel long distances to see their team in action at the Emirates.
Who does Arsene Wenger work for?
This is a controversial issue, says the Mirror, but one that needs to be addressed.
"Whether Wenger is accountable is not, as Wenger has suggested, a disrespectful question. To ask it does not mean you don't appreciate what he has done for the club or that you want him out. The sentiment currently prevailing at the Emirates seems to be one of support for the manager, but even those fans want to know that he is being properly scrutinised by the Arsenal board."
Who really owns the club?
The number of Arsenal shareholders is at its "lowest level since the company was formed in 1910", reports the Telegraph. The battle between Kroenke and Usmanov has seen the pair buy out many smaller shareholders, and plans to allow normal fans to purchase a small stake in the club have come to naught.
Now the Arsenal Supporters Trust "wants to know if the board will reaffirm its ongoing commitment to plurality of ownership and reassure the remaining shareholders of their importance to the club", says the paper.