Supporters group backs Wenger stay, question Kroenke

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According to the results of the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) annual survey for 2013, Arsenal fans are overwhelmingly in favour of Arsene Wenger remaining Arsenal manager for at least one more year despite harbouring worries about his sway over the club’s transfer and wage policies.

After analysis of 627 completed questionnaires, 71% of the AST’s members confirmed they think Wenger is the right man to lead the Gunners to the conclusion of next season with a hearty 39.9% strongly backing the Frenchman’s credentials.

Despite 62.5% being dissatisfied with Arsenal’s performance on the pitch in recent years, 68.6% concerned about Wenger’s influence over transfers and 73.1% thinking his ‘socialist’ wage structure is flawed, only 5.4% of members strongly believe the manager should be replaced before the new season kicks-off.

Ticket prices proved contentious with 40% of respondents saying they were dissatisfied with prices and 18% highly dissatisfied against satisfaction levels of just 19%.

With only one-year left on Wenger’s contract at the Emirates CEO Ivan Gazidis, has recently hinted that the board will look to convince the manager to put pen-to-paper on a new deal in the coming weeks. While 25.1% believe this should be a necessity before he spends on new recruits this summer, a huge majority (74.9%) are quite happy for the boss to enter negotiations at the end of the season when his contract ends.

As a further show of confidence 80.3% of AST members believe Wenger should be offered a place on the board when he does finally move on from his coaching duties.

On issues of governance and ownership, 63.2% of the AST’s membership remain dissatisfied with Stan Kroenke’s custodianship while a whopping 94% are frustrated at the American businessman’s continued failure to clarify his vision for the club.

The club’s decision to pursue a self-sustaining financial model remains popular amongst the AST with 61.4% in favour of only spending earned revenues although 78.8% believe the club should explore the possibility of a small rights issue.

Although the survey was conducted prior to Peter Hill-Wood being replaced by Sir Chips Keswick as chairman of the club, 93% still believe that the board must be injected with new blood with 77.6% in favour of Alisher Usmanov’s Red & White Holdings being given a place. While the Uzbek continues to make overtures about what he’d do were he in charge, only 15.6% of AST members would strongly welcome a full takeover from the Moscow-based oligarch.

As for the future, over 52% claimed to be somewhat optimistic with 19% extremely optimistic in light of the club’s stature and new commercial income, and although more than 70% of AST members felt it was very important that Stan Kroenke gift the Fanshare scheme 125 shares to show his support, Arseblog News puts the likelihood of receiving such a present (worth around £2m) at a resounding 0%.

AST Chairman Glyn Taylor commented on the results and called on Stan Kroenke to clarify his vision for the club, saying, “Once again AST members reiterated their concerns about Stan Kroenke’s ownership of the club.

“During his takeover Stan Kroenke made commitments to meet with supporters and supporters groups which he has since not kept. The AST once again urges him to engage with fans as part of a process of strengthening dialogue and understanding of supporters views to help make Arsenal a stronger club.”

Cup of tea and a Mr Kipling round Stan’s, anyone?

To read the full report, click here.

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