Ivan Gazidis & Ian Wright Arsenal supporter Q&A: full transcript


On Friday evening, Ivan Gazidis convened the now annual meeting with various Arsenal supporters’ clubs. (These used to happen twice a year, but the supporters’ club Christmas drinks did not occur this season). Last year, at the same event, the F.A. Cup, along with the Women’s F.A. Cup, were erected on the centre stage. Their purpose was part lava lamp, part forcefield as questions were taken from the floor unvetted. Last year, the event was ‘softened’ somewhat with the presence of club legends Pat Rice and Graham Rix, whose presence was just as ornamental as the trophies that flanked them.

This year, the cup made a reappearance, but not on the stage. It was shifted over to the side of the Club Level suite, a physical representation perhaps of a club happy to be in its company but making room for a bigger catch. This year, it was the shy and retiring Ian Wright that joined Gazidis on stage. Obviously, this is partially designed to remove any potential needle from the audience and perhaps deflect some tough questions. I imagine the club wish they had thought of this a few years ago when the mood was a little more hostile at these events. With trophies in the cabinet and money being spent on players, the desire to ask hard hitting questions is not as prevailing as it once was.

Below is a transcript of the event, with Tom Watt first introducing a video review of Arsenal’s season. He then welcomed CEO Ivan Gazidis onto the stage, who was allowed a few minutes airtime, before the irrepressible Ian Wright shuffled into centre stage. After another exchange with Tom Watt questions were taken from the floor. None of the questions were vetted or submitted in advance.

*Gazidis is introduced onto the stage*

IG: To be at Wembley was very special, we’re very happy to have won the F.A. Cup for the twelfth time and that’s very special for everybody connected with the club. We felt very happy about how we ended the season, but there is some frustration about, whether we could have had a better start, because as the season went on the team has just grown and grown and the momentum has grown and to win the cup again was fantastic. Then to bring it back here to the streets locally and to see the kind of deep, passionate support we have in these streets…

(Interrupting) Tom Watt: And that was just Jack!

*sustained applause from the audience*

TW: Did the club feel under pressure at the start of the season? We had won the cup the season before and everyone knew the pressure on us to win it, not least, the pressure that was on the manager. Then we signed another great player in Sanchez and there must have been a frustration in the opening months.

IG: I don’t think it was the pressure that got to them at the beginning of the season. There was huge optimism going in. I think there were probably four or five different factors. We signed a few players and we were very happy with them, but they’re not going to just seamlessly come in and hit the ground absolutely running on the first day. It’s not an excuse, but it is a reality when you’ve got players coming back from the World Cup, especially because a couple of them lifted it, it’s difficult mentally to get back up to the level and a couple of them said as much too.

For whatever reason, we just felt we weren’t playing in the way that we could have, we had a lot of injuries at the start of the season. Again, that’s not an excuse, it’s just a reality. We’ve got to work out how to get less of them. We’ve worked on that, it’s still too early to say definitively, you can’t draw a conclusion yet, there hasn’t been enough time, but you could see in the second half of the season that we reduced the amount of injuries we got. I’m hopeful that with a full pre-season this year, very carefully thought through, with some of the new people we’ve bought in and the data analytics which we’re using more and more in this area, I hope, you can never promise absolutely, but I hope we’re on the right track.

TW: We signed a lot of players last summer, but we did also sign a fitness coach in Shad Forsythe, has he made the difference or is it the whole thing? Because it’s not just this season, injuries have cost us for the last 5, 6, 7 seasons now.

IG: It’s true and I’m fed up with saying it. It’s not down to just one person, Shad is a terrific, top class professional. Of course he brings some new ideas with him. But it’s not just about that, it’s about how you make all of the different departments, this whole area, sports science, isn’t what it used to be ten years ago. You have to integrate all different types of experts in their disciplines, bring that all together and all of your staff and in some instances change your methods and change training methods.

It’s a very difficult balance because the football we play, which I believe that, when we’re on song, is the best football in the Premier League, also comes from the training methods that we have. So it’s quite delicate and there’s so many pieces, but I also feel that we have improved there, but it is too early to say that definitively.

TW: One or two people have made unbelievable progress this season. I don’t think anyone on this premises, including the gaffer, can be wise after the event about two players. At the start of the season nobody would have guessed that Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin would become absolutely key to everything that was going on at the end of the season.

IG: These are the two biggest stories of the year. The signing of Alexis was obviously great as were others, but I think the development of these two is the thing that the club can take the biggest pride in. When we had significant injuries in those possessions, I think everyone was worried about that. But I don’t think you can say it’s just luck and we take no credit for it. In Francis’ case, there aren’t many clubs that would have seen what Arsene saw and what we saw in Francis. There’s a reason that he was still around and ready to be pulled back in because we believed in him at a lot of times when a lot of people didn’t. He was still there, under contract and ready to go.

Hector was a very different case, Hector was a player we bought in from Barcelona, actually when Cesc was sold to Barcelona, he came to us as part of that deal. Hector surprised everybody with the way he has taken his chance. But that’s come from a lot of hard work and training behind the scenes, from his part, but also on the part of the training staff.

TW: What kind of summer do we have in store? What are your realistic ambitions for next season?

IG: I’ve stood here many times before you, in more difficult times and talked about what we’re trying to do and at times it’s been quite difficult to explain that. But I hope that you begin to see the different parts coming together. So you think about this summer and it’s not just about signing players, but it’s about developing the club not just for next season, to push us forward and ensure we’re at the top level again in 5, 10, 15 years’ time. So we’re starting to do works on the other side of the stadium, in club level, one of the rooms is being rebuilt. So it makes the environment more comfortable for club level, but also enables us to continue to be strong in our commercial revenues, sponsorships and so on.

We’re doing redeveloping work at Hale End, with our Academy, what is going on there is unreal. We’ve completely rebuilt that, in 5 years’ time that is going to be unrecognisable from what it is now. It’s a fantastic facility for 8-10 year olds and then at London Colney, we’ve got 18 months or two years of very hard work there. We’re rebuilding the academy building, renovating the first team site. And then you’re also talking about the personnel to drive the changes. At Academy level, we’ve been making a really serious investment and producing those homegrown players.

Then obviously, the thing everyone wants to talk about, is what’s happening at the tip of the iceberg with the first team and we’ve built quietly and without a lot of fanfare a good and deep squad. Now this summer is quite a delicate one for us, because it’s easy to improve when you’ve got obvious weaknesses, but I feel we’ve got a very good and strong squad across all positions. We’ve got a very healthy age profile, it’s a young squad and we’re in great contract positions as well, lots of long contracts, not too many people we have many issues with contract wise. The challenge for us, and what a great challenge to have, is how you improve that. You’re right, we have to do that but it’s actually not very easy when you’ve got a very good squad. Because when you bring somebody in, you’re pushing somebody else down, so you’ve got to be sure that when you add someone, you’re really raising the level of the squad. That’s our challenge this summer and I’m convinced we’ll be up to it, as we have been for the last couple of years.

*Ian Wright is introduced as a special guest to rapturous applause*

IW: On the morning of the Cup Final, you know people were talking about Villa and how they’d played in the semi-final against Liverpool and on the morning of that game, people were saying to me, “Oooh, the way Arsenal started that final against Hull, oooh if they start like that it’s going to be a nightmare.” We absolutely murdered them! I was saying on the punditry that this is what Arsenal are capable of and you cannot live with Arsenal when they play like that.

Just having Theo on the edge of it all and Mesut, on that day? I don’t care what they say, the problem that Mesut has got, is that he’s got Alexis right, who is the Duracell bunny on acid, unbelievable footballer. But Mesut just goes about his business and what he did to that Aston Villa midfield! My God, and then we’ve got Theo just on the edge of it all and we’ve got that threat behind. *Gasps* Ah! Amazing. We could’ve beaten them eight nil!

TW: Wrighty, you came with a quiz question. Tomorrow, is the 20th anniversary of possibly the greatest day in Arsenal’s modern history. Have I got a hand up?

Audience member: Dennis Bergkamp signed.

IW: So he signed twenty years ago tomorrow, so twenty years ago today was the first time I met him. We all know Dennis doesn’t fly so he was driving to Arsenal and I met Dennis in my local petrol station. It was a heavenly moment. I just saw this seven series BMW, with the pump parked on the wrong side and I was behind thinking, “who is this muppet?” So I drove in behind him and I swear to God, I was waiting behind this car and I was thinking, ‘I wanna give him some stick’ and he comes out of the car and I just go *shrieks* “DENNIS!”

He just walks over and says “oh hey, Ian” and I said, “Oh my God, YOU KNOW ME?!” But seeing him in that petrol station, knowing that he had signed for Arsenal. It was a signing that changed the DNA of that club. It would not have happened under George Graham, as much as I love him. I love him more than anything in the world, but Dennis doesn’t happen with George Graham. He changed us, he changed the club with everything that came after. It was like the start of the X-Men when they all start morphing, that’s what happened when we signed Dennis.

I shared a room with him until we signed Marc Overmars and I remember, I like telling this story. He’s always telling the story about me sleep talking, I sleep talk, because there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to talk. I remember the first time we shared a room together, it’s always a bit awkward, so one night we get ready to go to bed on the first away trip, and Dennis disappears into the toilet and there’s me just there in my vest, no underpants. Dennis comes out of the toilet, full pyjamas, dressing gown, the only thing he didn’t have was the cravat!

So obviously the next week I went out and bought some nice pyjamas. But what that said to me right from the off, is what we’re dealing with. Top drawer, class, his preparation and what kind of man he was. When he came, it was like the first day of big school. So that was twenty years ago and we would have come back around July 2nd for training, something like that. That was the like the first day of big school for me, I couldn’t wait to get there. Every time we saw him train, we all said, “Inter must have some team to get rid of him!” Because from the start, he was, amazing.

TW: When you see signings like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, do you get that sense? Do you get the sense of a signing that lifts everybody on the premises, or do you still think that’s what we’re looking for?

IW: The last few years, I’ve had some stick and I’ve asked “why aren’t we signing him? Why aren’t we signing that player?” I have to say what I see. But I see now what was happening, for the club to stay how they were as a business and continue to qualify for the Champions League, it really is an awesome feat. And now we are at the stage where we can now buy Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez and what that does, when you watch them play, when you’re training, you want to play with them, I wanted to play with Dennis and Patrick and Manu and Marc Overmars- even if I couldn’t bloody catch him up!

You want to play with those players because you know that they win you games and they achieve things and win things. You look at players like Francis, people say we need to sign four or five players, we found Francis and Hector in the squad, if we find two more, then we’re set. They were like two new signings last season and they just slipped in. We’re at a stage where we can sign players like Mesut and Alexis and if we can get someone like that, great, but he’s got to be right for the club.

TW: *coughs* GOALKEEPER *coughs*

IW: Don’t put Ivan on the spot like that? You can’t do that!

TW: There’s only a couple of us here, we’re all Arsenal!

IW: I believe our goalkeepers are two very good goalkeepers, don’t get me wrong. I look at Wojciech and I think he could kick on more than he has when you look at the progress made by David de Gea and he hasn’t reached that level yet. You look at when Man United signed Van der Sar from Fulham and that’s that kind of signing we need to make. If Cech, if we can get that over the line *looks at Gazidis* and I’m not saying anything here….

IG: No pressure!

TW: No, by the end of the week is fine!

IW: I’m desperate for Arsenal to get back in there challenging for the title. When we weren’t doing so well and I was saying it, people loved it. But now, on social media I’m getting so much stick for the positive stuff I say, I’m getting, “You biased Gooner scumbag!” That’s how I know we’re back because people see. I can’t help it, if it’s going great I say it and if it’s not I say it too. Honestly, I got so much stick for my bit on BT Sport for the Cup Final. People were saying, “It’s RIDICULOUS that Ian Wright can comment on Arsenal and be that biased! It’s ridiculous!” They like seeing me be derogatory about the club and that hurts. But I had to say it, I’ve never seen such a one sided cup final. I have never seen a team get HAMMERED like that before.

But I look at City at the moment and I think they have some problems to come. Obviously they’ve got Aguero and Silva and what’s going on with Yaya but I look beyond that and I think they’re quite ordinary. I think Chelsea are more scared of Arsenal than they are Man City and they should be. They should be scared of us, because we’ve got the quality, but we’ve got to start well this year. And like I say, IF we get Cech, IF. When I played for Arsenal and we had that back four, opposing teams knew that if they got past the four, they had Dave Seaman to contend with. We knew if we scored, we would win and Cech could do that because he saves you points.

*Questions from the floor*

Q: When you signed for Arsenal Ian, you replaced Alan Smith. What was the reaction at the time and how do you equate that with the ruthlessness in the goalkeeping position now?

IW: I remember listening to the radio after I signed and they did a vox pop and they asked about six or seven people about my signing and we’d just beaten Austria Vienna 6-1, and every single person said, “No we don’t need him, we shouldn’t sign him” and I just froze. We played at Leicester and I was meant to be a sub and I was happy to be a sub. In my head I was thinking, “Maybe I’ll get on and make an impact and slowly get myself into the game.” Then George came to me that afternoon and said, “Alan’s got a problem with his ankle, you’re starting.” So I froze again.

Then we went out onto the pitch and I was with Merse, Anders, Rocky, Seaman, Adams and I thought, “What are you worried about?” Two weeks earlier I was at Palace and no disrespect, now I was with these guys and I just thought, “there’s no need to worry.” I was making runs and getting the ball, it was easy. Just before I scored, the Leicester fans were signing “what a waste of money!” So when I scored I went up to them with *mimes conducting an orchestra” and Mickey Thomas came up behind me and grabbed both of my arms and said, “We don’t do that at Arsenal.” So straight away, I knew what I was dealing with.

Q: What do you think of Tottenham?

IW: I’m with Jack Wilshere, man.

But in seriousness, when we play Tottenham, Jack’s gonna get some stick and those fans aren’t gonna get charged with disrepute.

IG: One of the problems we have in the modern game is that players are divorced from fans. I’m not trying to justify what Jack did *audience laughter* But he’s a young man that is clearly one of you, he is a fan, he loves the club and understand what it means. That connection with the club, you feel it the minute Ian gets on the stage and in 20-30 years from now, we’ll have Jack Wilshere on stage here and he’ll get the same reception Ian got.

Q: What are we going to do differently this season to secure the players we want to secure early in the summer rather than rushing around on deadline day?

IG: We always want to sign players early, everyone looks at the year where we signed five players on deadline day, but we actually signed players earlier that summer, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was one of them. Perhaps you’re also referring to Mesut Ozil but I can assure you it’s better to sign Ozil on deadline day than not at all. We always try to sign players early but it’s a very complicated chess game, believe me. Pieces need to move around and with certain players, you need the deadline to force a decision, you need something final to push others to make the decisions they have to make. So we’ve always signed players early but sometimes, players just don’t come up till the end of the window.

Q: What do you think your biggest success at Arsenal has been Ivan?

IG: I don’t talk about my success, we’ve got some incredible people here. I wish I could bring you in so you could see the way people work at this club, how much they love this club, the type of dedication that they have. When I came here at the beginning of 2009, we had property debt on Highbury Square from the property crash, we didn’t know how that would turn out, banks wanted their money. We had to turn the stadium more into a home and I’m proud of the investments we’ve made there. It’s not an accident that we brought the parade back here to the stadium because we wanted to cement the stadium as the place where we had success.

We have seen those proper commercial deals come through now and we’ve seen with that new revenue what we’re able to do with it. The big thing has been our decisions on players, which we’ve had to make sure are more accurate and better and we’ve put in a lot of processes and systems around that and ways of supporting Arsene’s judgement. Over the last three years there’s been some real progress and the reason we’ve got the big, deep squad and the reason that, by the way, on cup final day there were a lot of top class players not even in the squad, is because we’ve made a lot of good decisions. The big pleasure now is that I can feel our fanbase begin to believe again. A couple of years ago I came here the day after we lost to Bradford and spoke to you all and I could feel the passion in the room. But I was really happy to be on that bus ride after the final and see on the streets people beginning to believe again because that’s what we need.

Q: You’ve spoken a lot about Financial Fair Play rules and it does seem that that’s going to be relaxed somewhat, does that worry Arsenal?

IG: I’ve spoken about Financial Fair Play and I don’t like those words, because I don’t think it’s about fair play. I’ve always been in favour of some kind of financial regulation because I think that’s good for football. I don’t think it dramatically affects Arsenal because our strategy would be the same with FFP or without it. We still have to expand our commercial revenues, we still have to be efficient, we still have to compete against richer clubs.

Just look at some of the ownerships we have in the game and it’s not healthy. What we want are responsible owners that respect the history and the traditions and that don’t come into it knowing they’re going to get abused if they don’t shovel in hundreds of millions of losses in cash, that’s not healthy because when you have that environment, sensible people stay away from it and questionable people come in. We want sensible people to come in.

What’s happening with FFP isn’t what’s being reported. There are some amendments. Basically, they’re for clubs that are not in the Champions League, if you’re outside the Champions League and you have a plan for how you want to develop, you are allowed to invest a bit more money, but you have to get yourself back into the confines within three years, so it’s not quite what’s being reported.

What’s going to happen in the Premier League is that clubs like Crystal Palace, Newcastle or Norwich City and they are going to have more money than anyone else in Europe, outside of the top ten clubs. They are going to have money to access some of the best players in Europe, which is fantastic for the league. So the Premier League is going to become even more competitive and it’s going to get harder for clubs like us. Two years from now, every game Arsenal play, you’re going to be watching us against teams that have players that can hurt you if you make a mistake.

Q: Plans to bring more ladies and under-21 games to the Emirates?

IG: We have done already. At times of the year we’re more cautious about that, the pitch is really important to the way we play football. But we do it when there’s a chance to do so and the more people that come, the more we will do it.

Q (Kevin Whicher, editor of the Gooner fanzine): At last year’s AGM, the chairman said, “If Arsene has a plan, we back it, if he doesn’t have a plan, we keep quiet.” Is there room for greater football expertise on the board?

IG: The Chairman was trying to make a joke that day, but it didn’t come across that way. The composition of the board is something we keep under review. It’s not quite the case to say we have no football expertise, we do have football expertise, I include myself a little bit in that. What we don’t have is an ex player or that type of figure which is a model that other clubs have used successfully. It’s not something I am close minded to.

IW: I’m not happy about seeing Patrick at Manchester City, one of our greatest players and I think we missed a trick with that. Even if he was just at the club passing on his knowledge and experience. But it’s hard, do you wanna go into the board and top trump Arsene? I wouldn’t wanna do it! Or maybe someone like Dennis Bergkamp to come back.

Audience member: OR YOU!

IW: Nah, that’s not for me, I can’t be serious for too long!

Q: Are we in the market for a world class striker?

IW: It’s a tough one because everyone is in for a world class striker. Who?

Audience member: Lewandowski?

IW: Lewandowski. He’s at Bayern. He’s happy at Bayern. Arsenal don’t do that, they don’t just go and say ‘we want Lewandowski’ and do what Chelsea do and say they want the player. Arsenal don’t work like that. I’m sure if Lewandowski made it clear that he was unhappy, it might be different. I think Olivier has been brilliant, he’s been scoring goals and he’s improving. But he needs help, I would still move Theo to the centre because I think he can’t be stopped, he’s got too much pace.

IG: A lot of the signings that we’ve made over the last two years have been players that have not been on the radar of other clubs, we don’t tend to go after the player that everybody says we should get. The thing you always get to when discussing world class strikers, midfielders, defenders, goalkeepers, is, well, exactly who? Who can you get that is better than hat you already have? When we saw Alexis Sanchez was available we did it, but for the most part, the signings that have pushed us forward have been a little bit off the radar and in many ways they have to be because we don’t have the financial firepower of Madrid, I hope that we can get there, but we’re certainly not at the moment. We can’t afford to make mistake after mistake. When we paid for Ozil we put a lot of eggs in that basket, but when we signed Santi Cazorla for £12m, nobody was saying what a world class player we’d signed. It’s those sort of signings we need to make to be successful.

Q: Our revenue seems to be stagnating at around the £70m mark. What do Arsenal intend to do to grow revenues even further?

IG: Our commercial revenue has more than doubled over the last few years, but we’ve got a long way to go until we’re at Manchester United’s level. We need more on field success to be able to put ourselves in a position to create more revenues and more revenues to invest in on field success. But that doesn’t happen overnight so we’re very focused on the commercial side and delivering secondary partnerships, and we’ve done a lot of work on our primary deals. It wouldn’t make sense at the moment to have 200 people working on the commercial side, but hopefully in a few years it will be.

I know this will get some groans in the room but we’ve been taking pressure off the tickets and that proportion of revenue is going down, we’ve held ticket prices flat for 6 years out of the last 9, and it’s actually fallen by 20% in real terms. So we don’t see much room for growth there. There’s the new television deal, which drives more revenue. But that drives revenue for everybody so our focus has to be on the commercial side.

Q: We’re charged so much for away tickets, can Arsenal be the leader here and say that we don’t want fans to be absolutely hammered by ticket prices when they go away from home?

IG: We have been leaders for that and we suggested at last year’s Premier League shareholders meeting that there’s a pot of money for away fans, which we have used in various ways, with £2.50 discount on all away ticket prices. We’ve suggested that again this year and now there’s a working group been put together to look at what we can do together particularly with focus on away fans, particularly with the TV money. So we’re completely involved in that and supportive of it. We still don’t know exactly what that revenue is going to be, but there’s clearly going to be a big uplift. Together I hope Premier League clubs will come up with more initiatives.

IW: It does seem a little strange that these Premier League clubs have so much more money and I cannot understand why they can’t fix ticket prices.

IG: Bear in mind that for most clubs, they’re not making money for owners. The pressure on clubs is relentless and it’s all about competing. So clubs are desperate to stay in the Premier League, they’re desperate to qualify for the Champions League, they’re desperate to win the Premier League, at every level, there’s so much pressure to compete. So if you make a decision on this and other clubs aren’t coming with you, you’re putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage, so we have to do it together. Bear in mind when Hull City came here or when many other teams come here, they paid £26.50 a ticket, when we go there, we’re their star attraction, so our fans pay a lot more. But if they put the price down for Arsenal fans at Hull, then they’ve got away fans coming in for cheaper than the home fans, so there are still sensitivities around that. There’s a lot of things to pick through. I guarantee you, well, I can’t guarantee you, but I’m sure that at the end of this, we’ll end up having a collective move to do something with away tickets.

TW: Celtic have made a big decision on a return to safe standing. Is there any prospect of that happening in England?

IG: It’s going to be really interesting to see what Celtic’s experience is, from my personal perspective, I think you can certainly make standing safe. The concern in the game is, will that lead us back to a culture that we left behind some years ago? When I was a kid, I got beaten up going to football matches, and that kind of environment where it is literally not safe to go. That’s where the real fear lies. I’ll look with interest at what happens with Celtic and see if it’s a success. It’s not something I am at all close minded about, there’s a lot of talk about it, but I just don’t see any impetus from government at all.

Q: A motion was passed at last year’s AGM to add Josh Kroenke to the board which I and many others opposed. What do you think he has added to the board?

IG: Wouldn’t it be great to have an owner that was a local guy made good that grew up with Arsenal and bought shares. But when Stan bought the shares and became majority owner, he didn’t say, “get rid of the board, change everything, I want this, that and the other” he’s not that kind of owner. I think what he’s trying to do is to be very respectful of the history and the traditions and the heritage of the club. In appointing his son, I think he’s saying a couple of things.

1) That he’s here for the long term and I see that stability as healthy for the football club. Josh is a young executive who is very well known in the US, he sits on the boards of the major leagues that he’s involved with there. He’s got tremendous experience there. I think it’s good future planning for the Kroenke family, Stan’s not a spring chicken anymore. It’s good for us in terms of continuity so Josh can get to know it better and bring his experience to the club, as he does, but get to know us better.

IW: What does his voice sound like? Is he another silent Kroenke?

IG: He’s certainly not silent at board meetings!

IW: What does Stan’s voice sound like? I’ve never heard it.

IG: Stan isn’t silent, he comes over once a month, he speaks to the media about once a year. He comes to games when he’s here, comes to some of the less fashionable away games. We have great expectations on our owners, the reality is that football clubs are not what they were ten years ago, it’s not cheap to own one. If to own a club nowadays, you have to have billions of pounds and be prepared to lose hundreds of millions, that’s not a very attractive proposition.

It’s not an attractive environment if everybody is saying what an awful person you are for not putting hundreds of millions of losses into a football club. Ever since Stan came into this club, he has been nothing but supportive. When we wanted to sign Mesut Ozil, he didn’t hesitate for a second, he didn’t even ask. He said, “Go get it done!”

IW: He just went like that *mouths ‘Go get it done’ without making any noise*

Sorry, I can’t help it, you know I’m only joking!

IG: I totally get it, but there are a lot of owners who show a lot of passion, but they’re not good owners. You’ve got dozens of owners that talk and the passion is there, but they make bad decisions. I think we have a great owner, a really supportive owner who brings a lot of expertise to the table, he’s been rock steady. He’s been supportive of the things we want to do and not just with players by the way. We’ve put tens of millions into improvements in the academy and the training ground and we won’t see the benefits for 5-10 years probably. These are 10-20 year investments and Stan has been completely behind that.


    • “So when I scored I went up to them with *mimes conducting an orchestra” and Mickey Thomas came up behind me and grabbed both of my arms and said, “We don’t do that at Arsenal.” So straight away, I knew what I was dealing with.”

      Top top top Class!

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  1. A whole lot of people were apprehensive When Gazidis “Signed” ,including yours faithfully.

    We never believed a word from his mouth at the AGM thinking he was another mercenary.

    Two FA Cups after……

    I’m beginning to warm towards the man and his plans for my club.

    The future looks brighter. Let’s get the League next season Arsenal!

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    • Hard to forget the good ol’ Ivan out protests. Fuck if anyone actually knew what he did, but he had to go!

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      • I want Ivan ot cos he didn’t sack Venga, n he didn’t hire M.Laudrup
        R.Martinez O.Coyle Billas-Boas D.Moyes B.Rodgers S.Bould V.Gaaal
        M.Pochettino or neither my favourite – Juande Ramos.

        Gazides aahht

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    • I was definitely a big critic of him because i thought we were going backwards but now im starting to think he is guiding us the right way. Maybe we needed to take a backward step to go forward.

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  2. Sounds promising.
    Hopeful of ramping up the quality!
    We’re willing to buy better players if we believe there better than what we have, even if that means pushing them down the pecking order!
    We want to increase commercial revenue, to do this we need to be more successful!
    I love you Arsenal I do, ohhhhhhhh Arsenal I love you !!!

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    • That was my main takeaway from this as well. I’ve been pretty sceptical about the Cech thing so far, mostly because I find it hard to imagine Wenger being this ruthless with Szczesny and Ospina, but there sure is a lot of smoke right now.

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      • IG wouldn’t confirm or deny about players without AWs agreement and he neither confirmed not denied this one.

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  3. This was very informative. Some really positive signs, and I agree with Ian Wright this team looks very dangerous.

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  4. “He’s always telling the story about me sleep talking, I sleep talk, because there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to talk.”
    Hilarious. 😀

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  5. I don’t think IG gets the credits he deserved. He has overseen major overhaul to our sponsorship money. He has done well.

    Similarly, Ian Wright doesn’t get much credit for how good a pundit he is. He is eloquent, loves football and loves arsenal. He criticises and praises when he is needed to. I think he is best pundit to listen to whether he is on tele or radio.

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    • I love it that he just can’t be professionally neutral when talking about Arsenal. It’s always ‘we’ rather than ‘they.’ To be fair, Lee Dixon is a good pundit as well. And though he was a total, total, total tosser on the pitch, Gary Neville has become a good and fair pundit off it.

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  6. How are you gonna meet somebody, begin sharing a room with them and have your dick swinging.

    Long live Dennis Bergkamp and that Leicester goal. The greatest Premiership player, ever.

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  7. Have to own I abused Gazidas at every opportunity I got. When things are bad I guess most of us need a scapegoat and Ivan really fitted the bill. I eat a big slice of humble pie sir. A lesson in trust for all of us. We have momentum now and to keep it we need a good signing. Cech and Carvalho and I would be delighted. That would be about £40 million max. If we don’t sign a big player and happen to get a difficult start, the negativity could return and fast. Coyg

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    • except I believe the bunny is from Energizer…

      Maybe Ivan can sign Energizer as the official battery of Arsenal and bring us even more commercial money.

      Those of us in North America already knew what great work Gazidas did in expanding the MLS so I always thought he was a good business signing for Arsenal. Now it looks like even he is madly in love with this great club. Great news all around.

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  8. When asked about goalkeepers, he mentioned Szczesny and then Cech. No Ospina. It seems it’s good bye Ospina after all.

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  9. so IW has the same feeling as to what spurds are……. am with Jack……. Even IG smiles when he says that which means everybody knows that spurds are shit except the FA which is another shit. I can’t stop loving this club..COYG

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  10. Gazidis doesn’t often get the credit he deserves, in my view. I think of how quickly he got the deal for Alexis done, he’s clearly an efficient operator. Perhaps his problem is that he is a businessman and not really a football man, and that when it comes to transfers he relies too heavily on Wenger’s judgement. And Wenger has been indecisive at times over the last few transfer windows, no question. But when Arsene says to Gazidis, definitively, “that’s the player I want” – as he did with Mesut Ozil when he became available at the last minute – Gazidis runs things smoothly. Plus he managed to fleece Puma for the biggest kit deal in history – at the time, anyway – when we hadn’t won any trophies for eight years. Not bad, really.

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    • Yep lets give give Ivan more choice over who we sign, arsenal clearly needs the help. Maybe silent Stan could buy a couple as well just so Arsene is not allowed to manage the team on his own. Come to think of it why don’t we the fans pick some buys we know our stuff, Dempsey, Sigurson, the English kid who played in Germany who’s name I can’t remember, vertoghen, Erricson, come to think it we may end up being shit so best we leave it to Arsene. This season we are gonna win it or go very close. Coyg

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    • I think he’s a lawyer rather than a businessman strictly speaking but I do think he’s a very professional at his job. The problem was/is that we have a few loud supporters that think a multi-million pound company runs like they run the Sunday league team finances.

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  11. Ian Wright is so much fun! I love him after this interview. And I love him for putting on an Arsenal scarf during the Cup celebrations, when he was working as a pundit. Beautiful!

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  12. Gazidis erudite as per usual

    Wrighty is just a clown.

    Gazidis is right with regard Kroenke.

    So many owners not only blow hot air (‘passion’) but also interfere in things which can end up in very poor decisions. You only have to look at how the likes of say Newcastle is run to see how active participation by owner can go so horribly wrong.

    We have for the most part bought very well under Wenger. He has made mistakes but as Gazidis points out, he tends to mitigate risk to club because he tends not to spend high on players (like those prescribed by press, Wright and sundry every summer)

    Lest we forget, Bellerin and Coquelin are hallmarks that there is also the other side of the coin to the Ozil and Alexis of the day. There is such a thing as Organic development and both tacks must be done in unison.

    If Kroenke is providing stability for Arsene and Gazidis to do their work (as oppose to disruption) I don’t mind him being silent at all. Empty vessels make the most noise.

    Over to you Ian Wright.

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  13. Really cool to see the club is in such a good shape. Justifying our bad start of season with the world cup is all I didn’t like with IG.

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      • I love almost everything about Arsenal but Wenger, IG and others should spare us the worldcup thing. It applies to all big teams. Some small teams have even more players with the likes of Nigeria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ghana etc.

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  14. I love some of the undertones from IG. He (and others) has a right to be pissed at some of the short-sighted, low-grade moron fuckwits over the last few years. Having said that, he handled it all pretty classily.

    And IG and IW make a great duo for this kind of stuff. Great read.

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  15. I dont know if this is valid, but this link says the Boss found his rib today…

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  16. Liverpool are signing at the rate of one second hand player a week now. At this rate they will sign at least 9 before the end of summer (this must be paradise for fat gonner) To integrate all of them into squad and blend together it will take at least 2 seasons. Then they will be impatient and sack Brenda. The new manager will start selling them all. Just like the Spuds did. Humm when will they learn?

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  17. I found it fascinating to read IW’s responses to questions and compare them to IG’s.
    Wrightys answers were awesome and almost felt uncensored lol he don’t give a fuck does he? Particularly the one about ‘we don’t do what Chelsea do, say we want a player from another club and get them’ it was the sort of comment you’d make to a mate in the pub, genuine.

    You can clearly see the difference in Gazidis measured responses, always very politically correct, saying a lot without necessarily saying anything. Not a swipe at the man just found it intriguing to compare the two

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  18. We have taken shit both on and off the field and it has taken the steady hand of people like AW IG and Dein to get us through the muddy waters. wright! Now that we seen to be turning that corner open your mouth lads Aston Villa wasn’t a one off. And oh yes love you Denis. B.

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  19. Considering we are the 5th most valuable football club in the world you would think that we would have more to show for it and at the very least be a title contender. Betwen 2004-2010 we were 3rd most valuable in the world. Only Madrid, Barca, United and Munich are more valuable today. But the way our board talk they make it sound like we are dead broke. Allways talking about how we need to increase revenue if we want to compete. Every year Gazidis talks money, revenue and how we will allways have to compete with richer clubs, which is a pretty lame excuse when you consider we are currently top 5 in the world and have been among the top 10 most valuable clubs 15 years running. If clubs were people we would be in the league of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

    Our club talks poor finances every year, and every year Forbes hit us with top 5 most valuable yet again, and the Guardian reveal we have 130 mill in freakin cash reserves, even back in 2010 we had 111 million in cash reserves, all probably stored in a swimming pool at Kroenke’s mansion so he can have a refreshing money dip when he feels like it. But when the anual meeting come, Gazidis and the club talks poor finances again, Only for Forbes and the Guardian to call them out on their bullshit yet again. But when the anual meeting comes around again Gazidis continus his responsible finances talk again and inform us it is neccesary to raise the ticket prices to mend our poor (read Stellar) financial situation.

    Do you people actually buy his crap?

    I most definetely believe we could have thrown our weight around alot more than we have. We have basically allowed City and Chelsea to catch up to us by not even trying to compete with them but settling for 4th even though we have money coming out the wazoo.

    Even Wenger himself said there was a 5 year plan after the stadium build and he was tasked with winning Champions League football in atleast 3 of those seasons, But he made it every single season since, so money has obviously not been a problem for a long long time. Infact, our finances are among the most solid in world football and have been for many years.

    Even this season Wenger did not get the funds to strenghten obvious weak spots like CB and DM. Only after struggling in the beginning of the season and it looked like there was a real possibility of missing out on top 4, money suddenly became available in january so Wenger could go find that DM and CB he really should have bought in pre season. Gabriel was bought, but the DM was found internally in Coquelin probably to the delight of the board who saved some money there.

    United is spending big, Chelsea also linked with some heavy hitters aswell as City, so it is naive to think our current squad can mount a title challenge. Allready way behind Chelsea this season, and dont see the logic in how they suddenly will overcome a even stronger Chelsea next season. We need a couple of big signings imo perhaps Gk and a Goalscoring striker. Giroud has 41 goals in 3 seasons with us in allmost 100 games. He is 29 next season and he is likely at the peak of his career at this age, most strikers are anyway. Quite frankly with the kind of striker talent this club has seen over the years, I dont think Giroud is Arsenal quality. Costa had 26 appearances for Chelsea this season and scored 20 goals for a team much more defensive than ours. This season Giroud had 27 appearances for Arsenal and scored 14 goals. Apparently this was an Amazing season for Giroud. Compared to his previous two seasons I reckon that is true.

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    • Think the issue is that even if we’re 5th most valuable, the 4 above us are quite a lot more valuable. And ‘valuable’ isn’t quite as simple as ‘how much money you have.’ The club don’t say they have poor revenues, quite the opposite. They just acknowledge that they’re competing with teams with limitless funds available.

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  20. we as fans are blinkered vision most times we only see what happens on the pitch, but for it to happen on the pitch we need the fine silky smooth running cogs from within, as time is proving Gazidis may have been as big a siging as sanchez & Ozil

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  21. I know what it is like to work for a company whose senior management sticks their noses in with no idea of how things work on the ground level – I just wish our company had a chief executive like ‘silent Stan’ and let the people who know the business get on with it and back them all the way!!!

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  22. Very pleasing to learn from Ivan what is really happening with FFP. Clubs outside of the Champions League can invest more money but only have 3 years before it has to be returned. The media are saying that PSG Man City Chelsea etc are going to splash their owners cash but it’s obviously just paper trash talk.
    I was delighted also to learn that Bellerin came over as part of the Fabregas transaction….didn’t realise that and very pleasing.
    We can ,and will,push on now and challenge seriously for the EPL and CL next season , in my humble opinion.

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  23. What a happy and relaxed meeting. Who says success is not a wonderful thing! May more trophies enter our silverware cabinet in the years ahead.

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  24. The best bits of last season was climbing that table and winning monaco in c/lge a gd team work with hector and coq as back up for pers awesome attacking rate per game well said about our f.a cup win two seasons on the trot arsenal fc beat liverpool last season in f.a cup liverpool who was very strong and fast as a team 2013/2014, then arsenal fc
    beating man.u in semi final this season and also breaking the f.a cup holders winning record

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  25. As Stilbeto says valuable is very different from how much money the owner has. Also the 4 above us have much much more money than we do. Fancy taking what Forbes and the Guardian say as gospel or on face value – that is what’s sad …

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