Arsenal AGM 2015 report

Arsenal AGM 2015
Pic via

As a member of the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, this was my fourth Arsenal Annual General Meeting as a proxy member and, as one would expect of any corporate AGM, the event is a slickly handled affair. It’s difficult to think of another football club whose annual duty to its shareholders attracts quite the same level of media coverage or interest. A football club’s AGM requires a higher level of political savvy in its handling than that of most private companies. It’s certainly difficult to think of another industry where a company’s posting of year on year profits needs carefully scripted justification. The sole interest of most attendees is not profit, but how the fruits of that profit exit the club’s vaults.

Upon entry, attendees were handed a very swish looking key chain commemorating the club’s record of 12 F.A. Cups, prior to being ushered into the Woolwich Suite of Arsenal’s Club Level enclosure. To address the burning question straight away…the biscuit selection was adequate. As we entered the main hall, the panel of directors- Lord Harris of Peckham, Josh Kroenke (neither of whom spoke or were spoken to for the duration of the meeting), David Miles, Sir Chips Keswick, Ivan Gazidis, Stanley Kroenke (who also did not speak during the meeting) and Arsene Wenger’s places were set out with plaques from left to right. Front row and centre, were the F.A. Cup and the Community Shield trophies. Video screens relayed highlights of the 2014-15 season as the audience took their seats.

Sir Chips Keswick brought the meeting to order with some opening remarks, as is traditional in his role as chairman; followed by remarks from Ivan Gazidis and Arsene Wenger. I have summarised, or minuted their remarks and the question and answer session that followed for your delectation.


  • We won the F.A. Cup again don’t you know. Woo hoo!
  • Jeffrey Freeman is participating in his 50th Arsenal AGM. Woo hoo! (applause)
  • Congratulations offered to Arsenal Ladies who have again qualified for the Continental Cup Final. Woo hoo! (further applause).
  • Arsenal players scored a total of 11 goals whilst on international duties for their countries over the last week. Woo hoo!

At this point, Sir Chips attempted to address the honking great elephant in the room early on. Questions for the AGM were pre-submitted to the board by shareholders and addressed together in the Q & A section of the meeting. However, the board took the unusual step of separately addressing a question around the £3m consultancy fee paid to Kroenke Sports Enterprises by Arsenal Holdings for the second consecutive year. A full copy of that question is reproduced below;

  • For the second year running Arsenal was ‘charged a fee of £3m’ by KSE. When this was questioned last year the answer was light on detail, except to say that Sir Chips Keswick had proposed it. Ivan Gazidis has said Arsenal ‘run a tight ship’, and yet £3m can apparently be spent on the whim of the chairman, without competitive tender, without any report of what services were provided for it and without any evidence of tangible benefit. A neutral observer would find it difficult to believe that something costing £3m can’t be described in some detail. Given that the payment has been repeated, are we to assume the services were beneficial? If so, surely they can now be described so that all shareholders and supporters can see that value for money is being obtained?

A further question asked whether these services were “subject to a full written agreement.”

Sir Chips explained that he and the board “felt it was right” to pay the fee pertaining to “a wide range of services,” adding that “it wouldn’t be good governance to get them for free.” He continued that KSE has “extensive experience in sports management and they have “contributed to the evolution” of the club in terms of property, media, commercial and sporting management. The audience murmured discontentedly at the answer, at which point Keswick curtly announced, “I have answered the question, now we move on!”, sighs of disbelief broke into a sustained grumble. Predictably, this was far from the final comment on this contentious issue.

The formal part of the meeting saw the approval of Deloitte as auditors, with the re-election of Lord Harris of Peckham to the board and the re-election of Ivan Gazidis. All of these votes are determined by a show of hands, which is essentially little more than a gesture given that one hand in the room is worth close to 70% of the total votes. But it ought to be mentioned that the show of hands for Gazidis was emphatic. Sir Chips tried at this point, to move the meeting on to Ivan Gazidis’ presentation, but he was interrupted by a member of the audience, Jeffrey Lewis.

Jeffrey had asked the second part of the question over the consultancy fee paid to KSE, and after a cry from the floor, he was invited to the microphone, whereupon he laid out his dissatisfaction with the answer to the enquiry he had posed, “Chairman, will you please answer my question!” he implored, to the audible gratification of the floor. Sir Chips diffused the situation by promising to answer again during the Q&A section of the meeting, acknowledging as he did that Mr. Lewis’ disgruntlement was clearly shared by the floor.

Eventually, Ivan Gazidis was allowed to take the microphone whereupon, he dissed Kroenke’s toupee and challenged him to a rap battle……Not really, Ivan cracked out the PowerPoint and set out “the vision for the club, how we go about achieving it and where we are.” The main headlines were as follows:

  • The overarching vision for the club is to compete for top trophies, play football “the way it is meant to be played” (I presume that’s an allusion to the style of football Arsenal play and not some underwhelming promise to remain within the rules of association football), that plays “with joy and not cynicism”, that develops young people and is “a club we can all be proud of.”
  • Ivan made good with a slide demonstrating the “virtuous circle” of the club using its own revenue. The club currently has 24 commercial partners and that arm of revenue has doubled in the last three years.
  • He said that the plan was to continue to try and cultivate the club’s commercial revenue, match day revenues have stayed flat and, in real terms, have reduced by 20% since the stadium move.
  • Club have made investments in IT infrastructure, online retail and have opened a commercial office in Singapore. Further investments have been made in stadium refurbishments and a new floodlight system was installed over the summer of 2015.
  • £13m has been invested in redeveloping the club’s London Colney and Hale End sites. Colney will have a 40,000 square foot “player performance centre”. He also said that Arsenal Ladies would have a new and bespoke home. The training ground would also contain a new state of the art media centre.
  • Gazidis then elaborated on the “3 pillars of squad development.” Producing academy players, buying players and retaining quality players. He stated that it’s not possible for Arsenal to attempt to outspend everyone in “a never-ending arms race” so developing players would give Arsenal a competitive edge. Investments have been made in scouting, facilities and coaching in that area and the manager will need to continue to find ways of inducting young players so that there is a clear path to the first team.
  • At this point, Gazidis produced a slide with a picture of the first team squad, pointing out that 18 of the 27 players in the photo had been signed in the last 4 years. Squad “consistently invested in with full support and backing of Stan Kroenke and the board” and Arsene Wenger continues to be empowered to make those calls. Gazidis described the transfer policy as “talent led, not money led.” Of the club’s last 12 transfer purchases, only Lukas Podolski is no longer at the club, which the CEO says “compares favourably with any top club in the world.”
  • Gazidis continued to elaborate on this, suggesting that many of those signings were not well known at the point of purchase but “are well known now.” He continued, “You don’t sign players like Mesut Ozil, Alexis or Petr Cech without ambition or without convincing them of your ambition,” before spinning a nice yarn about Petr Cech having a tug of war competition with the groundsman to emphasise the levels of camaraderie.
  • The club have renewed key contracts and are in a good situation with contract positions across the squad. The wage bill has risen from £164m – £192m in the last year, which means Arsenal must continue to be thoughtful with their resources.
  • Ivan’s rousing conclusion was that Arsenal’s history and heritage was not enough to “sustain us against the challenges ahead,” and that the club’s overall aim is to “create more special moments in a way that makes us proud to be Arsenal.”

By now, it was Arsene Wenger’s turn to address the audience. He opted against the use of PowerPoint (that sound you can hear is of Sam Allardyce grinding his teeth in disgust), and the manager gave a Churchillian address, only in a distinctively Gallic accent…

  • He expressed his humility at having celebrated his 19th anniversary at the club recently, to sustained applause.
  • He was appointed to a club of 80 staff with a share price of £400, now there are over 550 staff and, well, he doesn’t know the share price anymore.
  • He split his reign into three chunks. The first, 1996-2005 he described as “easy and smooth.” The second, from 2006, was much more difficult with restricted finances and increased competition “in a sceptical environment.” He pointed out that, whilst it is not enough, the club’s Champions League qualification record is bettered only by Real Madrid. “In my job, you are always told what you don’t do,” he uttered, before declaring, “it is not enough, but it is not easy otherwise everyone else would have done it too.” He also said that, given the choice, he probably wouldn’t have the wherewithal now to go through another period like that.
  • Wenger thinks the club have been out of that period for 2.5 years (AÖ basically, After Özil). But he said the new challenge is that Champions League money is not as significant as once it was due to increased Premier League TV revenues.
  • He also paid tribute to the staff around him who, by the sounds of it, are ploughing him with data 24/7. “18 years ago, it was only my eye. Now I have access to so much information and data,” but, as a counterpoint to that, “people know more than they did in 1996.”
  • He said that he felt Arsenal were “in the fight for the title” before making reference to the numbers his data lackeys are furnishing him with all hours of the day and night. “The numbers show we have the right potential.”
  • Tellingly, he said he felt Arsenal needed to show the urgency demonstrated against Manchester United in every game and that his task was to find the right mix of top class players from outside and players that love the club and have been developed from inside. At this point, he used the dreaded term “cohesion.”
  • He says he was certainly more relaxed 19 years ago than he is today because he knows how badly defeat and failure hurts the fan base, but he is also resolute enough to withstand the pressure. His speech was again met with sustained applause.

At this point, pre-submitted questions, displayed on screens throughout the venue and summarised by Club Secretary David Miles, were fielded by the directors. I’ve summarised the questions, in the interests of brevity.

Q: The first question asked whether Arsenal would consider withholding players for the 2022 World Cup as an act of protest over the ongoing FIFA crisis and the timing and venue of the Qatar showpiece.

IG: Gazidis described the FIFA crisis as “a grave concern” and that the primary objective should be “to restore faith and confidence” in their stewardship. Gazidis said that clubs and players do not have enough critical input into FIFA’s governance and that that would need to change. He said the club have a seat on the Board of European clubs and that they would try to affect change that way. He didn’t explicitly say it, but it sounded very much as though Arsenal would not take the kind of punitive action suggested in the question.

Q: Given the huge piles of lovely cash flowing into the club from TV companies, any chance of a ticket price freeze or reduction and adopting the Bundesliga pricing model?

IG: We’re developing revenues to focus on the commercial side.

Ticket pricing has never been based solely on demand and prices have remained flat in 7 of the last 10 years, with only inflationary rises on the other 3 occasions.

20% fall in match day revenue in real terms since 2006, renewal rates are currently over 97%.

Difficult to compare with Germany, whose stadiums are publicly funded, so the tax payer subsidises football tickets.

The Arsenal fan forums and supporters clubs have influenced ticketing, the Young Guns enclosure and Category C pricing, as well as the Arsenalisation of the stadium. All of these were initiatives suggested by supporters and taken forward by the club. He pointed out that the Young Guns enclosure rarely sells out, so more needs to be done to promote it.

Ivan reaffirms commitment to cheap travel options for away fans in difficult to travel to fixtures, including Sheffield Wednesday away in the League Cup.

The Premier League are still collectively discussing away ticket pricing and there’s no more to say on that currently, but discussions are ongoing.

Q: Will the club review its composition, given that it is all white, all male and advancing in years? Would board consider the appointment of an ex player to add football expertise?

SCK: Board is aware of need to regenerate due to its age, which will be considered “as we move forwards.”

Board has extensive football knowledge, Arsene is very involved, Gazidis has spent 21 years working in football, there is an experienced transfer negotiating team.

Q: What are Arsene Wenger’s targets for the season as set down by the board?

SCK: To compete for trophies at the top of the domestic and European game. The board is firmly convinced that Wenger is the right man to do that.

Q: Has KSE used the club as a guarantor against any loans and, assuming not, can the board confirm that this will not happen?

SCK: Arsenal is a private company, so all of its decisions in that respect, are made public.

Q: What are the club’s plans for the incoming cash influx of the new TV rights deal?

IG: Collective responsibility for Premier League to ensure that it’s a league that fans all over the world want to watch, that means investing in facilities for fans, investing in players, better referees. For Arsenal, it means investment across the club to ensure that we compete.

Q: Will use of Emirates Stadium be expanded for use for other events?

IG: Club restricted by planning constraints, applied for license to hold more concerts but application was rejected.

Brazil v Chile staged at the stadium in March, at which point Ivan joked about being “only doing it so we could keep Alexis in the country.”

X Factor, concerts, Hollywood film shoots and weddings also held there. 200,000 went on the Stadium tour last year and the Emirates Cup continues to be well attended.

Q: Will work be done by the club to improve the safety of Arsenal fans that travel to White Hart Lane and regularly experience intimidation?

IG: Club are looking at this and have had meetings with Spurs and the Met Police to avoid this happening again in the future. In 2015, fans should not be in a position where they fear for their safety at a football match.

Q: 3 questions bundled together that basically ask, “we have plenty of dough, why aren’t we spending it?!”

IG: Squad has been improved in recent seasons with plenty of transfers. Transfers important, but not the only facet of building a competitive squad.

Approach is kept under constant review, but spending just because you have money compromises quality and ambition. Other clubs have spent lots on players that haven’t contributed and Arsenal have had that scenario in some cases too.

Harder to find the last 5% of squad improvement than it is the previous 20%, which is the club’s big challenge now.

Q: Will the Arsenal board commit to paying all of its staff the London Living Wage and do the club insist suppliers do the same?

IG: All full and part-time staff are paid living wage, match day stewards are paid £9.50 per hour, which is above the living wage set down by the government. For 3rd parties this is reviewed as contracts come up and club will continue to do so.

Q: Will the club investigate changes to make the ticket exchange more flexible and will club review the Cup Final ticket allocation policy?

IG: Significant investment has been made in current ticket exchange mechanism, which is best and most successful in the world.

It will, however, undergo a complete redesign, by 2016 it will be available as an app on tablets and smartphones.

Review of how cup final tickets are allocated is ongoing. Have pressed the F.A. continually on increasing tickets made available to fans of competing clubs and hopeful of success there, we also hope it’s a problem we have again this season!

Q: The Arsenal website lists the most expensive ticket as £97, but some tickets are on the ticket exchange at £126. Why does the club not list this price on the main website?

IG: It’s not advertised because there are no general admission tickets at this price available, they are all held by season ticket holders. Hence, that price will appear on the ticket exchange from time to time as those season ticket holders list it.

Q: With the dissolution of Fanshare, are the board committed to a plurality of ownership?

SCK: We have a plurality of ownership and importantly, stability too which is “a precious commodity in football.” AGMs and shareholder issues are taken seriously. (Nice to know, Chips!)

Q: Why isn’t Theo Walcott stationed further forward when the team are defending setpieces?

IG: We have the joint best defensive record in the league at the moment. Arsene has heard you and will take note! (Cue laughter).

Q: How seriously does the club take the captaincy given that our last two captains have not even been first choice players?

SCW: We are happy with the job that “Michael” (he honestly said that) Arteta and Per Mertesacker do a great job with the captaincy.

Q: The beer is rubbish at the Emirates, will you get some better hooch?

IG: Finally, a serious question! Catering options are under constant review and your feedback is helpful.

Q: What does the club think of the proposal to have a mandatory quota of English players in the squad?

IG: We want more good English players, but quotas aren’t the way to achieve it. Insulating them from competition will not make them better, several studies back this up. Investment into facilities and coaching a much better way to go. English national team was no more successful when there were few foreign players in England.

Q: Will we revert to the old club crest (WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!) and what is the club’s reaction to Spurs hosting NFL games at their new stadium?

IG: Current crest fit for purpose, it won’t change in the foreseeable future, we want to look forwards, not back.

NFL not an avenue club will explore, the stadium couldn’t execute it anyway and it would compromise the playing surface. Arsenal would rather develop its own use of stadium rather than ground sharing.

Q: Will the club make in-stadium announcements around added time over the stadium public address system?

IG: It’s on the screens, but we don’t announce so as not to distract players at critical section of the game.

Q: What does the club need to do to win the Premier League? (SERIOUSLY, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!)

SCK: “It’s difficult to answer without being patronising, get more points than the other teams!”

AW: (More diplomatically) We need good bill of health, win big home games, try at least not to lose big away games and find a way to win 1-0 when a game looks like it will be 0-0.

At this point, Sir Chips promised to elaborate “a little” on the £3m fee paid to KSE by Arsenal Holdings. He said that “when you run a business, the best advice is the quick advice from people that know more about the problem than you do. I am responsible for the financial management of the club and ensuring that money is well spent and we get the best advice as quickly as we can.” As the crowd grew restless, still unimpressed by the answer, Sir Chips invited the audience to study the accounts and the trophies in front of them to decipher the value of those services.

He attempted to move on, before somebody from the audience shouts out, demanding to know whether the services are subject to a written agreement. “There is no written agreement, but we get the right advice.” The crowd continued to bristle, but Sir Chips managed to move the meeting on temporarily, with questions invited from the floor, unvetted.

The first gentleman ranted heartily about Arsenal’s performance in the Champions League, before Sir Chips cut him off, advising that “there’s no sensible answer to that,” (he’s got a point to be fair) and suggesting that the gentleman had made the noise he wanted to make.

Q: What has Ken Friar, who must be pushing 80 now, done to justify a 20% pay rise?

SCK: Advised that the questioner that he “found the ageism unattractive” before telling the gentleman that Mr. Friar had done more for the club than any individual in the last 50 years, which was greeted with applause.

Someone then proceeded to waste everybody’s time with a garble about the poor atmosphere at the Emirates (WHAT DO YOU WANT THE BOARD TO DO ABOUT THAT? LAP THE PERIMETER OF THE PITCH WITH A MEGAPHONE SHOUTING ‘WHAT DO YOU THINK OF TOTTENHAM?’ Actually, that’d be pretty cool). The young man then proposed a solution whereby the club check that those sitting in Club Level are definitely Arsenal fans before granting them admission to the stadium. His question was not greeted with nearly the disdain it deserved, with Gazidis providing a short answer about the impracticalities of such an approach, rather than slapping the young man about the chops with a wet kipper.

We then had a gentleman from the States who could well have been Stan Kroenke in disguise. He gushed endlessly about how “this is the best AGM I have ever attended” and “we are so lucky to have KSE on our board.” Eventually, Sir Chips had to encourage the man to get to the point and ask his question, acknowledging that he had cut off the ranters and must, in the interests of fairness, do the same to the sycophants (my words, not his).

The man then asked an entirely worthless question about the volume of the stadium PA, before complaining that people in the North Bank stand too much. Alas, he was not given the wet kipper treatment either. I hereby offer to tender my services to the club for next year’s AGM to slap people that ask stupid questions with a damp fish. I’ll settle on a payment of £3m for this service.

Q: Have the club changed their policy on injury management over the last few years? (No, Shad Forsythe was hired to amuse the players with balloon animals and amusing finger puppets. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!)

AW: Injury risk is part of the game, Barcelona have lost Messi for two months and you see the problem it gives them.

We’ve tried to increase our work on muscular injuries, those are the ones a club can control better.

Q: Eventually, a worthwhile question from Mr. Phil Wall (@angryofN5). What were the services that KSE provided to Arsenal that were worth £3m of the club’s money? Phil pointed out that Kroenke has the right as a shareholder to vote for this fee and if that is what happened, the board should just say so so that everyone knows where they stand.

SCK: Fees cannot be codified, continuity of the fee makes that impossible.

Q: What are club doing about tickets being sold on the black market? And can club review current away credits policy?

IG: Consistently oversubscribed for tickets.

Difficult to take tickets away from loyal fans that have been buying them over many years to give them to others, but policy will be reviewed.

In constant dialogue with authorities around touting and the black market.

Q: Ivan said that FIFA need to become more representative, does the Arsenal board not need to do the same?

SCK: Board members have to believe that they are being representative at all times.

He then went onto make a garbled point to the lady that asked the question, suggesting “I understand that you want to be on the board,” which, obviously, drew further frisson from the audience, at this point Chips apologised if he had misunderstood the question. (I’d suggest that if you literally don’t know what diversity means, it’s hard to say you’re being consciously representative there Mr. Chips).

IG: (Sensing that the chairman was in danger of making an almighty hash of his answer) Club understands it needs to be more representative at board level. We are proud to have earned the equality standard award from Kick It Out and it’s an issue we take seriously.

As Sir Chips tried to draw the meeting to a close, a member of the audience shouted out, “Can we have a few words from Mr. Kroenke, please?” to which Mr. Keswick answered, “No.”

Arsene Wenger chimed in at this point to answer the gentleman that had ranted about Arsenal’s Champions League performances earlier on, pointing out that Arsenal are in the top 5 in Europe for Champions League win percentage and that, whilst Monaco, Anderlecht and Olympiacos were bad performances, they were not representative of the whole picture. His payoff line, “Look at the games we played in the Champions League before I arrived and then come back to me.” OOSH!

A relieved Sir Chips closed the meeting with, “thank you for your passion, it is appreciated,” a variation on an old classic.


Follow me on Twitter @Stillberto



  1. He called Arteta “Michael”?? That’s incredibly embarrassing and disrespectful.

    Thanks a million for the write up, Tim. You and everyone else behind this blog are brilliant, don’t know what I’d do without it.

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    • Perhaps an indication of how much the Arsenal boardroom/hierachy knows about whats going on on the pitch. If he can’t get Artetas name right (our captain!) who is closer home i doubt he can be arsed about what player (even by name) we oughta be bringing in to improve us on the PITCH….

      SCW: Just balance our cheques out, k Arsene?

      More immediate retired players in the boardroom please! They could give atleast 2 shits…

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      • I can’t be the only one that thinks having a slew of retired athletes on a multi-billion business board is a bad idea? Their input may be valuable, but rich old folks are who they are because they were and are good at what they do – business.

        We may be a football club, but frankly, as an American, I strongly appreciate Arsenal’s practice of international growth. Simply put, board matters have evolved beyond the expertise of Arsenal’s actual football matters, and directing the support framework for the actual football being played is a wholly different beast from playing football. At least at the magnitude Arsenal does it.

        While I’m all for more diversity, at the same time, I don’t really see the board doing too much wrong. They’re not able to impact the team on day-to-day results. 3 Million is a lot of quid, no doubt, but consulting fees ranging in that region are commonplace for giant businesses, particularly in the regions of advertising, business development, etc. Would 3 million a year really change Arsenal’s presence in the transfer market? The only thing 3 million a year could actively change is in ticket pricing, which is a valid concern, definitely. But at the same time, if you could use that 3 million to invest in a better path to the commercial development of the club, it would provide the same, if not far more revenue increase (hopefully), which would then essentially help deal with ticket pricing to begin with.

        TL;DR, The main problem really isn’t the 3 million, it’s the fact that we just aren’t being told what it’s about.

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        • And, considering that Arsenal sell about 1.8 million home tickets each season, applying that three million to a reduction in ticket prices would only see the prices reduced by a little over a pound.

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    • I suppose you’ve met people called Joseph, Yusuf, Josef, Stefan, Steven, Stephen, Stevan, Michael, MIkael, Mikel, etc etc regional variations of a name and never got them wrong?

      I don’t blame Sir Chips. He’s old enough to misremember or have more slips of the tongue than younger people, and it’s a terribly innocent slip to make.

      If anything, people who extrapolate ridiculous judgments of character and intent from this slip of the tongue come off as far more out there than mistaking Mikel for Michael.

      It’s not like everyone in England is pronouncing Szczesny’s name correctly ffs.

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      • “I suppose you’ve met people called Joseph, Yusuf, Josef, Stefan, Steven, Stephen, Stevan, Michael, MIkael, Mikel, etc etc regional variations of a name and never got them wrong?”

        I’m not an executive speaking about one of my most prominent employees at an annual meeting to address things going on in my company.

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        • I have been to plenty of meetings with “C” level executives to know they are just as human as the rest of us. They mispronounce names and misspell them all the time. I suppose you are perfect and have never mispronounced anything in your life.

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        • I agree with Cornelius here. Arteta is our club captain. Sir Chips should make it a point to know Wenger’s Deputy’s first name, especially if he’s going to announce his name as if they’re on a first-name basis. You never see Sir Chips get Arsene’s name wrong. 550 names are a lot to remember, and I’d understand if he got a steward’s name wrong. But everyone knows Mikel. And that it’s Mikel. Strange oversight for someone with business acumen.

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  2. Please get the £3m payment it in writing first to avoid AGM queries. Plus in thought Finger puppets and balloon animals were part of the treatment for moral?

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  3. Nice reporting mate was a good read. Only negatives to come out seems to be mysterious 3m payment and dodgy CL performance. But I’m sure all will be forgiven of we win the title.

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    • Indeed, Stan was there and he would have been in the best position to elaborate upon the “wide range of services” which KSE provided (or more accurately, purportedly provided)… But no, he chose to remain silent despite facing the the obvious dissatisfaction on the floor with the payment.

      If we were to study the financial accounts and trophies won by Arsenal, as suggested by Sir Chips, I would say that it has come down to Wenger, Gazidis, and the rest of the board, rather than KSE. I’ve probably said this before, but it’s really relevant today: Stan had absolutely NOTHING to do with Arsenal’s financial or footballing success. He came in when the vision to be self-sustainable was already in place, didn’t do anything about the stadium debt to help accelerate and get over the lean years, and when those years finally came to an end, when we bought Ozil and Sanchez and won trophies, he then takes a bit of spare change because he can. Where’s the positive input by KSE along the way here? I’m really struggling to see any.

      In short, if what KSE provided is really that valuable, then why the need to be so defensive over it, and rhetorical even? The evidence clearly points to the contrary.

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      • It is disappointing that they don’t elaborate but it’s probably marketing and communications as they’re the main common ‘non sporting’ issues that Stans different clubs have in common.
        It’s not something an outsider would notice. Hopefully it is something that the insiders notice, rather than a sneeky dividend payment. Although if it is a sneeky dividend payment then it’s quite a small one baring in mind his capital investment.

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        • If it was consulting on advertising and communications they would have said that.

          The refusal to answer the question tells you all you need to know.

          It’s definitely not above board and it’s definitely not for legitimate services. No written contract, club won’t say what payments were for…it isn’t hard to figure this one out.

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          • They didn’t say because it was a number of things and didn’t want to tell all. But I’m pretty certain marketing and communications would have been the bulk of it, if only for any tax paperwork.

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      • I mean hang on. Look at Arsenal’s financials 5 years ago and look at them today… Do you think that’s all Arsene and Gazidis? Fair play if you do, but I don’t. We’ve basically doubled the size of our club financially since 2007. Sure the 3M is a bit shady because there is no definitive explanation, but for you to sit there and say KSE has done nothing is pretty silly.

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  4. This :-

    Q: Has KSE used the club as a guarantor against any loans and, assuming not, can the board confirm that this will not happen?

    SCK: Arsenal is a private company, so all of its decisions in that respect, are made public.

    is the killer question. Far more than the £3 million cash that Kronke is taking. No doubt next year it will be four or five million ; but in this context , so what ?

    But the question of allowing Arsenal to sit on a cash mountain of almost £200 million, so that KSE can site this if they need some State side $$$$, is the real issue.

    Needless to say no one at the AGM, or on this site, will be pursuing the matter any time soon.

    But unless you really were born yesterday, you might be able to work out the answer unaided !

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    • The £200m would never be able to be used for that purpose. Don’t really get the hostility towards Kroenke to be honest, we’ve been pretty soundly run before and after his arrival, and there’s nothing to suggest that’ll change any time soon. The £3m really pisses me off, though. To pay £3m to someone there MUST be a tangible way of explaining what you’ve received, not some nonsense about them knowing more than us so obviously we have to pay to speak to them. Absolutely farcical, I can’t help but feel more can be done to shed light on it properly. Sadly beyond the AGM the only real option is one of these online polls that everyone thinks wil have to go to parliament after it gets X thousand signatures. (it won’t)

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      • “The £200m would never be able to be used for that purpose.”

        So you really were born yesterday ? Of course it would be used for that purpose. The purpose, doesn’t require Kronke spending it. But it necessitates no one else spends it as well. It necessitates being there ; so KSE can site it as collateral for any bridging loan or financial borrow they undertake and the money forms collateral against that action.

        And when Kronke first showed up, this sites ‘hero’ Peter Hill-Wood famously declared “we don’t want his sort round here.” Now the Party line is that Stan’s syrup is spun gold and he’s the greatest Yank since John Wayne. This conveniently forgets that the Party Line pre Kronke was to echo the Hill-Wood mantra that Arsenal had “plurality of ownership” and did not need any Stan’s or Usmanov’s because “we are Arsenal”. All of that is now conveniently consigned to the trash heap of history and we’re all supposed to swallow the current bullshit.
        Well some of us don’t. And both Kronke and Usmanov are highly suspect – albeit for different reasons. It could work, if they cancelled each other out. But with Kronke holding a 2 to 1 share advantage, he has carte blanche to do what he likes.

        There’s nothing anyone can do about it. But I’ll be damned if I have to bend the knee to it.

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        • Nope, just got a degree in finance, read the reports linked by Arseblog (Swiss Rambler is it?) and seen that lots of that £200m that people think is just sat gaining interest is actually quite clearly earmarked for specific purposes. And it’s not like he’s going to be putting it all on the final hand of a poker game, if he does use the club in that way it will be in a situation as close to zero risk as humanly possible- he’s not going to gamble with one of the top 5/ 10 most valuable sports teams globally. I don’t dispute that in an ideal world we wouldn’t have a Kroenke and certainly not an Usmanov but unfortunately it would appear football is at a point where that’s no longer possible. Just saying Kroenke really isn’t as bad as some make out. And I don’t see anyone being particualrly positive about him, much less ‘bending at the knee’.

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          • Of course it’s earmarked – or some of it is – for ongoing payments of wages and utilities. We get that. But that amount isn’t static. We have plenty of income from both sponsorship – not just Emirates – and TV. That doesn’t come in all at once. So there’s a flow – in and out.

            And I’m not suggesting he is going to stick it on a crap game. But the temptation to ensure that it’s kept high for that purpose – collateral – rather than partially spent on transfer fees is obvious. This is why Wenger is just great as far as Kronke is concerned. The money comes flooding in. A lot gets spent on the team. But a lot is kept back and the sacred fourth place and thirty million of CL money keeps coming in ; the Stadium revenue is maintained and the balance sheet and share price are nice and fat.

            The downside is that whilst we’re not going down much on the pitch, as the season’s position and points tally is pretty consistent, we never take the necessary steps to bridge the gap with the two or three teams above us. But if we don’t, it’s no worry for Stan. Even if the rest of us aren’t so sanguine about it.

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    • His wealth means that he’d need to lose a shed load of money (business and personal) before he needs to use any AFC money as a guarantee.

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      • He is in fact worth over $6 billion. I think he has plenty of collateral so I doubt this is not the reason we didn’t spend the £200 million. (not to mention if he absolutely needed cash his wife is a billionaire as well so…..)

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        • also if he wanted to put collateral up for a loan, he has over £60M worth of AFC shares, and as others pointed out he and his wife are both billionaires, so I really don’t get the notion that AFC did not spend another £40M or £50M on signings just so KSE can leverage a loan against the money we have in the bank, its a rather childish notion.

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  5. I love this guy. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE! And the word kipper had me in stitches as Alfred used that word in the series Gotham, now I think Tim has this alter ego involving fighting crime.

    Thanks for the reporting.

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  6. Could we please take steps to ensure that any wet fish used for the purpose of slapping miscreants around the chops, be ‘line caught’ and not obtained through dodgy unsustainable fishing practices? Alternatively, could we simply use Glenn Hoddle, as he’s one of the biggest wet fish available and no one cares how he’s caught?

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  7. Excellent reporting. The complexity of the situation fans and owners find themselves in is palpable. Shareholders want to pretend that this governing structure is a democracy and that fans have a say in the matter, and fans viewing themselves as stewards and ‘true owners’ of the club blissfully ignore that they really have no power and charge forward with their demands. COYG!

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  8. I don’t really get the disdain for the question about stadium atmosphere. The board does obviously have some control over this. The big thing would obviously be reintroducing standing areas, and although that’s something that Arsenal probably couldn’t do unilaterally, it is something Arsenal could push for if it wanted to.

    There are other, more minor things that could be done as well. There are all sorts of ways to encourage fans to be more passionate in their support, from the mild (offering incentives to committed fans who do improve the atmosphere) to the more extreme (reserving certain key areas of the stadium only for the most committed of fans, who have got some kind of club approval). Dortmund’s Yellow Wall owes a lot to the supporters themselves but it itself supported by the club logistically.

    The fact is that the Emirates has close to the worst fan atmosphere in the league, and that’s a bit of a blot on the club no matter how you cut it. A board that was embarrassed by that sort of thing – which this board clearly isn’t – could do quite a bit to encourage a better atmosphere.

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    • Gazidis did say in his answer that it has proved difficult to move people around because people don’t want to move, so they’ve hit a bit of a brick wall (THE RED WALL) with that suggestion. But there is already a signing section in Block 5. Personally, I think it’s a massive cop out from fans to look to the board for something like this when it’s something entirely in their control. If you want to sing, just sing! You don’t need help. Fact is, fans aren’t bothered enough about it nowadays to do anything about it themselves because it’s not as important to them as they say it is. The Emirates really is no different to the vast majority of grounds in the country.

      But the question was incredibly poorly put even leaving that aside, the guy just said “there are too many corporates in club level, can we get rid of them or even check if they are Arsenal fans before they enter the stadium,” which is unbelievably ridiculous. As well as being totally misguided, how on earth, administratively, would you begin to enact this policy?

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      • Hear hear. Although perhaps the club could help by switching the tv screens in concourse areas on only after the first half has ended and switch them all off 3 minutes before second half begins. Personally I find it bizarre that so many people need to get out for a half time beer. They can’t all be on weekend release from Pentonville and in need of getting their weekly beer quota before lockup Monday morning.

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      • You could ask them some simple Arsenal trivia questions…

        Which player was known as ‘Chippy’?
        How crap was Lee Chapman?
        What club did Herbert Chapman manage before he joined Arsenal?
        Who managed Arsenal to their first ‘Double’?
        What did she wear?
        What do you think of Tottenham?

        That sort of thing.

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      • I obviously wasn’t there, so I’ll take your word that is was a poorly worded question..

        And obviously I agree it’s not PRIMARILY something for the board to deal with.

        But it’s also true that the board is not powerless to enact policies which encourage more fan involvement, and that they’ve seemed to be singularly uninterested in doing so.

        Basically everyone shares some responsibility for the poor atmosphere at the stadium, and rather than pointing fingers, it seems like the more productive thing to do would be to consider what steps everyone can do to make things better.

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    • During the last 2 home games I’ve been to I’ve experienced the bloke sitting next to me chatting to his mate about rugby for 20 minutes, a bloke in front of me literally watching a tv show on his mobile and someone threatening to report a fan to a steward for saying the word “sh*t” a bit loudly. At the start and finish of every half there are numerous empty seats because the loo and beer are seemingly more attractive options than watching the game. These issues aren’t for the Board to sort out – if people want a decent atmosphere, make the effort and stop blaming everybody else.

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      • Enough with the common sense approach. We need to implement rules to ensure a good atmosphere.

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    • not only can Arsenal not unilaterally bring in standing sections, but not even the BPL can do it, as things stand the law does not allow it. So it would actually take the Government to allow it.

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  9. Actually, i thought the question about the club crest was very reasonable. It might not be crucial in any way to our success on the pitch but it’s ever so bland and Fulham-like. I loved the older ones from the 70’s and 80’s. I seem to remember that there were copyright or infringement issues that did not allow AFC to control the use of the logo. Anyway, not an unreasonable question. But I also appreciate that there are more pressing questions (like the 3 million question).

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    • Changing the crest may be a valid question (the current one still looks like clipart to me and it has been 13 years that we’ve had it now). Going back to the old one is a nonsense question. There were copyright issues anyway, but what reason would they have to revert to an old one other than, “some old geezers that miss their youth want everything the same as it was when they were young”?

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  10. Standing or not I think when the Emirates was built, I believe, we gave an undertaking the stadium would never exceed 60.000.

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    • It was part of the agreement because of transport concerns at the time I believe rather than ‘never’, it would be technically possible if we paid £60m~ to upgrade Drayton park tube station and assuming we could get the council to agree to allow us to increase match day capacity of course, though there shouldn’t be a problem if we did upgrade the transport infrastruture, of course on top of this we would need to spend x amount on the construction work itself, so while it is possible it would be very expensive.

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  11. The 3m payment (again) raises some eyebrows. It seems dodgy to me, and the answer sounded so crooked. I would think that there’s reason for the IRS and/or HMRS to make inquiries into it if they cared to look. The money is an expense for one company and income for the other, or it’s a dividend by another name. The two are not equivalent.

    Worth little to say, but I don’t believe for a second that a company as large as Arsenal makes a habit of conducting business without a contract. The Guardian reported that at the AGM someone compared the fee to Blatter’s payment to Platini, which turned Sir Chips chippy. Incredibly, Sir Chips basically gave a mafioso’s explanation: I took care of my guy. He did something for me, so I gave him a taste. Told him he should get his wife something nice.

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      • I think I would be pretty pissed off too if someone compared me that criminal. And that is the nicest word I could think of to call him.

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    • I would think that the club’s accountants and tax lawyers would have a decent understanding of the IRS/HMRC treatment, wouldn’t you….
      Why are people so concerned that a businessman takes a payment from a company he/she owns? Honestly, have we not moved on from the politics of envy that made this country such a fucking awful place in the 70’s?

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      • The issue is with the lack of transparency towards shareholders. If it’s genuinely for worthwhile services then give details of those services, what’s the issue? All they have to do is give a summary of the services being provided, shareholders are entitled to know where club funds are going to and, especially having hiked ticket prices by £3m recently. If money is being leaked out of the club without good reason then it could undermine the value of their won investment. Most people suspect it’s actually a dividend in all but name and, while there’s nothing wrong with dividends, the issue with that only Kroenke gets one – why not every other shareholder?

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      • I am not that naive, no. Ever hear of Enron? Arthur Anderson? Shareholders should be skeptical. A reasonable explanation is all that is required.

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        • but there was a reasonable explanation given for it and that is not all that is required for so many it seems, They want chorus and verse, to the last detail, as it seems most have already decided that there is something iffy about the payment and anything other than a detailed line for line explanation will not change their minds.

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        • If I own 1/62000th of a company and the guy who owns 40000/62000 of the company chooses to do something which I don’t like, the reality is I put up with it or sell the minute and frankly unimportant shareholding I have. The fact is Arsenal is 97% held by two men. It is not to all intents and purposes a public company nor a public good. Further, it does not have the power to distort markets for its own purposes. The comparison with Enron is at best inappropriate and at worst disingenuous.

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  12. Excellent reporting Tim. thanks……..brilliant comments too, i must say……had me in stiches from the first comment all the way to the last.

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  13. Somewhat disengenerous of Wenger to suggest we should compare the games played in the Champions League before his arrival. If the same qualification criteria that was in place before his arrival was still in place, we would have qualified just once in the last 10 years!

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  14. OK, I just about understand the fixation with the £3m consultancy fee, but only just about… It is a defacto dividend, without being a dividend… why this approach??? It’s more tax efficient… AND… if they call it a dividend, then they’ll have to pay cash over to Usminov, as he also has a significant share holding… maybe the reticence comes from making this too obvious… Really, the only person who should probably feel shafted is Usminov….don’t know my Company Law well enough, but maybe if they made it too obvious as to what their true intention is, Usminov may have legal grounds for claiming it’s a dividend in all but name, and hence he should receive a dividend too?? That would be my best guess…. But, having said all that, Sir Chips is behaving like a bit of a c*ck with his evasiveness….

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  15. Parasites all of them, Usmanov is a villain but at least one on our side. Henry & Usmanov on the board please, hopefully Stan will FO when Wenger goes as he won’t have a clue what to do and neither will any of his cronies.

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    • Because unlike Kroenke he is a Arsenal fan and everything he says is aligned with what the fans say, American owners hardly have a great track record for throwing money into football, as with the Glazers though they quite like taking it out. But I guess we’ll be stuck with the toupee wearing, mute who looks like he’s had a stroke for the next 20 years if people can’t work this out, I despair!.

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      • usmanov is a man utd fan. And all his utterances in the media show is that he knows how to do a bit of good PR with disgruntled fans by parroting whatever is the latest soundbite they are using to have a go at the club.

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      • Usmanov said a long time ago that he wanted his shares to pay a dividend. 3m is a tiny amount for that amount of capital/profit so I’m pretty certain that Usmanov would be looking for a lot more than 3m per year. Usmanov is a big fan of money, and football is much less interesting to him. I’m not a fan of Stan but I also think he’s pretty harmless and one day he’ll move on and we will notice the next guy a lot more. Whilst Usmanov is the type who takes risks and although that may sound good initially, when he risks his fortune and starts using AFC as collateral, that really isn’t good.

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        • Why would he use AFC as collateral when A. He is an Arsenal fan and B. He is considerably richer than Kroenke?.

          I think some fans buy the bs and are happy to finish 4th. Roll on the day when the EPL loses the 4th place CL qualifying spot, it only encourages the Kroenke type.

          You lot should be ashamed, your attitude is what makes Arsenal the sort of club that aims for 4th place.

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          • What evidence do you have that Usmanov is an Arsenal fan please?
            And the key word here is evidence. Not conjecture or wishful thinking. Evidence.
            Many thanks.

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          • He’s a gambler and Stan isn’t. Stan wouldn’t put himself in a position where he’d need to borrow against AFC, the Uzbekistani guy would. Usmanov works in dodgy territories where the risk is high but the rewards are high. Stan doesn’t.
            The club doesn’t put a ‘max’ of 4th in their targets, it puts a minimum of 4th on it, and Usmanov would do the same. The day we lose dreamers that think we should have done better than 4th some years will be a better day for this club.

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  16. I know that most Arsenal fans are still in the mindset that Arsenal is a fan owned club. The fact is, is that Kroenke owns the club therefore he can take whatever money he wants from the club! No questions asked!! In America, owners take a lot more than 3 million and it’s fine because, it’s their asset to do whatever they want with. I know that makes fans uncomfortable, but hIs actions have proven to be responsible so I would say that you need to just get over it that we don’t know what the 3 million is for.

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