Get it done please, Ivan

January 29, 2018

Who would have thought the January transfer window was going to be so busy and exciting?

Coq out, Theo out, Sanchez out – Henrikh in as part of the latter deal.
If we manage to get Pierre-Emerick over the line, then it would be seen as a successful window, surely?
If not, the squad would appear depleted and the pervasive mood one of deflation.

Does the Aubameyang sale depend on Dortmund finding a replacement?

Did BVB initially want Big Ollie as part of the deal but we slapped a ‘Not For Sale’ notice on his beard?  Would you be happy losing our plan B?

In today’s cash-rich footballing world, the difference between 50 million and 60 million seems negligible – is that how Arsenal see it?

We can surely afford to reduce our cash reserves a little so are there any other considerations regarding wage bills?

Do other clubs have these seemingly interminable transfer sagas and we just don’t notice them?

Ivan, bearing in mind we can’t force Dortmund to sell and if it is humanly possible, please don’t allow yourself and Arsenal Football Club to end up with egg on our faces by 11pm on Wednesday.

We can’t even blame Dick Law now.

 

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Is Governance the Problem at Arsenal?

November 19, 2015

Who owns Arsenal and how is it governed? Although many fans would answer that Arsenal belongs to us, the truth is that we fans are just consumers of goods and services from the club we love. We are very important to the club but this gives us no element of ownership. Good governance would normally include ensuring that decision making bodies are representative, decisions are transparent and both bodies and decisions are accountable. It is for you to judge how well Arsenal does in these terms.

Firstly actual ownership of Arsenal is the prerogative of shareholders as a whole. Currently this means that 66% are owned by a company called Kroenke Sports and Entertainments (KSE) which is wholly owned by Stan Kroenke a US billionaire who owns a number of sporting clubs and franchises mostly in the US. 30% is owned by a company called Red & White Holdings (RWH) which is jointly owned by Usmanov and Moshiri. The remaining paltry 4% is owned by a constantly decreasing number of older fans and their families.

The current situation emerged from a volatile and active Board disagreement on the new stadium. This led to a lock-down on share disposal from the Board initially and ultimately on the death of Danny Fiszman to the sale of his shares to Stan Kroenke who then exceeded 30% shareholding and had to make a formal bid to all other shareholders. This had been pre-agreed with all Board members and other major shareholders. The primary effect was to make Stan Kroenke effective sole owner of Arsenal and as a secondary effect put David Dein who had recently been removed from the Board completely into the wilderness. As a consequence he sold his shares to and briefly led RWH who garnered at that point just under 30% of the remaining shares.  This RWH share position is important because if Kroenke were to obtain a further 9% support then he could change Arsenal to a private company and this could involve all sorts of shenanigans as any Man U supporter will tell you in the light of the Glaziers following exactly this process. So Usmanov currently has an impregnable blocking vote on that.

There is one other aspect of share ownership that must be covered before we move on. Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) who have as their members a large portion of the small independent share holders, sought to agree with Kroenke at the point of his bid and Ivan Gazidis as CEO that they would set up a Fanshare scheme to enable ordinary fans to have an opportunity to buy shares and so participate in ownership of the club. It is noteworthy that the nearly half a billion £ Kroenke has paid for his shares has not given a penny into Arsenal coffers- only new shares being issued would do this. In spite of intensive effort and pressure the issue of new shares was never agreed by Kroenke and the Fanshare scheme is going through the long, sad and arduous process of being wound up. So much for real attempts at involving fans meaningfully.

Day to day running of the club is of course the responsibility of the Board which is elected at the AGM by the shareholders (ie Stan Kroenke). The Arsenal board is currently very small, comprising only 6 persons. Two non-executive Directors are Sir Chips Keswick, a banker, and Lord Harris of Peckham a carpet retailer and Philanthropist. Neither are shareholders of any significance. There are two employees namely Ivan Gazidis as CEO and Ken Friar a very long standing employee of the club. Finally there are Stan and his son Josh Kroenke who attend with that 66% majority in their bag. The board meets monthly and all are wined and dined well at each match including away matches with luxury travel with the first team. No mean sinecure. The only major earners on the board are the two employees. Both Kroenkes and Sir Chips, who is chairman, draw a standard fee of £25k although Lord Harris donates his to charities. Neither agendas nor minutes are public documents so transparency is almost nil.

Real matters of governance concern would be that the board is in no way representative of the fans. It has no women although they are increasingly present at the stadium. It also should be noted that any skills set analysis would find the board very narrow and inadequate. There is good management and business skills but experience at top playing or coaching level is entirely absent.

When talking of the board the elephant not in the room is of course Arsene Wenger. He probably rightly has avoided siren calls to join but has zealously guarded his right to select and train all footballers on staff. He also expects the primary say in transfers in and out of the club although we have no knowledge as to what parameters may be set by the board eg specifically on total cost or value. Arsene in particular seems willing to let the buck stop with him in these areas.

Perhaps the best way to assess Arsenal governance performance is to consider issues and I have chosen three but you may well have your own and it would be interesting to see your cases and views in comments.

  1. For two years there has been a strong fan reaction to the news that a wholly Kroenke owned company has been paid £3 million each year for unspecified services commissioned and approved in particular by the two non-executive Directors. Now in principle I am not opposed depending on the services given and their true value. There are aspects of marketing and match day experience in which the US is a world leader but the problem is we are not told anything useful and so it is zero marks for transparency. Of course if it is just a means to pay Kroenke and avoid paying the nearly half again to RWH that a dividend on shares would entail then there are entirely new issues emerge.
  2. For several years local Islington Citizens supported by a number of fan groups and Arsenal blogs have been trying to persuade Arsenal to adopt the London Living Wage for it’s own staff and when the opportunity arises for external contract staff. This is clearly morally right for a company in Arsenal’s financial position and there are strong arguments that it would positively enhance the match day experience. And all at less cost than the Kroenke company fees. But in spite of being raised at the last three AGMs accountability is so poor that the policy still awaits a final board sign-off. Perhaps Stan Kroenke whose other half is not only better but also richer being a Walmart inheritor, where staff pay is notorious, has an undesirable influence here
  3. Arsenal are very rightly proud of the work they do as Arsenal in the Community. But it is extremely difficult to find a way of suggesting innovation. The FA has got itself into all sorts of foolish financial difficulty but there is a singular clear and pressing difficulty in developing youth and grass roots football. Could not Arsenal under the auspices of Arsenal in the Community set aside £5-£10millions to train and employ 25-50 new fully qualified coaches which could be offered to local schools and local cubs to build a new approach with the ‘Arsenal way’.

I have to say that for me the questions and principles that were posed in the opening paragraph are sadly evidenced that Governance at Arsenal is a long way from good enough and we as fans have to try to bring all the pressure we can to get improvements.

Vintage Gooner


Arsenal Transfer System Solution

June 26, 2015

The diary says Rant Friday, the mind says relax, all is cool and smokey dopey Glasto weekend.

On the transfer front, I suspect the real action will begin once the Copa America ends, and then the endless haggling will rumble on and on and on.

The really good news is that I have a solution.

Let’s look at the evidence. How many of our 1st XI would get in to the current Champions League winning Barcelona side? You guessed it. None. Maybe two if you are being nice and elastic. In other words, out there somewhere is a player better than we have in any one position. So, here’s the plan and like all great ideas, it is very simple.

Allocate your transfer budget. Say £70M (you’d recoup maybe 30 by flogging players with bad hair and so on). Ok, next step, allocation of funds. Don’t need defenders, so one midfielder, and one forward. Tidy so far.

Attackers are better than midfielders, so 40 on the front boy, and 30 on the other fella.

List all players who may be an upgrade. Reus, Draxler, Benzema, Cavani etc

Ditto midfielders. Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Bender, Vidal, Cavalho and so on.

Then take out a sodding great Ad. in SHOOT jobs section:

AFC OFFER £40M + 160k wages to …… (list potential applicants eligible to apply)

AFC OFFER £30M + 120k wages to …… (list potential applicants eligible to apply)

NO OFFERS. NO NEGOTIATION. FIRST COME GETS JOB.

No buggering about over the numbers. In budget. Get two serious upgrades. We’ll make a system to fit later.

Written by mickydidit89

 


What is Arsenal football club?

December 2, 2014

I read that the other day Ivan and Arsene were having a chat on the training ground, and it got me thinking.

What were they discussing leapt to mind, but also, who was The Boss. This led me to my question: What is Arsenal Football Club.

An Institution? Certainly. A Business? Again, certainly. However the bigger question is how is it really structured, and what kind of structure would YOU like?

You have Fan Power at a Club like Barcelona. You have the Dictatorship Model at Chelsea with whatshisname stomping around getting involved in everything, or so it appears. Arsenal also have a solitary owner (effectively), but one who we reckon lies pretty low, ceding power and day to day running to others. Is that Ivan or Arsene?

Where should ultimate power rest, Owner, Chairman, Manager, Fans? I see pro’s and con’s of all models.

Written by MickyDidIt89


Quotes of the Year: Arsenal New Year(ish) Quiz

January 6, 2014

What a fine year 2013 was. We were the best team in England during the past twelvemonth, confounding the doom sayers and the “experts” who make a living from sitting on TV studio couches with too-tight trousers and bad haircuts. Now 2014 is a few days old and Gunners everywhere will be hoping for more of the same. Today, for a bit of a diversion, I thought we all might like a bit of fun. Below is a list of quotations relating to The Arsenal, all made during 2013. All you need to do is match the quotes to this list of fine (and not-so-fine) folk: Arsene Wenger, Piers Morgan, Sir Chips Keswick, Lord Sugar, Andrei Arshavin, Per Mertesacker, Ivan Gazidis, Alan Shearer, Tony Adams, Santi Cazorla, Andre Villas-Boas, Harry Redknapp.: All answers are at the end. Good luck. Arsenal Related Quotes of 2013

  1. No mobile signal in directors box, assumed was correct. Composed tweet in stand, got sent after game.”
  2. Arsenal cannot win the league this season, no way, they haven’t proved anything yet.”
  3. I promised myself I would make sure I did things well and, considering the money that Arsenal spent on me, I didn’t want to let anyone down.”
  4. What does Wenger see in Ramsey? A complete and utter liability.” (January 2013).
  5. We are on an upward spiral in terms of confidence and they (Arsenal) are on a negative spiral in terms of results. To get out of that negative spiral is extremely difficult.”
  6. I wouldn’t compare the two squads (Arsenal and Tottenham). Tottenham are much stronger, no doubt.” (August 2013).
  7. It felt like the crowd (at Arsenal) was at the theatre – good seats, expensive tickets and they wanted to see a show, not to support the team.”
  8. It can’t just be all happiness, peace and pancakes.”
  9. Don’t mind and don’t care.” (On being asked by journalists for a reaction to Tottenham being knocked out of the Europa Cup by Basle).
  10. “Yes there is a poster of Gareth Bale in Times Square, but he no longer plays for Tottenham – he now plays for one of our rivals!‘”
  11. “I am greatly honoured to have been appointed _______  of Arsenal Football Club. This is one of the great clubs in the game, recognised and loved by millions. I am looking forward to leading the Club to future success.”
  12. “If they just wanted a figurehead, they should have gone for me. It would have been a better visionary decision.”

RockyLives

Scroll down the page to find the answers ………….

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Answers to Quiz:

1. Lord Alan Sugar, after getting Spuds fans all excited about a non-existent Newcastle goal against Arsenal on the final day of the season)

2. Alan Shearer

3. Santi Cazorla

4. Piers Morgan.

5. Andre Villas-Boas

6. Harry Redknapp

7. Andrei Arshavin

8. Per Mertesacker (explaining why he roasted Ozil for not saluting the away fans)

9. Arsene Wenger

10.  Ivan Gazidis

11. Sir Chips Keswick on being announced as Peter Hill Wood’s successor as Chairman

12. Tony Adams, responding to the appointment of Sir Chips.

RockyLives


In Praise Of Ivan The Not-So-Terrible

June 10, 2013

There is an unbridgeable divide between supporters who feel we have overachieved since the stadium move and those who feel we have underachieved.

I am in the first camp. The arguments for and against have seen more daylight than Ashley Cole’s wayward todger so there’s no need to go into them in too much depth again.

But in summary, the case for us having overachieved is this:

  • We moved stadium at great expense, leaving us with a mighty debt.
  • To pay for the stadium we had to enter into long-term commercial deals which, while just about OK at the time, became less and less competitive as the years went by. Unfortunately we were locked in for the long haul as it was the only way we could finance the new stadium.
  • The world entered the biggest financial crash for 75 years.
  • Rich oilygarchs started taking over English football clubs and completely skewed the economics of the game. In this rich man’s game we were suddenly the paupers at the table.
  • Somehow, despite all these adverse trends, we managed to qualify for the Champions League every single year while showing a net profit on transfers. During this period we were massively outspent not just by the oilers, but also by such footballing titans as Stoke City, Aston Villa, QPR, West Ham, Sunderland, Wigan, Reading and Norwich.
  • All the above constitutes a minor footballing miracle. That any club could be steered through such stormy seas and still find its way to harbour safely year after year is simply incredible. One day this achievement will be understood and appreciated more widely than it is now.

Now if you, like me, accept this case as being self-evident, then it naturally follows that some people have been doing an extraordinarily good job at Arsenal.

First and foremost the credit for this overachievement is rightly given to Arsene Wenger.

We now know that his “project youth” experiment (while undoubtedly appealing somewhat to his philosophy and vanity) was actually a policy of financial necessity.

And while many are angry that he failed to bring us any silverware in the years since we left Highbury, with the financial resources we had available it’s remarkable that we did not slide into mid table mediocrity.

But enough has been said and written about Arsene.

I want to dole out some credit to another man – one who has been pilloried and vilified by huge swathes of the fan base for many years: Ivan Gazidis.

The reason I feel he deserves praise is because if Arsene was the captain of our ship during the stormy years, Ivan was the chief engineer. It was his job to keep HMS Arsenal seaworthy (financially sound) during some very difficult years – and he has succeeded brilliantly.

To be honest, I have never understood the vitriol – hate, even – that has been directed at him. Most of the critics have not the faintest idea of what he actually does (not that it stops them hating him).

When he became Chief Executive in 2008 the challenges before him were many and complex but the main ones were: retain the services of Arsene Wenger; pay down the high-interest elements of our stadium debt; ensure stability in the boardroom during a period of intense struggle between shareholders; improve on the commercial deals when possible.

Well, you can put a tick against every one of those aims.

His recent interview, in which he spoke with great optimism about the future of Arsenal, has received mixed reactions entirely depending on the prejudices of the listener/reader.

If you are part of the Angry Brigade, his talk of being now able to compete financially with the best in the world was a cynical ploy related to season ticket renewal and in advance of the meeting with supporters this week. Or it was a way of passing the blame on to Arsene if we fail to make any significant signings this summer.

I am a much less complicated listener. I took his words to mean what they said. In fact, they sounded to me like self-evident truth: we know that our new commercial deals are bringing in vast sums of money; we know that the new Premier League broadcasting deal is doing likewise; we know that the remaining “mortgage” on The Emirates Stadium is at low interest rates and is entirely manageable.

If you want to understand what our club has achieved in the last seven or eight years, just think about what COULD have happened during that period.

  • The stadium move could have spiraled out of control, running over time and over budget, but it didn’t, which says a great deal for the oversight from the club’s hierarchy (before and after Gazidis’s arrival).
  • Without Wenger’s genius and with no “net” money to spend on transfers, the team could have really struggled to stay competitive and could have slid down the Premier League table.
  • This might then have prompted desperate, panic buying to try and prop up the playing side even though we couldn’t afford it.
  • In the worst case, we could have found ourselves in a vicious spiral of debt off the pitch and failure on the pitch, which might ultimately have led to flirting with relegation, bankruptcy or both.
  • St Totteringham’s bones would have stayed in their casket for year after miserable year.

None of these bad things happened and we are now better placed than all but the “financially doped” teams to succeed in the years ahead.

And as Ivan has pointed out, the two teams in the Champions League final this year – Munich and Dortmund – both got there on the back of sustainable financial models and without the help of rich sugar-daddies.

So, Ivan Gazidis, you have taken many barbs since you arrived at Arsenal. Just for once, it’s time you took a bow…

Footnote

I have seen Ivan referred to as an American, as a South African, as someone who knows nothing about football. Well, here are some facts that you may not know about our Chief Exec:

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Moved to England (Manchester) at age four because he father, a prominent anti-apartheid activist, was being persecuted by the then South African government.

Was considered a very talented footballer at school in Manchester.

Went to Oxford University where he earned a “blue” at football (which means he represented the University which also means he was a better player than 99% of the people reading this Post).

Graduated in law.

Moved to the US in 1992.

Was a founding member of Major League Soccer in the US in 1994.

RockyLives

DON’T FORGET: TOMORROW WE RESUME OUR SEARCH TO FIND THE ALL-TIME GREATEST ARSENAL SQUAD. THIS WEEK WE MOVE ONTO THE DEFENCE.