Money Can’t Buy You Love (or Silverware)

March 7, 2016

Following our recent disappointments the blogs have been awash with requests for Arsenal to spend money – big money, in summer. Apparently, it was our lack of spending in 2015 that has led to our current situation.

Some blame Kroenke for not investing into the team; calling for him to sell his shares to Jabba the Hut who will buy Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Pogba etc etc and thereby bring back the glory days.

Perhaps, but let’s look elsewhere to see if this is true.

I will start in Spain and at the second biggest club in world football, Real Madrid. Note I wrote second. RM spend on a massive scale, they have the two most expensive players in history and have spent hundreds of millions on their squad.

RM won what in 2015? I will tell you … nothing. Zip. De Nada. Rien.

Let’s come closer to home and look at the Premier League.

Nett biggest spenders … MC, MU, Chavs, L’pool. How are these 4 clubs faring this season? As of today, they are all behind the mighty Gunners.

Arsenal have spent €250m less than MU,CFC and MC over the last 5 seasons and €140m less than Liverpool.

To be fair, MC and CFC have won stuff but MU and L’pool, despite huge investment haven’t and are unlikely to in the near future. For them money has not been able to buy silverware.

Mr Wenger has often talked about financial doping  and it’s negative effect. Just look at France and Italy. Their leagues are ruined by the massive spending power of the two main clubs, PSG and Juventus.

I am definitely not saying that Arsenal do not need to buy players, we clearly do but let’s be realistic – throwing money at the team is only part of the project to take us to success.

In my opinion some tweaking, a couple of quality signings and good fortune with injuries will see us dominate the PL for many years top come.

Written by Big Raddy

 


Kroenke and Wenger Out.

March 4, 2016

I have just read that Guardian article that basically says that Swansea exploited the frustration of the crowd and of course there is a picture of the little home made banner that read Kroenke and Wenger out.

wenger out

I don’t believe that the frustration of the crowd played any part of our loss whatsoever and one little banner does not represent the majority at all.

For me it was not frustration that Swansea exploited it was expectation. It is expected that Arsenal should win the league and has been that way for some time, this is the burden that Arsenal have been having trouble with which has lead to them, for example, rushing simple passes, leading to loss of possession which of course levels the playing field against lesser lights such as Swansea. By contrast an unburdened Arsenal starting eleven would always find their man with such passes and nine times out of ten go on to win the game.

Tottenham and Leicester have been able to avoid the burden of expectation for longer than they should have been allowed but look what happened the first time that it really became apparent that Tottenham could go top and push on to win the league, I never thought that I would find a Donald Trump comment apt but here we are — Chokers. (Just in case the use of the name Tottenham attract some of the knuckle draggers I will say it for you — Pots and Kettles)

To a similar extent the same thing happened to Leicester against West Brom. Claudio Ranieri has been doing a fine job of taking the pressure of winning the title off of them but it was creeping in as they started to find that doing the things they have been doing effortlessly all season started to get just a bit more difficult in their mid week clash. Man City have been suffering from the burden of exploitation for even longer than we have and by the looks of their thumping from Liverpool they still are doing so.

bergenUnfortunately, I do not share Rocky’s confidence as to the out come of Saturday’s North London Derby as I feel that Tottenham will be able to play without pressure again where as we will be playing with the equivalent expectation of a 50 kilo army bergen on our backs.

It goes without saying that I hope I am wrong.

COYRRG

Written by LB


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


Usmanov wants answers at the AGM

October 14, 2015

It’s the day of the Arsenal Annual General Meeting.. The day when shareholders and other interested parties get to ask questions of the owner, board of directors and manager.  Whether any of those questions is rewarded with a full and frank answer is open to doubt.

It was reported in the press yesterday that Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal’s second largest shareholder, has written to Stan Kroenke seeking a detailed explanation why, for the second year running, Arsenal have paid a sum of £3 million to Kroenke Sports and Entertainment.  According to Arsenal Chairman Sir Chips Keswick last year’s payment was for “the wide range of services” provided by KSE.

Another item to be brought up is a request for an independent review of the club’s transfer strategy following the failure to sign any out-field players during the last transfer window.

There will, no doubt be questions asked about the size of the club’s wage bill, how much money there is in the transfer kitty and whether the price of match day tickets is likely to be reduced in view of the greatly enlarged sums pouring into the Club’s coffers from both television deals and sponsorship.

I’m sure AAers will have other questions that they would like to put forward,  Why not list them in your comments below.  You never know someone attending the AGM may just read them and may just put one to the hierarchy.

Written by Norfolk Gooner


Jabba Says Arsene Wasted His Best Years – Do You Agree?

August 6, 2015

The ever-charming Alisher Usmanov has been speaking again.

In between appearing at Comicon as the world’s best Jabba the Hutt impersonator, Usmanov is also a major shareholder at Arsenal – albeit one who has been squeezed out of day-to-day involvement in the club.

His pronouncements are infrequent but usually serve to advance his agenda: namely to suggest that he would be a better majority owner of the club than Mr Kroenke.

This week he is reported as saying: “Arsene Wenger had a very, very difficult position when the club shareholders did not want to put their money to construct the new stadium. Because of this he lost five years – maybe the best of his career – without a trophy. In reality ten years.”

My first reaction was anger: from a certain perspective, those years of austerity can be viewed not as lost years, but as Arsene’s BEST years.

Sure, there were no trophies, but during those years he arguably performed his greatest miracles: he kept us in the Champions League positions year after year while spending less than net zero and while watching his best players waltz out of the door at the end of every season.

When people compare Wenger and Mourinho I always look at it this way: could Arsene have won Premiership titles with the squad that was bought for Jose – at eye-watering expense – at Chelsea from 2004 onwards? The answer is self-evidently “yes.”

Now flip it on its head: could Jose Mourinho have kept a team in the top four of the Premier League for eight years with the resources that Arsene had to work with in the period after we moved to The Emirates? The answer is again self-evident and this time it is “no.” In fact, “no, no and thrice no. Not a cat in hell’s chance.”

Hence my reaction to Jabba’s words. They are an insult to a great manager – and to our club and to all the people who kept supporting Arsenal during those leaner years in the hope of eventually seeing a brighter tomorrow.

But, on reflection, I realised that Jabba is also implying that, had he been the boss man, he would have dipped into his own pocket to build the stadium and would have kept the cash flowing for buying new superstars and retaining our existing ones.

Would that have been such a bad thing?

We could have avoided all those years of watching other teams lord it over us, of fans turning against fans, of vitriol poured over our greatest ever manager.

It does make you think…

On balance I’ll stick with my original instincts: I’m glad we didn’t become another sugar daddy club; I’m glad we are an institution that “pays its way” honestly and doesn’t engage in financial doping.

Somehow it feels right – it feels like the Arsenal way.

And how much more satisfying are the trophies when we have all been through a barren and frustrating period?

But that’s just me. What do you think?

RockyLives

 

 

 

 


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


Is Silent Stan good enough for the club and the fans?

October 4, 2014

Stan Kroenke and the club have generated some adverse publicity in the press recently.

There have been some insightful discussions on the topic over the past few days on AA. Now that Crystals is back to the fold, I thought maybe we could do a “Kelsey” and put comments by AA patrons together to try and generate some consensus, or better still, some disagreement.
chas says:
September 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Bad PR, whichever way you look at it?

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/sep/23/stan-kroenke-arsenal-dividend-fans-anger

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke angers fans by taking £3m out of club

• Payment matches 3% rise in season ticket prices
• Kroenke has dodged issue of receiving dividends

Amy Lawrence, The Guardian, Tuesday 23 September 2014

Excerpts: “Arsenal’s majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, has taken a payment of £3m out of the club according to the latest company accounts.

“Having never taken dividends from his American sports franchises, … this is a move that has gone down badly with Arsenal supporters. Coincidentally, the £3m figure tallies with the amount the club raised from a 3% rise on season-ticket prices for this season.

“The money has been paid to Kroenke’s company, KSE LLC, for strategic and advisory services which relate to Arsenal’s broadband division, the media department which raises funds by selling a three-hour block of weekly content to the lucrative international market.

“No doubt the Kroenke payment will be a subject on the agenda at Arsenal’s AGM on 16 October.”

This then generated insightful comments from the AA in-house accountants.

LB says:
September 24, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Can one of the plethora of accountants that frequent this site please comment on the article in the Guardian about Stan Kroenke taking dividends out of the club. Thank you in advance.

RA says:
September 24, 2014 at 7:23 pm

[F]rom what I briefly heard on a local radio station, the fans are upset that Kroenke took £3m out of the club as expenses, and justified it, by saying the Glazers were brilliant owners and had taken very much more out of Manure than he was taking out from Arsenal for his personal expenditure. this would not be a dividend – as it would have had to be issued to the other shareholders, like Usmanov, and any fans who are still holding shares.

His salary as a director is peanuts too.

This might be a straw in the wind? Perhaps he is going to want a return on his investment in the club, though he has never previously done this with his US franchises.

chas says:
September 24, 2014 at 8:15 pm

I think it’s a piece of misleading journalism (surprise surprise) to suggest it was a ‘dividend’. The bad PR aspect of it for me was the fact that the amount taken out more or less equals the ticket price increase.

Gööner In Exile says:
September 25, 2014 at 7:26 am

Where I stand on £3m….it’s a Non story.

It’s literally at the arse end of the Accounts under a section called Related Party Transactions where any dealings with companies related or Directors related have to be disclosed. It is required to demonstrate that a fair value has been placed on those transactions. It can also be used to show services that were provided but not charged (eg KSE could provide Contracts Lawyers, but never charges for them….this would have to be reported so that Investors would know a change in ownership could increase costs of running company if they had to pay for it themselves).

There are about £260m of Operating expenses, a large portion is player wages, the accounts do not provide a full breakdown of these expenses, the £3m paid to KSE for strategic, consultancy advice is in reality peanuts compared to our overall costs, would Arsenal fans be happier if this was paid to Bodgeit Flogitrun & Co for Marketing advice? Or to WeChargeEverySecond & More Lawyers…..we wouldn’t even know.

Not sure Stans answer was the best, but in a season where our player trading was £32m out compared to consistently in, and wages went up £12m, is it a surprise that the media find something else to focus on?

chas says:
September 25, 2014 at 7:34 am

“would Arsenal fans be happier if this was paid to Bodgeit Flogitrun & Co for Marketing advice? Or to WeChargeEverySecond & More Lawyers”

I think the answer is a resounding, ‘YES”  🙂

Eddie says:
September 25, 2014 at 7:50 am

I would not believe a story stating that Kroenke takes nothing out of the club. Why shouldn’t he? Had I invested millions I would want to see some returns, even if it was from the AFC

RA says:
September 25, 2014 at 8:01 am

Up until recently, Eddie, it is true that Kroenke has taken very little out of the club.

His director’s salary really is minimal, no dividends have been paid to shareholders, of which he is the major shareholder of course, and he seems content to see the value of the club rise due to good fiscal management and therefore when he eventually sells Arsenal, and in due course he will, even if it is in many years time, he will reap the rewards of his investment then.

On the other hand he may get peed off with the constant sniping about the club and his stewardship and start taking a huge salary, and authorise huge dividends to the shareholders to shut them up. 🙂

chas says:
September 25, 2014 at 8:09 am

I doubt he’d authorise huge dividends to the shareholders because it would mean giving money away to Mr Creosote.

Big Raddy says:
October 3, 2014, headline post “Friday’s Rant”

Complaints about Stan Kroenke taking money out of the club: Why?  When I owned a business if one of my customers told me that I couldn’t take a smidgeon out to enjoy a self-finding mission to the Berkshire countryside I would have given them short shrift (whatever a shrift is?). The man has invested heavily into AFC and yet to take a dividend, his company did some work for the club, they got paid. So what?

Anyone who thinks Silent Stan is in it for anything but profit is beyond naive.

mickydidit89 says:
October 3, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Agree about Stan. I’d of thought he’s about the perfect owner. Hasn’t leveraged the company, takes nothing out and doesn’t interfere with football matters.

Eddie says:
October 3, 2014 at 8:49 pm

I too think that Kroenke is a perfect owner. He keeps his views to himself, doesn’t go to all the games sitting there like Abramovitch with a teenage girlfriend and a face like a slapped arse; doesn’t attempt to run the team or impose transfers. And last but not least – does not want to change our name to Arsenal Lions/Donkeys or Giraffes or shirt colour to blue. Perfect, he has my vote of confidence.

*****************************

I have unashamedly pilfered material from these discussions and just put these together. So what do you think?

Here are some questions for you ………

1. Has silent Stan been a good owner for the club?

2. Is Stan Kroenke a better owner than the likes of Abramovitch and the Glazer family?

3. Was it wise to pay KSE LLC £3m for strategic and advisory services?

If your answer to 3 is yes do any of the following apply?

  • Stan deserves some return on his investments in the club
    Stan has been a good director and he deserves to be rewarded
    These services had to be procured, better pay KSE because they have a stake and will deliver
    better services
    Better than paying dividends which would then go to unworthy shareholders as well

If your answer to 3 is no do any of the following apply?

  • This is poor publicity for the club
    The club is not providing good value to fans, better invest every penny in developing the squad
    This is just a clever way of fleecing fans and redistributing their money to the owners

Over to you, readers, contributors and patrons.

Arnie.