Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Arsenal AGM Part I

Arsenal Football Club majority shareholder Stan Kroenke with Club manager Arsene Wenger
Picture courtesy
The Annual General Meeting at Arsenal Football Club is an event that takes place every third Thursday of October, where the club's shareholders are allowed to question those who run the club regarding it's on-pitch performances during the previous season, while also posing questions that throw some light on what the top brass have planned for it off the pitch.

The exit of Robin van Persie to Manchester United made for an ominous atmosphere when this meeting took place at the Emirates Stadium last season and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted that the departure of the prolific Netherlands striker made for a poor start following the 2012 European Championships.

The Frenchman was also quick to confirm that Arsenal's performances in the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup last season were below par. The Gunners suffered a giant-killing at the hands of League Two trend-setters Bradford City and despite dominating play against Blackburn Rovers, suffered an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to the Championship side at the Emirates Stadium.

Increased spending

The Alsatian, however, has promised that Arsenal's era of frugality, which was self-enforced because of the cost of construction of the Emirates Stadium, is now coming to an end, as shown by the capture of highly-coveted Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil from Spanish giants Real Madrid for £42.5 million. 

"I would say that our policy in the future of the Club," he said. "After a very long, restricted period financially, when we had to be very tight, we have come out of that with good stability in our results. But of course we have a huge ambition to win this league again, that is the target of the season."

That was reflected by the Club's majority shareholder Stanley Kroenke. Often known as 'Silent Stan' for the manner in which he takes a step back and lets those who run his holdings manage them efficiently, the American was present at the meeting.

"We have come a long way, with the debts of the Club being paid down, the commercial revenues are increasing in a nice way. Certainly you guys are aware of the Emirates deal," he said. "We have more [deals] coming and are confident. However, nothing works unless we have success on the pitch."

Blurb courtesy The Daily Mirror

Three-point plan

Now the Premier League's longest-serving manager owing to the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, Wenger used the AGM to lay out his three point plan to bring success back to North London.

"The first level is, of course, to continue to defend our style of play, our philosophy of play and our values. That can only be done by developing our own players, and the core of our team has to come from the development inside our club," he said.

"That is why we make huge investments again in our youth policy. I believe that has to be the core and the strength of our club," continued the 64-year-old. "If you go today through our squad, for example we have completed or partially educated (Wojciech) Szczesny, (Carl) Jenkinson, (Kieran) Gibbs, Jack (Wilshere), (Aaron) Ramsey, (Alex) Chamberlain, (Serge) Gnabry - all these players who have made their debut in the Premier League with us.

"They know how we want to play, they know how we want to behave and they bring their qualities and these values to the team."

"The second level of the development of our club has to be based on the intelligence of our eye," he continued. "That means players who are unknown and who can become big players here, through our connections, the quality of our scouting, through the quality of what we have seen in them and how they could develop."

"For example (Laurent) Koscielny has come here, nobody knew him, today he is an international with France. (Olivier) Giroud has come here, not many people knew him and he has now become an international player with France," he added. "Many people have come here and through the quality of our coaching and our development have become international players. They can complete the part of the players that develop inside from the youth level to the top level."

"Then, the third part of our development and ambition is to scout and buy recognised world-class players," he went on to say. "This season for example we have bought Ozil. You don't need any scout to buy Ozil. You just need money!"

"I am quite happy that we have shown to you that we are not scared to spend money when we think the players have the quality and we have the funds available to do it.

The changing face of global finances

"Nevertheless, I would say our world is quickly changing. Why? Because Europe as a continent is becoming poorer, the rest of the world is becoming richer, especially Asia, for example, and these people invest in football in Europe.

"That means [with] the competition we face financially today, we have to be really aware of the number of countries who now have big investors coming in from different continents other than Europe. The competition you face on an international level, financially, has become bigger than before.

“None of us up here [on the board], fans, players, or Arsène [Wenger] are happy until we have won championships and trophies," added Kroenke. "We have said that over and over again and are committed to that."

“Also, when you try to build towards that, it is very important for the Club to be successful commercially, and we are very pleased with the progress we have made in that area," he finished.

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