Adversity on the pitch for the Gunners quickly boiled into turmoil at the club’s annual general meeting on Thursday. Following two consecutive disheartening defeats, Arsenal have reached a tipping point in their season.
Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis, and Arsene Wenger faced a disgruntled crowd of Arsenal supporters on Thursday. Had the gathering taken place two weeks ago, attitudes would have been more relaxed. Unfortunately for the three most powerful men at the Emirates Stadium, the meeting came after disappointing defeats to Norwich and Schalke.
Gazidis’ address only echoed the policy of self-sustainability that has come to define Arsenal. He did add a new wrinkle by saying: “In the next two years, we will have the financial resources to sit and compete among the leading clubs in the world, which is an extraordinary achievement.” Presumably, the further implementation of Financial Fair Play will allow the Gunners to “compete” with Europe’s elite clubs. However, as many Arsenal supporters will have been wondering, what have we been doing for the past seven years?
Whenever he speaks publicly, Gazidis always seems to give the impression of a clever con artist trying to lure in buyers. If the club fail to meet their ambitions in two years, the promise from Gazidis will certainly be revisited.
Stan Kroenke attempted to reassure the Arsenal faithful of his involvement in the club. The American said, “The reason I am involved in sport is to win. It’s what it’s all about. Everything else is a footnote. I can assure you no one is more ambitious than me.” Like a politician, Kroenke referred to his record: “We have a record in sports around the world.”
Indeed, Kroenke definitely has experience in sports (his properties include the St. Louis Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids, and more), although the sporting rules vary greatly between North America and Europe. English football clubs have massive amounts of financial freedom when examined against their counter-parts across the Atlantic. North American leagues operate under a quasi-socialist system. Despite Kroenke’s continued insistence, the two worlds cannot be compared.
In staying with political theme, Arsene Wenger introduced the concept of doublespeak at the AGM. The Arsenal manager said: “We speak about trophies. For me, there are five trophies – the first is to win the Premier League, the second is to win the Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League, the fourth is to win the FA Cup and the fifth is to win the League Cup.”