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Gazidis Comments Show Disconnect with Arsenal Fans

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said that the Gunners can “cope” without playing in the Champions League.  Many Arsenal supporters are upset with the ownership, and Ivan Gazidis’ comments will only fuel more discontent towards the board.

It is very unlikely that Arsenal will be able to finish in the top four this season.  No Premier League club has ever started so poorly and rebounded to claim a place in Europe’s top competition.  Ivan Gazidis said he is not worried about missing out on the UCL (quotes obtained from ESPN):

“We would rather qualify for it but we have a really sustainable model that can cope without it. Not just cope, but we can do well and compete. It would be very foolish to build a business model that relied on being in the Champions League for perpetuity and I don’t think any clubs do that and, if they do, then they probably aren’t being run as responsibly as they should be.”

The problem is not whether Arsenal will be able to survive financially without the UEFA money; it is whether any top players will consider signing for Arsenal if they are not in the competition.  For example, Arsene Wenger loves to buy players from the French League.  But if Arsenal are not in the UCL, then maybe a player like Eden Hazard (who plays in the Champions League with Lille) would rather stay in France than join a struggling London club.

Under Arsene Wenger, the Gunners have not failed to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League.  The emergence of Chelsea and, more importantly, Manchester City has made life much more difficult for Arsenal.  People say that Arsenal finishing below the Champions League spots is unthinkable, but the idea of the Gunners finishing outside the top two also used to be unimaginable.

As an Arsenal supporter, I do not think finishing outside the top four would be the end of the world.  With the lack of debt and the new stadium, it is unlikely that the Gunners will settle in as a mid-table club in the coming years.  The puzzling thing has always been the fact that the money is there.  Stan Kroenke, who owns about two-thirds of the club’s shares, and Alisher Usmanov, who owns around one-third, are two of the wealthiest shareholders in England.

While the two billionaires are fighting for each other’s shares, Arsene Wenger has come under criticism for the recent poor results, and rightfully so, but sacking Wenger would not come close to solving the problems at the Emirates.  No Arsenal fan would like to see to a merry-go-round of managers as the club falls behind the other elite teams.  Wenger may not be perfect, but sacking him mid-season would only cause more turmoil.

Arsenal’s self-sustaining model is admirable and intelligent in the long run, but football fans are not known for their patience.  Gooners expect the fifth wealthiest club in the world to win trophies and compete at the highest level of European football.  Ivan Gazidis, on the other hand, does not think missing the Champions League will have a big impact on the team’s ability to compete.  There is a major disconnect between the board and the supporters, and, as usual, the fans are on the right side of the argument.

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  1. bali golf club

    October 13, 2011 at 2:47 am

    I will always support you arsenal

  2. David Sheahan

    October 10, 2011 at 4:31 pm


  3. Jason

    October 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    All he said was it would not be a financial disaster if Arsenal don’t qualify for the CL. Liverpool have been without CL football for a couple of years and they have managed to survive and attract world calss players like Suarez. Arsenal will manage too. It would become a financial problem if Arsenal didn’t qualify for a few years in a row. Missing out for a year or two won’t be a catastrophe.

  4. jm

    October 7, 2011 at 11:26 am

    While it is true that Gazidis is “out of touch” with the fans on this issue – it is Gazidis who is right and not the fans (and I would suggest, this is the `as usual’ part!).

    Note that Gazidis’ claim was *not* merely that the team would be financially sound, but that it would be able to compete. The crucial premise in your reply is the idea that Arsenal’s ability to sign players would be hampered without CL football. While I think that is likely true (I’ve never seen any good research on it, but many players say that the CL is a huge lure), I’m not sure that it will *prevent* the team from competing. There is no doubt it would weaken the club’s position, but that’s not what Gazidis disputed.

    Players sign for a variety of reasons, and while CL football is one, better pay is another. Platform is another (while the CL is a big platform, the media exposure of Arsenal is bigger yet). Wenger is yet another (e.g., Mertesacker’s recent comments). While Arsenal may lose out on some of the big names, they typically do not get them even now. I don’t see any reason that they cannot continue to bring in talented players which will allow them to compete for CL places even without the guarantee of CL football.

    Of course, it is better to be in the CL than not. Being in the CL helps you bring in good players – just as being a successful club in general does. But I don’t see any reason why it would be so devastating as to prevent the team from competing, particularly if the team is built on a solid financial situation.

  5. Neil O

    October 7, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Regardless of what this baldy said, Arsenal are free falling from the top four. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

  6. NC

    October 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I’m sure what he means by “we can cope”, is that “we can record a profit”. Decrease in revenue?? OK decrease expenses. Its simple. His comments clearly are not meant to mean “we can cope on the field” because as the author states, it would be hard to lure players without the CL to dangle in front of them (and Arsenal is in need of talent).

    One thing though, the author does mention the “lack of debt”. I feel like Football Fans idea of what debt is to a business is skewed. Most companies have debt. If you want to infuse cash into your company, and you do so in the form of debt, as long as you have the cash flow to service the debt there is nothing to worry about. The ManU people are particularly nuts about it. If the Glazers sold a fraction of their interest in United now they could pay down all of the debt. Debt is nothing to be afraid of as long as there is enough equity in the company to make for a healthy Balance Sheet. Honestly, no debt at all is a bit too conservative, especially for a club like Arsenal that has so many ways to generate cash to service their debt. Maybe that is their problem. They should take on debt, pay players, garner more interest, increase cash flow, pay debt. Repeat. Club value goes up. Everyone is happy.

  7. David

    October 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I think the whole premise of this article is misguided. He didn’t say he didn’t want to qualify, he merely said if they don’t, it wouldn’t be a financial disaster. It’s his job to run the business side of the club and Arsenal do the business side as well as if not better than anyone. To insinuate that he doesn’t want to qualify for the Champions League as badly as any Arsenal fan is absurd.

    • Jack Tomczuk

      October 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      Obviously, Gazidis wants Arsenal to qualify for the Champions League. When he said “not just cope, but compete and do well,” he was talking about the team, not the just the buisness side of the club.

  8. AM

    October 7, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Most gooners need to realize that we are not in the same position as United or Chelsea. The sustainable financial model comes first. I think most fans think they have a divine right to winning a trophy every season. That is simply not the case given the competition.

    Also, the media is completely biased when discussing Arsenal. I don’t recall such a huge deal being made when Liverpool dropped out of the top 4.

    • MG

      October 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      “Most gooners need to realize that we are not in the same position as United or Chelsea.”

      We should be, as far as results go.

      “The sustainable financial model comes first.”

      The sustainable financial model is also the reason why Arsenal is where they are right now. Not shelling out to put out a competent, strong squad. Maybe it’s for the better? But right now.. maybe time will tell.

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