This evening was the annual Q&A with Ivan Gazidis and members of various fan groups and small shareholders. There will be many blog posts about this – quite a few were on laptops during the event – not to mention the tweeting. Personally I was writing notes on paper, tweeting and listening to @DarrenArsenal1 tutting next to me at the same time, with occasional outbursts of indignation from Pedro of @LeGrove in the row behind me. It was a sensory overload.
Here’s my summary anyway. There is some paraphrasing.
As last year we had a short film of season’s highlights (no comment), followed by a personal video message from Arsène, who loves every one of us and values our support (translation: he’ll be signing a new contract).
Ivan’s intro was also shorter than last time, as he attempted to head off criticism of him using all the allocated time before a question was asked. He also said “I’ve been told to keep my answers short,” at which point Darren applauded and several of us laughed.
IG stressed that AW has “seen us through what could have been a very difficult period”; “We (the Board) don’t believe there is anyone better than AW for his role”; talk about a new contract for the manager “will be done quietly”.
After just a few minutes we were into the questions, firstly from shareholders.
Q1 – Since you have been employed here Ivan, our first team has turned into a second rate team. Will super quality players want to join us? What evidence is there of us being able to make super signings these days?
IG: “We haven’t got better or worse in the last few years we have held steady.”
Well, we’ve managed to cling onto top four, but I think most would agree we’ve got a bit worse. Ivan continued his answer with comparisons to Bayern as our turnover increases. To be fair, there was no direct way of answering the question unless he was going to bring Wayne Rooney out from behind a curtain.
Q2 – Why did we ‘hand the title to United’ by selling them RvP?
IG: “There were no good choices in that situation. It hurts everyone, me included, to see him score for Man U. It is possible to hold players to contracts, but they all react differently, some you can do it with, some you can’t. Now we need to look forward.”
Question dodged really. Personally I don’t blame RvP for going to Utd, though his statements rankle. But why Utd? Sell him abroad or keep him a year.
The questioner seemed to think it was all about money with RvP, so why not incentivise him with £10m to get to a cup final? Ivan disagreed that it was all about money.
Q3 – Can you guarantee AW will spend big this year?
IG: “AW isn’t scared to spend money, but it’s up to him to get the players he believes in. AW has done a very good job with this overall. He wants a cohesive squad that he believes in.”
So basically IG can’t guarantee anything about spend, because it’s AW’s job. Which anyone who listens to anything I say would know already.
Q4 – You’ve previously said the wage structure needs attending to, but AW has come out this year talking about how he likes the ‘socialist’ model – are you doing anything about it or not?
IG: “Where we start with every player is an assessment of talent. AW makes decisions on talent. Once he identifies talent he wants then we talk wages. The right decisions on wages follow the talent assessment.”
To translate: In my years here I have not managed to wrest an ounce of control of team spending from Arsène. He does what the hell he likes and will continue to do so, whether anyone agrees with it or not.
Q5 – Why can’t we seem to do any major business early in the transfer window?
IG: “We strive to do business early, but have a disadvantage compared to the clubs with basically unlimited funding. There is less uncertainty this year on funds we have available. With several top clubs changing managers it’s unclear how transfer business will go, and also most clubs are taking FFP into account, and the effect of that is unknown.”
Again, what else can he really say? He’s waiting for AW to make a decision.
Follow up: Do we need to wait to ensure we are in the CL group stages?
IG: “No – no player has made that a condition.”
But he avoided the club angle here: is the club prepared to spend before it confirms the CL place?
Q6 – How long will it be before FFP takes effect?
IG: “The wage cap is already in place (wages can only go up in line with commercials). We are okay because our commercials are increasing and can cover wage rises.”
Q7 – What is your role, and that of Stan Kroenke and Dick Law?
IG: “I’ve been asked this question rather less politely! I am responsible for everything off-field, including developing revenue streams, the reputation of the club, supporting the manager however he needs it. SK as an owner is mindful of not treating the club as an extension of his ego, is respectful of tradition. Some of our commercial successes have been as a result of SK’s vision. Dick Law has decades of experience in professional football. He speaks five languages and continually flies round the world negotiating deals. The division of responsibilities is very clear: AW is in charge of everything on the field, but we help with analysis of what he needs.”
Everything you would expect him to say, plus Stan is apparently helping us win commercial deals! Is he? What exactly is he doing then?
Q8 – Some fans turned against you and AW mid-season; how does that affect you?
You have to ask if this question is for real. Darren next to me almost fell off his chair, and the explosion of air from Pedro behind nearly blew me onto the stage.
IG: “We all give everything we have to put this club at the top of world football. All our time and energy goes into it. We all get frustrated with losses, and angry – particularly matches like Bradford and Blackburn. We are building a football club to compete at the top of the game.”
I think this answer went on a fair bit longer without telling us anything useful.
Q9 – Do you and will you actively support initiatives to help away fans and stop them getting ripped off?
IG: “We’ll do all we can, in conjunction with other clubs, though this isn’t easy to resolve.”
In other words, “I can’t promise anything”.
And that takes us to halfway. Join me tomorrow for the conclusion. Feel free to leave a comment, but preferably not the one about me banging on about the wage structure (as though I’m the only person who thinks there’s something amiss with it).
23 thoughts on “Ivan Gazidis Q&A Review: “There’s No Better Person Than Arsene To Manage Arsenal””
“But he avoided the club angle here: is the club prepared to spend before it confirms the CL place?”
Didn’t he say they act on assumption they’d be in it…?
Not sure he said either way.
Well, another meeting, another disappointing confirmation that Wenger holds near absolute power.
I must say though, despite his politician’s posture, Gazidis has come through with some excellent financial strengthening in recent times, especially considering how the on-field product has performed. (I begrudgingly offer a nod to Tom Fox as well.) By considerably boosting revenues, he’s robbed Wenger of parsimony. It’s really the only move he could make with extremely limited power, but he’s done it. For all his praise of the manager, Gazidis is effectively washing his hands of any responsibility to (football) performance.
P.S. Forgot to say thanks for the reporting, Phil.
Exactly Dan, I think thats what IG is doing and its actually the best thing to do. Lat the gauntlet to AW and watch him fly high or crash..AW is living on borrowed time at Arsenal, much as i respect and love the man but he has no excuse this year not to deliver at least 1 trophy…
basically we are being lined up for another frustrating season, no signings apart from young upcoming kids, Nobody from Wenger upwards wants to change this nice nest egg they have. Unless he makes 4 major signings we will slip even further behind the top 3. The fans where very disgruntled last season and the club have never addressed that, on the contrary they stuck 2 fingers up and told us it was not our business/?? It is the 60,000 fans per home game and millions around the world that have made this club, it is them that pay the over inflated wages, bonuses, to the Manager, players and directors. Dick Law has decades of experience in professional football. He speaks five languages and continually flies round the world negotiating deals. So What, he speaks 5 languages, we are a football club not a university, Sir Alex had trouble speaking English!!!!!!!!! Id love to fly around the world speaking to people and achieving nothing. Wenger needs to be made accountable, we need to know why we are always read comments from him saying I tried to sign him or we where close, I missed out on Bale?? but ha I got Bentner, Santos, Denilson, Etc, Etc, Etc!!. This club is and will always be about the fans , no fans no Arsenal I hope our 7.5 million pounds a year Manager and fat cat directors remember this. I doubt it.
Nice article…. I will come back tomorrow to hear if rooney (with his new hair do) was hiding behind the curtain..lol… keep up the good work.
Wenger is staying so nothing will change. No pressure, no accountability, no trophies. Gazidis is just spouting his usual spins about transfers to fool the fans.
The club certainly knows how to disrespect their supporters.
The only thing I see changing is our overpaid manager will probably get higher wages with the new contract. Pathetic!
Arsenal resembles a corporate machine more than a football club, nowadays. It’s really sad what has been happening and this will be allowed to continue. Mediocrity for years to come awaits.
A bit hard on IG. While I completely see your point and agree on many things, I feel there has been a lot of talk of this summer being different. Maybe the fans should really gave Arsene and IG a chance this summer, as I’ve seen many fans ragging on them before the window is even open.
Forgot to say: Really enjoyable article to read
Thanks for getting the first excerpt out on the Q&A!
Whereas before a lot of people believed it was Wenger who had his hands tied, I think we can clearly see from this that it is in fact Gazidis who has the limited power
Kinda wish he had Dein’s influence as before to be able to enter the dressing room and get into the players mind set of how important a win or a committed performance must be – especially in cup and other vital matches. Wenger is notoriously poor in this aspect.
Hope the next edition includes a question about board membership ie Usmanov and also who might be taking over from PHW ……..
Unfortunately I believe this situation in AFC is so in bread that it will only be resolved when we install a new manager. This group have put themselves in a position of such power there is no hope right now.. Phil
Please ivan, you people should get the signature of felliani and cese
“No – no player has made that a condition.”
So… we have reached to contract negotiation stage in some of our transfers.
I think he meant ‘ever’ rather than this summer.
Thanks for the write-up Phil.
It’s a funny old club when, on the one hand, Ivan is inferring he’s piling the pressure on Wenger to spend the available money this summer and, on the other, he’s saying the club want to offer him a new deal. If it were the really the case that the board/Kroenke is miffed at Wenger’s lack of spending, do we believe that they’d/he’d be offering him a new deal? It only says one of two things to me: 1. the board/Kroenke are actually quite happy for Wenger to spend little and get 4th each season or 2. it/he knows that Wenger is finally going to spend big this summer. Or, I guess, 3. the Board/Kroenke is/are incompetent!
I guess we’ll know the answer come the autumn…
It is a funny situation, but I think there’s a 4th option: the Board – at least Ivan – think AW is the best man for the job, but are still frustrated he doesn’t spend what they make available. It’s not just about spending, because that guarantees nothing, and if that’s all you want you may as well hire Redknapp or Hughes. They want the good bits of AW plus some spending. I agree, personally, which is why I criticise him but have never called for him to be sacked.
On reflection, you’re spot on. And I agree with your take on Wenger’s situation.
But I do think IG has clearly been moving away from option 4 in his recent messages (and it’s quite refreshing to see him effectively put the ball in Wenger’s court). Of course, I know i’m placing a lot of importance on what’s essentially spin and soundbites but, in the event that Wenger doesn’t spend this summer and we struggle for 4th again, it would just appear odd to have given him a new deal.
As it happens, I think Wenger will finally spend big this summer.
And, yes, absolutely, spending large amounts of money does not necessarily equal quality. But it does suggest that we’re shopping in Waitrose rather than Sainsburys and, by doing so, you do improve your chances of getting quality!
i asked the question about the early transfers which is just so frustrating, dein was brilliant at transfers, this lot are pathetic, i know for a fact, i know someone who was in the room on the jenkinson transfer and our team were a shambles and paid twice what they hoped for!… my quip about me chipping in the value of my share £16k towards buying rooney had an underlying point ie most shareholders (usmanov included) dont care about the shares going up in value we only care about winning football…. ivan is a very smooth and brilliant politician, he is running the company very very well to be fair but he is not a football visionary as he gave us zero vision and zero hope he just offered us exactly the same old… i dont see anything but heartbreak until kroenke goes which may be decades
great notes btw
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Let me ask you though, what would change with IG as far as the playing side of the club goes if the manager changes? Are we saying we want IG more involved in the squad, more involved in evaluating player talent therefore renumeration? At the end of the day the manager has to do that, I recognise there is a problem with the power structure at the club, the board to all intent and purpose appear subordinate to Wenger, but even if we bought in AN Other manager shouldn’t Gazidis’ role remain the same? I don’t think that should be a stick we should beat Wenger with, the socialist pay structure and purchase of very very average players and paying them a fortune should be! It was what Wenger was meant to be good at, spotting a gem, a diamond in the rough, if that was his talent he’s all but lost it and we need a new boss who has it.
First of all Great Job Phil, Its fans like you that give me hope that at some point there will be an inevitable change at the club. I’m a proud Gooner from Nigeria. If what you say is accurrate, It means another season of constant ridicule about Arsenals trophiless seasons by my peers and Continuous heartache. According to IG, Arsenal wlll be able to compete from next Summer when we reach Revenues of £300m . What if we don’t ? I pray we get lucky this summer i.e wenger gets very good bargains in the Transfer market, because we can’t afford to take on next season without a quality squad and bench.
great post I’m a massive soccer fan from germany