It was the Arsenal AGM today. I won’t give a full report because most of what happens is the same thing year after year.
Things that are always the same at the Arsenal AGM:
1: The Chairman acts like an old duffer. PH-W used to, now Sir Chips does. They blunder about, get the protocol of the meeting wrong, misquote, misinform, give rude off-the-cuff answers and generally make a pig’s ear of it. It’s not a great spectacle.
2: No questions will actually be given a straight answer, unless it’s an off the cuff answer from the Chairman, in which case it will be wrong.
eg: Are Arsenal in favour of safe standing?
Ivan: It’s up to the authorities and government, laws are different in Scotland, it’s a decision for the whole of football, we’re following it closely.
So are you in favour or not?
We’ll never know.
Will you introduce home credits to stop season tickets holders from not bothering to turn up?
Ivan: We’re actively looking at measures to improve attendances, we’ve done lots of work on Ticket Exchange.
Yes, but will you introduce home credits? (Tumbleweed…)
Why has Ivan had a 40% increase in bonus when we won no trophies? What’s the criteria for that?
Chips: Remuneration decided on a range of factors, not just performance on the pitch in one season.
Yes, but what’s the criteria for the bonus? (Silence…)
Will Arsene get another contract?
We believe he’s the best man for the job.
Yes, but will he… oh, never mind.
You get the idea. Ivan is the king of meaningless waffle, and he probably wrote Chips’ speeches for him too.
Update, 28 October: Arsene said at his press conference today that he is is favour of the return of standing for football crowds, in the traditional behind the goal position. This is welcome support, but it remains to be seen whether it will become official club policy to back the idea, and perhaps even campaign for it.
3: Arsène will get a good reception and be self-deprecating.
Unless we’re in the relegation zone Arsène is almost always going to be more popular than the Board, and is a more interesting talker than the rest of them, so is usually on a winner with this audience. He started today with a string of gags about his 20 years, promised not to be there another 20 and apologised for all distress ever caused to fans. He’s also unfailingly polite to those who line up afterwards to speak to him, and will sign and pose until everyone has had their turn. It doesn’t mean he’s a great manager or will win the league, but you can’t fault his behaviour on these occasions.
4: Most of the Board say nothing.
- Josh Kroenke: never heard him speak. Couldn’t even tell if he was breathing, to be honest.
- Lord Harris: total silence.
- Ken Friar: not a word.
- Silent Stan Kroenke: last year not a peep, but this year got dragged out in front of the podium to present Arsène with some artwork to celebrate the 20 years. After that: silence. Though he did hang around for about 5 minutes afterwards and speak to a couple of shareholders in person, which was a surprise.
A couple of things were different this year though:
1: The Board have realised at last that rules of governance need to be properly adhered to. As I said at the top, successive Chairmen have not been adept at running meetings. Resolutions have routinely been passed no matter how many dissenting hands and voices there are in the hall. Not today, though. The resolution to re-elect Stan Kroenke as his 3-year Board term was up was met with a sea of hands voting against, while far fewer were showing in favour. Sir Chips might well have been warned this might happen, as he seemed almost prepared: he said that if the floor voted against, it should be noted that 79% of the votes had already been cast in favour. Obviously he screwed this up – he meant 97%, because that’s how many there would be with the KSE votes added to the Red & White Holdings votes. Last year Red & White abstained from voting, in protest against KSE removing £3m from Arsenal in *cough* ‘fees’, but this year there was no fee paid to KSE so Mr Usmanov was back supporting the Board.
Of course the fact that no fee was paid to KSE was in no small part due to pressure from fans, especially the AST, who challenged the legal basis on which the fee was being paid. So the Arsenal Board at last seem to be becoming aware that their attitude to governance needs to be more professional, and they won’t get away with the slapdash amateurism popularised by Peter Hill-Wood for so many years.
2: Some people thought the content of Arsène’s speech meant that he is leaving after this season. I bet he won’t.
3: Ivan stood out on the front of the redesigned stage to give his speech on how great everything is. It was pretty much the same speech we’ve had before, but he was in front of the podium instead of behind it, a bit like Bono wanting to connect with his audience. He talked us through a glossy booklet called Arsenal Review 2015-2016 that was handed out to all attendees, and frankly was an inferior gift to the chunky silver keyring we got last year.
4: I was wearing leather trousers. I may be the first person to wear leather trousers to the Arsenal AGM.
BTW I got a couple of copies of the Arsenal Review book signed by Arsène afterwards, so if you want one follow me on twitter and retweet my tweet about it. Winners to be picked at the end of 25 Oct.