Ivan Gazidis: this is what he does…a report from the end of season supporters’ event by Drew (Blacksheep63)
I was one of the fortunate AISA members whose name came up in the ballot for the Ivan Gazidis meeting, and so off I trotted to the Emirates on Monday night for a Q&A with the Arsenal CEO, Ivan Gazidis. It was a shame Tony wasn’t there (negotiating for Cesc’s return in Barca while bedazzling his agent’s missus with his dancing skills no doubt) but there were several other Gooners I knew to chat to. [NB: a report on Untold’s search of Cesc in Barcelona follows soon-ish]
We got ushered upstairs and given a free drink (but no biscuits this year, no Busquets either) and seated ourselves in front a big screen, sofa and chairs. Ivan came out and chatted with the geezer that does Arsenal TV (sorry, don’t know his name) and agreed the season hadn’t been a classic. And he stated, quite categorically, that this was not what he wanted, not what Stan Koenke wanted and certainly not what Arsene wanted. For the record, it’s not what I wanted either.
And Ivan Gazidis hinted, heavily, that we have passed a turning point, they know it’s not good enough and that something needs to be done about it. He boldly stated that in terms of money we are ready to compete, and when asked about the a comparison with the Champion’s’ League winners Bayern, said that we are not far from Bayern in that we can reach a £3m turnover, which makes us competitive under our model.
The first few questions came from AISA and AST members, who had been invited to submit some in advance. One was rather predictable (can you tell what is was yet? – thanks Rolf) yep, it was ‘why did we sell RVP?’ Equally predictably Ivan stated that it wasn’t about the money. And he said that it hurts him to see the Dutchman flying for the Mancs.
I don’t think he gave an adequate answer here, he said something about the team needing to develop but here, and only here to be fair, I felt he fudged this. But then my neighbour, @Pjbish from twitter grumbled…’but he wanted to leave, so our hands were tied, move on’. So let’s move on…
A shareholder asked if Ivan could guarantee that AW is fully committed to buying more expensive ‘top top’ quality players (to some applause). Ivan said no, he thought Arsene was not committed, didn’t care about the Arsenal and was planning on spending £100m on a cloning machine so he could create a squad made up entirely of Squlilacis…
Er no, he didn’t say that at all. He told us that it’s not about money, it’s about talent and AW can identify talent (or he wouldn’t be in the job – AW has Ivan’s and Stan’s backing, he made that clear too). We haven’t had enough money in the past to compete with Chavs, MU, and citeh, and while he didn’t say we have it now he hinted that this summer we would do some business. The key is having players that AW believes in, and Ivan accepted that we haven’t done that recently.
Then someone from AST asked a version of the question I tabled – can you make our wage spend more effective, rather than ‘socialist’? Ivan said that we want to keep our top talent and attract to talent and so and we will have to pay top market rate. So yes, our wage structure will have to change, and AW is on board with that, as is IG.
There is no wage cap as such at Arsenal and in future it seems fringe players will have to be more realistic in their ambitions to own a fleet of Aston Martins. On twitter after the meeting I saw some comment that IG was distancing himself from AW here but I didn’t see it like that. This seems like change to me and a change that everyone supports.
Then there was a very good question: why is that Arsenal don’t get their transfer business done earlier? At this point I was eyeing the black cloth to Ivan’s left that I thought might be whipped back to reveal Rooney, Higuan, Cesc and A N Other…but it didn’t move.
Ivan replied that this year for once we don’t have any uncertainties (over players leaving) but it is a strange window because of the managerial changes and FFP. He was asked if CL qualification proper matters, either to the club’s budget or to incoming players? No, said Ivan, he didn’t think it did. The next question was kind of related…
“How long will it take for FFP to take full effect, an AISA member asked?” Probably not until next summer as it takes UEFA two seasons to look at it, so we are half way though. But the PL wage cap is already in pace. Arsenal, he said, have a lot of flexibility because we have good income, whereas clubs without new income streams are already hampered by the cap. But it’s basically down to UEFA and the PL to make FFP work, and to enforce it.
Ivan was then asked, a little aggressively I felt, to define his role, along with that of Dick Law and Stan Kroeke. Gazidis was amused; he noted that at away matches some of our fans had already asked that question… (laughter). He sort of answered this by that Kreonke has not put debt on the club, and that revenue is available to the manager to spend. It is not his personal fiefdom. He is respectful. SK has vast experience in the sports business; some of the commercial successes are down to silent Stan. IG is responsible for the club off the field, in particular developing its revenue streams. DL works on player contracts. And there it was left – (we might note that Ivan did not need to do this Q&A, he agreed to meet supporters and should get some credit for doing so.)
And he was asked whether the hostility towards him, Stan and AW affects them – basically do you lot care? Of course it does, he replied, we are motivated by what we believe is right for the club. Division doesn’t help the club, or the players. We are fully committed. We are building a football club, the hard way. And we love Untold for being fully behind us all the way (ok he didn’t say that but I’m sure he was thinking it).
Tim Stillman asked whether the club support attempts to get a better deal for our brilliant away fans. IG said we have been trying, someone else asked if Gazidis and the club support safe standing? He is open to the idea, and work is going on. If the government shows any willingness to open the door then we will look at it, but at the moment there is indication that this might happen. Then the Q&A was opened to the floor.
We will continue with a report on questions from the floor in the next article.
12 June Anniversaries
- 12 June 1945: Pat Jennings born
- 12 June 1946: Bobby Gould born
- 12 June 1951: Final appearance for Ian McPherson
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