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Ivan Gazidis: this is what he does

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

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28 comments to Ivan Gazidis: this is what he does

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    Drew.
    Seriously Ivan didn’t say “And we love Untold for being fully behind us all the way”… bbooooooooooooooo!!!! Gazidis out! ;)

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    Serious now: thanks for this write up and looking forward to part 2.

    I have the impression (based on what journalists have been saying on twitter the last days) that it looks as if Arsenal has changed a bit since the end of last season. They reported that you could feel the new wind blowing and a confidence that the club from now on is going to move forward.

    Was this the case also at the meeting? Did you feel the new optimism surrounding the club (in the person of Gazidis as being the club person out there)

  • avatar mickess

    This is the first year I haven’t attended this meeting and I must ssy from what I’ve read it was the same old lame excuses from Ivan again. He really should be in Politics rather than in football where it is expected that waffle and avoidance of the question being asked is rife. What we want is honesty and openness from the club and a little less waffle and fudge.

  • avatar Mandy Dodd

    Think Ivan is a good guy to have on board. He has to be careful what he says, and he can only say so much on some issues, I am sure there has been legal stuff around rvp, but fair play to him, not all CEOs do this sort of event in football. The important message, we have been financially hindered, we are coming out of this and we can compete.

  • avatar stan clarke

    yet again we are fooled by these dictators & hirachy & politicians ha;

  • avatar blacksheep63

    Walter, I did feel that Gazidis was being positive and yes, that a page has been turned. However, Ivan is a smooth operator and better at doing this than most (if not all of those asking Qs). I am optimistic, but then I usually am!

    BTW on an unrelated note if you ever want to move to London I have found the perfect street for you: its called Warlters Road (close eh?) and it’s 5 minutes from the Ems!
    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=parkhurst+road+london&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&ei=DDe4UdeoHMK80QXq44Aw&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAg

  • avatar Paul Wickes

    Ivan Gazidis has all the right credentials to lead this club. He recognises that Arsenal’s business model cannot compete with the reckless spending of a Chelski or Citeh. He also believes in the business model Arsenal are working to, and so do I.

    The club is in good hands, and the ‘fans’ who believe otherwise should just take a look at the mess of QPR with regards to spending a lot of money to guarantee quick success. Or Leeds from yesteryear.

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    LOL Drew, that would be the perfect street for me. Nice street, nice houses, and so close to the Emirates…. I think I would like it there.

    Just for the name. Would the council allow a name change? ;)

  • avatar bjtgooner

    @Mandy

    Good summary.

  • avatar Bootoomee

    @mickess,

    Now who is being naive? The CEO of Arsenal (or any other major organisation) is a politician. I will be disappointed if he isn’t.

    And based on the report that I just read, I cannot understand what you are complaining about. You cannot just accuse people of lying or waffling just because they are not giving you the answers that you want.

  • avatar Terry

    Ivan has been chatting a lot in the media, but will it be followed up by any action? Doubt it. In the last week players like Rooney, Higuain, Jovetic, Grenier, Cezar, Bender and Fellaini have all been strongly linked with Arsenal, some to such an extent that the bookies have slashed their odds dramatically, just a few days later, Arsenal’s chances of signing any of these have vanished quicker than Lord Lucan. Just look at Juventus, they are apparently scraping the barrel for money yet are looking like out bidding Arsenal for Higuain, come the end of August I think We all know where this club will be, struggling to find what garbage is left over to appease the fans and paying over the odds for them.

  • avatar Tristan

    I am confident that we will improve considerably for the new year. The major factor being we are not uprooting our 2 best players in the summer like we have the previous 2 (Cesc & Nasri, RVP & Song). If we can show some backbone in the transfer market, and acquire 2 ready made players (eg Higuain & an experienced DM maybe, unless he plans on Coquelin stepping up which wouldn’t necessarily disappoint me) we can compete at the top next season, without breaking the bank.

  • avatar Tristan

    and this slow burning attitude is starting to feel like it will pay dividends against the madness all around us. Will SAF’s retirement spell a new era in Premierleague Football with us at the top? Very possibly. THe timing seems to be perfect.

  • avatar @Swales1968

    I never understand what fans want IG to say at this sort of thing as Bootoomee said “The CEO of Arsenal (or any other major organisation) is a politician. I will be disappointed if he isn’t.”

    What would you like IG to say?

  • avatar Adam

    What would you like IG to say?

    I’m here to see Arsenal through the long process of destabilisation that the EC has planned for the sport in which changes will come slowly but to the benefit of the industry as a whole. I want to see the banning of high investment by owners and the banning of TPPO, also higher solidarity payments to smaller clubs losing their talent to larger clubs, technology introduced to help officials and more of them. Harsher penalties for racism and discrimination, an overhaul of the FA, Uefa and FIFA, the implementation of a governing body which replaces FIFA who are relegated to tournament organisers only, a full investigation into Blatter, and I also want a broom so I can sweep up as I go.

    Am I over reaching?

  • avatar Gooner S

    I’ve now read three different accounts of the meeting and its amusing that each has its own take. I personally like this version as it better sits with my views.

    Clealry IG is putting Arsene Wenger on the spot. There is no ambiguity. Things weren’t good enough last season and everything is in place to spend wisely on the right players. Money isn’t an issue. We will be competing with Bayern in two years. This is clever corporate politics from IG.

    Its interesting that IG is handling more of the communication. A good move I think.

  • avatar AL

    Perhaps some are disappointed he didn’t come out and say we are bidding for this or that world class player. Or as the author put it, pull back the black clocth to reveal at least 5 world class players including Messi:)

    One thing I have come to accept is you will just never please everyone, even if IG had done all of the above some would still be having a go at him about something else.

    Thanks for the insight into how the Q&A went, sounds very positive to me, and looking forward to part 2.

  • avatar Robl

    @ Adam,

    you forgot the most important – mobile curry vans for all European away matches.

  • avatar Adam

    You crack me up.

  • avatar Stuart

    Well I think Gazidis should be more open and reveal exactly what he is thinking to all, just as our rivals do. Further to this, I think an 8 page spread should be published in every national newspaper in the world detailing our club & business strategy in very minute detail and each club and manager throughout the world should be provided with a weekly update on players we are tracking, who we are about to offer and how much.

  • avatar Rupert Cook

    @Adam, I think you should be the CEO after reading those ideas of yours.

    I don’t think Ivan dodged any questions. Yes he was a bit reluctant to revisit the RVP saga, aren’t we all?, but if he was a politician, as someone claimed, he wouldn’t be giving any direct answers whatsoever.

    Not many clubs have this sort of interaction with the fans so we should be thankful for that.

    We’ll see what his words mean once we’ve got our transfers done but I don’t think we’ll be seeing many world class additions, not because we don’t want them but because this summer many of the big teams will be in the hunt for the best players because many of those teams have new managers who want to make their own mark on their new clubs. It’ll be difficult to acquire top talent at the prices we can afford.

  • avatar Adam

    Not only that Rupert but players want assurances they will be playing every game as we have a World cup coming up and they want exposure. Out of the top English sides I think we can offer that more than our opponents. Could be a factor?

    Am also looking forward to part 2.

  • avatar Bootoomee

    Rupert,

    You posted: “but if he was a politician, as someone claimed, he wouldn’t be giving any direct answers whatsoever”

    Well, I am pretty certain that if you ask the PM for his name, he’ll tell you: David Cameron. My response to mickness about IG being a politician like virtually anyone who is leading a major organisation is because he was using that to denigrate the CEO while questioning his integrity.

    It is interesting that he thinks IG is a waffling politician while you think that he isn’t because he gave straight forward answers.

    There is clearly no way the poor man can please everybody!

  • avatar Stuart

    So what could IG have said about the sale of RVP instead? (including translations for those who do not see the bigger picture)

    It was the player who forced our hand. (If any other star players wish to leave, please do so)

    We wanted the money. (after several injury prone seasons, we knew this would be his season which is why we kept hi for so long)

    We needed the money. (The prawn sandwiches at this meeting had to be paid somehow)

    We owed Alex Fergusson a favour for letting us take Silvestre. (Alex Ferguson has never forgiven us for prizing away his star player)

    RVP wanted to grow his hair and experience the hair dryer treatment. (Alex Ferguson shouts louder than AW)

    Are there any I have missed?

  • avatar blacksheep63

    good points Stuart, but i must correct you – there were no sandwiches, prawn or otherwise, at the Q&A

  • avatar Rupert Cook

    @Bootoomee, I’m not sure what you have a problem with. I have a dislike of politicians and yes I’m sure if you ask David Cameron his name he’ll give it to you. It’s when any difficult questions get asked that politicians prevaricate.

    Gazidis responded much more openly than a politician so you see I was being complimentary.

  • avatar Bootoomee

    Rupert posted:

    “@Bootoomee, I’m not sure what you have a problem with. I have a dislike of politicians and yes I’m sure if you ask David Cameron his name he’ll give it to you. It’s when any difficult questions get asked that politicians prevaricate.”

    Well, that was not your earlier comment on all politicians: “but if he was a politician, as someone claimed, he wouldn’t be giving any direct answers whatsoever”

    All I did was point out the fallacy in your comment. Next time, qualify your assertions better. Unlike you, I don’t have problem with politicians. I have problem with corrupt and incompetent ones. I know they are few but they do exist.

    Now, I’m sorry if I am nitpicking here because you are indeed complimenting IG, I just don’t have a problem with him being a politician as long as he performs his job well.

  • avatar Domhuail

    Terry…..IF you are naive enough to take the media’s BS at face value then you deserve your disappointment!
    ¨In the last week players like Rooney, Higuain, Jovetic, Grenier, Cezar, Bender and Fellaini have all been strongly linked with Arsenal, some to such an extent that the bookies have slashed their odds dramatically, just a few days later, Arsenal’s chances of signing any of these have vanished quicker than Lord Lucan.¨ …doesn’t this seeming inconsistency tell you anything? If you take any of the shite media’s crap for fact or potentially true, then I have a bridge to seel you in London.
    So in your expert Football Fantasy Manager inflated opinion, players like Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud, Monreal, Arteta, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Jenkinson, the OX are ¨garbage¨and the rumour-mongering British media are more reliable than Wenger?
    With pseudo-supporters like you, AFC are doomed.