by Andrew Crawshaw
Before Arsenal consider changing managers there is probably a broader question that Mr Kronke needs to address. Is the overall management of the club ‘fit for purpose’?
Firstly who ‘owns’ the club?
Arsenal Football Club is owned by Arsenal Holdings PLC. According to angryofislington – who keeps an accurate watch on the share owners and their holdings – there are 62,217 Shares listed on the share register maintained by Capita Registrars. Of these 41,721 (67.05% of the total) were owned/controlled by Kronke Sports and Entertainment at 15 November 2016. KSE UK is wholly owned by Mr Enos Stanley Kronke.
Of the remainder 18,695 are now owned/controlled by Alisher Usamov. The balance of 1,801 shares are held in small blocks of between one and ten by a variety of small shareholders.
I believe that when shares become available for purchase they cost in the region of £16,500, but as neither Mr Kronke or Mr Usamov expresses any desire to sell their shares the actual worth of the club would probable be significantly higher should anyone wish to make an offer that they couldn’t refuse. At £16,500 each the club is valued at approximately £1.03bn.
Now clearly, as Mr Kronke owns two thirds of the Club’s shares, he can manage the club in any way he wants and we, as individual supporters or indeed shareholders, can do absolutely nothing to alter things. In short he is the one person who (along with Mr Wenger) will decide when Arsène’s time at the club will come to an end – not me, not you, not the media and certainly not the players. If our performances drop sufficiently to impact on the value of his shareholding then I’m sure he will be as ruthless as any other business owner to replace the senior management. If you want to do anything about it then try offering him £1.5bn plus – who knows he might just accept it (although I think you would probably have to go to £2bn plus to stand any real chance).
Arsenal Holdings PLC has a Board of Directors who currently comprise :-
- Chairman – Sir Chips Keswick – a career banker and director since 2005 and Chairman since 2013
- Chief Executive Officer – Ivan Gazedis appointed 2009 and previously deputy commissioner of the MLS in the USA
- Director – Ken Friar been with the club for 60 years in many different roles
- Director – Lord Harris of Peckham – appointed 2005
- Director Stan Kronke – first became a shareholder in 2007, a director in 2008 and the majority shareholder in 2011
- Director – Josh Kronke – son of Stan Kronke joined the board in 2013
For further details there is a section on Arsenal.com (search for The Arsenal Board)
Currently Arsène Wenger has the responsibility for just about all areas of the club that don’t fall directly under Ivan Gazedis. I believe that in total he has in the order of 150 staff in various capacities reporting through him covering everything from coaching, scouting, medical, kit and equipment, nutrition and analysts. I also suspect that he has ultimate say over recruitment, salaries and everything at both Colney and the Emirates.
My gut feeling is that this is too much for any one person to manage effectively and that an alternative management structure would be beneficial for the club whoever the manager is.
All Club Employees must ultimately report to the CEO, be they tea lady, chief finance officer or team manager.
Broadly we can split the functions of the club into the following areas :-
- Finance, both income generation and expenditure
- Matchday, groundsmen, stewards, catering etc.
- Arsenal in the community
- Academy, Hale End including ground, facilities, coaching etc.
- Professional Players, identification, recruitment, remuneration etc.
- Development (U18/U19/U23) team coaching, team management, medical etc
- First Team Coaching, management, medical etc.
Clearly whoever the first team manager is will need to have a major input into most areas of the club and the bottom four in particular but I wonder if they need to have sole responsibility for them.
The Hale End Academy should be pretty autonomous (and indeed is so at the present). The Manager of the first team should have an input into identifying the player skills required but that is probably about it.
Once the players move on from Hale End (or another English/Welsh academy) to Colney then sign professional contracts at 17 or are recruited at age 18 plus then the First Team Manager should have a greater involvement but in general the day to day management of this Development group should be by a dedicated team.
The first team Manager will of course be solely responsible for all matters relating to the day to day running of the first team.
In many clubs some of the duties I understand are undertaken by Arsène Wenger are the designated responsibility of a second manager frequently called Director of Football. Indeed one could well make a case for such a person to be responsible for everything in areas 4 to 7. Sometimes this split works, sometimes it doesn’t. The key seems to be having a clearly defined split of responsibilities between the posts and both parties having a willingness to make it work. Together as a team two people are probably better than one but if they are constantly vying for status then it is doomed to failure.
Arsène has an encyclopedic knowledge of football and footballers, and any replacement will be less knowledgable and it is far more likely that his replacement will need the assistance of a Director of Football far more than he does. Nevertheless I think that to make such an appointment in the near future would be a very good move for the club as it would enable a workmanlike handover of duties rather than two new appointments being made at the same time.
As to whom we should appoint well that is really outside my area of expertise but I would suggest that looking at Dennis Bergkamp would be a good starting point. He knows the club, is current with his knowledge of players and the game and most importantly has had a good working relationship with Arsène in the past.
Both Manager and Director of Football should report to the CEO and have equal status. Whenever either of them leave the other should have a major role in the recruitment process but not a veto over appointments.
Whoever is appointed and whenever it happens, all we, as supporters, can do is to continue to support the Club, Management and Players in a positive and constructive manner. If we can’t do that and the fun has really gone out of it then we should start doing something else instead.. Life is too short for us to be miserable about football the whole time.
Arsenal History Books on Kindle
The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle. Full details are here.
Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without. For full details please see here.
Both books are also available as paperbacks. Please see here.