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Arsenal Managerial Changes: “Is the overall management of the club ‘fit for purpose’?”

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 (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.

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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 :-

  1. Finance, both income generation and expenditure
  2. Matchday, groundsmen, stewards, catering etc.
  3. Arsenal in the community
  4. Academy, Hale End including ground, facilities, coaching etc.
  5. Professional Players,  identification, recruitment, remuneration etc.
  6. Development (U18/U19/U23) team coaching, team management, medical etc
  7. 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.

27 comments to Arsenal Managerial Changes: “Is the overall management of the club ‘fit for purpose’?”

  • gouresh

    U said that the owner would decide to sack the manager if the price of the shares fell!!! That’s proves the point that the fans are making that the owner is in only for the cut and not to win.. Doesn’t it?

  • Pat

    I think one of the advantages we have had as Arsenal fans is that our manager, a very intelligent person, has had charge of so many important aspects of the club, like tactics, strategy, transfers and so on.

    The owner has not interfered with the footballing side of the club – unlike some.

    But he has a very large staff as you say, Tony. And when you have a very large staff made up of reliable experts in their field, you trust them to get on with it. Arsene Wenger has the same attitude to his players and I find it good. He gives them plenty of experience and advice and then expects them to go out on the pitch and creatively apply them, using their brains.

    I also think you are possibly underplaying the role of Ivan Gazidis in important aspects of the running of the club.

    And as you suggest, having a Drector of Football is all very well as long as he and the manager agree. I think Arsene Wenger has trusted advisers in the club, people he trusts that he can talk things through with. I think that’s better.

  • Usama Zaka

    Good summary and points made Andrew. About the number of duties and responsibilities of Arsène Wenger listed above, even to the max of any individual’s ability this is just too much work, stress and pressure for just one person.

    My question is… Q. Did the AFC Board made the decision to put AW in charge of all those duties and huge staff (other than players) or Did AW made the decision himself to the board?

    Because a gooner who goes by the name of Steve (aka @LordHillwood writer for Gunners Town and regular podcast guest at ABW (A Bergkamp Wonderland) wrote this 5 years ago at his blog.

    These are some excerpts from it…

    “Of course Arsene Wenger still has a private close relationship with his friend David Dein, but David is no longer at the club. The club have been remiss in not finding Arsene , another such figure. A person who would help Arsene stay on track, not be diverted by non football duties. A person who would suggest some of the decisions made recently were in fact ridiculous gambles. Decisions harming the club and the executive himself. Harming the team’s performance and harming the stress levels of the executive

    When David Dein was fired by Danny Fiszman, a vacuum in the club formed. Despite Edelman’s presence as MD, Danny Fiszman, and the board concentrated on the stadium build, this caused this vacuum of power to grow. Edelman wasn’t a football man, more a City chap brought in to raise money for the stadium. Danny was completely devoted to the building of the Emirates. The vacuum became worse when in 2008 Edelman left the club.

    In the time it took the club to recruit Ivan Gazidis, a year practically (he commenced employment in Jan 2009) the vacumn got worse as Danny Fiszman became ill .

    The board, comprised solely of the traditional characters of aristocratic banking backgrounds , Edelman a finance man and Ken Friar, lacked expertise in non finance areas.

    History as ever has a habit of repeating itself . Instead of bringing in people with the expertise in building a training ground, dealing with the catering, or hiring a top management executive as a fill in until they recruited a permanent CEO, they heaped all this and more on Arsene Wenger

    Whilst Arsene may have urbanely smiled and accepted gratefully these extra duties, even relished control over more of the club he worked for, it was a bad decision by the board.

    It diverted a specialised executive from his core duties, it heaped extra hours, and pressure. It increased his stress levels and wasted his valuable time, and was an unwise investment of his salaried time.

    Stress piled on, increasing his workload, increasing his isolation. Stress and responsibility which impaired his view and opinions, thanks to the isolation he now felt. Isolated with no mentor, listener, adviser or confidant.

    This was to prove devastating when Wenger lost his parents in the future, and according to Alex Fynn, moved house and retreated in to a closed environment. An action isolating himself from the world even his closest friends, and away from David Dein who was his neighbour.

    Again its seems the board didn’t help or even if they offerred and it was refused, no intervention to help the executive and the business he was so vital to, was made.

    We can see the level of waste of the manager’s time and Arsenal’s resources in one small snippet.

    According to board minutes Arsene spent 4 hours discussing catering in club level.

    A four hour meeting cost AFC 11250 pounds at his salary rate.

    For sure a catering expert could have been hired for half that money, and less of the manager’s valuable time wasted. More to the point, less stress and less diversion from focusing on his key subject. The core activity of Arsenal- football.

    P.S Little spelling mistakes… Kroenke and Usmanov (it looks like you mixed my name up with him to Usamov 🙂 alrighty then I’m now 2nd major shareholder in the club 😀 )

  • Sammy The Snake

    Since we all love Wenger so much, and can’t let him go, I suggest making him the CEO and getting a new manager under him. This might solve so many problems, and it would keep almost everyone happy (except Gazidis!). Kronke gets his trusted AW to make him money, Wenger can reduce his stress without retiring, and the fans get the younger manager they’re yearning for!

  • porter

    That’s fine Sammy providing he is prepared to step back and let a new manager manage the team.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Some very interesting points, especially Andrew and Usama. Wenger is involved in club level catering……tpright, think we can spot a problem here, if he is involved in such minutae, he is clearly spread too thinly.
    Yes, I think he does too much, his micromanagement approach is legendary, there are lots of anecdotes, cannot vouch how true they are, but a legend on a visit to the ground told me he spent three months…on and off..cutting specifics of a loan deal for a the. youth player.
    In the last thread, Tom asked me and others how we would change things over the next couple of years if we want Wenger to stay, which I do… of my points was to improve the management structure.
    If Wenger is doing too much, whether by choice, or at the behest of the board, they should have the balls to make it a condition of signing a new deal that he sticks to the football side, and primarily the first team.
    I suspect the board will do no such thing, but they run the risk of burning out their manager, and hindering the clubs performance.
    A DOF would surely be appropriate for a club this size, the problem being, would Wenger accept it? But maybe, recent poor performance gives the club a but of leverage, should they want an improved management structure, which could also help in succession planning

  • Josif

    Excellent post, Andrew.

    My question for Neville Chamberlain of club owners remain the same:

    when will he do something to stop constant refereeing fu’k up?

    Sneaky people are all the same. They attack where they know there is little to no resistance. That’s why Arsenal are the favourite target for everyone- nobody will stand up for Arsenal. Those eleven on the pitch and the guy who manages them…that’s all we can count on and they are helpless against the referees.

    Oh, and don’t tell me that The Board don’t know how to defend themselves using all means possible. We know how Sir Chips Keswick made a shameful attempt to silence the question about those 3 million pounds. Let’s show the same bite when Arsenal lose millions in the merit money due to referees’ mistakes.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Josif, do not know about the owner, but Ovan should,certainly be having words about the standard of officiating we get, he is a lawyer…..and if you scroll down, you see the committees and boards he sits on

    At the moment , many are complaining about our boards passivity ….on a few issues. Sometimes, seems like some of these accusations may stand up to some scrutiny. I used to believe that if the club kept their mouths shut about refs, they would not be unduly impeded in a top four place. Let’s see what happens this year, and their reaction if ref mistakes help cost the club fourth million ECL money.
    Sadly, I would guess the club would just accept it, and take it off the transfer/wages budget.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Ivan even

  • Zuruvi

    Barca wins 6-1 to overcome a 4-0 first leg deficit.

    Once again shows that a team with a good midfield and a clinical strike-force will always have a chance.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I haven’t seen any images but my newspaper says about the 5-1: Suarez dives in the penalty area and the ref somehow falls for it and Barcelona score 5-1

  • WalterBroeckx

    Zuruvi, maybe the help of the ref had a bit to do with it? Judging on what I read in my newspaper live feed that is.

  • Leon

    Yes, it was a blatant dive by Suarez.
    Great game though.

  • WalterBroeckx

    LOL but refs don’t influence the game. Not when Arsenal is involved of course….

  • WalterBroeckx

    2 wrong penalties in Barcelona’s favour I read scrolling down… LOL.
    One of my friends from Arsenal Belgium said this morning on the internet that Barcelona would go further and that the ref would help them.
    How predictable.

    Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern are the teams that need to go further as long as they can.

    LOL is Busacca still head of the referees from UEFA? According to Wikipedia he still is. He still hasn’t forgotten how Wenger had a go at him after his scandal in Barcelona when Barcelona players could manhandle Arsenal players unpunished and he had to send off Van Persie when we were qualified….

  • Leon

    Not sure that the first penalty was wrong. A defender fell over in front of Neymar who himself then fell over his body.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I just tell what I read in the newsfeed from my local newspaper.

  • mojola

    @zuruvi,wt 2 fake penalties nd debatable offside goal,weldonesir

  • Leon

    Forgot to mention that Suarez was booked earlier for a dive. That made two altogether by him. Effing disgraceful.
    I still think the first penalty was OK. PSG defender was falling & Neymar accidentally trips over him. Looked good to me.

  • Leon

    Oh yeah! And the winning goal was NOT offside. Roberto timed his move perfectly. Although others were off side, but not involved.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Very informative and comprehensive , Andrew , thank you. I guess that as an economics graduate , AW is well versed in the overall running of the club , but I do hope that he delegates more and gets more rest. And has less stress !

  • WalterBroeckx

    No it wasn’t ok. You have to commit a foul to get a penalty given against you. There was some contact but the PSG player never tried to foul Neymar who just ran in to the falling player. Being on the field itself is not a foul and not enough to be called a foul against you.

    An example: when a defender is standing completely still and a striker just runs in to him it is not a foul from the defender.

    I have seen a clip now from the Neymar penalty and there was no attempt to foul the player. So he was just having a position (that can be any position also falling down) on the field.

    Of course the specialist referees who visit the comment section will tell me that is wrong.

    May I add that this impeding is the so called obstruction foul and that an obstruction foul has to be punished with an indirect free kick even in the penalty area.

    This also will be called wrong by the specialist referees who visit the comment section in the last days.

    I will inform the tutors who teach us the laws of the game of course that they have been feeding me rubbish next time I see them. Maybe they can invite those posters to teach us the laws properly.

  • Leon

    I defer to your more expert knowledge. You’re right of course, it was not a deliberate foul on Neymar, who fell over the falling defender. I assumed that as this impeded his run on goal it was a foul.
    I thought you recently said on this very blog (at the time of the Alonso foul on Bellerin) that a foul is a foul whether it is intentional or not.

  • Pat

    So the Barca victory was a referee job as well. How predictable.

  • Not afraid gunner

    Both penalties were wrong. Video replays should cone sooner than later.

  • Not afraid gunner

    Neymar should have been booked for falling on top of a fallen player. It was simulation.

  • Jared

    Both Neymar and Suarez should have been sent off twice each for diving. Neymar especially, like 5-6 runs into penalty area with a fall/dive and pandering to referee. Is this what we aspire for our children to be? To be a bunch of cheats? “Ohhhh! Unbelievably amazing comeback by Barcelona! Only 3 penalties awarded!”