Football: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger defended his side’s achievements and issued a call for unity after the club’s directors came under fire at a stormy AGM today.
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis, chairman Peter Hill-Wood and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke were all heckled during the meeting over both the Gunners’ current financial strategy and their failure to win a trophy since 2005.
And prior to the AGM a number of supporters protested against the running of the club with a banner outside Ashburton Grove calling for fans to help “kick greed out of football.”
The banner was referring to the cost of both season and matchday tickets at the club, which are the highest in the Premier League, while another focal point for the unrest is Arsenal’s transfer policy.
But in his own address Wenger insisted the club was making progress.
He said: “For me, there are five ‘trophies’ — the first is to win the Premier League, the second is to win the Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions
League, the fourth is to win the FA Cup and the fifth is to win the League Cup.
“I say that because if you want to attract the best players, they do not ask ‘did you win the League Cup?’, they ask you ‘do you play in the Champions League?’.”
At one point Gazidis had to call order to get the AGM back on track after being accused by one shareholder of “ruining the club” with his financial policies.
Wenger, though, received a warm reception after his address, which had opened with an apology for the recent defeats against Norwich last weekend and Schalke on
The Frenchman added: “We did not produce a good performance last night, but let’s not forget it was a first home defeat in the Champions League for 43 games — not many teams do that.
“My job is to deliver a team with the resources we have, and I have never complained about that. It is still important that we keep our strength and stay united for the good of Arsenal. Sometimes you can forget that.”
Gazidis had earlier said that Arsenal would be able to compete with the world’s biggest and best clubs as Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations become more rigorously enforced.
“In the next two years, we will have the financial resources to sit and compete among the leading clubs in the world, which is an extraordinary achievement,” he said.
Meanwhile Kroenke, known as “Silent Stan” for being very much in the background, was asked whether dividends were to be paid to shareholders which would mean
money being taken out of the club at some future stage.
The US tycoon said: “This club is run through the board. I have always been respectful of that process. We have never put any debt on this club for acquisitions (during the takeover) and never said money was not available to spend.
“We acquire through our own resources.”
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