This is the morning after the AST Q&A with Ivan Gazidis, and I am afraid you are not going to like my assessment. Let’s be frank, Ivan was hardly going to say the club is in crisis it clearly isn't but things have gone wrong and what I didn't hear was strong words in response. Words like “you know what, we have messed up big time and let you all down but we will take strong action to remedy it.” I didn’t expect him to detail the operational actions that would be taken. He is after all the boss. But I hope that he has taken time to impress upon Arsene Wenger to change his first team coaching setup. The other concern was that there was no apology for the comments that had been made by Arsene Wenger and Peter Hill-Wood which have upset many loyal Gooners. Also in the light of an ill advised ticket increase, I didn’t expect him to defend it arrogantly by saying “THE RISE COULD HAVE BEEN HIGHER”. In addition he went onto moan that his utility costs have risen by 100% with electricity rising by 33%. Boo Hoo… lets all weep. But why should the fans pay for this? Trying an internal efficiency cost saving campaign like the rest of us ordinary mortals do.
In fact after leaving the meeting somewhat resigned to hoping that lessons are going to be learned, I find myself increasingly frustrated and convinced that even if things do change, WHO IS GOING TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAS GONE WRONG? The club may be patting themselves on the back because Ivan Gazidis got off relatively unscathed, but no-one in the AST, absolutely no-one was going to be offensive or deliver abuse to him. It was hoped that the extent of emotion expressed by over 200 members of the AST would have provoked a more robust response from our CEO, but perhaps he also is part of the problem. I like the man, but seriously someone has got to get a grip and stand up to Arsene Wenger. IF in business you do not take decisive action when things go wrong, then soon that business will be no more. It hurts me to hear of Gooners turning their backs on the club, many of whom have be loyal to the club during it's hard times. What a reward for that loyalty...
As you can gather I am angry, not at what is going to be done, as we must give Arsene Wenger a chance, but what is the harm of stating CLEARLY that the coaching needs at the club WILL be changed. That does not commit them to sacking or employing anyone in a public forum. It is this refusal to be accountable that makes me cross. There is an appearance that the fans who walk away will be replaced by others on the 40,000 waiting list, to allow this impression to surface is arrogant and almost uncaring. Harsh words yes, but it needs to be said. If we fans are the ones who will provide the main means for the club’s financial survival, then we need to be treated with more respect. An apology for the offense caused to fans from Peter Hill-Wood would be a start. This is all about respect, and the one word that did not emerge from Ivan’s lips last night was SORRY. A small word but oh so necessary if the expressions of disappointment are credible and the intentions to change are to be taken seriously.
This blog will win me no friends within the club, and may well do harm to the reputation of this blog. But you know what, so what, Enough is enough. In Business if someone messes up seriously then that employee is held directly responsible and recommendations are made and clear action is taken that will illustrate to the shareholders and other stakeholders that these errors are unacceptable and fall well below the standards expected. Did Ivan give Arsene Wenger a ticking off, or is the Board to blame? Don’t use the distraction of the takeover by Stan Kroenke either. As I said earlier it breaks my heart that several loyal and longstanding Gooners are now walking away from the club that they have supported in some cases for over 50 years. It annoys me that the efforts and attitudes of players like the late Rocky Rocastle who knew what it meant to play for Arsenal Football Club seems to have been for nothing, because now we have prima donnas telling the club, pay me what I want or I’m off.
There used to be a saying that no-one is bigger than Arsenal Football club. Well look at the evidence, Arsene Wenger appears to have become bigger than the club, because everyone is petrified of losing him, why? because he serves the needs of the Board. This cannot be true or is it? Certain players appear to have become bigger than the club, how is it after the embarrassment of losing Mathieu Flamini on a Bosman, that it is possible to have the situation repeated again so soon afterwards. Were no lessons learned? Now to have the scenario repeated with one player is unfortunate, but to have it repeated with two players is ******* ridiculous! If I was in charge, someone would be facing a disciplinary hearing. In a businesss like this with multi-million pound assets, something must be seriously wrong with the current system of keeping existing contracts under review. Who does this at the club? Ivan refused to answer the question.What is going to change? Now we are scrabbling around to resign the player on their terms. Doing things the Arsenal way? Get a grip! more like the Leeds United way at the moment. We need to put back the pride into the players and if they do not understand what it means to play for Arsenal Football Club, then show them the door. I want players who are going to give blood sweat and tears, not play fast and loose and disrespectful of our great heritage.
Apparently the fans are very important to Arsenal, Ivan was at pains to point out that we are not just a means to an end to reinforce the model of self sustainability, but can he understand that this is what we feel when the attendance at matches is read out based upon tickets sold rather than the numbers through the turnstiles. Why because there is no accountability and we refuse to acknowledge that some fans are disgruntled with the setup and are voting with their feet. if we more money is needed. I am sure that this is not the impression that the club wants to give, but think, in other football clubs Directors often put their own money into the club to make ends meet, but not at Arsenal, oh no. Now with two Billionaires on the board who have spent between themselves almost a quarter of a billion pounds, surely it is not beyond the great minds at the club to find a way that the self sustainable model could also be applied to the Directors. I accept that some do not take money out of the club, but others have certainly profited as a direct result. How does that work FFS? So we are yet again being asked to be patient. Wait for the commercial revenues to pour in, wait for the estate building to be sold and generate income, wait until the young players have matured. I agree, we must be patient, but we need to be treated with more respect and given REAL results and told what REAL CHANGES will take place to compensate for the errors made.
If a Business makes errors that results in some of it's consumers walking away then alarms bells should ring. At the very least a marketing survey should be done sinilar to the one carried out by the AST. Yet we seem to be incapable of reacting until something seriously goes tits up. I love this club, and second best was not good enough, third best was a disaster, but finishing fourth best was totally unacceptable. Had the season ended four games later we would now be playing Europa league football. This is about PRIDE IN ARSENAL FOOTBALL CLUB. I want players who are prepared to give 110% and want to write their names into our history. How many of the current squads will carry the label Arsenal Legend? Have they earned that right? Whilst I did not agree completely with the severity of the emotion expressed by Vic Crescit in a recent blog about how we have been treated as fans, I can now see what he meant. Unless serious players are bought in and the work ethic of players during matches changes then the pain was all for nothing. Until and unless people are held directly accountable when they make major errors then we are all just mushrooms at Arsenal, to be kept in the dark and fed BullSh**