The reign of chief executive Ivan Gazidis reached a new stage yesterday with the announcement of three new senior appointments.
The first is new commercial man Tom Fox. He joins us from sports and entertainment marketing outfit Wasserman Media Group having previously worked for Nike where he was sports marketing director. He has also worked for the National Basketball Association both in the USA and as vice-president of its Asian operation (where the NBA has been eating the Premier League’s lunch for it in China); and Gatorade, the USA’s version of Lukozade sports. His job title will be “Chief Commercial Officer”
Also joining us as our first-ever in-house lawyer will be new “General Counsel” Svenja Geissmar who has previously worked for MTV (where she interviewed Burmese political prisoner Aung San Su Chi). She will become one of the few women in senior positions in the game here. The last addition as “Head of People & Operations” will be Trevor Saving, who formerly worked for Pepsi and Levi Strauss.
The in-house legal position should end up paying for itself given that we previously contracted all legal work to corporate lawyers Slaughter & May which is a bit like renting a Rolls Royce for your holiday runabout.
I’ve thought for a good while that Arsenal is seriously under-powered at the senior management level. We still have an operation that looks pretty much like it did when our turnover was £2 million a year. When we’re turning over £200 million a year we look seriously under-powered at the top. This led to lots of areas of the club’s work being neglected or under-attended, especially when the focus was on financing, building and moving into our new home at the Grove. I’m all for a lean, mean fighting machine and not being top-heavy but our senior management has looked positively anorexic in recent years. How has an organisation with hundreds of employees survived all this time without a personnel specialist I’ll never know. An accident waiting to happen. I’m glad Ivan Gazidis has acted before we ran out of luck.
Whilst I’m very resistant to some North American professional sports practices, such as no promotion or relegation, I admire much of the professional way sports organisations are run in the USA and Canada. Hopefully we can bring in the best of North America and blend it with the best of Europe to create a club we can all be proud of off the field to add to some of the great teams we’ve seen on the park.
I think there’s a possibility that the new off-field regime may persuade Arsčne Wenger to set up pre-season home somewhere other than Austria, which has been our favoured destination, usually after a traditional first friendly at Barnet, for well over a decade now. Next pre-season might not be ideal for this with a World Cup in June/July with so many of the senior players not reporting back until late after a post-tournament holiday but I can see this happening sooner rather than later. With Stan Kroenke’s membership of the board and ownership of the Colorado Rapids I can see us basing ourselves there or at the nearby Air Force Academy facility at Colorado Springs. The Air Force Academy runs a big-time college grid-iron team. Denver is at 1,600 metres and Colorado Springs at 1,800 metres. High altitude training is very popular with many sporting outfits as it gives a boost on descent to lower altitude. The altitude also takes the edge of the summer heat at around 20-22 degrees Celsius in July, ideal for pre-season training. I can see it happening with 2-3 pre-season friendlies in the USA & Canada thrown in. Returning to Blighty two weeks before the opening League game would allow enough time for body-clocks to re-adjust to the time difference.
On the park it’s our first home League match of the season against Portsmouth at home. The injury jinx is still with us. Theo Walcott is definitely out for tomorrow and possible Yoonited next weekend. Eduardo should however be available. We need a focused performance tomorrow. No turning up assuming we’re going to win. Let’s see how far we can take our current perfect start to the season.
Keep the faith!

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