Friday, 18 October 2013

Arsenal AGM RECAP: Reaction and updates as shareholders quiz Arsene Wenger and the Gunners hierarchy

Arsenal AGM RECAP: Reaction and updates as shareholders quiz Arsene Wenger and the Gunners hierarchy

The Frenchman said he is confident that fans will be very happy come May, and board members unveiled plans for cheaper tickets
1:02 pm
Here's some good news Arsenal fans, something that almost got buried in the mass of quotes and questions over the last couple of hours.
Arsene Wenger hinted that he is confident fans will be very happy in May, suggesting he thinks silverware is abound for Arsenal.
You can read the full story on his comments here.
12:53 pm
Getting a lot of positive feedback from Arsenal fans, so maybe the cynics WEREN'T right. I just don't know anymore.
It seems that many of the fans and shareholders are happy that they even get the opportunity to ask their manager and members of the board questions.
And there were decent answers to some questions, while others were dodged completely.
It's a difficult one. But one of the things that was mentioned a lot by the board members was the phrase "unprecedented interaction with fans", and to be fair, even if some questions were sidestepped, the Arsenal AGM meeting does represent a healthy interaction between the club and the fans.
12:47 pm
What did you make of the AGM meeting, were there any questions unanswered for you?
Let us know what you made of it @MirrorFootball on Twitter.
12:40 pm
The meeting is over and an inspirational film on Arsenal youth players is currently being shown/imposed upon the shareholders.
Well, we didn't really get much in the way of answers. Looks like the cynics were right.
There were some interesting tidbits, Arsene Wenger hinted that he thinks Arsenal will win the league this year (or perhaps just win a trophy) when he said that the AGM meeting in May will be a "very happy" one.
There were also some interesting schemes on ticket prices, cheap(ish) tickets versus Norwich, cheap tickets for Young Guns (that's young fans to you and me).
12:32 pm
BRILLIANT response from Sir Chips on the question of the Qatar World Cup in 2022:
"I won't be going - I probably won't still be alive!"
Chips and Gazidis have been putting humour to good use in this meeting, but they haven't given concrete answers to some of the more important questions.
Questions are flying in now though.
12:30 pm
Ivan is asked about Arsenal's failure to participate in NBC Premier League football promotion in Times Square.
"There's a Gareth Bale poster all over Times Square. Unfortunately, he no longer plays for one of our rivals, Tottenham Hotspur."
That's how Crossie has transcribed the quote, although a few people tweeting from the meeting have said something more along the lines of:
"He no longer plays for Spurs, he now plays for one of our rivals."
That would obviously be a major dig at Spurs, saying that Real Madrid are rivals, but Spurs aren't. For now though, we'll go with Crossie's original quote because he is the fastest (and most accurate) smart phone typist in the west.
12:24 pm
The pre-prepared questions are now over. Which means that the floor is open, and we should get some interesting topics out of the next half an hour.
Hopefully we'll get more questions on ticket prices, season ticket prices, and hopefully some questions about the January transfer window too.
There will likely be questions directed at Wenger about his future, and how long he is hoping to stay at the club.
You can almost guarantee that question will be side-stepped though.
12:21 pm
John Cross
Another update from the fastest smart phone typist in the west:
Gazidis says: "We will make a top class appointment to run our academy.
"We are constantly reviewing the contractual position of our players."
He lists the re-signing of Wilshere, Walcott, Ramsey, The Ox and Koscielny.
New signings on long term contracts
"Consequence is that we have a lot of players on long-term contracts and a healthy player pool.
"Wenger and Arsenal have outstanding record on making the right decisions on player contracts.
"We are left with a squad of a relatively small size but they are all engaged and focused."
12:18 pm
John Cross
Here's a ticket price updates:
Gazidis says club is committed to fair pricing for tickets.
Young Guns tickets for £10 to allow teenagers to afford to come to games.
£2.50 off away tickets.
£26 is starting price for tickets v Norwich. That's not a bad price.
Held prices and offers for Capital One games, and kept to that vs Chelsea even though it will be over subscribed
12:15 pm
John Cross
Another update from Crossie:
Gazidis says: "Mr Kroenke has fulfilled his commitment to engage with fans in accordance with the takeover document. Since his takeover, has attended every AGM, answered questions and listened.
"Has given multiple media interviews.
"It's important that we remember and also that he encourages the board to engage.
"I meet with fans regularly, will do before Norwich and do in difficult times like after Bradford.
"I regularly meet with supporters and the credit goes to Mr Kroenke and the Arsenal board for that.
"There's no other club at this level which engages with fans as much as we do. It is unique.
12:13 pm
Correction to an earlier statement. Ivan Gazidis joked about the ZIP on Wenger's coat, not his actual coat keeping him dry.
The now compulsory Wenger zip gag, no meeting would be complete without one.
The joke was (in relation to fans getting wet when it's raining):
"We also have a few problems on the bench - Arsene can't do up the zip on his coat!"
Sir Ivan for Edinburgh Fringe next year?
12:11 pm
Shareholders now asking when are they going to get a dividend. Again, this is another question which is laughed at by Sir Chips.
By Ivan Gazidis says that the focus is now on making tickets more affordable (audible cheers in North London) and also setting up a scheme to help season ticket holders sell their tickets when they can't go.
It's not an actual answer to the question though, and they haven't actually outlined HOW they are going to make tickets more affordable in the long-term, despite some short-term answers. No mention of season ticket prices (yet).
It's not the concrete assurances Arsenal fans were after, but it seems like a good start. The board are obviously aware of the issue.
12:04 pm
Now the REAL questions are underway. Somebody has asked a question about the lower end of block 16, which apparently gets a bit wet when it's raining.
That's the big issue on all our minds today - "are they going to fix the leaks at the Emirates?"
That question (almost) works on so many levels.
In reply to the question Ivan Gazidis laughs it off and says that Arsene Wenger also gets wet when it's raining, despite his massive coat.
12:01 pm
John Cross
Sir Chips Keswick speaks really well, though he's tripped over the pronunciation of Kazakhstan.
Congratulates Arsenal Ladies team and urges more fans to go and support them.
"If you have nothing to do, go and support them, they always play with great vigour."
11:58 am
John Cross
More updates from John Cross, who holds the world record for the most live blog updates sent in from an Android phone (with accurate typing):
Wenger says: "Our club has a great advantage all over the world. we have tradition, for the qualities our club always tries to defend.
"The Premier League is tight again this season. We need your support. We've had moments at the Emirates where we've not had that. But it's our job to also inspire you.
"We're in October, but once we reach the end of November we will have a clearer idea and we will be happy.
"At the end of May I'm confident we can have a very good meeting."
Confident words from Arsene!
11:53 am
John Cross
Reflecting on how opening day defeat made people "a little bit nervous," Wenger says:
"We showed great mental strength when we went to Turkey a few days later.
"I still believe our policy has to be based on three different levels and i don't think without that we will have success."
Wenger's philosophy:
Style of play and developing own players, that's the only way you can do it. That has to be the core and strength of our club.
The intelligence of our eye, players who are unknown through connections, scouting and how we have seen and developed. For example, when Koscielny came here no-one knew him and he is now an international.
Scout and buy, recognise world class players. We bought Ozil. You don't need any scout to buy Ozil. You just need money!
11:48 am
John Cross
Wenger says: "We meet only once a year but it's always a pleasure.
"I thank Peter Hill-Wood and his forward thinking - and he appointed me!
"The board always backed and supported me."
He then goes on to talk about some of the more difficult parts of past year:
"Last season, we had a difficult start from end of Nov to beginning of May we redressed the results.
"The biggest disappointment and for the first time in 17 years was we lost in the cup competitions to lower division teams."
11:46 am
John Cross
John Cross writes:
Always enjoy a bit of socialising in the room.

Tom Fox, Arsenal's very successful commercial chief, is a terrific guy, always have a good chat and is good fun. Some great characters here.

Ivan Gazidis currently giving long and thorough explanation of a sports science acquired which shows up in the accounts.

Very technical.

The wonderfully named Sir Chips Keswick, the club chairman, proving he has an accent to match his name.

Now Stan Kroenke says a few words... Makes a joke of a few objections to his re-election...
11:45 am
Stan Kroenke says that he is VERY happy with Arsenal's progress commercially, and says that revenues are increasing. But he also claims that this is unimportant if progress isn't seen ON the pitch.
Cue Arsene shifting nervously in his seat.
But then Stan introduces Arsene to speak, brilliant timing.
He opens with:
"Its always a pleasure [to speak at these meetings], more so when team does well, than after a big defeat."
11:38 am
Sir Chips says he will not answer all questions, which basically means they won't be answering the tough questions on ticket prices or the future of the club.
Shall we all go home then? No, let's hope that we do get some answers to some of the topics we're all interested in.
Currently the board is talking about the acquisition of an American data company for somewhere in the region of £2million, this is a warm-up question, you can't help but feel.
But it poses interesting questions about the future of football, and there's a bit of a "Moneyball" situation at play.
The acquisition of this company was so that Arsenal could use the data specialists as their own personal analytics experts, to inform everything from tactics to which players to target in the transfer market.
It's football by numbers, and it's worked so well in other sports, particularly in American sports and also in rugby, there's no reason it shouldn't have an increasingly important impact in football.
11:34 am
Here we go!
Arsene Wenger is sitting next to Stan Kroenke, and the meeting has started.
Sir Chips is giving the opening statement, as chairman of the club, getting proceedings underway.
He's asked for all phones to be turned off, which could make life a bit difficult for this particular journalist. But nobody turns their phone off, so it's absolutely fine.
It's only a matter of time before we get into discussions on ticket prices!
11:24 am
We've been asking you lot what you would say to Wenger if you had the chance.
Here's a good one from @VarunC07 on Twitter:
"What would you do different if Arsenal fail to win any trophies this season, or if you lose players in the transfer window?"
If you've got any questions for Wenger, direct them to @MirrorFootball on Twitter, we won't pass them onto him or anything like that, but it's a good exercise in judging the mood of Arsenal fans at the moment.
Just five minutes until the meeting is due to start now, updates from John Cross should be coming in soon!
11:19 am
Arsenal blogger Lady Arse is taking the cynical approach to the AGM meeting, it's a view shared by quite a few fans out there.
LA makes the point that the meeting won't really reveal anything new.
If that's true, then what's the purpose of it? Could it just be an exercise in making the fans feel as if they have a voice?
Surely Arsenal wouldn't be so cynical, and neither would this particular writer.
Lady Arse has a point though, with Wenger having faced difficult questions on difficult subjects from the press for the entirety of his lengthy career, if he doesn't want to give anything away at today's meeting, then he won't.
11:04 am
The AGM meeting starts at 11:30am, we'll have updates from our very own John Cross, who is at the meeting, as well as reaction from fans and Arsenal bloggers.
What would you ask Arsene Wenger if you had the chance? Let us know: @MirrorFootball.
It seems like a one of the big issues will be the cost of tickets, a number of fans seem unhappy about the prices they are paying to see their club play.
The Emirates cost a lot to build, and unfortunately for Arsenal fans it costs a fair old whack to buy a seat for 90 minutes.
10:44 am
There is a common belief among Arsenal fans and pundits that Arsene Wenger will face questions from shareholders over his future at the club.
This is probably a good sign for Arsene, showing that fans want assurances that he is there to stay.
From the outside, Wenger has always looked like a manager with a long-term plan, and with the progress the club has made early on this season, it doesn't look like he'll be on the way out any time soon.
But then again, we all thought Fergie would stay a bit longer than he did.
10:38 am
Arsenal super-fan and shareholder 'Darren Arsenal' has tweeted pictures of flyers being handed out outside the Arsenal AGM meeting.
It compares the success of Arsenal to the success of Bayern Munich, an odd analogy, given that Bayern Munich play in a different country with a different footballing culture to the UK, but still, it displays that Bayern are more successful in Europe, and that it costs a lot more money to watch an Arsenal game.
Ouch. The flyers are being handed out by the Black Scarf Movement, if you didn't already guess.
9:55 am
Arsenal will be hosting their AGM this morning as shareholders get a chance to quiz board members.
And it's not a bad time for the club, either. Having splashed out on a new record signing in Mesut Ozil, Arsene Wenger's side sit top of the Premier League after seven games.
But Wenger is expected to face questions over his own future having not yet signed an extended contract.
Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke is also expected to attend.
We'll bring you updates and reaction as it happens.

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