Arsenal: Key quotes from Thursday’s AGM

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Owner Stan Kroenke of the Los Angeles Rams looks on prior to a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Owner Stan Kroenke of the Los Angeles Rams looks on prior to a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Arsenal’s Annual General Meeting took place on Thursday, with Ivan Gazidis, Sir Chips Keswick, and Arsene Wenger all present. Here are some of the key quotes.

As we all know all too well, the corporate world of modern football is a private and unsolicited affair. The average fan — and mere writer — knows very little as to the goings on in endless board meetings, secluded discussions, and protected contract negotiations. And Arsenal, perhaps more than any professional football club, have an outstanding ability to distance the fan from the organisation.

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That is why the Annual General Meeting (AGM), where members of the Arsenal Supporters Trust, minority shareholders, and certain media figures (by invite only), are presented by a panel usually consisting of key board members, including Ivan Gazidis, Sir Chips Keswick, Arsene Wenger and others.

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Thursday’s meeting was extremely interesting, with the most significant period coming when Sir Chips and Josh Kroenke, son of Stan Kroenke, were selected for reappointment this year — there is a retire by rotation policy of every three years, meaning that this year, it was the turn of Sir Chips and Josh Kroenke.

The resolution was voted upon, twice, and both times it was rejected by the minority shareholders present. Because of the number of shares that Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov, who, it was revealed, supported the resolution, hold, the resolution was passed. The vote against it from the minority shareholders present was never likely to succeed. It was as much a protest vote as anything else. But it is believed to be the first time during Stan Kroenke’s ownership that a resolution has been opposed in such a forthright and bullish fashion.

There was also extended periods of question and answer, with Sir Chips, Gazidis and Wenger fielding most of the questions. They were quizzed on a number of topics, from the state of the club to Gazidis’ earnings, from Usmanov not holding a position on the board to the high proportion of FC Koln fans in the home section of the Emirates during a Europa League fixture earlier this season.

Here is what I found to be the more interesting quotes:

"AW: “It’s an immense privilege to speak to you. I dedicate 99 percent of my life to making you happy. A football club is about the past, the present and the future. In what we see now football is always ahead of the society. What is for sure, in our game the weight of the past and the weight of the future has been kicked out of the game. I will never betray the people who create these values. Arsenal is a highly-respected club not only because we won the last game but because we represent something that is exceptional. The present for me is about style of play, winning, trophies, winning every game. Don’t think I don’t know. It’s essential.”"

"IG: “We want to compete at the top of the league, win trophies and add to this club’s history. We’ve made significant investments ourselves but more important is investing well. This is about doing things efficiently and with excellence. To win the Premier League we need to do things better than our competitors in every year. That’s not easy. We always have succession in consideration for every role in our club… We all should be proud of winning the FA Cup three times in four years… but as we have said many times our intention is to win the Premier League.”"

"Sir CK: “Ivan is doing a fantastic and first class job leading the development of this club across every aspect of its operations and is representing it in the Premier League, the European Club Association and UEFA level. We are fortunate to have him as our CEO and I am very grateful that he does as much as he does.”"

There were further statements from Sir Chips and Gazidis surrounding the position of Usmanov and his lack of presence on the board, and there were many disgruntled moments from the crowd, including one heckle of Wenger, who brought up the example of Aston Villa and the Champions League, shouting, ‘at least they [Villa] won it.’

Ultimately, though, perhaps the two most significant moment came at the end. The first was a question from a woman in the crowd. Sir Chips, in an utterly dismissive manner, simply stated ‘thank you for your statement’, before moving on, never even hinting at a possible addressing of the question. The second was another statement from Sir Chips, when asked about Stan Kroenke. As the meeting is wrapped up swiftly, as if to hurry the pesky ‘peasants’, as one member stated, out of the building, Sir Chips stated that if members wanted know what Kroenke’s feelings on the club, they should read The Daily Telegraph.

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More than any quote or comment or answer or question, it was the demeanour of Sir Chips that told the story. This is a man and a board that does not care about us ‘peasants’. Today was a very sad indeed.