Arsenal mess only exposed by Arsene Wenger class

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks on prior to the Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on October 22, 2017 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks on prior to the Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on October 22, 2017 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images) /

Arsenal portrayed themselves to be a mess during Thursday’s AGM. That mess, driven by the likes of Sir Chips Keswick, is only exposed by the class of Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal’s Annual General Meeting took place on Thursday. It is where the board, including Arsene Wenger, Ivan Gazidis and Sir Chips Keswick and others, meet with all of the minority shareholders, including members of the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST). Given the recent struggles of the club, the controversy surrounding the ownership, and the growing unrest of the fans, these meetings take on a new significance each and every time.

Related Story: 30 greatest transfers of past 30 years

And, as is ever the case with this football club, it was a shambles. The primary purpose of the meeting to conduct the reappointment of two board members. The members of the board are a part of a rotation retirement policy, where, every three years, their position on the board is voted on by the shareholders, with each vote corresponding to the number of shares that a person owns.

More from Pain in the Arsenal

This time around, it was the turn of Josh Kroenke, owner Stan Kroenke’s son, and Sir Chips himself. Both resolutions were rejected, via a show of hands, by the minority shareholders present.  Now, after taking an official poll, both Kroenke Jr. and Sir Chips were reappointed. That is because Kroenke Sr. and Alisher Usmanov had voted to approve the resolution. But this is thought to be the first time that a rejection of a resolution has happened during Kroenke Sr.’s tenure as owner. The minority shareholders who voted against the resolution knew that they would lose. But there was a show of force and rebellion that has been previously absent.

After the vote took place, there was a time for Wenger, Sir Chips and Gazidis to field questions that had already been submitted. This was when the farcical that had been descended into utter calamity.

The primary guilty party was Sir Chips. The Chairman of Arsenal football club was dismissive of the questions proposed, rude in his manner, often refusing to even attempt an answer, simply saying: ‘thank you for your statement, and caused one person to suggest that those present were being treated like mere ‘peasants’, which is somewhat of an accurate description.

Moreover, Gazidis claimed that Arsenal are the consistently the most over-performing top team in the Premier League, in relation to transfer investments, wage bills, and other factors, and was criticised for his rather hefty pay packet and bonus.

Perhaps the most worrisome development, though, was the presence, or lack thereof, of Kroenke Sr.. He was present. That should be pointed out. He just didn’t say anything. And when Sir Chips was asked about Kroenke Sr.’s feelings on the current state of the club, he, rudely, suggested that fans should check The Daily Telegraph, with whom Kroenke has recently undertaken an interview. ‘Peasants’ is an increasingly an apt delineation.

Thankfully, it was not all as laughable as some might think. There was one glimmering light at the heart of it all. Arsene Wenger.

Here is an excerpt of what he had to say:

"“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.”"

But it wasn’t necessarily what Wenger said that stood in such stark contrast to the mess that floundered around him. He stayed behind after the AGM, and before his upcoming pre-match press conference, to sign autographs and take photos. Sir Chips and Kroenke had, by this point, slid off the stage and hurried back to privacy and protection. Wenger was a man of character and quality. He held himself with such confidence, assurance, but also humility. He did not treat the shareholders, and, by extension, the fans, as peasants.

Next: Arsenal: 30 greatest players in history

Many may still want Wenger to leave this club. Even I have my doubts. But what cannot be questioned, what is utterly irrefutable, is the impact that he has had on this club, as a manager and a man. He is a credit to this club, unlike the rabble that he must wade through.