After being asked by a group of friends my thoughts on what the causes of the deep rooted problems The Arsenal face are, I decided to write a three-pronged piece and not just give the now standard response of, ‘It’s all Arsene Wenger’s fault,’ though a think piece on his part in our demise began the whole series.
Despite speaking on how Arsene Wenger has slowly pulled this club down a pit of mediocrity in my previous post, some readers decided to ignore the hundreds of words that addressed that and rather chose to comment with vitriol about a few lines where I said, ” Wenger over the years has been known for his stubbornness but all the Greats have that about them, and let us not kid ourselves no matter what you think about him he will finish as one of the Greats, and this stubbornness has helped him and the club out of certain sticky situations, most notably the Emirates stadium debt repayment phase, but now that stubbornness is negatively affecting the club.” I will state here again, no matter what happens this season or the next, he will go down as one of the Great managers, maybe not Top 5 or 10 even but still one of them.
One of the reasons why many feel Wenger may not be a part of the Great managers to walk along the touchlines is that over the past decade, his failures have washed away all previous triumphs and ‘revolution-inducing’ methods. That to an extent may be right as I have always said, but sometimes ‘a man has to be saved from himself.‘ The group of people in charge of ensuring he saved himself when things were going off course and also to save the club from trudging down this path of ‘Groundhog Day’ every season is The Board of Arsenal Football Club.
Written And Directed By The Arsenal Board of Directors.
Before we go ahead, let us know some of the roles of the Board of Directors, thus we can better understand how they have a hand in our current recurring problem;
- governing the organization by establishing broad policies and objectives;
- ensuring the availability of adequate financial resources;
- accounting to the stakeholders for the organization’s performance;
First and foremost, the Board deals with the establishment of policies and objectives. At a club of the size and magnitude of Arsenal Football club, it is clear one of the if not the main objective that should ride over any other is TO WIN TROPHIES, not to just compete for a few months in the season, but to win them. On this front, there is a huge chasm because the board has clearly failed in that regards. You can bring p the recent F.A Cup victories as winning trophies and rightfully so, but you do not retreat after that, you rather go out, expend resources to help you build on that seemingly ‘little victory’ with the aim of constant domination. But what did we see during the last summer window. There was little to no movements into the Arsenal, with only Cech joining the club. Some may claim this as Arsene’s fault based on the grasp he has on day-today running of affairs in the club, but a strong board of directors, should be able to direct the manager, an employee of the club to bring in players of quality to build on the club’s success which today seems eons ago. Talking about the club’s policy, mainly the transfer policy, will leave you with headaches which cannot be cured by downing a pack of Tylenol tablets. Over the years, we have heard different policies from the gaffer, but they all roll out into one main policy, “seek the most efficient deal possible, even at the expense of improving competition in the squad..Unless inexpensive world class ‘manna’ falls in our laps from Heaven.’ It is the prerogative of the Board though to revise all these seemingly reticent transfer policies and eschew one of boldness, swiftness and ruthlessness, as that will gain us respect in the eyes of the Elite clubs we seek to emulate, rather than sanction deals such as the £40 million plus £1 move for Suarez which made the club look like cheapskates, weak and unambitious.
Discussing the next Bargain Basement Transfer?
The second point has to do with the availability of adequate financial resources. This is a tetchy subject for all Gooners worldwide and whilst indirect, is the main cause of the current division among the fan base. Many complain about the club not spending enough during transfer periods and I am focusing on the last 3 years since when we have added Ozil, Sanchez and Cech to the ranks. Some fans argue that the Board provides adequate funds for Arsene to add more than a top quality player per season as is the case, to push us from also-rans to perennial contenders at the top in Europe, and another group argues that the Board does not provide adequate finances for such ‘major major’ investments to be made. Obviously, the Board cannot come out to state explicitly how much is available per transfer market, for player acquisitions, as it may cause other clubs to price us out of deals, and this topic is perfectly explained, in my opinion by my colleague, an accountant by profession. But even to the lay man, viewing the table below, it is clear that the Board has failed to negotiate commercial deals which would earn the club huge profits, compared to the other clubs in upper reaches of European football. The main question though concerning the board and provision of adequate transfer funds is, IF THERE IS OR WAS A STASH OF POUNDS SITTING IN THE ARSENAL ACCOUNT COLLECTING COBWEBS, WOULD THEY COMPEL ARSENE TO TAKE A RISK IN THE TRANSFER MARKET AND SPLASH THE CASH!? I guess we all know the answer to that, we are a part of this never ending Groundhog Day that is Arsenal Football Club.
Lowest Commercial Revenue Among Europe’s Top Tier.
The final point I would touch on, ACCOUNTABILITY, to the stakeholders of the club, in this case, THE FANS. The Arsenal Board holds Annual General Meetings (AGM’s) to speak with stakeholders on the developments happening with the club. In recent years, the AGM has been a setting where understandably angry fans have questioned the club on the transfer policy, the club’s future in terms of Arsene’s almost ended contract, overly expensive ticket pricing and the amount of £3 million paid to Kroenke Sports and Entertainment for ‘advisory’ services. Led by Ivan Gazidis, the AGM’s have seemingly been open to fans but there are various topics including the ones mentioned above where the Board has not made firm, honest pronouncements. This does not bode well for the club, as it is clear for all to see that the brass is quite comfortable collecting large amounts for tickets from the fans without caring about how we feel in terms of direction of the club.
Take, Take,Take, but the worst of Scrooges!
The club’s Board is made up of 6 men; Stan Kroenke, Josh Kroenke and Lord Harris of Peckham, The Directors, Ivan Gazidis, The C.E.O, Ken Friar, The Club Secretary and Managing Director and Sir Chips Keswick, Club Chairman. These men have proven that they do not hold Wenger accountable for any of his actions and in-actions, and are satisfied with keeping the club’s accounts in the green as they can earn their bonuses and what not. Half of the men on this board are old men who have seen Arsenal win a haul of trophies in the past, thus you can be forgiven for thinking they do not care to see the club win another trophy but rather fill their own accounts for their children and families. Even for the younger ones on the Arsenal board, they do not seem to be Arsenal fans through and through and are only there for the business side of things. All of these factors work against the Arsenal; the playing body and fans. For, if the board was competent enough to hold Arsene Wenger liable to his actions, we may have been thriving currently, rather we slowly but surely retrogress to a state of underachievement, constant frustration and failure. Thomas Paine said it best, ” a body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.”
Lunchroom or Boardroom?