Arsenal to Milan, Emirates to San Siro?
Our long-standing CEO, Mr. Ivan Gazidis, is heavily rumoured to be leaving the club.
This has been cited strongly by Sky Italy, as well as Bloomberg:
— Daily Cannon (@DailyCannon) July 28, 2018
The club has released its own statement, in which Sir Chips Keswick (our Chairman) stated in loose terms that he may stay.
However, if Gazidis does go, does it mean he is a snake? Or is it really that bad, ultimately?
Duty and tasks of a professional
Gazidis in the end doesn’t owe Arsenal much, or anything for that matter. He, like all others in any industry, should work where he feels most comfortable.
If this is AC Milan over Arsenal, then so be it.
However, a senior executive in any industry, is judged on his or her ability to formulate and implement a long-term plan.
The CEO of a large global firm like BP, Shell, Vodafone, Glaxo, Texaco, Siemens, or Ford, are all judged on such.
This means, naturally, high revenues, profits, good products, and keeping shareholders, governments, and customers happy.
I don’t know what Gazidis’s exact job description is, but I’d imagine as our CEO his remit is ensuring we’re as profitable as possible, and ultimately have a winning team. He, like any other executive, needs to bring everything together to ensure the whole is functioning. He has managed, since his appointment several years ago, to keep our revenues rising. Though as an executive, he may not get the kudos (or faults) from structuring and devising his own plans. It’s how any top exec is judged.
As a professional though, Gazidis cannot be faulted if he opts to leave.
Having gained far greater, and active, control than prior, it’s odd that he’s potentially leaving.
Nonetheless, we can only surmise that he has his own personal and professional goals in leaving, should he opt to.
I don’t believe his leaving would be terminal to us, despite our new structure of late.
A successful organisation is rooted in succession planning, and coping with contingencies.
Gazidis would know this, as would the Kroenkes, Sir Chips, etc.
If a cog in the machine, as it were, fails, then the entire machine cannot go down.
And the overall strategy cannot be impacted, if somebody leaves for elsewhere.
One would hope then that the club has a strong plan in place, and that others can be drafted in to continue things, as needed.
Would this mean Mislintat, Sanhelli, or even Emery, may be unseated, if they need to work under a new CEO? Possibly. However, they already know their roles in the structure, and it’s not wise to change the entire structure unless it needs to be done. If it were not working, then fine. However, it’s only been very recently implemented, and thus it’s unlikely we shall tinker with it that much.
If I were Kroenke however, I would be looking for the following in a new CEO:
- Sports administration experience
- Footballing knowledge/experience
- Strong speaking ability
- Ability to relate to fans, media, players, and staff alike
- Passion for the club, or at the least desire to help the club progress and win
To be fair to Gazidis, he has several of these traits.
Though my ideal replacement in the event he does leave would be David Dein circa 1996:
He had this all, and still does in large measure, and would be the man to energise our new structure.
Of people currently engaged in football, I would choose Robert Pires. He said he wants an executive role before. And as an Arsenal legend and fan, he naturally wants the best for us. However, a drawback would be his lack of football administration experience. However, Emery, Mislintat, and Sanhelli, would have somebody schooled in the game from both a playing and coaching capacity, and from whom they could draw successful experiences for both club and country. Or possibly Henry, after his coaching career is done. This may not be for several years to come, but it would be interesting to know what insights he and Emery would share in coaching, especially as the latter has international success to draw on (Belgium 2018 WC).
Gazidis – success or failure?
Should he leave, has he been a success or not?
I believe it’s mixed.
Wenger’s tenure was characterised as having near total control over the footballing operation. Inclusive of contracts, training, tactics, and player acquisitions. He famously said that a director of football was just somebody at the club who directs traffic.
So possibly, due to Wenger holding these cards, albeit with support from Dein at his time at the club, Gazidis couldn’t do this.
However, with the board and Kroenke getting tired of the failings under Wenger, maybe he gained approval from the latter to implement the current plan. So Gazidis’s power to implement things was possibly always pretty slim. Wenger was often cited as being stubborn, so this is telling here.
Our commercial dealings have shifted too. We gained a cryptocurrency sponsor of late, as well as the biggest sleeve sponsorship deal in PL history (Visit Rwanda). Moreover, we lately signed a deal with Acronis, furthering this growth.
It is possible that his hands were tied, or that his own remit was limited due to Wenger’s presence. There may be reasons for this that we as fans may never know, in honesty. His job description could have been intentionally limited, for this reason. It is said that Wenger gave the final approval of his appointment.
This isn’t at all to call Wenger out. But then we all know that his presence at the club, especially in footballing matters, was near total.
So Gazidis’s departure, should it happen, may not have negative effects. It may be a shock, since he’s getting himself in gear and now may depart. Nonetheless, we should trust the club that the overall plan is in place, and we only need to get others to slot in.
This may be wishful thinking. However, in any organisational structure, there has to be procedures, rules, instructions on who reports to whom, and who is accountable for what. Surely the board and Messrs. Kroenke can replicate this with a new CEO – one would think.