For Chips Sake!

‘Resign, resign, resign’ a few demanded as Sir Chips Keswick shut down the meeting. The 2017 annual general meeting came to a close – what an eventful day.

The meeting didn’t start in the best fashion, there were more shareholders than chairs and the meeting had in fact started as chairs were still being set up. It was like a wedding where there is movement at the back and you’re more intrigued in what is going on behind you than what vows are being said!

You can find a write up on what actually happened in the meeting on the Arsenal Supporters Trust website and also our latest podcast which covers the AGM.

The main takeaways from the meeting were:

  • Chips isn’t most polite in public
  • Arsene Wenger is a fantastic public speaker, with no notes to hand
  • Stan is most definitely silent.
  • Josh doesn’t say much either
  • Resolutions will be carried out regardless of what the floor think (because of shares owned by Stan and Usmanov)
  • Aside from Sir Chips, the bit I found most interesting was around Stan Kroenke. We were told to read the Telegraph if we want to find out more about Stan’s vision which caused a stir.

    The AST wrote an open letter to Stan requesting he speaks at the AGM and goes into detail about his thoughts on the football club and his vision going forward. Instead of speaking at the AGM, Stan spoke to the press which I felt has done him no favours. For years the fans have been asking Stan to really engage with them and be more visible. Fans want an owner that cares, is interested, who strives for success, but that hasn’t been seen in Stan.

    For years I’ve felt Stan could do so much more to get fans on side. It’s probably gone to far for him to be a popular owner but he is in serious danger of being one of the most unpopular majority shareholders of a football club in the entire country.

    Stan isn’t much of a public speaker, he struggled last year when giving Arsene Wenger an award when the mic was not properly attached and we could hardly hear him. A few years previous, he spoke for the first time and started by questioning why people want him to speak – not the best way to get the fans on side!

    There is a fans forum that happens every six or so weeks with a representative from most fan groups and membership levels. There is usually about 10-12 fans that attend which means it’s a much more intimate affair and perhaps one that Stan may feel more comfortable.

    The argument has been made that his knowledge on the game is such that he may not add value if he attends meetings or gets involved – if that’s the case, his number one priority should be to look at the make up of his board and ensure it has the appropriate level of football knowledge and experience to help the club grow.

    Ivan Gazidis gets plenty of stick but without him, the AGM would have been a disaster. Arsene Wenger usually saves it but Ivan at least communicates well despite sometimes perhaps not answering the questions directly. Ivan clearly has the knowledge and is a smart man, perhaps he needs a few more around, of a diverse nature and the club would look very different.

    The conclusion I took from the AGM was that Stan Kroenke will only succeed (let’s face it, he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere for a while) if he lets the fans help him – talk to them, even learn from them, use them as a research sample but just talk to them. The club have asked the fans to unite with them and to get behind the team – but that needs to come from both sides. Ivan Gazidis attends the fans forum, the end of season Q&A and speaks at the AGM and has often been found talking to fans at events, and maybe Stan needs to take his lead from him otherwise I don’t see where this unite is going to come from.

    It really is over to you Stan, what’s the plan?

    Football clubs eh? Who would in their right mind want to run one!

    Akhil Vyas

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