Arseblog down under as Keswick and Kroenke fail to hide their contempt

Hello everyone from Melbourne, Australia. I’m still trying to get my head around time zones and the like, and at the time of writing here it’s around 7.30am and I’ve actually slept.

This is good, because I did not sleep at all during the journey. Not during the 7 hour flight from Dublin to Abu Dhabi, and not during the 13 hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne. I just can’t sleep on planes. In fact, I can’t really sleep anywhere that isn’t a bed in a room that’s quite dark. I’m a bit of a Goldilocks sleeper, everything’s gotta just be just right.

The Melbourne leg of the journey was made bearable by watching an amazing documentary about the Vietnam war, interspersed with episodes of Curb your Enthusiasm, but man did it drag. The little graphic of the plane that’s on display everywhere barely seemed to be moving, and when it finally reached the west coast of Australia I was all ‘Hurrah’ but then this place is so big it still took AGES.

Landing was such sweet blessed relief, and then a woman in the row behind me opened her eyes, stretched and said ‘Oh we’re here! I’ve been asleep for 10 hours’, and while I didn’t necessarily wish her ill I don’t think I have ever experienced such naked jealously in all of my life.

I got the hotel, grabbed a bite to eat, and then found a bar called Whiskey Den which did exactly what it says on the tin. I came back to the hotel and conked out around 11.30pm local time. I woke up around 6.30am and tried to get back to sleep but I was AWAKE so here I am.

I should also point out that my hotel wifi is really, really, really, really, slow so it’s going to make working from here a bit of a challenge, especially podcasting, but I’ll see what I can figure out. Will update as and when.

Now, while I was in the air, the Arsenal AGM took place. By this stage I’m sure you’ve read all about it, but just in case you haven’t, the definitive report as always comes from Tim Stillman which you can find over on Arseblog News.

Tim pulls no punches in what was clearly a fractious affair. As ever Arsene Wenger is the one who comes out of it best – regardless of what you think of him he’s such a good public speaker, but it strikes me he could had a nightmare and still come out of smelling of roses in comparison to the chairman Sir Chips Keswick.

Although his position is essentially honorary, as he has no actual influence or power, it’s still one of great significance. The chairman of Arsenal should behave in a way that is becoming of that, and it’s obvious that he failed to do so yesterday. He came across as a man who didn’t care to be questioned by people he felt were beneath him, and frankly that’s an appalling way to behave.

It should call into question his continuation as the chairman, but such is the set-up at board level these days nothing will happen. So, while Ivan Gazidis tried to calm things down, and while shareholders and supporters who love the club did what they could to demonstrate their unhappiness at how things are being run, Stan Kroenke sat there in silence – which is what he does, we know, but that doesn’t make it acceptable.

When the chairman was asked if Kroenke was going to address the AGM and let fellow shareholders know what he thinks, he said:

This is the annual general meeting of Arsenal football club and Mr Kroenke is here as a director, and shareholders do not make speeches from this top stage.

Read the Daily Telegraph today and you’ll find out.

The arrogance of that is astonishing, and it’s a reference to an article by Jeremy Wilson – the Kroenkes journalist of choice – in which he and his son made it clear they have no intention of selling their stake in the club. He talked about how there are easier ways to make money than football clubs, and spoke about fans and how he views them.

So, what we got was an out of touch, relic of a chairman condescending to fans with a ‘let them eat cake’ moment with that Telegraph comment, and a majority shareholder who doesn’t even have the balls to stand up and be counted. He clearly views the AGM as an inconvenience, and he’s entitled to look at it that way, in much the same way we can look at the man who owns 67% of this football as someone who doesn’t care about it the way he should.

What kind of a man can sit there through something like that, and not want to speak? Don’t be under any illusions that Kroenke is unaware of his unpopularity, but the bottom line is he doesn’t care. He doesn’t care enough to try and address it and to change people’s opinion – something he could do if he spoke and tried to convince people of his desire to make Arsenal a success.

But the reason he can’t do that is because he doesn’t care about making Arsenal a success. It’s not one of his priorities. It’s not his ambition to tap into the enormous potential of this football club, with all its incredible resources, and make it as competitive as it should be.

While previous boards had areas of dysfunction, at least they generally shared a desire to make Arsenal a success. The move to the stadium was an exceptionally ambitious project, but for the most part those people are gone – and so too is the ambition. Kroenke inherited a cash cow and thought he just had to keep things ticking over to reap the benefits.

That’s been true on a corporate level with increased revenues from broadcasters, sponsors, commercial partners and the like, but at board level they literally took their eye off the ball and Arsenal are nowhere near where they should be on the pitch. As a club we face huge challenges which are a direct consequence of how we’ve been run, and it’s little wonder that shareholders and supporters were agitated yesterday.

What we saw from Arsenal at the AGM was not becoming of a club that likes to talk about its class. The chairman viewed these people as little more than an inconvenience, which does nothing but inflame the situation. Without genuine communication these issues will only get worse, and while Ivan Gazidis – to his credit – does regularly engage with fans, as long as Kroenke sits there in contemptuous silence there will be little chance of any resolution or progress.

It’s sad to see it, because as Tim pointed out in his report, the club does so much that is good, but these divisions are damaging people’s connection to the Arsenal that they love, and the man who owns most of the shares simply does not care.

Just a quick reminder to those of you who are in Melbourne this week and Sydney next weekend, I’m down here to appear at the Sports Writers Festival. There are still tickets available via the website, I believe, and I’m looking forward to speaking to those in attendance tomorrow.

As you’ll have gathered, due to flights, time zones and dodgy wifi, I haven’t been able to get a podcast recorded today but hopefully I’ll figure something out to make sure there’s an Arsecast Extra on Monday.

More from me tomorrow.

41 COMMENTS

  1. Well in Blogs. I fly from Sweden to Christchurch every 2 years, you’ve just undertaken a weekend jaunt by way of comparison 😉

    Sir “Chips” (wtf is that for a name anyway, abbreviation of Casper or something?) is everything wrong with modern football. People with no understanding or history, no sense of purpose or relevance and who have done nothing to “earn” their place in a football club. A disgraceful performance once more, you would hope (in vain) that Gazidis would point out to him in internal meetings that he is acting like a fucking nob. I wonder what Arsene thinks about it, maybe they all think we are cunts but the latter two are just much better at hiding it.

    Chips Out.

    • I think you’ll find that this dickheads attitude and sense of entitlement is a good indication of what is wrong with business and the social hierarchy in general in this country.
      Unearned wealth and priveledge means he is unaccountable and untouchable.

  2. Abu dhabi -> Melbs has got to suck, it’s bad enough going to Brisbane so I feel for you. Enjoy Melbourne & Sydney, hope it’s not too hot.

  3. its very disturbing to read abt what happened yesterday, Arsenal is becoming like a corporate where board and top management are only after profits but this is not how a football club is meant to be and I believe if this continues then Arsenal would not be such a big profit making machine for Kroenke and he might leave but that’s going to take a loooong time and Wenger to continue as manager, even after being so angered by all this I still feel a joy the moment match day arrives ,it that feeling that pulls me to TV to watch my beloved Arsenal but I feel all fans are being taken for granted now. but worst fear is what will happen when Kroenke owns the club completely and stops this AGM, they will have no one to answer to (even though they don’t answer any more) but it does get the board some unwanted negative press, that the positive out of AGM.

    • What worries me is if Stan is sitting on Arsenal in hope of pushing through Europe super duper league and thus getting huge Tv revenue from his own network , as each team could have own tv deal, which has been suggested by other ‘us fans , what if Arsenal drop out of English top 6 places . And not wanted in the super league .

  4. Kronke treats his American sports franchises’ exactly the same. The problem I have is that the board who “rubber-stamped” his increasing involvement in the club knew this, yet they chose to turn a blind eye! The only way we will get rid of him and his spawn would be for us supporters to boycott matches in large numbers and the club to start losing money. He would sell and be off to find another club to milk. I love Arsenal & I want the club to be successful but Blogs is spot on, with Stan the man at the helm, we are going nowhere fast. Sir Chips doesn’t care and Gazidis is a numpty! The new stadium was supposed to be the start of Arsenal elevating to the next level, instead we are going backwards. If the current status quo is maintained, the future looks fairly bleak.

  5. Astonishing to hear that Sir John Chippendale “Chips” Lindley Keswick, Old Etonian and merchant banker (not rhyming slang) is so arrogant and out of touch.

  6. Don’t really care about Kroenke being silent. Probably a blessing considering the guff in that Telegraph article. I’m surprised he hasn’t pulled out the ‘fake news’ gag. Twat.

    What I would really want is big investment. Post Wenger that will be even more essential.

    Ofcourse we won’t see it. What type of scumbag have the previous bastards helped takeover… Couldn’t see beyond their own profit. A small amount of due diligence would have shown this guy ain’t a winner. He’s not a investor. They didn’t care.

    Chips is a massive cunt. Just a bodyguard basically. Should be hounded out the tosser.

    Not to worry. FFP is coming.

  7. Welcome to Oz blogs, hope you enjoy your stay in this fine land. Our apologies for the inferior internet but that’s to be expected , thanks to our gobshite politicians! Here’s hoping somewhere has quality NBN so you can record us an Arsecast and make sure to take advantage of our many wonderful alcoholic offerings:)

    • The AST are like a group of whiny teenagers, they think they know more than they do and are more important than they are. I consider them to be a complete embarrassment to the club, and their antics yesterday were appalling. I fully support Sir Chips approach, he showed them far more respect than I would have.

    • So true George. Our national broadband infrastructure is a disgrace. I’ve forgotten how far down the global internet league table Australia has sunk.

  8. The saddest thing is when Wenger comes out with things like ‘the club is moving forward’… No, it isn’t.
    What he means is, its continuing to make profit. I think i’m done wasting time and money on this club.

  9. Haha what an absolute bellend is that Stan and of course Chips.

    Instead of doing the interview why not save some of that for the AGM Stan? even if he said he wouldn’t take questions it’d be better than nothing (although we’d probably still moan that he didn’t take questions)>

    Absolute joke

  10. This is my first post so I’ll start by saying thanks, Blogs, for all the hard work by you and the team over the years. I am an avid reader and listener. As most of us now are, I am vexed by the way club I love is run from a football and accountability point of view and frustrated with Arsene’s manifest limitations. But when I read and listen to your stuff, it somehow helps keep the lid on it. You guys are therapists! Having said that, the club still does some wonderful things. Tim mentions the sensory room in his well written piece about the (otherwise horrific sounding) AGM and I wanted to pick up on that. My autistic son, Jackson, his mum, Helen, and I have been invited twice and it is a brilliant facility and a fantastic initiative by the club. It is so rewarding to see my son and kids like him enjoying the Arsenal in a sympathetic and relaxed environment. Luke Howard and Alun Francis from the disabled liaison team at the club run the facility in an intelligent and sensitive way; so a big thanks should go to them. This continuation of Arsenal’s fine tradition of inclusiveness is something I think we can all be positive about.

  11. I wonder if there is something bigger going on.
    There seems to be growing discomfort by US owners of UK clubs with the governing bodies of football, maybe they want to form something new. The Super League?
    I dont think FIFA etc will give up easily though, so it looks like war on the football front to come.

  12. Look at the rest of the sports franchises Kroenke owns (Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids, LA Rams). He clearly doesn’t care about making any of them successes. None of them consistently contend for titles or even playoff positions.

  13. Not that I agree or like it, but are the AST and fans out of touch? Football has moved on since 1992 rapidly – Football clubs are businesses, fans revenues aren’t needed like before, but the approach of the AST and asking for the board to sack itself whilst holding literally no power and then complaining about the way they are treated seems to me bizarre to me. What did they expect?

    Acceptance is needed. Arsenal is owned by SK. The choice is with the supporter, support or don’t support the team. I know it is not that easy to turn on or off – but waging war with the owners is counter productive to the team and what most would see as the overall ambition of the club – success on the pitch.

    What are the AST trying to achieve? a seller who states he won’t sell – protesting isn’t working – so what next? continuing as they have been is not helping anyone.

    • Football without “fans” I prefer to call us SUPPORTERS would be a sterile affair and the death of the game! What TV corporation would pay money to showcase teams playing to empty or near empty stadiums? Advertising revenue would evaporate too ! Owners and money men who disregard “fans ” will find that supporters ARE football and no club can survive without them

  14. Check out the Old Bar for great beer and awesome bands every night, Sydney Road for the best kebabs south of Green Lanes and St Kilda for … well, you’ll figure that out yourself …

  15. Keep following Kroenke’s American sports teams, in particular the now L.A. Rams. Sadly, this is probably where Arsenal are headed.

  16. Welcome to the Southern Hemisphere blogs, I thought I felt a disturbance in the force…have done that Melbourne to Dubai route before and actually found it not too bad, compared to the London to Singapore or Hong Kong routes. But these are the choices you make living in NZ!
    Have a great time down under, keep up the good work!

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