… he sure did, and it wasn’t pretty reading.
Firstly, according to Mr G, the season ticket price rises had to come, all the other clubs were doing it and due to peer pressure, Ivan felt he had to make the move.
Not just that, utilities bills were up 100% and electricity had gone up 33%.
An OMG moment if ever I heard one.
That was pretty much the main lead I took from the evening from an Ivan perspective. The talk was white wash central, Ivan managed to talk for 90 minutes without really saying much which for me, was incredible PR. He was totally clear about what he was doing as well, his big fear was that certain people in the hall were going to take his words and twist them into something they weren’t.
Well, that was my night scuppered… and this mornings post sadly.
I sat next to a Reuters journo who reads Le Grove,he firstly stated that Le Grove was his favourite Arsenal blog in the world, then he asked me at the end of the night what my lead story for today was. I said I didn’t really have one from an Ivan perspective. However, from a fan sentiment perspective I think there was as massive one. No longer is Arsene Wenger a God like figure at Arsenal. Never in my long and established career as an AST/AGM attendee (2 AST events, 4 AGM’s) have I heard so many unchallenged negative comments about Arsene Wenger. It was almost relentless. The worm has finally turned and I don’t think Ivan was expecting that.
I got into a bit of a heated discussion with an AKB in the pub afterwards who said that Arsene Wenger was right to say you can’t have an opinion on the game unless you’ve worked half a day in football, but most would argue you don’t have a right to say that if you’ve not won a trophy in 6 years. That was actually a question from someone representing the Black Scarf Movement.
Ivan, is there a problem with respect when Diaby is wearing a Spurs shirt in his spare time, Cesc is at the Spanish Grand Prix during the season and Arsene Wenger is telling the fans he won’t listen to anyone who hasn’t worked half a day in the game?
Ivan dodged this point pretty well, he said that this was a football problem, not just and Arsenal problem. That didn’t really work for me though. This season it’s been an Arsenal problem. Arsene Wenger is losing the fanbase, he’s losing the dressing room and he’s losing the plot.
Sure Ivan is up there giving us all the answers we knew we were going to hear, but make no mistake, he’ll be using that fan sentiment to leverage Arsene Wenger this summer. He knows full well that the fans are the most important asset the club has at the moment, in particular, the home fans who pay for tickets week in, week out. With match day income of £100million from the UK based fans, our opinion matters. When Ivan sees that there are 9000 empty seats for an end of the season clash on a nice sunny day, he’ll be concerned. When 1% of season tickets weren’t used a single time last year, he’ll know there is a problem. When fans are booing and fighting in the ground, he’ll understand the screw has to be turned a little.
Gazidis needs to bring put real pressure on Arsene Wenger because he’s been living without it over the past 3 rudderless years.
The question that I finally went with was this one…
Ivan, with commercial deals up in 2 years you’ll know as well as anyone that an revenue we generate from them will be directly linked to our success on the pitch. Due to managerial mistakes we’re already seeing the results of a lack of that success. We have players refusing to sign contracts and wanting to leave, we have fan sentiment at an 15 year low. You back the manager 100% like I expected you to say, but what a growing number of us want to know is, who is Arsene Wenger accountable to?*
* I must note, that is how the question was articulated in my head, if you check the video on Arsenal.com, I probably asked something totally different.
I told Pam I was going to ask that question earlier in the day. I also told her the answer he was going to give.
He said, ‘ultimately, he’s accountable to the fans’, to which he was jeered, Nigel Phillips then stepped in and said that the fans were pretty angry at him. Then Gazidis went on a bit of a ramble about managers. He said that we could have a manager who was winning things but was playing in a style that wasn’t befitting of the club, thus rendering his position untenable. Which is total nonsense. If you’re winning things, the manager stays, we’re not Barcelona fans over here, he really needs to get over this style thing. He also went on to say that Arsenal are listening to the fans and monitoring what they’re saying and in a sly dig at Le Grove, he said that certain sections of the fanbase don’t speak for the majority.
Sure Ivan, but you’ve just witnessed a whole stadium boo your team. You’ve just witnessed 9000 people not turn up to the party piece of a finished season… and if you’re social media boys are worth anything, they’ll be telling you online sentiment is at an all time low.
He finished the comment when someone pulled him on not answering the question by saying it was ultimately the board he was responsible to. It was bloody hard work getting to that stage!
I did laugh when Ivan said Arsene Wenger was not stubborn… he was in fact responsive and open to challenge. I know for a fact that is not true, Pam told me she switched to PG tips and the manager went berserk, you can just imagine what he’d be like if someone suggested his training methods weren’t the greatest!
The only other snippet that I quite fancied was the bit about safe standing. Ivan said that he was open to the idea and they’d consider it, though he did point out that if you haven’t built safe standing into a ground, the cost can sometimes be prohibitively expensive!
Ivan also confirmed that we were speaking to many players, though he would not confirm that we were close on any of the deals. Our understanding is that Wenger is going after players and that he is serious.
I did hear a nice little bit about Phil Jones. Apparently we were in for the Englishman, though we didn’t match what United were offering by quite a long way, well, at least on the salary front. That’s why he’s not wearing an Arsenal shirt next season.
Oh, and one for Geoff, apparently the reason we talk about seats sold when announcing attendance is that if non-ticket holding fans hear the ground isn’t sold out, they get pretty upset and complain. Sounds like a load of tripe to me. In the US, they announce the bums on seat number and they announce the no show figure. For me, that’s the figure we need to be putting out there. If Gazidis truly believes the fans make the decision on Wenger, he’s pretty much saying that if we make his position untenable by hitting the club in the pocket, he’ll act.
Well, there’s one for everyone to think about.
Oh, and my question was worded incorrectly, apparently we can’t do a deal on our crap commercials until June 2014… that is a hell of a long time to have an expensive commercial team working for us raking in huge salaries with fairly little to show for their work.
I wonder if Tom Fox will even be working for us by the time renewals come up? London weather is enough to get any man down, especially one used to sunnier climes.
Anyway, a big massive thanks to everyone who I spoke to after the event, it’s always great to meet people who read the site or call me a c*nt on twitter. Tim Payton is writing a piece somewhere else today, big thanks to him, though it must be noted due to his defection to another site he’s no longer my best friend, that’ll be Nigel Phillips now.
Thanks to Ivan G for showing up and taking so many questions, though it felt like a white wash, I’m 100% sure he’ll use our feedback like a paranoid eBay purchaser. We now know that he’s going to be busy this summer and we know there is going to be a high turnover of players. Let’s just pray Nasri and Cesc aren’t on that list… Cesc is apparently so keen on moving to Barca he’s willing to go public.
Risky business Cesc…
Also thanks to the people at the AST meeting for not booing me, that was my fear… though I feel Ivan booed me in his head, for shame Ivan, that wasn’t very nice.
Make sure you join the AST if you haven’t already, well worth the £30!
Have a great day Grover’s, keep it real and if you’re not following Le Grove on twitter, don’t feel embarrassed about it, just click the below button.
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