Arsenal held their Annual General Meeting today, which always seems to bring out the best from some of the more infamous characters within our fanbase.
First things first, though. You might be asking yourself, "what's an annual general meeting?"
The holding of an "annual general meeting" is required by law for all publicly traded companies in the UK. This meeting is to be held within six months of a company's accounting reference date,* in order to give the shareholders a chance to address the Board and any other important figures within the company about past financial performance, decisions made (or not made), and the vision they hold for the company going forward. Board appointments (which you'll see below) and other decisions can be also made during these assemblies.
A lot of matters were brought up to the Board and Arsene Wenger, most of them tied around the usual controversial topics we know and
hate love. I'll refer you to Arseblog News's Twitter timeline, which I'm referencing for the post, for all questions and answers that I don't cover within the post such as ticket prices and safe standing, since the vast, vast majority of our readership aren't directly affected by those matters.
The first question of the meeting was blunt and direct and a sore spot for many Arsenal fans. What did the £3 million fee to KSE go for, and what was it for?
Fee proposed by Sir Chips and Lord Harris. We're entirely satisfied that this fee was suitable for the services provided.— arseblognews (@arseblognews) October 16, 2014
As someone who fully believes there was nothing shady about the fee or the related party transaction, I'm a little disappointed that Sir Chips Keswick and Lord Harris didn't fully answer the question. This was the moment they had to divest the critics among us - namely, Tim Payton (if you want to see what a true conspiracy theorist looks like, take a look at his Twitter timeline today) - of their most damning argument against Stan Kroenke's majority share ownership of Arsenal, and they did not do that.
The AST and others have gone out of their way to say that money's being taken out of the club, regardless of what Kroenke's said in the past or intended to do in the future, and now was the moment to invalidate their claims. The Board, in a sense, failed to completely close that particular door for the critics, which means we're probably going to see this come up often when they attempt to devalue Kroenke's overall leadership of the club.
But then, there was this:
Q. If SK reaches 75% share holding could debt be leveraged on club [i think??] A. Board and SK committed to self-funding model...— arseblognews (@arseblognews) October 16, 2014
A [cont.] - Sir Chips "Question is entirely hypothetical. Terms of Stadium bonds precludes us from taking on more debt."— arseblognews (@arseblognews) October 16, 2014
So, about Kroenke leveraging his expenditures against the club? Not happening, folks. It literally cannot happen, since the agreement the club made when funding Ashburton Grove was that it could not take on more debt. Those who are worried we're about to see a Glazer-esque ownership at Manchester United? Sleep easier tonight, my friends. That won't be happening anytime soon.
Moving on, it was proposed, and agreed upon, by the other Board members, to appoint Josh Kroenke, Stan's son and current President of the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and Alternate Governor of the Colorado Rapids, to the Arsenal Board.
Resolution 5. Josh Kroenke's appointment to board - carried.— arseblognews (@arseblognews) October 16, 2014
Both Stan and Josh were present for today's meeting, and Sir Chips had this to say about Josh's appointment:
Q about Josh Kroenke's appointment to board. Sir Chips: Welcomes Josh's expertise and covers CV of achievements in US Sports.— arseblognews (@arseblognews) October 16, 2014
The success of a president, or a Board member, isn't completely tied to their performance on the field of play. It's the long-term decisions and overall strategy enacted from the top that dictates how the club will run and what sort of values they want to see coming from the club, and the vision they have for crafting a squad over a number of seasons, along with maintaining a proper financial health, that is usually the barometer used when gauging success in this role.
So far, Josh Kroenke has properly led all three franchises through relative rough times, and they are currently seeing the benefits of their critical planning and vision play out. There's little to suggest he's in over his head by gaining an Arsenal Board appointment, and I'm excited to see the ways in which he's the same, and different, as his dad.
Regarding the cash reserves, CEO Ivan Gazidis had many things to say about this topic, but I think this is a great summary:
IG - it's wise to have some cash in reserve but we don't talk about the figures. it's no way near the number talked about in press.— arseblognews (@arseblognews) October 16, 2014
Gazidis noted that while the cash reserves looks high based on the last financial statement, it's nowhere near that high now. Out of the cash reserves, £99 million (or over one-half of the total cash reserves) is set aside for future spending on transfer fees, wages, and other crucial components that help the club run on a daily basis.
Again, as noted in previous posts, it's little shock that the people entrusted with the welfare of the club have a long-term vision for how the accumulated cash will be spent. This should hopefully ease a few people who've continually worried that the club doesn't make money available to spend, or restricts Wenger from spending during the transfer windows.
And what about the succession plan when Wenger decides to call it a good run and step down as manager?
Sir Chips on Wenger succession plan: Too early to speculate. Rest assured we follow situation carefully, even though Arsene has signed on— arseblognews (@arseblognews) October 16, 2014
Sir Chips: Hopes Arsenal will be spoilt for choice on manager front when Arsene leaves. Hopefully we'll make an appointment that pleases you— arseblognews (@arseblognews) October 16, 2014
Given that revenues continue to skyrocket on the backs of TV money and increased commercialization, in addition to the subsequent money being spent within the transfer market, it's easy to see how this will be a very, very attractive job for managers across the world. Deep down, we all have our preferences on whom we'd like to see succeed Wenger, and I'm going to trust that the Board will make the best decision - no matter if it's not the manager I secretly hope.
All things considered, I think today's meeting was a success - even if the £3 million fee to Kroenke Sports Enterprises wasn't fully answered by the Board. My suggestion to you is to read more about the meeting and give the answers provided today some deeper thought on what it means to the club in the long-term. Feel free to give your opinions, but please attempt to state them with a bit of reasoning and grounded evidence. Without that, all we're doing is screaming talking points that drives narratives, which can be unfair given there could be information that's proven to be true that conflicts it.
*Arsenal's accounting reference date was May 31, 2014, so they had until November 1, 2014, to hold their annual general meeting.