By virtue of being a public company, every year Arsenal must hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM). Think of the AGM as a combination of kabuki theatre and an Airing of Grievances, if you will - it’s the shareholders’ annual chance to get in front of the board of directors and express their pleasure or displeasure at the state of things in Arsenal-land.
In case you hadn’t noticed, things in Arsenal-land are, well, let’s call ‘em “fraught” right now. Fresh on the heels of an extension, Arsene Wenger has started 2017/18 the way he started the past few seasons - indifferent performances sprinkled with a couple really good wins and a disastrous loss. All this have Arsenal, as of right now, in a Europa League place again*. When you combine that with the long-simmering resentment towards Stan Kroenke’s ownership, it’s quite the time to be an Arsenal As Big Business fan.
In short, it’s a perfect time for Arsenal to have its AGM! This year’s meeting is set for tomorrow, and every year, as principal owner, Stan attends but generally doesn’t say anything. This year, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, a group of supporters with a minority stake in the club, have issued a call for Stan to actually speak at the AGM:
AST calls on Kroneke to explain vision to supporters and address concerns about governance arrangements at AGM https://t.co/fDH1d1qAYK— AST (@AST_arsenal) October 25, 2017
This is all well and good - public companies should have accountability, and they should be responsive to the needs and desires of their shareholders. The problem is, if Stan speaks at the AGM, this demand means that there’s literally no way he will say anything that will make the AST happy.
If he sticks to benign, anodyne corporatespeak, as he probably would do, they’ll tear him apart for not speaking substantively or addressing the pressing issues of the team. If he falls on his sword and says “you know what, we’ve underperformed, and we’ll work to do better”, he’ll be torn apart for allowing the team to underperform in the first place. If he does “explain (his) vision to supporters”, he’ll get destroyed for having a vision with which the AST probably doesn’t agree or at the very least would nitpick to death. And when he doesn’t speak, the AST has more fresh ammunition to pelt him with.
In short, there is absolutely no way Stan can or would win by addressing Arsenal’s AGM. He has zero incentive to do so, it won’t go well if he does, and I can’t imagine a world in which he thinks it’s a good idea to be the match that ignites the pile of gasoline-soaked rags that is a very vocal portion of the Arsenal fan base right now.
So while on one hand I applaud the AST for doing what its charter says it will do - giving the supporters a voice in the running of Arsenal - I also roll my eyes more than a little at the performative nature of their demand, given that Stan’s almost certain to not actually address the AGM, as he never really has in the past.
*Please don’t pay close attention to the league table until January. It’s way too early.