As we talked about a couple days ago, a very public and potentially very messy fight is starting to play out at Arsenal. Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s chief executive, is doing what a responsible board member should and trying to come up with ways to modernize and improve his company, most notably by floating the idea of Arsenal restructuring their front office to include a Director of Football.
Arsene Wenger, on the other hand, thinks computers are taking over the world and snipes pointlessly about how he doesn’t know what a DoF is, and acts like he thinks it’s some sort of traffic cop. So basically, he’s in the “no changes” camp.
With battle lines thus being drawn, it has every indication of being a long six weeks until June 30, which is when Wenger’s contract expires and, one assumes, by which time a decision has to be made on his future. Given how unflinching both sides have been in this so far, I have no reason to think this will be settled by next weekend, so it’ll be a lot of mess until then.
One of the interesting side questions to ask of the participants in struggles like these is “what happens next?” I mean, if Gazidis wins this fight, Wenger either accepts the new world or he goes and manages somewhere else, so that’s pretty straightforward. If Wenger wins, though, he stays in charge, and what happens to a presumably weakened Gazidis? We got a hint of what might happen today from the Evening Standard.
They report that “sources involved in MLS” feel like if Gazidis leaves Arsenal, he will be considered as the next MLS commissioner, replacing Don Garber, whose contract runs out after the 2018 MLS season. This would make no small amount of sense; Gazidis was Garber’s deputy commissioner from 2001-2008, when he left for the Arsenal job. He knows the league and its somewhat unique single-entity structure, and he knows how to grow a business, which is very much the mode MLS is in right now.
Either way it goes, Gazidis seems poised to land on his feet, which is all one can hope for in situations like this. I hope that Arsenal Football Club can claim the same outcome.