Well, here we are. After a summer of indecision, fall brings with it a final decision. Arsenal, after months of speculation, announced today that Ivan Gazidis has joined AC Milan, effective December 1st. Gazidis’ Arsenal contract requires a year of what the English quaintly call “gardening leave”, or what the rest of the planet calls a non-compete clause, so he had to take a bit of a break, which was negotiated down to the two-and-a-bit months between now and then. Which is useful, since he has to, y’know, move and all that good stuff anyway.
So what now for Arsenal? Well, it looks like Gazidis’ new structure is changing again. It was Gazidis/Sven Mislintat/Raul Sanllehi, but now that Gazidis is gone, Arsenal have gone away from having a CEO. They have changed Sanllehi’s title from Head of Football Relations to simply Head of Football, which places him in charge of all football-related operations and activities (read: he’s Emery’s boss, and he’s the transfer guy).
Vinai Venkatesham, whose new title is Managing Director, has been with the club since 2010, following a stint with the London 2012 Olympic Organizing Committee. He’s held several jobs with the club, most recently Chief Commercial Officer. He’s widely credited with securing Arsenal’s switch from Puma to adidas, and has grown Arsenal’s partnership portfolio - albeit slowly, as we mentioned yesterday - to a decently large level.
Venkatesham will run the business side of the club, so I’m not sure this is a much different role for him, but along with Sanllehi’s appointment as Head of Football, it does formalize the split that Gazidis built into the structure of the club and position the club to move forward under a much clearer operational model, which can’t be a bad thing.
It also puts to rest fears that Stan Kroenke would just dump his son Josh into Gazidis’ old office and call it good - these two appointments are not temporary stopgaps, they’re full time promotions/positions, so the fear many Arsenal fans had that Josh would be running the club appear to be unfounded. Arsenal no longer have Gazidis, and they no longer have a CEO - Sanllehi and Venkatesham will report directly to the board.
So, that’s that then - Arsenal’s organizational shakeup is, for now, complete. Let’s get back to football, shall we?