It’s so quiet,
It’s so quiet,
It’s so quiet, over there.
Is this the Emirates?,
Is this the Emirates?.
Is this the Emirates?
The lack of noise that has come out of Arsenal since Sunday’s defeat to Brighton has been deafening.
On the South-Coast, not a single board member had the decency to turn up and support the team. They are not supporters, they are share holders, employees and leaches.
One director, Lord Harris of Peckham, has previously spoken about how football is not even his first love. Horse racing takes that mantle. And when I say horse racing, not the Ascot kind, but the gay kind where horses jump over pretty little fences.
Worth over £100m in his own right, having been the founder of Carpetright, Philip Charles Harris, Baron Harris of Peckham, has pumped millions into Equestrian and the Conservative Party, but does not even buy his own tickets for Arsenal.
I was not expecting much from this Arsenal board. I was expecting no vote of confidence, no statement. For too long, they have hidden behind Arsene Wenger. Allowed the Frenchman to take the blame – which has deserved – whilst sitting quietly.
The only time they were heard from was at the shareholders AGM. Like Peter Hill-Wood before him, Arsenal Chairman Sir Chips Keswick treats fans with disdain.
Back in 2007, Danny Fizsman declared that “the board…are the custodians of this club”. At the time, the likes of David Dein, Fizsman and others felt that they owned and operated the club on behalf of the wider Arsenal fan base.
The likes of the Hill-Wood and Bracewell Smith (and Carr) families had been custodians of the club since World War II. Their families were Arsenal through and through. Although as the generations went on, interest seemed to wane until Peter Hill-Wood and Nina Bracewell Smith decided to sell up completely. The Carr’s have also sold up most, if not all, of their shares.
In the early 1990’s, Arsenal were run by the Dein / Fizsman axis. There is no doubting either of their love for the club.
Dein and Fizsman bought success back to the club. Firstly alongside George Graham, and then with Arsene Wenger at the helm. They were key bringing the likes of Dennis Bergkamp to the club.
Both men were regulars over The Arsenal. Home and away. Reserves and ladies. It can not be a coincidence that Arsenal were successful when we had owners, board members and custodians that loved the fans like they were fans.
Fast forward to 2018…
The aforementioned Sir Chips Keswick was first appointed as an Arsenal director in November 2005. At the same time, his partner in crime Lord Harris of Peckham was also appointed to the Arsenal board.
For me these two are as culpable as anyone for the current situation of the club.
They are supposed to be the Arsenal men on the board, but clearly do not care. They drink their whiskey, smoke their cigars, and sit on their thousand pound oak chairs within the confides of the Arsenal stadium chuckling to themselves. Turning up to private members clubs in the city, for them being an Arsenal director is a status thing and nothing else.
Arsenal Football Club’s longest-serving director, Ken Friar OBE has been a mainstay of the Club for more than 60 years. His love for the club is 6 decades long but, at the age of 83, he clearly does not have the energy for it anymore.
Keswick, 78, Harris, 75 and Friar, 83, are simply not fit for purpose. They are not visionaries. They have no place in Arsenal’s future.
You then have the majority share holder, “Silent” Stan Kroenke.
It should not be a surprise that we have heard from him, we never do. He sees himself as a shareholder of the club, nothing more. No different to being a shareholder in Tesco or Toys R Us. He invests his money in successful companies, then allows the companies to keep operating the way they were.
On the pitch, Arsenal might not have been successful, but off the pitch the share price has trebled since Kroenke first bought his shares back in 2007. He will see his ownership as a success.
Ivan Gazidis’ silence is surprising. He is a man who has no Arsenal connections, but seems to understand the class and heritage of what comes with being involved in Arsenal. He has carried on many a tradition, and is seen at every game. His no-show against Brighton is a surprise.
He is not an investor, but just an employee. The club pay him over £2m to do his job. In the past, people have questioned what he does. Our commercial revenue is shocking, and even the resent “house deals” with shirt sponsorship seems below par.
We are nearly £200m down in yearly commercial income in comparison to Manchester United.
Compare Gazidis to Daniel Levy over at Spurs. One has raised a club up (although not won anything yet), whilst the other has taken others good work before him, and taken us backwards.
Lastly we have Josh Kroenke, the son of Silent Stan.
He joined the board of Arsenal Football Club in December 2013, and is rumoured to have recently moved to London on the long-term basis to oversee Arsenal. No one knows what he does, probably nothing. And he probably just fancied 6 months in London, see the Queen, etc.
It is no surprise that the board have gone missing, as they have been silent for over a decade. They are no longer the custodians of the club. They have let down the fans badly.
One person who has been surprisingly silent is Alisher Usmanov. He usually jumps on Arsenal’s troubles, writing letters to the board and the fans.
With his partner in crime Farhad Moshiri joining Everton, you have to wonder if Usmanov he has lost interest in Arsenal.
My bet is he wants out. He realises he will never own Arsenal, Kroenke will never let that happen. He now his eyes set on Everton. It perhaps shows he was more interested in owning a football club, than owning Arsenal. He often portrayed himself as a lifelong fan, but he was no more a fan than Roman was of Chelsea or the Sheik’s supported Manchester City.
Usmanov is between a rock and a hard place.
He knows that he will never own Arsenal. Kroenke will never sell to him. But he owns about 30% of the club, and they are pretty much meaningless.
At £30,000 a share, Usmanov’s holdings are worth over £600,000,000. No one is going to spend that much money to not have a say in affairs. Likewise, he is not going to find 20,000 individuals who are happy spending £30,000 on a single share.
The only possible buyer would be Stan Kroenke. But he has no need to buy anymore shares, as being majority share holder he can pretty much do what he wishes with the club.
Kroenke owns the club as an investment, he is not going to pay a premium on shares that could make him a loss.
This leaves Usmanov unable to sell his current shares, unable to invest properly in Everton. Unable to make Arsene Wenger Everton’s new manager.
His silence is because he just does not care anymore.
Even the journalists who are in Arsenal’s pocket have barely lifted their head over the parapet.
At times of crisis, the likes of John Cross and Matt Law have often been drip fed sound bites from the club, so that they can attempt to spin it back to pro-Arsenal; pro-Wenger. The club is under lockdown.
And a look over at the Twitter page sums it all up.
At the time of writing (15:20 on Monday afternoon), Arsenal have not tweeted for 20 hours.
Nothing from the board, nothing from the Arsenal journalists, nothing from Twitter. It is almost like everyone has been told say nothing.
There has been talk of an emergency meeting being held on Monday. But this is one of them “mates of a mate of a mate” things. Like the bloke who knows a security guard, or the geezer who works in insurance. It is all probably a load of ITK rubbish.
We have to hear from Arsenal by Wednesday, as that is when Arsene Wenger will hold his pre-game Europa League press conference.
Until then, maintain radio silence.