Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Wednesday June 6 2012
As something of a precursor to tonight`s Q & A with the Arsenal Supporters` Trust, Ivan Gazidis has been speaking to arsenal.com about Arsenal`s ambitions for the summer and beyond. Tonight Gazidis will face around 300 Arsenal supporters from AISA, RedAction and the AST. This year, the size of the audience has been somewhat trimmed compared to last year`s meeting and questions have been presubmitted on this occasion.
There`s plenty of cynicism around pre submittance, but the advantages it brings are that it allows Gazidis time to prepare full and frank answers. The event will be compered too, which thankfully avoids the usual unnecessary pre waffle one sometimes gets from those taking the microphone. You know the sort I mean, "I`ve been a supporter for x amount of years, I do this, that and the other and for good measure, I`m going to throw my offbeat opinion in here and assert it as fact before getting round to actually asking my question, which is all anyone is really interested in anyway." The club assure there will be questions taken from the floor too, though given the number of questions they say they`ll field in the 90 minute timeslot, I`m dubious as to how much time there will be.
I`m reliably informed that the club haven`t ducked any issues though and questions on the future of van Persie, the implications of FFP, the club`s summer transfer strategy and whether lessons have been learned and also on the rights issue offered by Red & White holdings will all be fielded. I guess we`ll wait and see what answers we get, but it`s worth pointing out not every club`s CEO takes these kind of questions. The issue as to what`s happened to the Q & A Arsene Wenger used to hold with shareholders is perhaps a thornier issue as it appears to have quietly dropped off the radar. In any case, I will be one of the 300 in attendance and a neutral, dispassionate account of the evening penned by me will appear on the AST website tomorrow morning. My own opinions on Gazidis` answers and performance will probably be saved for this forum!
In any case, Gazidis somewhat pre empted the event by speaking to the official website on a variety of subjects. As is his wont he made the right noises with regards to the club`s ambition this summer. My message to our fans is that we are doing everything in our power to make sure that Arsenal can challenge for trophies next year. That is what this summer is about and that is what we are focused on.
"We have a good team, we have a good young core of players and we need everybody involved to have belief so that we can push forward into next year and make a run at the Premier League trophy and for the Champions League. We believe we can do that."
The CEO also paid tribute to the support the club has enjoyed, "I would like to thank the supporters. This at times has been a really challenging season," he said.
"The Club was placed under terrific pressure at times and I think, for a different club, there would have been the possibility that we would begin to fall apart, panic and make decisions that would have been bad. That is not what happened.
"When we had our most difficult times this Club came together. The supporters, the team, the front-office staff and the back-office staff - they all came together. It was that strength and that unity that managed to put our season back on track."
I know opinions on the silver tongued Chief Executive are varied, for what it`s worth I think he has a harder job than most people realise. Essentially his is a delicate balancing act between an absentee owner, a manager that wants to be an autocrat and a very tetchy fanbase. It`s hard to see how he can do his job without upsetting at least two of those factions as things stand. Tonight he answers to the most vocal leg of this tripod. LD.
NB: I won't be live tweeting the meeting myself, but for live updates I'd recommend following one or all of the following:
Date:Wednesday June 6 2012
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Wenger: We Will Be Judged By a Tribunal (Saturday August 1 2015)
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