Gazidis: Future bright for Gunners
Arsenal will be able to compete with the world's biggest and best clubs as UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations become more rigorously enforced, chief executive Ivan Gazidis told shareholders at the Gunners' annual general meeting.
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The lacklustre displays have again brought the future of Arsene Wenger's side into question, as they look to recover from the £24million summer sale of captain Robin van Persie to Manchester United and to end a trophy drought which now runs back to the 2005 FA Cup.
However, Gazidis sees positives times ahead, with UEFA imposing tighter controls on club spending in relation to revenue over the next couple of years.
Gazidis said: "In the next two years, we will have the financial resources to sit and compete among the leading clubs in the world, which is an extraordinary achievement.
"Financial success is relevant because it supports our football vision... the money we make is made available to our manager and he decides how to invest those funds.
"Arsene has done a magnificent job against the spending of our major competitors."
Flanked by chairman Peter Hill-Wood and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, Gazidis added: "Our ambition is shared by everybody at this table, the whole board and by everyone in this room.
"It is all about football, to compete at the top of the game here and in Europe to win trophies and do it in a way which makes fans proud and reflects our values, and also protects Arsenal for the long term."
One shareholder accused Gazidis of "ruining the club with your financial policies", and accused the board of valuing balance sheet before football success.
Kroenke, known as 'Silent Stan' for being very much in the background, addressed a question on whether dividends were to be paid to shareholders.
The American tycoon, whose group also owns US sports franchises Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, Colorado Avalanche of the NHL and NFL side St Louis Rams, said: "This club is run through the board. I have always been respectful of that process.
"Aside from that, as majority shareholder it is clear we have a record in sports around the world and you can look at our record with our other clubs.
"We have never put any debt on this club for acquisitions (during the takeover) and never said money was not available to spend.
"We acquire through our own resources."
Kroenke, who completed his takeover of Arsenal's parent holding company in 2011, added: "I have one regret with Arsenal and that is that I did not get involved earlier.
"We have a record of reinvestment in our other clubs and it is there for everyone to see."
Arsenal fans called for more meetings with Kroenke since the completion of his takeover, which brought some heated exchanges between the top bench and the floor, as well as questions over how the board are working with second-largest shareholders Red & White Holdings, backed by Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov.
The mood continued to turn somewhat hostile, with Gazidis needing to call for order and moved back towards pre-submitted questions.
Calm was finally restored following a string of heckles from the floor as Wenger addressed the shareholders.
The Arsenal manager started by apologising for last night's defeat, acknowledging there was a "lot of dissatisfaction", but maintained Arsenal fans should not "go overboard".
Wenger said: "This team started in a very dynamic and promising way. We hit the wall in the last two games, which was a bit unexplainable, but the attitude and focus of the team every day is fantastic.
"We have some good news with players coming back.
"I believe this team can deliver and I am optimistic we will have a good season and the players will show I am right.
"My job is to deliver a team with the resources we have, and I have never complained about that.
"I want a club to pay players from its own resources, there is no shame in that."
Wenger also maintained qualification for the Champions League should retain value ahead of just any old silverware.
He said: "Players ask: are you in the Champions League? A new player doesn't want to know if you have won the League Cup."
Wenger ended his address with a call for unity.
"It is still important that we keep our strength and stay united for the good of Arsenal," he said.