The same answers but less patience

Posted by Sam Limbert

Ivan GazidisGettyImagesArsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis (left) has said manager Arsene Wenger will have the funds to compete in the transfer market.

The fact that Arsenal hold an AGM and invite questions from fans and shareholders to the board and the chief executive should be praised. However it seems every year there are similar answers that leave the fans still struggling to discern when the club are going to move forward on the pitch.

The business and financial side of the club is undoubtedly vital, however, as far as a lot of fans are concerned, a football club can only be successful as a business if the results are right on the pitch. I get the impression that some of those in positions of power at Arsenal don't quite grasp that concept and are constantly playing the waiting game about when the club will win a trophy again.

What was clear again from the Arsenal AGM is that Stan Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis and Peter Hill-Wood have a strong philosophy that they want to follow with the club. That isn't necessarily a problem; the problem comes when not adapting that philosophy to stay competitive in a changing game and market. Financial Fair Play will come into effect in some way, but there's still uncertainty about when that'll happen. That's been the case for at least four years and Arsenal haven't been quick enough to attempt to adapt their plan. With that in mind, the board are lucky that Arsene Wenger has kept Arsenal relatively near the top of the table.

What really rankles with fans is the lack of attachment it seems some of the key men at Arsenal appear to have to the club, especially when compared with supporters. The fans put such emotional -- and in some cases financial -- investment into Arsenal Football Club that they understandably want those at the top of the club to show the same kind of passion and desire to see it succeed. That's why Wenger also gets more respect at the AGM than others. He respects the fans and is visibly distraught when Arsenal don't win. The fact that he started his address to those attending with an apology for Wednesday night's defeat highlighted this.

By contrast, Hill-Wood was accused by someone at the meeting of patronising shareholders. Saying "Clearly you're all interested in our affairs" isn't going to stop people from thinking that. It shouldn't be news to him that Arsenal are a club with a global fan base who want to know about the running of the club, why the best players are sold and why there hasn't been a trophy won recently. Arsenal fans should be hugely grateful for what the Hill-Wood family have done for the club, however the current chairman seems out of touch with fans.

Majority shareholder Kroenke was also at the meeting, and his major contribution was not to flatly deny that dividends might be taken out of the club by himself or other shareholders. Doubts remain about his intentions with Arsenal and his commitment to the club. He saw the Schalke defeat on Wednesday and surely can't have been impressed with the team's performance and the fans' reaction. Is he in it for the long run? He's too silent to ever get any answers.

He was also pushed about not meeting fan groups, as agreed in his takeover of the club. This only increases the feeling of fans that some of the board are detached from the average Arsenal supporter.

Finally, there's Gazidis. As he has done for the past few AGMs, he looked to the future by saying Arsenal will be able to financially compete with leading clubs in the next two years. That's all well and good, but patience is wearing very thin. The fans have been hearing that it won't be long until the club can compete financially for a while now, but what is actively being done in the present to try to speed this process up?

Fans are still unsure as to whether the board have held Wenger's spending back, or if Wenger isn't improving the squad when resources are available. While there is no way to guarantee success on a football pitch, I think a lot of Gooners just want reassurances that the club aren't being reliant on too many external factors to bring success back, such as UEFA and Financial Fair Play.

What the football landscape will be like in two years is anyone's guess. I'm all for Arsenal being self-sustainable and wanting to secure a safe future for the club. Balancing the situation is difficult, but Arsenal are struggling in certain areas in the present, fans' patience will continue to thin, and frustrations will grow, while it isn't clear what's being done to move the club forward. If Gazidis' predictions are correct and Arsenal break the trophyless run soon, fans should deservedly praise the board. However that moment feels increasingly uncertain and further away from happening.

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