Sir Chips Has Had His Chips

By Kevin Whitcher

Online Ed: Shareholders Send Clear Message of No Confidence To Board at the 2017 Arsenal Annual General Meeting

Arsenal. The gift that keeps on giving. Some element of farce, be it on the field or off it, is only ever just around the corner. The Queen once described a year as an annus horribilis, and in spite of an FA Cup win, there is a lot about 2017 that the club will not look back upon fondly.

Things reached a head with the AGM, the only opportunity shareholding fans get to make the board account for themselves. It descended into farce with a landslide majority of shareholders present rejecting the re-election of the chairman Sir Chips Keswick and Stan Kroenke’s son Josh to the board. This was symbolic given that Stan has 67% of the shares, so what he says goes. However, it did necessitate the formality of a card vote which took quite some time and caused huge embarrassment to the directors.

Given that the answers to pre-submitted questions are generally vague or answered with a “we’ll look into doing something about it” kind of response (translation – nothing will change but you’ve made your point), then this was the best thing that could have happened. The meeting serves zero purpose except to allow shareholding fans the opportunity to make their points in questions they are all too well aware will never be satisfactorily answered.

Tim Stillman always does a good account of the meeting and this year’s version can be read here.

There is really no point in me going into any kind of detail when this account is available, but a few observations. First up, after the resolutions were finally passed thanks to Stan’s shareholding, we had Ivan Gazidis introduce a video rather than bore us, as he admitted himself, with “death by powerpoint”. Self awareness is the first step to change, so this can only be a good thing. Before its screening he did say a few words including “the negatives and the concerns are right and proper”, but it was time to focus on the positives with the video – a feelgood compilation, a lot of the content irrelevant to the annual report in that it reflected events after the end of May 2017 – which did a similar job of eating up the same amount of time the CEO’s speech normally does. There was no round of applause for the video at its conclusion, demonstrating that the shareholders were not in the mood to congratulate the club on anything, even its charity work.

Arsene Wenger gave his speech before the answers to pre-submitted questions which was a change in the format. Significantly, he did not get the round of applause when he stood up to address the meeting, which I think might be a first. He lightened things a little, but his message was pretty simple. We can’t afford to keep up financially with the big boys, as the successful clubs are now owned by states rather than individuals, so we will have to develop a lot more young players. And please, get behind the team until the end of the season when you are free to slate us (conveniently when he is on his hols rather than in the dugout), although he didn’t actually say that in quite the same wording. He told us he spends “99% of my lifetime to trying to make you happy”. I’d suggest he tries to use some of that time trying to get some sleep if those figures are accurate. In contrast to the start, the manager received a warm round of applause at its conclusion. And the bottom line is that he has no obligation to even attend the meeting, let alone address it.

The pre-submitted questions for the directors followed – and were flashed up quickly on the screen – too fast for most to read them. This was probably deliberate in that they pointed out flaws. As stated earlier, the questions at the AGM are normally to make a point. Answers were generally given by Ivan Gazidis reading off a piece of paper. Sir Chips had a couple of those seethrough cue screens politicians sometimes use to read their speeches off at party conferences for the words he needed to say.

It was interesting to note Stan Kroneke never really made eye contact with the shareholders. He kept his head down looking at the questions on the paper in front of him, probably wishing it would all end. This behavior was replicated at times by several other directors, with the exception of Josh Kroenke who eyed the assembled like a sentry on lookout for enemy movement. He had more balls than his father in that respect.

There were some shouts from the floor at certain of the responses as individuals got the taste for rebellion. Gazidis told us that Arsenal are over performing based on their spending. Great, but how about spending a bit more so we can over-perform even better? A £28 million surplus after last summer’s transfer window does not indicate serious ambition to compete.

The meeting is normally shut down at 1pm so that the directors can go for lunch (with the exception of Gazidis, who in fairness, hangs around to take some more flak). However, shortly after that time, Sir Chips opened the floor to questions. Only three were admitted, the first, from yours truly, ironically requesting that next year’s AGM start half an hour earlier at 11am to allow more time for questions from the floor arising from the responses given at the meeting itself. I could see what was coming. Two questions later, at 1.09pm, the chairman closed the meeting down (having initially failed to acknowledge questions were even being asked from myself and a lady that followed me) in spite of a long queue of shareholders waiting to ask questions.

Another video should have ended the meeting, but it was drowned out by boos and slow handclapping. You can hear the chaotic end to the meeting here.

It was even more of a shambles than normal, the idea of pride and values were talked about a lot, but the dismissive attitude of the chairman to the meeting seemed a long way from the standards the club is supposed to embody. Sir Chips has become as bad as the latter day Peter Hill-Wood.

The bottom line is that the board have received a clear message from the majority of shareholders that the job they are doing is not satisfactory, and that they need to change the make up of the board to get people on who can do a better job. Don’t hold your breath.

It was a PR disaster – head of communications Mark Gonnella didn’t know where to put his head but for the most part he stared down at the table in front of him in similar fashion to Stan Kroenke. However, knowing how little we normally get out of these meetings by way of explanation (and an awful lot of hollow words), it was hugely entertaining. A far better 90 minutes than many the team have served up of late.

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27th October 2017 10:33:12


Comments and Reaction

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The Man From UNCLE  11:28am 27th Oct 2017

Carry On Arsenal. - Post No. 110482

RobG  13:34pm 27th Oct 2017

Run that Youtube clip 🙄😳🙈 Totally embarrassing. And Wenger talks about 'Arsenal values' ? Keswick is as far removed from what many of us suppose and hope 'Arsenal values' are, as the rest of us are from the man on the moon. His response to that Lady's perfectly civil question was a disgrace. Patronising, rude, arrogant and discourteous. Kronke obviously will see nothing wrong and it will be the same again next year. Thank God Usmanov won't see to the Yankee bozo or we would be doomed. Literally doomed. As it is, it's just annual purgatory with Wenger in effect confirming that fourth place is all that counts. Well I don't think we will get that any more than last year. - Post No. 110483

Cyril  13:46pm 27th Oct 2017

A sententious sanctimonious little rotter.... ! - Post No. 110484

Roy  14:03pm 27th Oct 2017

The fact that AGM can be turned into nothing more than a farcical charade shows exactly where the club is at. Fellow shareholders, no matter how small they may be are treated like revolting peasants, but credit to them for forcing the votes. This is perfectly summed up by Stan being asked to share his vision for the club, not bothering to even acknowledge it and instead Chips refers to an interview given to the Telegraph "if you want to know". Even worse, if you read that article, Jeremy Wilson asks no hard - hitting or pertinent questions making it largely a waste of time as far as shareholders are concerned. The 'agenda' that Chips referred to obviously included the fact that Stan wasn't going to say anything at all, no matter what. Utterly contemptible stance from someone who, when given the chance to defend his position won't do it, even when it's his silence that forced the futile votes in the first place. Then again, he knew it would waste time at an event that wouldn't even be happening if he had his way. Absolute unaccountability is what he wants, and let's hope that never happens so that we can see him squirm in his seat at least once a year. Also spent nearly all the time looking anywhere except facing up to the 'audience'. How disrespectful can you be ? We need a concerted effort to get this charlatan out of Arsenal, but unfortunately there's not enough up for the challenge. Sad. - Post No. 110485

mbg  14:52pm 27th Oct 2017

It's a pity the shareholders didn't or couldn't have sent a vote of no confidence to the one who deserved/deserves it the most, the wrinkly old fraud himself wenger, that would have been showing real balls, they could have given themselves a good round of applause after that, but no let off the hook yet again, it was good that it was a PR disaster and embarrassing but like all the other times on the pitch etc, etc, that will soon have been forgotten, (i'd imagine even before they left the building smiling) so nothings changes then, hoodwinked again, this time with a feel good video, they must be laughing their arses off. wenger out now. - Post No. 110486

Yes its Ron  15:02pm 27th Oct 2017

Arsenal have always been ran by old etonion buffers. The Arsenal 'values' and supposed 'class' thing that attaches to the club is borne of it. Its a myth and always has been, that fans have historically been happy to buy into. A harkback to when caps were doffed to yr 'chips' Keswick. The name Chips tells it all about how he perceives himself. - Post No. 110487

Seven Kings Gooner1  16:40pm 27th Oct 2017

The question from the lady fan about the lack of diversity was a great point and we should make more of it. A woman on the board and fan representation would be a start. Short term however, on the basis that the enemy of my enemy is my best friend - we need to support Usmanov, because without him, Kev and our lady fan would not even be allowed in the same room as the "the old farts" who make up our Victorian board of directors. - Post No. 110488

OneBardGooner  18:33pm 27th Oct 2017

Where was Guy Fawkes when we needed him. This lot of lying, double headed shysters are more feckin' SCUMMY than the filth up the road. - Post No. 110489

mbg  18:40pm 27th Oct 2017

Folks everyone of us knew what the shower at the top table were like before hand and what way it was going to turn out with the usual outcome, so no surprises, so for all the congratulations for, and back slapping among the AST for causing a leetle beet embarrassment (for about as long as a 4, 5, 6, 7, nil drubbing on the pitch)and as I've already said for about as long as it took them to leave the building or get back to Highbury House grinning, lets not forget or get away from the fact here was a great chance, a perfect chance for fans (AST) (others)to round on this group in style what better chance will be had ? especially wenger the failure, and tell him some home truths and let him know what we think, and want and get him out (do we want change or not ? or have some changed their mind ?) but no, it was completely bottled, no balls, was there even one testicle . wenger out. - Post No. 110490

Seven Kings Gooner1  19:20pm 27th Oct 2017

Just listened to our chairman closing the AGM, my god is that not a Toto pulling away the curtain moment or what!! Is this not the same joker who uttered the immortal words "we don't have a plan B" and "if Arsene does n't have a plan then we don't have one". After listening to those pathetic ramblings I am so relieved I stopped going eight years ago - come on girls and boys you surely do not want to be connected to that bunch wannabe carpetbaggers. - Post No. 110491

Alsace  22:20pm 27th Oct 2017

I'm not going tomorrow. I have something more interesting to do. So I have given my tickets to friends. I loathe and detest these people. They defecate over a simple thing that has given us all much pleasure. It now gives only pain. Do you think it ever occurs to them that this would all go away if they made Wenger go away? No, me neither. - Post No. 110492

BigDaveTheGooner  22:38pm 27th Oct 2017

What an absolute Whitewash from the people in the know!!!! It just goes to show what these people think of fans that have followed this club well before they arrived,total disregard and disrespect ,utterly dispicable behaviour from so called educated people. It's so clear that these men have not got a clue about the history and class that this once great club had. I find it totally embarrassing and have distanced myself because I hate the way this club is going and the way it is being managed. Shame on you Kroenke and all those that you employ,your a dispicable blight on my club and the sooner you and your cohorts are out the better. Just go,I amongst many thousands hate you with a passion. - Post No. 110493

TOOAW  23:27pm 27th Oct 2017

Me thinks you all protest too much. Mark of nark is the way forward, he has the best of both worlds..... pay your money then protest against the regime. Lots of these little folk about. Ta da. Bba. - Post No. 110494

Cheltenham Gunner  8:30am 28th Oct 2017

No regrets I stopped giving money to the club three years ago. What a disgusting bunch of money obsessed feckers! - Post No. 110495

KC38  10:30am 28th Oct 2017

Chips the worse kind of human being, an upper class James blunt who was lucky to be born into money had a privileged education which taught him to have no respect for others. arsenals board is somewhat stomach churning and Wenger shows himself up to have no principles when he can sit there and whatch how these people behave, he was embrassed at his press conference after. As for Kronke not to say a word! Coward arrogant disdain detached, it's got to a point where our board and owner are simply not football people who have no interest in winning football matches just accumulating cash, it's pretty depressing football wise. - Post No. 110496

markymark  14:00pm 28th Oct 2017

Toady you’re the littlest of them all, but good to see you sober as I’m worried that you think I’m still spitting in the eye as you put it. Now answer both mine and Scruffs questions you gutless Coward . Here’s a new one for you . Will Wenger win a title again before he retires, sacked or is carted off in a box. Answer please - Post No. 110498

mbg  14:04pm 28th Oct 2017

Roy, it certainly does but we've known this club and it's manager have been a farce for years now, but these people aren't stupid either, they knew what was coming at that meeting and allowed it, and indeed helped it, to turn into exactly that again because they fooking hate to be critised, (and it showed)they got exactly what they wanted, off the hook again, like I keep saying see, imagine what could be achieved with constant proper protest inside the ground ? but no our pussie fans are to fooking nice and haven't the balls, and like I have already said about the luvvies in attendance at the meeting they might as well have let wenger and his cronies have it full blast and done the job right for all the good those big scarey Halloween questions done but no, no cojones, not a testicle among them, and wenger and his cronies knew it, and manipulated and spun the situation very well indeed and sitting back in Highbury House later laughing their big balls off. wenger out. - Post No. 110499

GoonerRon  14:07pm 28th Oct 2017

Jesus, that sounded utterly ridiculous. I’ve never heard Sir Chips speak before but having now heard him he sounds largely like we act as a club - slow, out of date and out of touch. Kroenke sitting on his hands through that and to not be compelled to say something, anything speaks volumes about his regard for this ‘investment’. I can see by Wenger is seemingly held in reasonable regard amongst the shareholders when sitting with that other lot on the top table. - Post No. 110500

TOOAW  17:07pm 28th Oct 2017

Crisis ?? What crisis. Easy 3 points today with a nice stroll around in the park for most players. The spirit is there along with the belief amongst the players and manager. Shame the fickle bunch can't show some kind of resemblence. Anyway, mark of nark (scruffy) ask me a sensible question please as I'm not made of sugar like yourself. Did you Boycott this week or pump a few quid into the Kroenke machine. - Post No. 110501

CBee  17:45pm 28th Oct 2017

Congrats to the England under 17s winning the world cup. The England youth teams have been hoovering up the trophies this year. Its good to see that with Arsenal having the worlds greatest manager for bringing through youth that the England teams are full of Arsenal youngsters. (・_・ヾ - Post No. 110502

mbg  18:18pm 28th Oct 2017

A stroll in the park and a win today for this lot, exactly, that says it all. And TOF has won the world cup, a change of Kalvins already such is the moistness, just when you thought you'd heard it all, you couldn't make it up. We want wenger out. - Post No. 110503

CBee  18:25pm 28th Oct 2017

That was meant to be a confused emoji at the posts end, because there are fck all Arsenal payers in those England teams - Post No. 110504

mbg  21:19pm 28th Oct 2017

CBee, sorry for jumping to conclusions i should have known better where wengers and his so called youth are concerned. But I wouldn't be surprised to if he was tagged with some sort of input like sending wally to talk to them and giving them the benefit of his experience some time or other. wenger out - Post No. 110505

Petergooner  21:42pm 28th Oct 2017

Have you seen John Cross in his latest conversation on youtube. He is disgusting stating he's met Kronke and he is a wonderful man and he said he is not going anywhere and he has great ideas for improving The Gooners and also Chips Keswick is Arsenal through and through. He needs to go like the two above. To quote another fan "Cross has his head so far up kroenke's arse no wonder he's chatting ****" - Post No. 110506

TOOAW  22:49pm 28th Oct 2017

Unlucky 13 for the Mark of nark tribe but it's 13 games unbeaten at the Emirates. Congratulations Arsene. - Post No. 110507

Paulward  23:10pm 28th Oct 2017

Tooaw : Like to have a pint of what you’re drinking mate ! Did you actually go today ? As usual the opposition score with their first foray into our half, aided by the usual shoddy defending and arthritic goalkeeping . Yes we might win a cup again, but the reality is we could be 12 points off the leaders come next Sunday . Is that satisfactory for you? We are still a decent team but we ain’t winning the league any time soon, and that should be our aim. - Post No. 110508

markymark  23:54pm 28th Oct 2017

Toady - we keep on asking you questions and you fail to answer them. If you actually support Wenger like you say it’s perfectly sensible question to ask whether you think Wenger can win a title before he goes but again you bottle the answer you are a coward in that regard. If you had a braincell you would have noted that myself and Scruff posted the other day within 2 minutes of each other. That is technically impossible if I were two characters as there is a 10 minute break in postings. You must realise that surely? You continually ramble on about whether I spend money at the club? Why? I’m an Arsenal Supporter numb nut . I don’t like Wenger and want him removed the additional benefit is that it will remove your attachment from the club as you have no pre Wenger and surely no post Wenger. By for now - Post No. 110509

Alsace  11:11am 29th Oct 2017

Transfer Gossip is that Man City will not bid for Sanchez in January but wait for a bosman in May. That's $70 million dollars of Stan's money he will be losing. I wonder if Stan is sufficiently deluded that he wont be able to see that as a massive screw up. I have called Wenger many things including the luckiest man in football, the moron and the creature, but I wonder whether Svengani is a better nickname? Or Kaa from the Disney version of the jungle book. I wonder whether TOOAW and Jameson and the rest of them will wake up one day and feel violated. Nah, even aa we speak they are perhaps changing their wills in his favour and selling their kids for the head of their cult. Another funeral durge of slappy defending and desperate hoofing yesterday then. Koselniac is a proper player but Wenger will soon have that knocked out of him. Man City soon. I wonder whether they will all take their viagra and put in a solic performance? - Post No. 110510

SilverGooner  19:48pm 29th Oct 2017

Reading this report makes me feel so good about giving up my membership in the summer I now have the satisfaction of not giving Stan and his rotten cronies a penny of my money. - Post No. 110516

mbg  0:08am 31st Oct 2017

Alsace, or waving him good bye telling him to call again after fighting each other to allow him to shag their wives. wenger out. - Post No. 110528

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

23rd February 2018

It Is Actually Getting Worse

Online Ed: Arsenal’s largely unmotivated players defeated at home