This week the club formally announced that Ivan Gazidis will step down as CEO to join the legendary AC Milan. US hedge fund Elliott Management, founded my billionaire Paul Singer, recently acquired control of the club and were determined to hire Gazidis to oversee the awakening of the sleeping giant.
Former Barcelona honcho Raul Sanllehi will become our head of football whilst Vinai Venkatesham will assume the role of chief commercial officer. I wish them luck in their roles and hope they fight to uphold the values and integrity of the club. Victoria Concordia Crescit still means a lot to fans and it needs to mean something to them (and Mr Kroenke for that matter).
Running any multi-million-pound global business cannot be easy, let alone an iconic football team constantly in the spotlight. Doing that very thing has been the job of Ivan Gazidis for the last ten years, but only time will reveal the extent of his success.
To Ivan’s credit he has steered operations during two seismic changes, the transition from Highbury and replacing Arsene Wenger. We will never do anything harder than move stadium and there will never be another human like Arsene Wenger. Whatever your opinion on the man, to have managed the business with such composure whilst enduring those mammoth transformations deserves praise.
From a business perspective I have always been impressed by his commercial nous and deal making capability. Commercially he had great success off the pitch delivering record breaking sponsorship deals, like our 2018 deal with Emirates, on multiple occasions.
However, from a football perspective I think he will leave with regrets that our competitiveness declined significantly during his tenure. Like the fans, he surely knows a few more investments in playing staff in 2015/16 would have seen us pip Leicester to the title.
Ivan’s skill is clearly in setting football businesses up for success and that’s why AC Milan desperately wanted him. He was pivotal in bringing the MLS to life and appears to have put in place the structure and stability needed to minimise the impact of our transition from the Wenger era.
It would be easy to criticise Gazidis based on our football performances, but the savvy Oxford graduate should be thanked for running a tight ship off the pitch. It’s now up to Mr Sanllehi to ensure our on the field exploits match our commercial success off it.
The question is, will KSE investments allow him to do that? Again, time will tell.
Thanks Ivan and all the best. Let’s hope it’s not too long before an Arsenal vs AC Milan Champions League tie.
Arsenal vs Vorskla Poltava preview
The great thing about football is its unyielding momentum. Whatever the changes off the pitch, however huge, there are still football matches to be played and points to be won.
Tomorrow we take on Vorskla Poltava at the Emirates in our opening Europa League tie. Having won this competition three times, Unai Emery knows what he’s doing, and we should have too much for the Ukrainians.
I am looking forward to getting a closer look at Bernd Leno. The German goalkeeper has yet to start in the league but joined the club with high expectations. I’m keen to see what the fuss was about.
It will be interesting if Lucas Torreira and Henrikh Mkhitaryan start the game. I have been impressed by both players this season, yet to my surprise, they have been on the bench for our last two premier league games. Tomorrow’s line-up will tell us more about the manager’s favourites than anything else.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Vorskla
P.S. A Danny Welbeck brace and a clean sheet would be nice.