Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Arsenal boss apologises to fans after Bradford defeat

BRADFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Arsene Wenger the Arsenal manager looks on during the Capital One Cup quarter final match between Bradford City and Arsenal at the Coral Windows Stadium, Valley Parade on December 11, 2012 in Bradford, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The Arsenal chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, apologised to fans' groups at a meeting last night for the club's elimination at the hands of League Two side Bradford City in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday, a result which he said had left him "upset and angry".

The meeting with supporters had been arranged before the shock defeat on penalties at Valley Parade but Gazidis recognised he had to address the issue with feelings running high among fans. He said the result was "not good enough" in spite of Arsène Wenger's claims on Tuesday that the players "gave everything".

"I think I am frankly tired of getting up here and delivering the same message," said Gazidis. "Tuesday night was not good enough and it made us all upset and angry. I would like to apologise to all of you, especially the fans who travelled up there. It was unbelievable support as ever and you deserved better.

"That is something we will work hard to put right," he added. "We all work here and are desperate to deliver the success and trophies we all want. Look into the eyes of the staff here, look at the way they talk. We will get this right. I initially thought this would be a great opportunity to spread Christmas cheer. I don't think it will be but I hope to speak to all of you."

Even after the defeat to Bradford, there is no suggestion of any threat to Wenger's position. He has 18 months on his contract and the full backing of the club's board. The 63-year-old has no intention himself of walking away from the club and there is no appetite within the club to force him out.

There does now seem to be increasing hope that the club will come to some agreement with Theo Walcott over a new contract and the player will stay at the club. Although there has been a stand-off between the two sides over Walcott's new salary, it is looking increasingly likely that he will not leave on a free transfer next summer.

In an interview given before Tuesday's tie, Gazidis conceded that the club must try to do better. He told the magazine Four Four Two: "Let's be clear – we don't see Champions League qualification as enough, we are proud of our record, but we want to do more, and we will.

"Irrespective of Financial Fair Play's impact, we will be among the top five most financially powerful clubs in the world by 2014, that is when we will really start competing."

The first monitoring period for FFP comes to an end in May and clubs will find out at the start of the 2014-15 season what penalties they will face from Uefa for failure to comply.