Gazidis: Gunners set for future
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.
However, recent 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.
"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," Gazidis said. "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."
Arsenal slumped to a 2-0 home defeat by Schalke in the Champions League on Wednesday, which followed on from a loss at Norwich at the weekend. They are currently 10 points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Flanked by chairman Peter Hill-Wood and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, Gazidis added: "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."
Wenger started his address by apologising for last night's defeat, acknowledging there was a "lot of dissatisfaction", but maintained Arsenal fans should not "go overboard".
He also maintained that qualification for the Champions League should retain value ahead of just any old silverware, saying: "Players ask: are you in the Champions League? A new player doesn't want to know if you have won the League Cup."