Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal chief defends transfer dealings as shareholders show displeasure at AGM

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis insists the club have "over-performed" in the transfer market when compared to their Premier League rivals.

Gazidis, who was taking questions at Arsenal's annual general meeting on Thursday, also said no-one outside the club is aware of the demands being made by players approaching the end of their contracts.

He said keeping Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil as their deals run down rather than selling them this summer also shows the club's board are not simply seeking financial success.

Arsenal announced record turnover of £422million for 2016/17 and a question at the AMG asked why the club had not invested more in buying new players.

But, after the Gunners broke their transfer record to sign Alexandre Lacazette this summer in addition to recent big-money moves for the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka, Gazidis said he had a formula to prove Arsenal were more successful in the transfer market that other clubs.

"Every football club has successes and failures in the transfer market and every club wants to do better, we certainly want to do better," he said.

"We deal with a massive amount of inaccurate or incomplete information, there are many agendas at play and many stories during a transfer window, only a fraction of which are accurate but which play their part in inflaming emotions and driving opinions and narratives. In that environment it becomes very difficult to see through the noise.

"Fortunately, there is one very accurate, and objective, way to assess how well and how consistently clubs perform in this area over time.

"It is very simply to compare team performance by a series of objective metrics, usually league position or points, against expenditure on transfers.

"No club has a perfect record every year under this scrutiny but Arsenal has probably been, of the big clubs certainly, the most consistently over-performing team over time."

It was reported last December that both Ozil and Sanchez wanted to be paid the same as the Premier League's top earners.

Neither of the pair are yet to sign new deals and can walk away for free at the end of the season - something manager Arsene Wenger has said he is prepared to do.

The board have backed that call and Gazidis insists that shows the club are not solely concerned with the bottom line.

"You don't always have a choice of where you sell a player, nor do you have control of whether a player extends with you or what demands his agent makes," he said.

"Those on the outside don't know the dynamics, don't know the demands being made, don't know the constraints.

"The decision on Alexis and Mesut Ozil are certainly not decisions that fit the narrative that we put money first.

"We have taken that approach to give the club the best possible chance to compete for trophies this season."

The AGM at the Emirates Stadium was attended by around 200 shareholders, the majority of whom voted against re-electing chairman Sir Chips Keswick or director Josh Kroenke in rare move to show their unhappiness with the set-up.

A poll vote was held even though majority shareholder Stan Kroenke and fellow shareholder Alisher Usmanov had already voted via proxy - with their votes in favour of retaining the pair unbeatable.

There was an element of farce as not enough chairs were provided for the shareholders in attendance and the meeting closed amid jeers and slow claps as Keswick refused to directly answer the three questions asked from the floor.

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