By now you'll have seen or read that we handed out flyers to attendees at today's AGM and as word spread to social networking sites, a lot of chat, debate, praise, moaning and the usual natter followed. Of course, we have our detractors who refuse to believe or understand what we're about and we knew they'd try to pick holes in the flyer, and true to form out they came. But for those who want to know a bit more about the thinking behind it, here goes.
People have asked why we're comparing ourselves to Bayern Munich. They receive funding from others, they didn't have to pay for their stadium, they're this, they're that!
Well as a memory refresher and for those who weren't around back then, when we were looking to move stadium, on more than one occasion our Board used the selling point that moving to a bigger ground would enable us to move up to the level of a "European Super Club". The term was held up there as the barometer; this is where we want to be and where we should be.
In more recent times, our Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis has used Bayern Munich as a barometer, showcasing them as a leader in European football. He's done so on more than one occasion. So if our Chief Exec is putting them up there as a model club, let's compare ourselves and see the gaps we need to close.
We're top of the league!
Correct, we are top of the league. Great, isn't it? But my advice would be to read the contents of the flyer. And as we've always said, at the BSM our focus isn't what takes place on the pitch. It's how the club is run and how the club treats its core support.
So yes it's fantastic we're finally getting a team that looks like it could challenge, this isn't what our group is focused on. We'd much rather get behind the team at matches thanks (come to the Chelsea Capital One Cup game and you'll see that), while outside of matches there are issues that we're looking at.
Again I'd say read the contents of this flyer. It's not a moan, it's actually saying what a great job we've done in getting to where we are, but how do we move on? How do we look forward and push towards being one of these European 'Super Clubs'?
Key point is that as a group we feel the Board is in need of change. The average age of our Board members is too high, and there isn't enough football experience there. I wrote an article two years ago touching on this, giving suggestions on how we could improve, and many of the points I still feel are valid today. You can read the article here.
Looking at the Bayern setup, they have ex-players at boardroom level - people who have the club in their blood, who understand the game, understand the fans. We feel that kind of influence would be of benefit to Arsenal.
As mentioned in the flyer, 87% of fans who completed our end of season survey felt the current Arsenal Board is out of touch with the fans, and that change is needed. Of course the usual handful of people have guffawed that it's not 87% of all Arsenal fans. We never said it was, however out of any Arsenal group who conducted a survey it's the highest response rate (around 2,500) and as a matter of fact, these results hit home with the club. After we shared the results with Arsenal they requested time to discuss in more detail the points about fans feeling less valued by the club, and the Board being out of touch. So if you want to try and poke fun, feel free, but the club have recognised the issue and want to work on that, which is great.
It's about the fans
Our ultimate message from the flyer is that while big stadiums, players and trophies are great and help promote a club's standing, it's the fans who make a club what it is. It's our supporters who've helped get this great club to the level it's at today. Loyal, hardcore fans who've paid thousands and thousands of pounds over decades, travelling up and down the country (and abroad) in their love of The Arsenal.
We've always said that the Board needs to recognise the value of its core support and do all it can to ensure our fans are treated fairly. While it's great the club engages with fan groups, there's a lot more that can be done and let's not forget that famous saying "Football without fans is nothing".
Ultimately, as a group we're all about making things better for our matchgoing fans. That's' it.
If you want to see the flyer in full, take a look below.
Up The Gunners