Stan Kroenke with Arsene Wenger
On Thursday morning Arsenal Football Club held their Annual General Meeting at Emirates Stadium.
In his first AGM since taking over from Peter Hill-Wood, Sir Chips Keswick began by paying tribute to the former chairman. He then conducted the formal business of the meeting before handing over to majority owner Stan Kroenke and manager Arsène Wenger, who each made an address to the floor.
Sir Chips and CEO Ivan Gazidis answered all the pre-submitted questions and then took some more from the floor before the meeting closed.
Here is a transcript of the speeches by Stan Kroenke and Arsène Wenger
“It is a pleasure to be here. This is my sixth AGM and it is great to be back. I appreciate people re-electing me to the board. Well, it was close to unanimous!
“Anyway, it is great to be here and I would tell you we are pleased with the progress of the Club and that is made up of a lot of things, most importantly on the pitch.
“None of us up here [on the board], fans, players, or Arsène [Wenger] are happy until we have won championships and trophies. We have said that over and over again and are committed to that.
“Also, when you try to build towards that, it is very important for the Club to be successful commercially, and we are very pleased with the progress we have made in that area.
“We have come a long way, with the debts of the Club being paid down, the commercial revenues are increasing in a nice way. Certainly you guys are aware of the Emirates deal.
“We have more [deals] coming and are confident. However, nothing works unless we have success on the pitch.
“The reason we got interested in Arsenal [after years of approaches from other teams] was… the tradition, the image and the success of the Club and that to me has been established by none other than our manager.
“In our opinion, with the values he stood for and the things that we value in sport, they were evidenced through him and through this club. So we are very pleased to be here and I couldn’t be more honoured to introduce our manager Arsène Wenger.”
“I would like to thank Mr Hill-Wood and wish him very well. He was a symbol of what Arsenal is about. He respected traditional values and was forward-thinking as well – the biggest example was he appointed me, which was very brave and forward-thinking.
“During the time I have spent here, I always had backing of the board, and that is a brave attitude, which was one of the qualities he had. I would also like to wish well to Mr Chips Keswick and I hope we will have a great time together in the coming months.
“Last season did not start in the best way, because we lost Robin van Persie and that created a lot of unrest and scepticism around the team, we were a bit destabilised. Nevertheless, we managed to redress the course of the results and from November onwards until the end of April, the beginning of May, the team has shown a fantastic mental strength.
“We had two huge disappointments in the cups, it was the first time in 17 years that we went out against lower division teams, but in the Premier League, we stabilised the results and we finished in a very strong way. If you put the end of the season onwards from March up until today, we lost just one game in 26 or 27.
“I must say that the Aston Villa game created a huge revolution, for two simple reasons. First of all it was the first game of the season, it happened at a time when we had not bought anybody, people became a bit nervous and I can understand that.
“The mental strength of the team was fantastic because three days later we travelled for a difficult game in Turkey and came back with a very positive result.
“I would say that our policy in the future of the Club… after a very long, restricted period financially, when we had to be very tight, we have come out of that with good stability in our results. But of course we have a huge ambition to win this league again, that is the target of the season.
“I still believe our policy has to be based on three different levels and we want to continue that with success.
“The first level is, of course, to continue to defend our style of play, our philosophy of play and our values. That can only be done by developing our own players, and the core of our team has to come from the development inside our club.
“That is why we make huge investments again in our youth policy. I believe that has to be the core and the strength of our club. If you go today through our squad, for example we have completed or partially educated Szczesny, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Wilshere, Ramsey, Chamberlain, Gnabry – all these players who have made their debut in the Premier League with us.
“They know how we want to play, they know how we want to behave and they bring their qualities and these values to the team.
“The second level of the development of our club has to be based on the intelligence of our eye. That means players who are unknown and who can become big players here, through our connections, the quality of our scouting, through the quality of what we have seen in them and how they could develop.
“For example Koscielny has come here, nobody knew him, today he is an international with France. Giroud has come here, not many people knew him and he has now become an international player with France. Many people have come here and through the quality of our coaching and our development have become international players. They can complete the part of the players that develop inside from the youth level to the top level.
“Then, the third part of our development and ambition is to scout and buy recognised world-class players. This season for example we have bought Ozil. You don’t need any scout to buy Ozil. You just need money!
“I am quite happy that we have shown to you that we are not scared to spend money when we think the players have the quality and we have the funds available to do it.
“Nevertheless, I would say our world is quickly changing. Why? Because Europe as a continent is becoming poorer, the rest of the world is becoming richer, especially Asia, for example, and these people invest in football in Europe.
“That means [with] the competition we face financially today, we have to be really aware of the number of countries who now have big investors coming in from different continents other than Europe. The competition you face on an international level, financially, has become bigger than before.
“Even if you look at the Champions League, before you had four or five clubs who could win it, today you will have 10. I can give you about 10 clubs who at the moment can pretend to win the Champions League because they have the financial resources to do it. They have the budgets to think ‘we can do it’. That has changed in recent years and I believe that the number of clubs who will have huge funds available will be even bigger.
“That’s why I believe that we still have to convince ourselves that the future of this club will rely on the quality of the work we do here, inside with developing our players, scouting with quality and of course, when it is needed, then to put big numbers out and buy the player [we need]. But that cannot be the basis for the stability for our club.
“I believe we have a huge advantage in that our club is well respected all over the world because we have values, because we are not artificial, because we are based on tradition, because we are forward-thinking and we give a chance to young people who deserve it.
“That is for me something that is very important to preserve. I travel a lot and, believe me, our club is loved not only for the results but the way we try to play football and for the qualities that our club always defended.
“I believe that our future is very positive. Of course the Premier League is tight again this season. We will need your support and we had some moments where at the Emirates we did not always feel that, but I can understand that, because it is up to us to give you the belief and it is not for you to give us the belief.
“Our attitude, our commitment on the pitch has to bring everybody on board. I personally am convinced we have the team that has the attitude and the desire to do that.
“We are top of the table, we are in a very strong position, but if you look the schedule, then by the end of November you will have a much clearer situation of where the strengths of everybody lies in this Premier League.
“When we get all of our players back, then at the moment I am confident we have a very big part to play in this league. I am confident that at the end of May, we will be happy.
“That is my wish, and I am confident that is your wish as well. Therefore I hope that at the end of May we can organise a very positive meeting and I will have the pleasure of meeting you again. Thank you very much.”
copied from http://arsenal.com