Arsenal’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) was once again a formality but protest votes made sure the fans were heard.
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The same board, chairman and owner remain in place and fans were left feeling angry as they demanded changes at the top which will not arrive.
Despite the small shareholders of the north London club voting against resolutions to reappoint Sir Chips Keswick as the chairman and Josh Kroenke (son of majority shareholder, Stan) onto the board of directors, their votes make up just three percent of the votes needed as both were reelected to the board anyway with Stan Kroenke already making the decision by proxy.
This was about more than an AGM.
During the AGM at the Emirates Stadium over 200 fans and shareholders became angry and jeered Keswick when he refused to answer questions and Stan Kroenke’s failure to turn up to the AGM was once again criticized as Arsenal’s Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis did his best to settle the crowd down.
Arsene Wenger also spoke at the heated AGM, as he usually does, and urged supporters to back the team on the pitch after they failed to finish in the top four of the Premier League last season for the first time in 21 years.
“Be behind the team. We accept the verdict at the end of the season but we want you to be behind us. My hunger and commitment is bigger than ever. Whatever happens [in the future] I will absolutely love this club,” Wenger said, before adding. “I dedicate 99 percent of my lifetime to try to make you happy. Looking at what happened today, it is not easy.”
Despite all of the unrest in recent years, Arsenal’s small shareholders have never voted against Sir Chips being reinstated as chairman. This stance that change was now needed was strong albeit unsuccessful, but in truth it was more of a token gesture. Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) issued a statement ahead of the AGM as they preempted the outcome.
“Whatever the outcome of the AGM, we call upon the directors at Arsenal to address these significant corporate governance failings. All of the non-executive directors have been in office for far too long and are not regarded as independent under the corporate governance code.”
This proxy vote proves just how little regard the Gunners hierarchy currently has for the opinions of AST and those fans who want change at the top of the club after failing to win any trophy, apart from the FA Cup, in the past 13 years.
With Stan Kroenke stating that he has no intention to sell Arsenal and plans to pass the club onto future generations of his family, the Gunners will be owned by the American businessman for the foreseeable future. Any plans Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov had to try and buy Kroenke’s controlling share now seem to be pointless and it’s a case of status quo at the Emirates Stadium.