Football: We don't sit on piles of cash, chief exec Gazidis tells Arsenal fans

Football: We don't sit on piles of cash, chief exec Gazidis tells Arsenal fans

LONDON - Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis rejected the idea, when he addressed the annual general meeting on Thursday, that the club are sitting on piles of cash which they refuse to give to manager Arsene Wenger to spend on players.

Arsenal fans have griped for years that the club do not spend some of their substantial profits on new players, but in the last transfer window they paid out just under 60 million pounds (S$122 million), second only to Manchester United among European teams.

"There is an inaccurate analysis about cash available. We are not hoarding a vast cash balance. We do not try to broadcast our cash situation, but the situation is more complex," Gazidis told shareholders at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal paid Barcelona around 35 million pounds for Alexis Sanchez and bought Danny Welbeck from Manchester United for 16 million during the last transfer window.

"We do try to keep a reasonable amount for the transfer budget," Gazidis added. "It is quite untrue that we are sitting on a huge cash pile for some unspecified reason."

In recent years, the Arsenal AGM has seen fans expressing their frustrations that their team had not won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup but last season's triumph in the same competition made for a different mood this year.

More than 70 per cent of fans polled by Arsenal Supporters' Trust said they were happy manager Arsene Wenger had signed a new three-year contract following the FA Cup win but with him turning 65 next week, a shareholder asked about his eventual departure.

Chairman Chips Keswick was asked whether there were lessons to be learnt from Manchester United's disastrous "smooth handover".

"I don't comment about other clubs - good luck to them and their problems," he said. "It's premature to speculate about the successor to Arsene.

"I'm delighted he has signed a three-year contract. Rest assured we follow the situation carefully. I believe this great club will always be attractive for the great managers.

"I hope when the time comes we will be spoiled for choice. It's not being complacent - we think about it all the time - I hope when the time comes we will have a solution that pleases you."

Wenger reflected on last season, saying there was "a tsunami and a little revolution" after the home loss to Aston Villa on the first day of the campaign, but that the signing of Mesut Oezil and "the club's unity" helped them finish fourth and win the FA Cup.

"We finished the season with 79 points, we had 17 clean sheets. We were consistent but when we lost, we lost. When we were beaten we were battered," Wenger said.

"What has changed compared to a few years ago is other clubs have resources so top players have more choices. We signed Oezil which gave us comfort. We made 79 points and you have to be consistent for that.

"It was extremely paradoxical. When we lost, we lost (heavily). We lost five or six. If you concede the first goal in a big game 85 per cent of the time you will lose the game."

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