Arsenal’s decision not to sell Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in the summer proves the club is putting on-field success over financial gain, according to chief executive Ivan Gazidis.
Gazidis, who was taking questions at Arsenal’s annual general meeting yesterday, said no one outside the club is aware of the demands being made by players approaching the end of their contracts.
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 allow happen as long as they contribute to success in the interim.
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.
“From the outside, none of this information is going to be in the public domain, that leads to pressure and criticism.
“Those on the outside don’t know the dynamics, don’t know the demands being made, don’t know the constraints.
“Probably the most vocal criticism we have ever had at an AGM was after we had transferred Robin van Persie (to Manchester United) in the last year of his contract.
“That was one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to make and we were told then we were financially motivated and not focused on football.
“This summer, with stronger underlying financials we have taken a different tack. 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 unsuccessfully 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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