The Mirror's John Cross told the Debate that Chips Keswick's performance at Arsenal's AGM highlights the detachment between the board and the fans
The Arsenal AGM which ended with Sir Chips Keswick and Josh Kroenke re-elected to the board was an “embarrassment” for the club, according to John Cross on The Debate.
Thursday’s meeting, which was attended by at least 200 shareholders, saw the decision to re-appoint Keswick and Kroenke head to a vote after they were overwhelmingly defeated by a show of hands.
The duo received the backing of majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, whose 67 per cent stake in the club was enough to influence the poll vote.
And with the AGM ending in jeers as Keswick refused to field more questions, Cross reflected on what he called a “really bad day for Arsenal”.
“I think there’s a separation from the fans, and you have to look at the chairman [Keswick] for that,” said Cross, the Daily Mirror’s chief football writer.
“Much more than anyone else, it’s the chairman separating. He came across arrogant, and it sounds as if he’s not prepared to listen to the average fan.
“That’s the key. Yes, he may not have the biggest say in the world, but it’s a really bad appointment. I thought when they changed the chairman last time around it was to move into the 21st century. Surely Sir Chips Keswick can’t be appointed again next year.
“When you look at it, it automatically spreads the blame for Arsenal’s failings on the pitch as well. That’s part of the problem.
“Forget everyone else, the failing today and the embarrassment today has been Sir Chips Keswick. Really bad day for him and for Arsenal football club.”
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis and manager Arsene Wenger addressed shareholders at the AGM, though Stan Kroenke opted not to take the floor.
Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson questioned Kroenke’s credentials, asking why the American would shun the opportunity to speak with the club’s smaller shareholders.
“Has he got a clue about football?” Merson asked. “That’s why I’m worried about why he didn’t get up in front of the fans, because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and that he will get twisted up and won’t know what to say.
“He’s into American sports, where there’s one trophy in whatever sport you play, it’s not like that here.
“Relegation doesn’t come into the mind with Arsenal, but I just don’t think he has a clue, it’s just a money-making machine.”