Sir Chips Keswick and Josh Kroenke will be re-elected to Arsenal’s board, but only after angry shareholders forced a poll vote.
The resolutions to re-elect Keswick and Josh Kroenke were overwhelmingly defeated by a show of hands at Arsenal’s AGM on Thursday, which was attended by at least 200 shareholders, taking them to poll votes where shareholders have a vote for every share he or she holds.
But club secretary David Miles confirmed proxies voting in favour of the resolutions, including Stan Kroenke’s 67 per cent, together amount to over 97 per cent of the shareholding, making the result a formality which will be announced later the same day.
Stan Kroenke had on Wednesday insisted he has never considered selling his majority share of the club and said Arsene Wenger is still the right man to lead the Gunners.
Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) recently wrote to Kroenke to express their concerns over the direction of the club and urged shareholders to vote against the re-appointment of Kroenke’s son, Josh, on to the club’s board – citing “dissatisfaction at the current ownership and governance arrangements” at Arsenal.
In a meeting where Arsenal’s shareholders booed and heckled the club’s hierarchy, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis defended Keswick’s re-appointment, insisting “the good of the club is his only consideration”.
“Sir Chips Keswick’s experience is extensive,” said Gazidis. “He brings this tremendous wealth of experience and high-end knowledge to out club and is a lifelong fan.
“He is beholden to no-one and always speaks his mind.”
Earlier, Keswick had defended the £2.6m pay-out to Gazidis, with shareholders questioning why his payment remained the same despite a poor season on the pitch.
“Ivan is doing a fantastic and first-class job leading the development of this club across every aspect of its operations and is representing it in the Premier League, the European Club Association and UEFA level,” the 77-year-old said.
Keswick confirmed Usmanov, who owns more than 30 per cent of the club and has made noises about attempting to buy out Kroenke, has not been offered a position on the club’s board.
Gazidis faced shareholder questions on how Wenger’s delayed contract extension affected the team’s performance, insisting the board is “always learning from our experiences”.
Gazidis said: “Arsene has new two-year deal in the belief that he has the experience, values and quality.”
Wenger, sat alongside Stan Kroenke and with the FA Cup and Community Shield trophies on display, said: “I dedicate 99 per cent of my lifetime trying to make you happy. Looking at today, that is not easy. My determination is as strong as ever.”
He added: “My hunger, my commitment is bigger than ever. I question myself a lot, don’t worry, I will sit down every year to see where I go.
“No matter what happens one day I will always love this club forever and be an eternal fan.”
The meeting was brought to an end with slow hand claps, boos and Keswick telling supporters to “read today’s Telegraph” if they want to hear from Stan Kroenke.