AISA Statement on the Ownership of Arsenal Football Club
1. The sale of large tranches of the Club's shares over the last few years has created a good deal of uncertainty amongst supporters, and together with the constant media speculation has had an unsettling effect. The announcement on 11 April 2011 marks the start of a new era for Arsenal, and the beginning of the end of that uncertainty.
2. It is important that the new era starts off on a positive note, and Arsenal fans are very aware of what has happened at other major football clubs in recent years when changes of ownership have taken place. We therefore believe it is crucial that no debt contracted by KSE, and/or by Mr Kroenke personally, be transferred to Arsenal Holdings plc or any subsidiary now or in the future, nor secured against Arsenal revenues.
3. AISA believes that the key values that the new regime should adopt are continuity, inclusiveness, transparency and loyalty.
4. We have stated before our immense respect and affection for many of the previous and current custodians of the Club. We worked very closely with Ken Friar for several years on the development of the new stadium. Peter Hill-Wood may have occasional "Prince Philip" moments, but we have no doubt about his overall contribution to the Club, and indeed that of his family. Ivan Gazidis has been a breath of fresh air since his arrival; making many important changes, being accessible to fans' groups and continuing the modernisation of the Club started by Keith Edelman.
5. The move to The Emirates Stadium was crucial in giving Arsenal the opportunity to develop into a world-class club, and we pay tribute to Danny Fiszman, who worked tirelessly to achieve that change. AISA campaigned vigorously for the move, achieved much success amongst doubters and opponents, and has continued to offer 100% support to the Board in the development of the Club. The move itself, the massive increase in the number of fans attending matches and the increase in income streams have all been enormously beneficial and to some extent have created a new Club, within which existing values and loyalties have sometimes seemed to have become less important. AISA has been banging the drum, and will continue to do so, about the need for the Club to recognise more fully supporter loyalty and recently presented 10 key proposals on ticket prices and supporter loyalty to the Chief Executive. We hope the new regime will embrace this document and look forward to dialogue on this crucial issue.
6. Arsenal is generally admired as a well-run Club; AISA wants to see that continued and developed. We do believe that there is scope for more "joined-up thinking", for sharing and extending some of the best practices that operate in parts of the organisation, and in being more responsive to individuals and groups who raise matters or occasionally have poor experiences in their dealings with the Club.
7. We note that existing Board members have been invited to continue on the Board, even though they are selling their existing shares, and welcome this. The Board should contain more independent Directors with a range of experience and expertise, including an elected supporter director. We believe that independence and inclusiveness are key attributes that a forward-looking and confident regime will embrace.
8. We generally support and appreciate the expertise of the Arsenal Supporters' Trust, especially in regards to ownership issues, and strongly endorse their call for all existing shareholders not already legally committed to selling, to maintain ownership of their shares, and we will be contacting our many members who individually own shares.
9. AISA also agrees with AST that Arsenal FC is too important to be owned by one person or company, and we believe that plurality of ownership by supporters should be seen as a benefit, an advantage, an asset to be nurtured and increased. We believe that the continuation of Arsenal Fanshare and a growing equity stake in the club for supporters is important, no matter what developments may occur in the future.
10. Another important issue is building the intensity of support that fans can offer on matchdays. Our friends in REDaction have carried out outstanding work in this field, and deserve the maximum appreciation and ongoing co-operation from the Club as they put forward more initiatives. The arrival of Mr Gazidis accelerated the Club's input; now is the time to increase the momentum in this area of work.
11. Supporters need to see the continuous and ongoing commitment of their Board members. Whilst the overwhelming amount of work takes place in private, it is important that those responsible for the Club are visible to fans, and are known to be passionate about Arsenal, our performance, our history and most of all the achievements on the pitch. Fans want the leadership of their Club to attend matches, to demonstrate a commitment to the health and the long-term future of the Club and, most of all, to maximise the opportunities for the Club to win trophies at senior level.
12. We look forward to working with Stan Kroenke and KSE to maintain, develop and strengthen the voice of supporters within our great Club, and we commit ourselves to act in co-operation to achieve the best possible outcomes for the Club on and off the field, and to assist the new majority owner to act in the best interests of Arsenal, its supporters and community at all times.
To comment on this document, or let AISA know your views on anything relating to the ownership of Arsenal Football Club, please email firstname.lastname@example.org