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Feb 27, 2012

Gazidis: Fans must back Wenger

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has insisted the fans must continue to show support for manager Arsene Wenger on the day the club announced six-month profits of £49.5 million.

• Arsenal make huge profits
• Wenger hits back on spending
• Blog: Derby day delirium

Wenger has come in for much criticism this season from Arsenal fans for the first time, with a heavy defeat at AC Milan in the Champions League and an FA Cup exit at the hands of Sunderland leading some to question his future.

Gazidis says the board remains firmly behind their manager, but understands the supporters' concerns.

Gazidis told Arsenal's official website: "We hear the noise, we understand the concern of the fans, we know that there are issues, we know we're not where we want to be.

"But I can tell you that this team, our manager, the players, are absolutely united in what we have to do for the rest of the season, which is to finish in the top four. It's very much in our hands.

"We have had absolutely unbelievable support from our travelling fans. Away to Sunderland, away to Milan, our supporters have put aside the questions, put aside the doubts, put aside the differences of opinion and got behind the team.

"If that can happen from now until the end of the season, I know that we can achieve Champions League qualification again for next year, that we can rebuild and regroup in the summer and come back strong.

"Victory through harmony. The strength of this club has always been its unity and our fans and our players need to come together in this fight for the rest of the season.''

Gazidis also said there would be funds for Wenger to strengthen the team in the summer, but would not put exact figure on the transfer kitty.

He said: "It's important to acknowledge that the most important thing for this football club, the most important thing for our fans, and the most important thing for the board and the people that work at the club is how we do on the pitch.

"We have a healthy cash balance of £115 million for the half year. But it's important to understand that not all that money's available to invest in transfers. We have running costs of the club, player salaries and so on, so that amount goes down during the year.

"We also have to keep something in reserve in case things don't go our way. There is money available, we don't talk about an exact figure - and there's a very good reason why we don't put an exact figure on that - because it would impact on our negotiating position.

"We have to invest efficiently, we have to invest sensibly. We do spend all of the money we generate - we do invest it in the squad. That doesn't mean we get every decision right - we don't. But we do get the majority of them right and that's been one of the secrets of Arsenal's success over a long period of time.

"I'm convinced we have the funds to be able to compete at the top of the game. Football clubs are moving towards more sustainable models. UEFA is mandating that they do that and they're doing it any way. The results when some clubs live outside their means can be disastrous.

"We can't gear our entire financial model around that - that expectation - because that would place the club in jeopardy if we didn't qualify. So we've always got to keep something in reserve in case things don't go our way.''

Finishing outside the top four would make Arsenal a less attractive club to current and potential players.

Gazidis said: "There are very few clubs in the world that you would go to ahead of Arsenal in terms of consistently being there. I don't see that adversely impacting on our ability to attract players or retain the top players that we have.''

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