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Dec 6, 2012

Arsenal chief: Winning isn't everything

An Arsenal official has insisted that the club's seven-year wait for a trophy has not harmed their reputation because the Gunners are "defined by more than winning".

• Blog: Rosick-note to heal Arsenal?
• Blog: Defeat tells us nothing new

The club's chief commercial officer, Tom Fox, believes that the recent renewal of Arsenal's sponsorship deal with Emirates - worth £150 million - is proof the club's brand remains strong despite their failure to challenge for top honours in recent years.

Arsenal, who last claimed major silverware in the 2005 FA Cup final, are currently 10th in the Premier League table having lost four and won just five of their 15 games in the competition so far this season. The Gunners were booed off at the weekend after losing 2-0 at home to Swansea City.

Fox, however, claimed that being competitive on the pitch was not the only measure of success. "Arsenal Football Club is not only about winning," he said. "We have a large and engaged fan-base around the world who want to feel as if they belong to the club, and want to feel proud to belong to the club. That's my primary business."

Arsenal have seen a succession of top players leave the club in order to win trophies elsewhere, with Robin van Persie's summer move to Manchester United the most recent example, but Fox said that the club's track record of producing young talent and their world-class Emirates Stadium should be sources of pride for the fans.

"Obviously nothing instills pride in our fan-base more than winning, but there's many things we do that make our fans feel proud," he was quoted as saying by UAE-based website Sport 360. "Developing young talent and finding those players in the marketplace make our fans feel proud.

"Whether it's Serge Gnabry, who is a 17-year-old player in our reserve squad, whether it's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whether it's Theo Walcott, we look at these young players and have faith in our manager to develop them as the players for the future.

"And the fans come to a stadium that the club built really at a time 10 years ago when the board decided to build that stadium.

"Everything was going our way, it was Manchester United and Arsenal.

"But we made a very bold decision and we built that stadium on time and on budget - that makes our fans very proud.

"When they see that we can attract - even though we haven't won a trophy in seven years - one of the top global brands in the world for the type of money and financial commitment they're making, that makes our fans feel proud.

"So our brand is defined by more than winning."

Fox's comments come after Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told the club's Annual General Meeting in October that finishing fourth in the league - and thereby qualifying for the Champions League - was in itself the equivalent of winning a trophy.

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