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Feb 21, 2013

Wenger backed by Gunners board

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been given the full backing of the club's hierarchy, after a board meeting attended by majority shareholder Stan Kroenke on Thursday afternoon.

• Paper review: Wenger set to spend

Reports suggest Wenger's future was not on the agenda at the planned board meeting, despite back-to-back defeats against Blackburn in the FA Cup and Bayern Munich in the Champions League in the last week that have all but assured Arsenal of going through an eighth successive season without winning a trophy.

That news now appears to have been confirmed as sources claimed the club believe they still boasts the infrastructure to compete with the biggest clubs in Europe, with the strong financial performance off the pitch laying the foundations for long-term benefits on the pitch.

Wenger is set to return to the scene of his now infamous press conference appearance last Monday for another media briefing on Friday that will see him come under more pressure from reporters who are certain to ask more probing questions of the Arsenal boss ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium.

Meanwhile, influential Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) have hinted that their long-running support for Wenger may not be assured, as they have suggested they will review their backing for the veteran Frenchman at the end of this season.

"Our position is that we review the manager at the end of the season," said an ATS spokesman. "The board must ask hard questions about itself and not just the manager."

"The board must review its approach to much more than just the position of Arsene Wenger. They need to consider recruiting new members with exposure to the football world who can support and challenge Wenger to be a better manager.

"It's wrong to focus on just him at the moment. Every single non-executive director of the club is over 70 years old and it is time for some fresh blood. We would call for Stan Kroenke to meet with (second-largest shareholder) Alisher Usmanov to work out how to make it stronger.

There have been concerns that the club has failed to find adequate replacements for the key players who have departed Emirates Stadium in recent seasons despite the club raising significant funds through ticket prices, television revenue and sponsorship deals.

The spokesperson added: "AST members are not happy with the current situation. We think the club needs to review how they scout, recruit and pay players as the current approach is creating a depreciation in competitiveness. It is time for Kroenke to show to Arsenal fans some of his vision, to end his silence and to engage properly with them.

"We would also like the board to be more accountable for the transfer budget available to the manager and make sure it is spent on players and not just used as profit."

Reports in several newspapers in recent days have indicated that Wenger is to be given £70 million to spend on the squad in the summer should he lead the club to back into the Champions League next season.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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