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By ESPN Staff

Gazidis unveiled as new Gunners chief executive

Arsenal have announced the appointment of Major League Soccer deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis as their new chief executive.

The 44-year-old South Africa-born Oxford graduate will take up his post in January to end his 14-year association with the American league.

Gazidis is expected to take over many of the duties previously handled by former vice-chairman David Dein, who left Arsenal last year, such as player contracts and negotiations.

A Gunners statement to the Stock Exchange said: "Arsenal are delighted to announce that after a thorough recruitment process, Ivan Gazidis has been appointed the new chief executive officer, taking up the position in January 2009.''

Club chairman Peter Hill-Wood said: "Ivan's credentials are first class. It is evident that he has a wealth of business acumen together with a broad knowledge of football that will not only help to maintain Arsenal's pre-eminent standing but enhance our reputation within the football community and international commercial markets.''

Gazidis, a qualified solicitor and keen amateur player, said: "I have been privileged in my 14 years with MLS to have worked with and for some of the best sports executives and owners in the world, whose vision, commitment and expertise have taken the league from strength to strength and provided a solid platform for its future growth.

"I am delighted to be offered the opportunity to bring that experience to bear at Arsenal - a club rich in heritage and tradition, that is superbly positioned for success in the modern era.

"I relish the prospect of working with the key stakeholders to further propel the club forward. It is nearly 15 years since I left the UK but I'm very much looking forward to returning in January.''

The arrival of Gazidis was welcomed by Gunners fans.

A statement from the Arsenal Supporters' Trust read: "This is a vital appointment at a time when Arsenal face challenging times on and off the field.

"The most pressing item in his in-tray is seeing through the completion of the Highbury Square property development in the face of the severe economic downturn.

"His experience of international sports marketing should help the club to grow its income stream at a time when there should clearly be no further increase in ticket prices for the hard-pressed supporter.

"In the week when the French Presidency of the European Union is seeking powers to control football to the detriment of Arsenal, Mr Gazidis will need to quickly build relationships in football and political corridors of power.

"We also note his experience in managing player contracts, a skill set we hope he will soon put to use at Arsenal.

"The Trust also recognises the role that Ken Friar has played as acting managing director and are grateful to him for the time he has given to working with us.''

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