Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Premier League

Winning is not everything to Arsenal, claims commercial chief

Commercial officer's comments likely to infuriate fans

According to Arsenal's chief commercial officer, winning is not everything to the Gunners, comments that are sure to infuriate fed-up supporters.

Arsenal have gone seven years without any silverware and with the team languishing tenth in the Premier League after their worst start to a season under Arsene Wenger, the prospects of that long trophyless cycle coming to an end any time soon look slim.

The situation has been blamed on Arsene Wenger's apparent unwillingness to splash the cash on transfers and Arsenal's inability to retain their top stars. In recent years Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy have departed, while this summer captain and leading goal scorer Robin van Persie switched to Manchester United.

Some fans have gone as far as to call for the head of the manager who has led the Gunners for the past 16-years, while others want a change in management behind the scenes.

The views of chief commercial officer Tom Fox are only likely to increase support for those demands with his comments appearing to indicate an air of malaise over Arsenal's decreasing competitiveness on the pitch.

"Arsenal Football Club is not only about winning," he is quoted by United Arab Emirates-based Sport 360 as saying.

“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.”

 “Obviously nothing instills pride in our fan-base more than winning, but there’s many things we do that make our fans feel proud.

“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."

Fox, who has worked for Nike, Gatorade, and the NBA in the past, insists there is much for Arsenal fans to be proud of, including the 60,000-seat stadium that was filled with boos at the weekend after a 2-0 defeat to Swansea.

“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.

The commercial officer also pointed to the recent £150m sponsorship deal with Emirates, of which it is understood £70m has been earmarked for Wenger to spend in the transfer market.

“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.

“Football can be a fairly mercenary commercial environment.

“Football clubs go into the market and they really do business with whoever wants to pay them the most money.

“By the time this current shirt deal expires with Emirates, they would have been on our shirt for 13 years.

“That says a lot about how we run the football club and what’s important to us as a football club."

Arsenal play West Brom at the Emirates this weekend where anything but a win is sure to produce a reaction from fans expressing what they think is important to the football club.