Arsenal chairman Chips Keswick slammed for failing to answer £3m Stan Kroenke payment questions as Arsene Wenger opens up on transfer policy

Arsenal chairman slammed for failing to give truthful answers over a annual £3m payment to majority shareholde Kroenke

Jack de Menezes
Thursday 15 October 2015 15:08 BST
Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke alongside chairman Sir Chips Keswick
Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke alongside chairman Sir Chips Keswick (Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger was in a determined mood at Arsenal’s Annual General Meeting to insist he is hungrier than ever to end the club’s Premier League title drought, but chairman Sir Chips Keswick has come under huge scrutiny for his failure to explain why club majority shareholder Stan Kronke was paid £3m.

Arsenal shareholders grilled Wenger, Keswick and chief executive Ivan Gazidis on all things Arsenal related, with the club’s failures in Europe and 11-year wait for another Premier League title triumph top of the agenda. However, Keswick’s inability to cope with an early question regarding the annual £3m payment to Kroenke Sports and Entertainment that triggered the fiercest questions from a floor that was soon left angry and unanswered.

Keswick initially responded by claiming the payment to Kroenke – for the second consecutive year – was for a “wide range of services”, but it was suggested that the 75-year-old had avoided answering the actual question.

“I felt it was right to pay for wide range of services, we should not be in position to ask for these services for nothing,” said Keswick.

“We have a majority owner who is very supportive.”

Keswick promised to readdress the issue, but when he came back to the payment he ended up trying to shout over the questions coming from the floor.

It’s just a noise. I’m not answering that

&#13; <p>Sir Chips Keswick, Arsenal chairman</p>&#13;

“The best advice you can get is the advice from experts in their field,” Keswick continued. “If you want proof of what that’s worth then look at this [FA Cup and Community Shield] and our accounts.

“I’m not [Michel] Platini, not [Sepp] Blatter, if you get the right advice then you succeed.”

Arsene Wenger and Sir Chips Keswick ahead of the manager's 1,000th game last season
Arsene Wenger and Sir Chips Keswick ahead of the manager's 1,000th game last season (Getty Images)

Finally, a fan took to the stage to argue that the failure in Europe – which has seen Arsenal fail to make it past the quarter-finals of the Champions League in any season since 2006 – suggested that the squad was not strong enough to challenge for top honours, prompting a bizarre response from Keswick.

“How can the squad be so strong if we have such embarrassing Champions League results?” asked the supporter, only for Keswick to respond: “It’s just a noise. I’m not answering that.”

Luckily for Arsenal though, both Wenger and Gazidis spoke calmly and with authority, and answered all questions directed at them with clear and accurate answers that appeared to go down well with the shareholders.

Wenger spoke in great detail about his eventual departure from the club that he recently celebrated 19 years at the helm off, and he hinted that his current contract could very well be his last.

“We want more than third and winning the FA Cup, we have the potential to do more,” said Wenger when he explained to build on last season’s result.

“We are back in contention for the championship this year, and we will fight, our numbers show it.

“We have taken more points since 1 January than anyone, the trend is right and we are showing consistency.

“I’m more motivated and committed than ever. I know how sad people are when we lose a game. I’m committed until the last day of my contract to bring back big success and leave the club in the shape for the guy that comes after me.”

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Both Wenger and Gazidis were also keen to stress that the recent additions of Mesut Özil, Alexis Sanchez and most recently Petr Cech show that the club are in a position and willing to spend on the very best players on offer.

Arsenal came under huge criticism for not strengthening their squad beyond the addition of Cech in the summer, with questions remaining over their striker and defensive midfielder depth.

“Özil, Sanchez and Cech show how the board will release funds for signings at any point,” said Gazidis in a bid to appease fans calling for more money to be spent in the transfer window.

“You don’t sign players like Özil and Sanchez unless you have ambition to win the league and you don’t sign them without Wenger.

“We won’t spend money or waste it just to appease commentators.”

Gazidis added: “Petr Cech told me that Arsenal is the only club he could have joined and had a tug of war with a member of ground staff.”

Wenger reiterated Gazidis’s claims, and was also keen to stress that the development of players such as Hector Bellrin and Francis Coquelin gave the club more to be proud of than just making big-money additions.

“I know have the reputation of being afraid to spend the money. But we have shown in past few years that we will spend the money,” he said.

“We are very proud of the players we bought. Also proud of Coquelin, Bellerin and they don’t get rewards they deserve.”

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