The following is a transcript from Ivan Gazidis' speech at the 2012 Annual General Meeting at Emirates Stadium:
Good morning everyone – thank you for attending and welcome. Before I start, I’d like to give us all the opportunity to acknowledge and applaud Laura Harvey and our wonderful Ladies team who once again have won the Continental Cup, the Women’s Super League and went the whole season unbeaten. They are truly another team of invincibles
I’d also like to take a moment to express appreciation for the extraordinary contributions of Pat Rice over 44 years with the club as player and coach.
I know of course that all our emotions are raw after two difficult losses but an AGM is a time to take stock of the position of the Club with a sense of perspective.
To do that, I want to take a few minutes to remind you of the journey we have been on, where we are today and to repeat our ambition. That ambition is shared by all of us at this table. That’s me, Arsène, our majority shareholder Stan Kroenke and the whole board. It’s also, I believe, shared by everyone in this room and it is an ambition that is all about football
That ambition is to compete at the very top of the game here and in Europe, to win trophies and to do this in a way that makes our fans proud and one that reflects our values and our way of playing football. It also needs to be achieved in a way that protects and promotes Arsenal for the long term.
It’s important to understand our off-field journey if we want to understand our football future because, in order to be successful in the modern game of football, any self-reliant football club needs to have the foundation of a viable and sustainable business upon which to build.
Ten years ago, led by some of the members of the Board at this table, who are also lifelong fans of the Club, Arsenal took a bold decision to build a new state of the art home that could elevate us from one of the leading clubs in England to becoming one of the leading clubs in the world. That commitment required real vision, demanded real bravery and represented real ambition.
Furthermore, this massive leap forward had to be undertaken with fundamental Arsenal principles at its core - principles that our fans hold dear. A path of independence and self reliance, the belief that we are stronger when we stand on our own feet, a mandate to keep our future in our own hands.
It has not been an easy journey, the landscape has been ever-changing and there have been many obstacles along the way.
Many other clubs have tried and failed to follow us. Many continue to try to follow. We can be proud of what we have done and how we have done it Now, 10 years later, we are finally coming towards the last phase of the stadium move, represented by the commercial growth that will provide the platform for our footballing future.
So, where are we?
We have manageable debt on the stadium at long-term and affordable rates and no other external debt. The Club is increasingly well positioned to take advantage of its excellent global reputation, and we have conducted hugely-successful tours of Asia in the last two summers.
Commercial revenue streams are developing well. We have new and developing partnerships with Indesit, Carlsberg, Betsson, Airtel and Malta Guinness.
And our big opportunity to take a dramatic leap forward is fast approaching as the primary commercial deals which made the construction of our stadium possible come towards the end of their life. I am confident that we will be in a position to take full advantage of that opportunity
In addition, the landscape of football is moving in our direction. We are at the forefront as clubs across England and Europe strive to bring the pointless spending race of recent times to an end. Financial Fair Play principles are gaining ground not only at European level but also within the Premier League itself.
As a result, I am able to state with confidence that, as a consequence of this ambitious transformation, in the next two years Arsenal will have the financial resources be able to sit and compete among the leading clubs in the world.That is an extraordinary achievement for our Club.
Which brings us back to our ambition and to football. I want to be clear, our financial success is relevant because it supports our football vision. Money we generate is made available to our manager.
Arsène makes decisions regarding how to invest those funds based on his extensive football knowledge, experience and judgment. He has done a fantastic job against the massive spending by our major competitors, which has made it a challenging time for us and for many other clubs. He has ensured that Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League for 15 consecutive seasons. We have maintained our position towards the top of the game in Europe (currently ranked sixth by UEFA)
These are certainly not the height of Arsène’s ambition or of the Board’s ambition, but they are so taken for granted that they are not even viewed by some as an achievement anymore. All the while we have played some of the most attractive football in the world.
For the reasons I have explained, we are now in a position to look forward with real confidence to our position in the new emerging landscape of the game.
I have no doubt we can and will return the Club to winning trophies and driving forward to new heights. That’s what this journey has all been about. That is, I believe, our shared ambition in this room.
We will achieve that if we stand together, keep to the values that have guided us through our 126-year history, and if we continue to be brave.
Standing together we can make Arsenal one of the leading clubs in the world and do it in a manner that will make all of you, our supporters, proud.
Thank you.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 25 Oct 2012