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Mr Friar celebrates 70 years at Arsenal!

Mr Friar

Today we celebrate a remarkable landmark – 70 years of service from director Ken Friar, who joined the club as a full-time employee on August 1, 1950.

In fact, ‘Mr Friar’ as he is affectionately known at the club, actually started as a part-time box office runner four years prior to that! He progressed through the ranks to become box office manager before taking the reins as club secretary in 1973. 

Ken Friar and Danny Fiszman

Ken Friar and Danny Fiszman

Ten years later, he was promoted to managing director, presiding over the day-to-day running of the club in a role he held for 17 years. In 2000 he took charge of our new stadium project and, having worked tirelessly alongside his great friend Danny Fiszman to make that dream a reality, Emirates Stadium is very much his lasting legacy. 

To this day, he remains an active board member involved in numerous decisions to help drive Arsenal forward. Now 85, the FA Cup is a competition close to his heart. 

Ken Friar with Frank McLintock and Bob Wilson

“This will be the 17th FA Cup final that Arsenal have played in since I joined the club,” said Mr Friar. “Thankfully we’ve managed to win 11 of those, let’s hope it’s 12 at the final whistle today – which will be 14 in all. Even I didn’t manage to get to the victories in the 1930s! 

"I do remember the 1950 final, which took place just a couple of months before I started at Arsenal. I was a kid and it was so exciting, my first visit ever to Wembley. I had a standing ticket, the stadium felt enormous and we played in the gold shirts. I remember it very well because the cup final day started at seven o'clock on the Saturday morning and wound its way right through the day. They were great times.

“It’s a wonderful competition that has given me and millions of Arsenal fans many happy memories. It’s nice to be able to celebrate my anniversary on what’s such a special day for the club.”

Everyone at Arsenal would like to thank Mr Friar and wish him a happy anniversary, as would his friends at the Football Association and the wider football family.  

Club statement

An update from your club

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have been working hard to ensure that Arsenal Football Club emerges in a robust and strong position for the future.

In line with other football clubs and many other businesses operating in the sport, leisure and entertainment arena, we have been impacted directly by COVID-19.

Our main sources of income have all reduced significantly. Revenue from broadcasters, matchday and commercial activities have all been hit severely and these impacts will continue into at least the forthcoming 2020/21 season.

The pandemic represents one of the most challenging periods in our 134-year history and we have responded promptly by implementing wide-ranging measures to reduce our costs. Our players, senior football staff and executive team have volunteered pay cuts, we have stopped pretty much all of our capital spending, and our discretionary operating expenditure has been strictly controlled.

We have also received significant financial support from our owners, Kroenke, Sports & Entertainment in terms of refinancing our stadium debt.

These steps have all reduced the impact of the pandemic on the club and have helped us continue to maintain investment in the team. This will continue to be a key priority.

It is now clear that we will be facing more significant and longer-lasting reductions in our revenue than we all hoped. Current indications are that we will not have fans back at Emirates Stadium for the start of next season and fans will only be able to return in limited numbers after that. The global economic projections are also very negative. 

This will impact the disposable income of our fans, the money corporate clients have to spend on hospitality and sponsorship, and the ability for broadcasters to invest in TV rights.

We all hope there will be no “second wave” but we also need to accept that is one of the many uncertainties ahead of us and plan accordingly. 

Over recent years we have consistently invested in additional staff to take the club forward but with the expected reduction of income in mind, it is now clear that we must reduce our costs further to ensure we are operating in a sustainable and responsible way, and to enable us to continue to invest in the team.

Our aim has been to protect the jobs and base salaries of our people for as long as we possibly can. Unfortunately, we have now come to the point where we are proposing 55 redundancies.

We do not make these proposals lightly and have looked at every aspect of the club and our expenditure before reaching this point. We are now entering the required 30-day consultation period on these proposals.  

We know this is upsetting and difficult for our dedicated staff and our focus is on managing this as sensitively as possible.

These proposed changes are ultimately about ensuring we take this great football club forward, creating the right organisation for a post-Covid world, and ensuring we have the resources to return to competing effectively at the top of the game here and in Europe.

Raúl Sanllehi, Head of Football
Vinai Venkatesham, Managing Director
 

 

 

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