What are our owners' ambitions - and how involved are they in the running of the club?
Managing director Vinai Venkatesham and head of football Raul Sanllehi sat down with Laura Woods, and you can find out what they said below:
LW: When you talk about strategy, how much involvement do the owners have in that strategy process?
VV: It’s a good question. Listen, Stan and Josh Kroenke are in sport because they’re passionate about sport and because they want to win. So when I talk about the strategy around making our fans all across the world proud of their football club and competing to win the Premier League and the Champions League, that doesn’t come from Raul and that doesn’t come from me. That comes from our owners. They’re hugely ambitious around where they want to take this football club and they remind us of that all the time. They’re massively involved. Between Raul and I, we probably speak to the owners pretty much every day and we have detailed, in-person meetings with them I’d say pretty much every month, whether we alternate between doing them in London or the States. They’re hugely involved in what we do, they are hugely knowledgeable about sport. It’s well-known that they have an American Football team, an NBA team, an NHL team, an MLS team and a lacrosse team, so they know sport and they’re really, really passionate about Arsenal. They’re really passionate about how we can move the club forward, but they’re also realistic. They know we’re not going to go from where we are at the moment to delivering our ambition overnight, and they know that there’s going to be a whole load of work along the way to get there.
RS: I’d like to remark on what Vinai’s saying, because I think it’s very important to make a special note about the passion, we were mentioning about the passion, and the sport side of KSE, of our owners. I think it’s proven enough already, but it’s something that we get all the time. They live for sports, they really get the essence of sports, all the rewards of hard work and the pain of losing when you lose, but also the joy of winning when you win. They are about succeeding, they really want us to get to the optimal position for the club, and we feel the support every time we speak with them, every time we receive a WhatsApp or an email. All the time, every message that we get is supportive, but with one ultimate objective: that’s winning and winning our way. They are in every sport and they are with passion in every sport. It’s a pleasure to work for these people that really get it. I think that’s really important for us in our daily motivation.
VV: Going back to the earlier question around ownership, all of these initiatives and ideas about how we move the club forward are completely supported by Stan and Josh and their direction is quite simple: every single penny that we generate as a football club is available for us to invest against achieving that ambition, and that is the maximum that we can ask from our owners because that is the maximum allowed through the financial fair play rule. We are feeling really confident about our ability to get there, it's not going to be easy and there will be plenty of up and downs along the way, but trust me, Raul and I feel those ups and downs as much as anyone but really believe in the direction that we are heading.
LW: So we talk about the process. The first step of that process is a top-four finish. That’s the immediate goal for the owners but how do they support that process?
RS: Constantly. They realise the challenge. One of the blessings of the Premier League is also the hardest challenge. This is a very competitive league, probably the most competitive in the world and definitely more competitive than what I’m used to. It’s an unforgiving league and you cannot make mistakes. The challenge is there. They understand that but that doesn’t mean that they excuse that. Nobody does, we don’t excuse that either. Knowing the challenge, we know that we need to do the right strategy that we were mentioning before. We need to outsmart the market, we need to make the right signings, do the right sales, the coaching staff needs to prepare the games properly like they do. It just means hard work and outsmarting the market. That’s the two, I would say, essences of success, if we want to be there. It’s a tough league, a very tough competition but that’s what makes the Premier League great. Everyone wants to watch the Premier League games because the uncertainty of the final result is in every game, and that makes it great.
VV: It makes it great, but it also makes it really stressful!
RS: Oh my god, I'm telling you!
LW: Imagine the fans!
Copyright 2020 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.