Arsenal’s American interest increased with the news that Ivan Gazidis, the 44-year-old deputy commissioner of Major League Soccer (MLS), will become Arsenal’s chief executive in January. He will undertake the duties left by David Dein after his departure August last year, where Ken Friar was deputising during thius time. American Stan Kroenke was accepted on the Arsenal board in September while the club have a partnership with Colorado Rapids.
Peter Hill-Wood, the Arsenal chairman, is in no doubt they have found the right man for the job.
“It was a very long and difficult search. We wanted a good person to manage the club on the business side and a man with football experience was important, Ivan certainly fills that gap for us very well,” Hill-Wood said. “He will work with Arsene Wenger on transfers. Arsene finds the players he wants to bring into the squad and Ivan will handle all the financial and technical side of player transfers. We all had lunch together a couple of weeks ago so the two of them could meet and it was important that Arsene Wenger liked him and respected his judgment.”
A former coporate lawyer, his main tasks will likely involve the business side of the club which includes marketing, transfers and finance. Gazidis was involved in negotiating Beckhams’ wages as part of the England star’s move to LA Galaxy as waged are dealt eith centrally by the governing body in MLS. Arsenal had already lost Flamini due to ongoing contract ramblings from which the Frenchman soon departed for Milan while Adebayor was subjected to public interest from the same club, subsequently signing a new contraxt to reaffirm his desire to stay at the club. Gazidis will have to jump straight into this area in January to keep players at the club or negotiate for any new transfers.
Arsenal have the third highest wage bill in the Premiership where the youngsters earn more at the club relative to their age than anywhere else in the Premiership. Other pressing concerns is managing the finances of the club and overseeing the completion of the Highbury Square property development in the face of the severe economic downturn.
“This is a vital appointment at a time when Arsenal face challenging times on and off the field,” a statement from the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust read. “The most pressing item in his in-tray is seeing through the completion of the Highbury Square property development in the face of the severe economic downturn.
“His experience of international sports marketing should help the club to grow its income stream at a time when there should clearly be no further increase in ticket prices for the hard-pressed supporter. In the week when the French Presidency of the European Union is seeking powers to control football to the detriment of Arsenal, Mr Gazidis will need to quickly build relationships in football and political corridors of power.”
His business acumen is unquestionable, building the MLS brand during his 14 year reign and it will have to once again come to the fore to further establish Arsenal as one of the most profitable and successful clubs in the world.