Arsenal Chief Executive Officer Ivan Gazidis said owner Stan Kroenke won’t panic after the London soccer club’s worst start in 58 years. He said coach Arsene Wenger’s job isn’t at risk.
The Gunners have four points from their first five Premier League games, and are one point above the relegation zone. They lost 8-2 at Manchester United on Aug. 28 and last weekend went down 4-3 at Blackburn, giving Rovers their first win this season.
Kroenke, who owns the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams and the National Basketball Association’s Denver Nuggets, isn’t considering firing Wenger, Gazidis said.
“He’s got a lot of experience in sports as an owner and he understands that you need not to get into a panic mode, because if you do that you damage the club,” Gazidis said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “On-field success is important to him, but he’s also not somebody who is a knee-jerk person who will make changes that damage our progress and he’s very supportive of Arsene.”
Gazidis said he understood supporters’ frustration after the team’s poor start, and said new signings including defenders Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos would need time to adjust.
The former Major League Soccer official said it was too early in the season to write off the club’s chances, adding that some supporters wrongly predicted Arsenal would fall behind Aston Villa and Everton four years ago when he joined as CEO.
The last trophy won by the Gunners was the F.A. Cup in 2005. The 13-time English league winner is in the Champions League group stage for the 14th straight season.
The club has cash to spend in the forthcoming transfer windows to buy new players if Wenger and the board agree that the team needs to be strengthened, Gazidis said.
Several of the club’s big sponsorship deals expire in 2014. While those agreements now trail those signed by Manchester United and Manchester City, Gazidis said, they helped fund the Emirates Stadium, a 60,000-seat facility that opened in 2006. It replaced a 38,000-seat stadium at Highbury in north London.
“We did commercial deals that allowed us to get the stadium built, and those partnerships are very strong,” Gazidis said. “Did that mean that our commercial side of revenue would be behind for a few years? Yes, it did but the revenue was delivered in another way, through the stadium.”