Football

Wenger gets support from majority shareholder Kroenke

Arsenal's long-serving manager Arsene Wenger yesterday received the unequivocal support of majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, who declared he is doing a "great job".

But that did not stop other shareholders from criticising the club's board during Arsenal's annual general meeting at the north London club's Emirates Stadium home ground.

They voted against resolutions to re-elect chairman Chips Keswick and Josh Kroenke - Stan's son - to the Gunners' board.

The votes at the AGM, however, did not succeed given Stan Kroenke had already used his 67 per cent stake to back the re-appointment of the duo.

Some 200 shareholders turned up in person - meaning plenty were left standing at the start of the AGM as not enough chairs had been provided - to hear from Wenger, Keswick and chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

Wenger came under unprecedented pressure last season as Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League and many fans voiced their desire for him to leave after 21 years in the job.

However, the 68-year-old Frenchman ended up signing a new two-year contract after Arsenal beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final, with the uncertainty over his future given as one reason for a dramatic mid-season slump in the club's Premier League form.

Arsenal have not been crowned champions of England since 2004 and Wenger, observing yesterday's AGM votes, said: "I dedicate 99 per cent of my lifetime trying to make you happy.

"Looking at today, that is not easy. My determination is as strong as ever."

Earlier, Keswick defended a payment of £2.6 million (S$4.7 million) to Gazidis despite Arsenal's failure to reach the Champions League after finishing fifth in last season's Premier League.

The payment included a bonus of £919,000 but Keswick, addressing shareholders at the AGM, said: "Ivan is doing a fantastic and first-class job leading the development of this club across every aspect of its operations." - AFP

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