Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What Gazidis doesn't say about RVP's contract talks -Arteta's pay deal explained

Morning Gooners.

The main news today centres around an interview CEO Ivan Gazidis has given the official website ahead of his  Q&A tonight at Ashburton Grove with members of the Arsenal Supporters Trust, Arsenal Independent Supporters Association and Arsenal shareholders.

It covers a range of subjects including last season, commercial activities and working with Stan Kroenke, how having automatic qualification for the Champions League helps our summer preparations for next season and our ambitions for it, a tribute to Pat Rice and what his successors in Steve Bould and Neil Banfield will bring to the first team and of course the future of Robin van Persie.

That is probably the biggest topic of conversation at the moment. Will Robin sign a new deal, will he stay and not sign a new deal or will the club sell him.

On this subject Gazidis said:
"Robin sat down with us at the end of the season and we had a good discussion. What we agreed at that meeting was that we would keep all the discussions we had over the summer to ourselves and make announcements when it is the right time. We have to respect the fact we have agreed to keep that among ourselves. Robin is clearly focused on the Euros at the moment and we wish him well, and at the right time we will make the right announcements. But at the moment we are not saying anything."
Quite clearly there is nothing good to announce at the moment or the club would have done it by now. Why hold off from announcing good news? Quite clearly putting Robin van Persie on a lockdown about talking about his future is a clear indication that the club feels he'll say something they won't be happy with and if my information about what happened during the contract negotiations are correct, Ivan and Arsene Wenger didn't like what they were hearing from our captain.

Ivan's "good discussion" doesn't have to mean that all parties were in agreement or that there was any progress in getting Robin to sign an contract extension. Making "announcements when it is the right time" says to me that we're no where near reaching a deal with Robin, even after two meetings with his agent.

In someways I think the club would prefer to allow Robin to see out the final year of his contact on his present salary and then decide how best to proceed. It's highly unlikely he's going to have a season like the one he's just had, scoring so many goals and remaining uninjured for the whole of the campaign. But if the club do proceed like that then it will send out completely the wrong message both to other players and to the fans.

We've signed just one player - Lucas Podolski. Only Manuel Almunia has left the club after his contact expired. And we're just a couple of days away from the European Championships, which means we're unlikely to sign any players taking part in them. The CEO has said we won't be signing lots of players but those we do will add something to the squad. However what's clear to me is that yet again it's going to be a long summer.

Don't discount us doing deals on August 31. It's quite clear to me that what Ivan says now doesn't mean a lot. He's a fantastic politician - says a lot without telling you anything. One quote from him from last summer's Q&A always reminds me of this:
"We plan in a very sophisticated way how we sign players."
Then we go on a last minute dash to sign five players in three day. That doesn't sound a very sophisticated way of doing things to me.

And remember he told us last summer that his job as CEO was "not a normal CEO job" and that he has an "emotional investment" in the team. So much so that when Arsenal were playing AC Milan in their biggest European match of the season at the San Siro he was no where to be seen.

I think that Gazidis still has a lot to do to answer his critics. His watch along with that of Stan Kronke's isn't going down too well in the history books so far. He says he's "doing everything in our power to make sure that Arsenal can challenge for trophies next year". Let's hope that proves to be the case because so far we've had a lot of talk and not enough action.

While I'm yet to be convinced by the CEO's actions, I have to congratulate him on having the balls to face up to Arsenal supporters tonight. I don't think any other football executive at a top four Premier League club does this sort of thing so fair play to him. It's a shame that the club have asked for all questions to be pre-submitted but I'm told there should be time for questions from the floor.

All in all it should be a good night. I'll be tweeting live from the Grove you can follow it via a special live blog or by following me on Twitter. I'll be using the hashtag #GazidisQA. Join me from around 19:25BST.



Elsewhere, the BBC are reporting Mikel Arteta's representatives are due to sit down with the club to review his contact. As I understand the situation, this review is because the club verbally agreed with Mikel to talk about his deal at the end of his first season because he agreed to take a pay cut when he signed from Everton last summer on transfer deadline day.

The club didn't call the meeting at the end of the season so the Spaniard's people organised it.

It could mean that Arteta gets a pay rise to what he was on at the Merseyside club. Or it could mean he stays on what he's on. But I think the club will probably increase his salary to reward him for an excellent season.

That's it for this morning. Have a great day.

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