Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis spoke with the club’s official website after manager Arsene Wenger signed new two-year contract.

  • Gazidis talks about reasons for new contract
  • Outlines what the ambition of the club is
  • Addresses fan unrest and looks to the future

Following the announcement of Arsene Wenger’s new two year deal, Ivan Gazidis spoke to Arsenal.com about the thinking behind the new deal, what the club’s ambitions are and where they want to be in the future.

On the thinking behind giving Wenger a new two year deal…

The ambition is to put this club in a position where we are winning the Premier League, where we are competing to win in Europe and pushing forward. That is the objective that the club has, that our owner has, that the board has and that I know Arsène has.

When you look at the world of football, and you think about the great candidates that there are – and there are many great coaching candidates in the world and Arsenal is a club that all of them would want to work for because of the things we represent in football – but when you look around and make that assessment, you don’t find any better candidates than Arsène Wenger.

On why the announcement didn’t come earlier…

It is not about people, it is not about contracts, it is about Arsenal Football Club. It is a very mature conversation that involved conversations between people who have deep respect for each other and who care about the football club, and want too make the right decision to push the club forward towards its goals. That is a decision we wanted to think very deeply about: is this the right decision, both for Arsène and for the club, but above all for the club. That is the reason we have reached the decision we have, because I think on both sides there is a recommitment to the future and to moving the club forward, to evolving and to improving.

On if he knows what happens after the two years are up…

We don’t. Football is constantly evolving, constantly changing. This is a two-year deal so we are looking at at least the next two years. Again, at some point of course we will have to transition to the era beyond Arsène and that is not a sentimental connection that we have, that is a connection that is driven by what is best for the football club.

On what the next level will be for the club…

The next level is to get us from where we are, to competing deep into the season for the Premier League. If we are at that level and of that quality, then we can compete in all competitions.

Again, I would say we have discussed this very deeply, we have faced uncomfortable truths within the club, inconvenient facts, and we are looking at them squarely in the face and working out what we need to do improve and steam up from where we are to that winning level. I am convinced we have the right person to do that.

On the belief that a top four finish is considered a success by the club…

I think that’s just absolutely not true. The objective is not [just] to finish in the top four. I know people will jump to that conclusion because we’ve done that so consistently for so long, but that’s not what where we’re moving to.

I think in football, the judgements are so black and white that often, if you don’t fire your manager, then you’re seen as being unambitious. I think that’s ludicrous. You don’t fire good people, you don’t fire people who are world-class, you don’t fire people who are driven to improve.

On his message to the fans…

I would say that what we want to deliver is pride to our fans, the kind of pride that we had at Wembley Stadium this weekend. Those are magnificent moments that live in the memories and the history of the football club forever.

Again, I would say let’s put the football club above everything else. Let’s get behind this team because they deserve our fans’ support. Together, we can achieve great things. Remember, the motto of this football club is ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’, victory through harmony. We need to restore that harmony by getting behind the team to achieve success together. That’s where we have a chance.

On if the fans continue to criticise the manager and board…

We have to deliver performances to get the fans behind this team. We’re very conscious of that. It’s up to us to lead through the commitment we have on and off the pitch. We need to show that to the fans and we will.

On where we need to improve…

Football is constantly evolving and we need to be not only evolving with it, but we need to be ahead of it. We’re very conscious of that and we’re going to be very proactive again to improve both on and off the field in all areas. Today’s not the day to get into the specifics of that. I think you’ll see that commitment in the months ahead and I think you’ll see that commitment coming into next year.

On his hopes for next season…

I want this football club, Arsène wants this football club, our board and our owner want this football club to be competing to win the Premier League. And that’s my hope for next season.

On the visit to Sydney this summer…

I lived in Sydney for three months when I was a student and it’s a city that I love. It’s absolutely spectacularly beautiful. I’m delighted that we’re able to visit Sydney and I can reacquaint myself with it.

On what made this year’s FA Cup so satisfying…

You know, I’ve spoken to so many fans, many of whom have been fortunate enough to see many Arsenal FA Cup victories, as many as 10 and 11. And all of them say that this was the greatest one. I think it’s partly because of the difficult period that the club went through and the team went through, partly because we were the underdogs in the match, playing against the champions who were coming off an absolute high, having finished the season so well and having won the Premier League.

So for the team to have the leadership and the strength to pick themselves up and to come back, put in a performance like that for the fans, which really was such a strong performance against a top class team in a top class game, and to have the fans completely unified behind them, was an incredibly powerful statement about what we can do together.

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News and feature writer with a BA in Creative and Professional Writing from the University of East London. Long-time Arsenal fan also following Sevilla and local side Southend United. You can find me on Twitter @jeinchy29 talking about Arsenal and the issues affecting the English game,