The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) has described the tenure of Gunners chief executive Ivan Gazidis as “nothing special.”
On Tuesday, Arsenal confirmed that Gazidis will join AC Milan, ending weeks of speculation about his future.
Gazidis spent nearly a decade as chief executive, emerging as the most powerful figure at the Emirates during the last year as he oversaw the transition to a post-Arsene Wenger era, hiring replacement coach Unai Emery.
But asked to sum up his tenure, AST spokesman Tim Payton told ESPN FC: “Nothing special.
“Arsenal’s commercial revenues have fallen relative to other clubs and Arsenal’s football standing has definitely fallen compared to other clubs.
“He’s earned £21 million — I’m not sure he’s justified it. There’s been a flutter of activity in the last 10 months, but if you look at the 10-year span there will be no tears over Gazidis leaving.”
Reports of Milan’s interest in Gazidis first emerged in July, and Payton said club owner Stan Kroenke should not have allowed the situation to remain unresolved for so long.
“It’s been handled very poorly. To have this hanging over the club for two months is poor,” he said.
Gazidis remains scheduled to attend a fan forum ahead of Sunday’s home game against Everton, at which he could offer further explanation of his reasons for leaving.
Arsenal have said they will not hire a new chief executive but will be led by head of football Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham, the former commercial chief who will become managing director.
Payton said he was optimistic that fans could have better communication with Sanllehi or Venkatesham, adding: “The dialogue with Gazidis may have taken place, but we wouldn’t say it was very effective or meaningful. We’re actually hopeful that it might get better now.
“Gazidis talked a lot but didn’t do a lot, so maybe it will get better. You’d expect that Vinai would pick up more of that, but we’ll have to wait and see who becomes the lead voice to supporters.”
The departure of Gazidis comes shortly after Kroenke completed a total takeover of the club, with minority shareholder Alisher Usmanov agreeing last month to sell his 30 percent stake to the American billionaire.
That allowed Kroenke, already the majority shareholder, to force other individual shareholders to sell their stakes — including the AST, which owned three shares.
Payton added that he had been surprised by the timing of Gazidis’ decision after hearing him address fans at a meeting in June.
“He was talking about how we are all in this together. It was the chief executive equivalent of kissing the badge,” he said. “And now he’s off.”