Thursday, September 28, 2023

Supporters’ Club Q & A with Unai Emery and Ivan Gazidis

Ivan Gazidis held the annual Supporters’ Club event in the Royal Oak suite of the Emirates Stadium Club Level facility. Tim Stillman was there to capture the evening for Arseblog News.

Ivan Gazidis trots to the stage and thanks supporters for coming out- particularly whilst we are still embroiled in the thick of the World Cup. The event is billed as ‘Ivan Gazidis + Special Guest’ and the guest is pretty special indeed. New manager Unai Emery is welcomed onto the stage resplendent in cherry red Arsenal polo shirt.

Compere Nigel Mitchell advises that Emery’s English is still not totally fluent, but from the audience, his diction seems a little clearer than his opening press conference back in May, in which the new boss showed extraordinary courage to conduct proceedings in a foreign tongue. Huss Fahmy, Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi were all in the audience for the evening. Emery fielded questions from Nigel Mitchell, after which Ivan fielded a few unvetted questions from the floor.

Unai: I can speak in English, not brilliantly yet, but I can speak with the players and with you, all the fans here tonight, in English and I will improve quickly [loud applause].

At this point, a short piece of VT was played that Unai was shown by various members of Arsenal staff during Wednesday afternoon when he met with them.

Ivan: We have entered a period of very dynamic change at the football club and all of those things have been happening for the last couple of months. But of course, the biggest transformation and the biggest challenge is on the football side, where we are making a lot of significant changes. We have said goodbye to some people who are really good people, who have made a huge contribution to this football club, in which we of course include Arsene but many others as well, who we have enormous gratitude and respect for and on whose shoulders we now stand.

But now we have the challenge of integrating an awful lot of new ideas and new people and new energy. I think everyone in this room can feel the new energy with the reception you gave Unai. But we have the same ambitions inside the football club and I assure you you have a football staff and an organisation that is going to take on this challenge and work tirelessly to deliver the success we all want for Arsenal.

Unai: Good evening everybody, I am very happy to be with you this evening.

[From the audience]: Buenos dias

Ivan: That’s Maria, you will get to know her very quickly!

Unai: I feel very good to be here and all of the people in the club have made me very welcome and so have you tonight. For me, it is a new possibility to work here and in this great, great stadium. If we have this ambience here, that we have tonight, it’s a small crowd, but if we can match that ambience in the stadium at the games then we can achieve a lot.

Ivan: We have brought in a new head of recruitment in Sven Mislintat [‘here Ivan!’ a slightly teutonic sounding voice calls from the audience] and alongside him is Huss Fahmy who has been involved with negotiating a lot of our player contracts and also we have Raul Sanllehi who joins us from Barcelona [Raul is stationed on the balcony above the audience].

So we really have a collective effort now, in terms of how we identify players and then how we take forward our interest and of course Unai is a huge part of that as well. This is now a different way of doing things, one with a very, very accomplished team of professionals who we have spent time bedding into the club.

Unai has been in the thick of that process in terms of what we need in the squad, we’ve signed two new players so far this summer and there will be more to come. At the same time we have to manage the squad that we have, but by the first game of the season, we hope that Unai has a squad that he has had time to work with and a balanced squad that addresses all of the needs that Unai has identified.

As I said, this is a challenge, but what I really hope for all of us as a club is for a feeling of unity and an uplifting atmosphere is something that we keep because anything that we achieve going forward will be done together. It’s so important for us to come together, to move forward together and accept there are going to be challenges and setbacks along the way, but if we stick together we can have a season that gives cause for excitement as our club progresses.

One of the interesting things about speaking with Unai in recent weeks is that he continually emphasises that he wants to understand the club and he wants to understand our values. We spent an hour earlier today just talking about values and what Arsenal represents. One of the long standing traditions at the club is in developing players and that’s one of the things Unai has done throughout his career.

We spent a lot of time behind the scenes over the last few years developing our academy, our academy at Hale End is unrecognisable from how it was a few years ago. We’ve got new leadership in the academy now with Per Mertesacker and Freddie Ljungberg managing the U-23s. So there is tremendous energy, not just in this room and with Unai, but right across the club.

Nigel Mitchell: Unai, what a way to kick off for you. Day number one, Manchester City at home. Welcome to the Premier League!

Unai: It’s a nice way for me to start, the first match is a very big match and it’s my first match with you [referring to the fans]. I think it helps us to start with a good energy and for us to start together like this and then we will work and work and work because I only promise you one thing, that we are going to work hard.

After that, we play against a very good team and I hope we have a good result together and our capacity for playing together as a team gives us a good chance to win. I want for this day for us to start in a really positive way.

Ivan: I’m excited about it, let’s go against the best. Of course it won’t be fully fledged Arsenal on day one, but we will be ready for that match. We will have a good pre-season, Unai is at Colney tomorrow putting those plans in place.

Unai: I want ambition from this team, I want them to be ambitious in every match. I want for 90 minutes in every match for them to be in the game and to be working hard. I want that every day, this is my ambition.

Nigel Mitchell: On your first day here, you said you would prefer to win 5-4 than 1-0. Now, quite a lot of us in the audience, we like 1-0! (Laughter).

Unai: First, we need to change the history! (Laughter). I said I prefer to win 5-4 than 1-0 because football is about emotion and what is the best feeling in football? When you score. So I want my team to score.

Ivan: So you prefer 5-0 to 5-4? (Laughter)

Unai: Yes! For me I want the supporters to feel every minute in the stadium, I want them to enjoy.

Nigel Mitchell: Ok, so we’ll change the song. [To the audience], no more ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’, we won’t sing that anymore.

How important are these fans to what you want to achieve?

Unai: For me it’s like a table, a table needs four legs. One leg is the organisation, two is the players, the third is the media- we all need to see the whole picture and how we communicate and the fourth is you- the supporters. And it’s very important that the four legs make a big, strong club together. If one leg doesn’t work, there is no table.

Nigel Mitchell: What is your view on the World Cup so far?

Unai: Today is a surprise with Germany going out. But for me, England is an interesting side, England didn’t have a good tournament in the last World Cup and the last Euros, but this World Cup I have watched their two matches and I have seen a change in them. They will play teams that are more difficult, but I liked what I saw in their matches.

At this point, Unai departs and questions are taken from the floor for Ivan.

Q: Ivan can you just clarify the player recruitment structure, who makes the final decision when you recruit players?

IG: We have two technical experts involved in the process and many more behind them helping them. The two technical experts would be Sven Mislintat, the Head of Recruitment and Raul Sanllehi, who works on the negotiation side and then Unai himself, who has a big say. I don’t believe in bringing a player in that the coach does not want individually and also positionally.

I am involved, in the connection between the financial side of the club and in certain player negotiations. That collective works very well, we all operate in a different way. There is an agreement between Sven and Unai and then the rest of the work is more technical, legal and financial side is done by Raul, Huss and myself. Ultimately those decisions culminate in my recommendation to the board for its approval.

I felt that when we decided to make the change on the football side, that we needed to come up with a new structure and one that involve world class people that would challenge each other and have that robust debate, but then get behind each other and the decisions that are made and execute them as well as we can. Everyone in this team has enormous experience.

This club deserves and needs the best in the world, we need to be the best in the world off the field in order to compete on it. One of the great things about that process has been finding out just how attractive this club is to people and we shouldn’t forget that. Everyone we approached immediately wanted to come here.

We should be proud of that. It’s easy to forget when you love a club the things that we do so incredibly well and our reputation is so good and I believe to the core of my being that we should be proud of that. That doesn’t mean that we’re perfect, but it does mean is that we have a great reputation.

Q: Last year I asked about the matchday experience at the Emirates, which was bad last year when you look at the vast empty spaces. I wondered if the Arsenal were going to do anything in terms of incentivising people that turn up at matches. Borussia Dortmund recently announced measures to suspend season tickets of people that don’t turn up for seven games or more. We need an atmosphere to support Unai and to do that, we need everyone turning up, what are Arsenal going to do to help that?

IG: There are a number of aspects to the answer to that question. The most important thing, is are we giving our fans something they are proud of, excited by and engaged with on the pitch. That’s the quickest way of creating a vibrant atmosphere in the stadium. If we don’t do that, the rest is just window dressing.

In terms of matchday credits, it’s an ongoing discussion and there are lots of challenges in implementing that. It’s on my radar, I get asked about it with pretty much every fans forum I do. It might sound like I am kicking it into the long grass, but I am not. It is something I think about and it may be something we are able to do in the future.

The other thing, which is very topical is safe standing. We’ve had a government debate on safe standing and it’s a debate which has moved forward in a way that has surprised many people. A few years ago there was no appetite to even look at this. The Premier League have begun to review this over the last couple of years and beginning to develop the ideas behind it.

Now I feel this is a time where we’re beginning to get some traction with government. So this might be an area where we can do something, I don’t think it will happen as quickly as people want, but my own view is that if our own fans want it, if it is safe, not just in the limited sense that it’s safe for those standing but that we’re keeping a good dynamic and keeping the good, diverse, positive aspects of the atmosphere in the stadium and not bringing back some of the more divisive aspects of the culture we had in the past, certainly when I went to football as a kid.

I don’t think it will do that either. If we can get through those types of questions, then I would be disposed to it. One of the things that will come through in the next phase of the debate is that people will be informed about what safe standing does do and what it doesn’t do. A lot of people think standing in stadiums is a return to the 1980s, I don’t think that.

I have spoken to people and some people in government who say, ‘well, if you have one part of the stadium standing, then we have to absolutely mandate that everyone else sit down.’ That is not really what safe standing is about, we’re not going to be able to achieve every other person sitting in the stadium at all times, it’s not realistic. So there are quite complicated, nuanced things we have to work on but I want everyone to understand what we are doing and what we’re not doing and understand the full implications. This is not only an issue for Arsenal, it is an issue for the whole game.

Q: I had an experience in Orlando last year safe standing. It was shortly after the shooting in the gay nightclub and there was a memorial for the victims right in the middle of the safe standing area. I had a perfect view of the pitch and the atmosphere was great, but it was inclusive and I thought ‘someone finally gets what inclusion means’ and I would be so proud to see that at Arsenal.

IG: I applaud with everyone else, because you are absolutely right, diversity and inclusion is absolutely fundamental in any football club, any organisation and there is so much that we have done in this area and we are leaders in this area right across the world of football. Last week I was at a forum in Brussels talking on this issue and I was invited because of the work Arsenal has done in diversity and inclusion.

We’ve done quite a lot in the stadium in recent years with regards to our disability access, I think we were probably one of the best in the world for that anyway, stadium wise. I want this club to be a club that continues to allow our fans of whatever gender, sexuality, religion, ethnic background, level of ability, to be able to participate in this game that we all love.

But also to participate in the way that they want to participate and that’s our challenge. We’re not perfect yet, but I know we can do it. There are ways we can work together so that each one of you feel like this club cares about you and provides you with the experience of the game in the way that you want it, that’s my aim.

Q: The U-18s play here, great. The U-23s play here, great. When are we going to see the women play here?

IG: We have seen it and we will see it. We have invested a lot of money in our women’s team over recent years, the women’s programme is now fully professional run by fully professional staff. They have their own facility at London Colney, which we refurbished for them and we have relayed the pitch at Boreham Wood.

I was talking with Alex Scott this morning and we were talking about how far the women’s game has come in recent years. I’m very proud of what we do with our women’s team, we had the biggest ever crowd at the Women’s FA Cup Final this year and we will have games here in the stadium, I promise you.

The reason I got into that conversation with Alex Scott, who is a great ambassador for this club and loves this club, because I sent her a message to say how proud I was of her. She is knocking spots off other pundits and commentators with her research, her intelligence, her enthusiasm. It’s not easy to be one of the first women through the door, demands placed on women that work in this environment are really quite extreme.

They are not only expected to be outstanding at their job, but they are expected to be a quasi-public figure. They go through all of the prejudices and take all of the comments and that is an awful lot to take on. So to see women like Alex going into that environment and doing it so well is such an inspiring sight.

One of the things we have to think about is not just how we introduce gender equality, but equality all across the board. If you could see the staff at the club, you would see that but you also see that on the playing side. We, along with other clubs, have a way to go there but we are very actively working in this area. What I want to move towards is a time where this is all so normal that it’s not even commented on.

Q: First of all, we’re all dying to know, what do you think of Tottenham, Ivan?

IG: There’s no good answer to this for me!

Q: Many of us fans feel quite attached to David Dein (he left eleven years ago ffs), do you feel under pressure with that legacy and do you aspire to that?

IG: I’ve known David for 20 years and I know him very well. I have massive respect for the people on whose shoulders we are standing. Football is very fast moving, it’s a very competitive landscape and it’s a very different world to the one that existed twenty years ago. It’s global now. Finding talent, coaching talent, developing talent, it has all changed beyond all recognition.

What that means is the old models of one individual are no longer sufficient. So if I think about myself, my job here, my objective is to deliver pride to the club and my belief is that the way I do that is by bringing in world class people and giving them the support they need to do their jobs. All of us together, it’s not a single entity.

The thing I am accused of a lot is not feeling this club, not caring in the way that you, the fans, do. That’s not the case, I live this football club. I will stand toe to toe with anybody and talk about my love for this football club and what it means to me and how much I put into it. If that’s not enough, then look, one day I will be gone, all of this is temporary.

But I care about it, I give everything I have every single day and I demand that of the people that work with this football club. Anybody that is at this club is in a privileged position and anybody that doesn’t feel that does not deserve to be part of this football club. I can’t guarantee we will win everything, but what I can guarantee you, if we embark on this journey together and stick together, we can achieve great things.

Let me tell you what I can guarantee you, anyone that does not put every ounce of their being, of their expertise into this club does not belong here. They wouldn’t get in the door and none of them feel like that when they walk through the doors and leave at the end of the day.

Related articles


Notify of

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mayor McCheese

I love you, Ivan!

Mayor McCheese

I’m serious, btw.


I like him a lot too. I never understood the hate he got from some supporters.

Wreh's FA Cup dream

I think it’s because he’s so polished and you either respect or suspect that. Either way, he’s undoubtedly a great PR speaker.

Rectum Spectrum

He’s Polish?


I haven’t been a fan of Gazidis as I couldn’t understand how he didn’t do this under Wenger, who needed at least a ‘David Dein’ to help and challenge him. Gazidis himself wasn’t the man it seems.

Why only do it now, he’s had 9 years to do it? Wenger did well without this support and probably could have been far better with it.

If the club is now transformed that’s great, but why not before?

Cliff Bastin

Maybe Wenger didn’t want it.

Faisal Narrage

Next time you have these thoughts, remember Wenger’s comments on “what is a director of football?”

Wenger didn’t want Ivan’s influence. He had things his own way and wanted to keep it as such.

Mayor McCheese

This piece in The Guardian (May 22) is insightful regarding Gazidis’ power struggle with Wenger (and I normally find David Hytner grating):


Gazidis was Wengers boss. At a minimum he could have pointed to Dein and the success Wenger had with him and said that he wanted someone in the same role. And insist in the end, as CEO.

Asphalt Jungle

Dein hired Wenger. Wenger helped pick Gazidis as CEO. he was only technically his boss, but not a real boss that could say you’re fired. If we kept muddling along with champions league places and not really challenging for the title, Wenger would still be here. His resignation was only impressed upon him because of consecutive seasons outside the CL places and getting worse.


Warming up to this ‘ Arsenal Fan ‘ Ivan Gazidis , more and more by the minute.


Appreciate the reporting Tim.
Impressed with Emery’s hurdling the language barrier.



I’ve always liked Ivan Gazidis, he’s been caught between a rock and a hard place… he’s a CEO who’s been outranked by the manager, and an owner who only cares only about milking the club dry. Really looking forward to the start of the season, and hope Emery is given a yrs grace to get his ideas across, providing he holds the support of the dressing room. I think we’ll get a big season from Rambo, Bellerin, Kolasniac, Xhaka, Welbeck, Mkhitaryan, Niles, Aubameyang. Also hoping we conclude the deal for Torreira, looks like he could bring a real energy to… Read more »


Really hope you are right about Welbeck. Only has a year left on his contract and there hasn’t been a peep about a new one. Seems like a good squad player + person to have in the dressing room


I think he’s the type of player who’ll do really well under Emery’s pressing system, I always think we look a lot more solid when Welbeck plays

Lord Bendnter

I love how we are all getting excited about all the stuff that’s going around at the club, the signings, the backroom changes, the excitement of a new chapter.

There’s nothing wrong with it of course. It’s part of what makes us football fans. Anyways, my point is, I’m loving it


As much fun as the World Cup can be … I JUST WANT MY ARSENAL, NOW!
I can’t remember the last time that I’ve been so re-energised and pumped for a new season to start.


Why didn’t somebody ask: “Ivan, after being undermined and humiliated for years by Arsene Wenger, how much did you enjoy watching that cunt clear out his office and fuck off?”


Get out of here man seriously bring your hatred towards the man elsewhere. We’re starting a new era here. Leave the old man alone he did more to this club than you ever will. Go hide behind your profile pic. We dont need trolls like u as fans.


I don’t necessarily agree with fatgooner. But I do like to read different opinions,
other wise this blog would be very dull. And please stop it with this “go away” BS.
diversity is good.


This is the attitude that resulted in Brexit and Trump.

‘Diversity’ is not good if that diversity results in toxicity.

Faisal Narrage

This isn’t The Guardian and this isn’t diverse. Diversity for the sake of diversity isn’t diversity at all.

What we have here is a rude troll with little respect for people in general and lack integrity.

You can be diverse without being a knob. And the world needs less knobs like him.


I’m not about to defend the man. But what you call respect is perspective. He is free to think what he wants of people, as is everyone, especially if said people like AW are already controversial and many out there don’t like him. Also the only red-line that shouldn’t be crossed is insulting people that you share the same place with, like this blog.


Ok Red-Sky. This is what I think, since I am free to do so as you said.

Fats can f**k off.


ah have a sense of humour. everyone takes everything so seriously around here. I chuckled.


I like reading (and expressing) different opinions as well, and I believed for the last three years that AW should go. But calling him a cunt is shameful coming from an Arsenal fan.


That is a simply disgusting comment and has no place here on this posting board. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Lord Bendnter

It’s Fatgooner just being Fatgooner…
He has taken it upon himself to write controversial comments/statements for articles on this blog
All we can do is shake our heads and continue scrolling down ?


We could solve it easily by removing the thumbs down button and deny people the attention they crave.


blimey, your a real live wire


I agree.

Jimbo Jones

Fats, I rarely agree with you and on this occasion but here youve only asked a question but i wil say your presence certainly livens up the comments section.

Done let the bastards grind you down… trolls are people too

Also, I have no doubt IG felt undermined by AW and with the egos these guys have I’m sure IG took delight in giving him the boot. Just an opinion


If Fats didn’t like the thumbs down he wouldn’t come back day after day, year after year asking for them. I’d go as far as to say he loves them.


Wrong. I just don’t like hypocrisy.

The truth about Arsenal in recent years has been the power struggle between Wenger and Gazidis. Wenger had the king’s ear and so brutally ignored and circumvented Ivan. Last summer, in particular, when Gazidis was overruled over the new Wenger contract, was a particularly nasty humiliation for our so-called Chief Executive. So I’m guessing that Ivan took great pleasure in seeing Wenger flop and then finally booted out of the club by Stan.

If saying what I see makes me a troll, then I’m a troll.

Lord Bendnter

No, saying that does not make you a troll and you will be respected by all of us.

However, saying THIS makes you a troll: “Ivan, after being undermined and humiliated for years by Arsene Wenger, how much did you enjoy watching THAT CUNT clear out his office and FUCK OFF?”


Fats you saw an opportunity to call Wenger a “cunt” and you took it. You really should move on from your hatred of Arsene imo.


He was a selfish cunt in his last five years at the club. He turned us into a laughing stock and wouldn’t fuck off, even when it was obvious that his time was up. Had he not been sacked he would still be at the club, fucking things up. Just like Ivan I’m delighted he’s gone.


We won more trophies in that time than Sp*rs won in 33 years under 18 managers.

Who’s the laughing stock?

And did you not notice that success as an Arsenal fan?

Jimbo Jones

Don’t really think you’re a troll dude. Keep speaking your mind!

Sir Henry Norris's Brown Envelope

I am with fatgooner. However, Wenger has gone an we do not need to look in the rear view mirror. Voorrwarts, forza, hamba pambile, forward.
Let’s see what fatgooner has to say in the season ahead

Dark Hei

“What that means is the old models of one individual are no longer sufficient.”

I quick pop at you know who.

It seems like he really, really hates Wenger.


He should. Been blame for many things that were’t his fault.


Which is strange considering Wenger has acted as Ivan’s shield on many occasions. I just don’t think he liked to have his power questioned; and I assume Stan saw Wenger as more powerful in and around Arsenal than he did Ivan.

Faisal Narrage

It’s not a pop, it’s a fact and it’s a comment about Dein, not Wenger.

Kinda disappointed in blog this morning. Made it sound like Ivan was taking pops at Wenger but I really don’t see it (even paid huge respect to the man).

This anti-Ivan agenda needs to stop. He’s just doing his job and finally has a chance to implement exactly what he believes this club needs.

Auba ma Ying

He praises wenger every time he speaks..


Brutus praised Caesar? 🙂



Wreh's FA Cup dream

Brutus orginally sided with Pompey and the Republic against Caeser. When they lost, he was forgiven by Caeser and avoided death or exile. If he did praise him after that, then it’s most likely he feared for his life.


Say what you want, but I love Ivan since Arsene departure. It seems like he has been sitting on the shadows far too long.


Hiding, you mean. He’s done better here.


I feel for him, to be honest, because I had no real remit under Arsene. He’s got some now, and he must be feeling a bit excited about that personally.
Show us what you can do, and make the collective work.


“I had no real remit under Arsene.”

Is Russ actually Ivan?!?!?!



While his behavior in 2017 was atrocious, I feel Ivan gets too much criticism from the fans. With Arsene gone, he is opening up more now. I feel he has been at odds with Wenger since his infamous 2013 speech.
It’s been 5 years but it seems now we have the structure in place behind the scenes to really push on.

I love the fact that he highlighted our reputation and attraction. We really should be competing at the highest level every year.

D ceee

Still speaks so well. Really feel we as a fanbase should give this guy a bit more support. He really does seem to want to push the club forwards


Hey arseblog, how come you didn’t make an article about our favorite elbowy, fuzzy-haired midfielder deciding to stay at UTD. Us dodging a bullet and all ….
I mean that’s just hilarious ???


Really Excited & looking forward to new season (for once)…..bring on city!


Too many fans are so simplistic. A change of ‘regime’ and they suddenly imagine things to be better. Granted the appointment of Unai holds great promise, some of the other purchases since Mslintat has taken over have been less than convincing. The purchase of Aubemeyang tempered by the loss of Giroud (Something we should have tried to avoid) Mhkitaryan forced on us because of Alexis and his agent. Truth is we did not improve by any mark despite purchases in second half of last season. Those who will bemoan the Wenger effect on the one hand when the going gets… Read more »

Gooners & Roses

Ivan. Smooth as ever.


I think IG should coach the team….

Super Jack

Still not clear who Maria is??!!


I see blogs is being silly again, and censoring my perfectly reasonable comments, blogs, you are soo bias, this is no way to run a proper website


If you want to make a change at the top, starve him of resources. If you want the new guy to succeed, give him plenty of resources.

AW did what he could with the resources he had. Let’s see what Unai can do with his resources.

It’s a little more complicated than that, as AW seemed to refuse certain resources, and Unai will benefit from AW’s skimping.

My hope is that the common thread will be the unmistakeable Arsenal value … class!

Faisal Narrage

Yeah, they sure held back on Wenger’s resources, what with his £200m spend in 2 years, including when he bought a striker for £50m then 6 months later bought a better striker for £60m, and also deciding to let the contracts of so many of our players/assets run down to its last year (something he’s had a habit of doing post-nasri). I’m sure Ivan also forced Wenger to decide our outfield squad needed to new additions that summer when doing so could’ve given us the title, and all the other times he steadfastly refused to get a DM. It was… Read more »

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x