Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Arsenal board sidelined over O’Leary issue as Sanllehi influence grows

Earlier today it was reported that there is trouble brewing at the Emirates with Raul Sanllehi and Sir Chips Keswick at loggerheads over the appointment of former Gunner David O’Leary to the Arsenal board.

The Gunners record appearance holder is a regular fixture in the Directors’ Box at the Emirates, and at away games, and many connected to Arsenal feel his knowledge of the game, his experience, and understanding of the club make him an excellent candidate for a position on the board.

Arseblog News understands that a proposal to make that appointment was made to Josh Kroenke by existing board members, however, after a conversation between the owners and Head of Football Sanllehi, it was knocked back, much to the dismay of those in favour of it.

It’s understood there is a concern that the current board are being sidelined, and that key decisions are being made by Sanllehi, and the executive committee which also includes Technical Director Edu, Vinai Venkatesham, and Huss Fahmy. There is also some anxiety over the level of involvement of a number of agents linked to individuals in the new football set-up.

While Ivan Gazidis was a board member, none of those four holds a similar position, with Sanllehi and Venkatesham appointed as Head of Football and Managing Director following the former CEO’s departure for AC Milan last year.

There is certainly a need to add more youth to the current board, which includes an octogenarian and three septuagenarians, so the opposition to O’Leary’s appointment is strange. However, given the new ownership structure with KSE now in 100% control and not beholden to other shareholders, the influence of a ‘board’, such as we’re used to them, is now extremely limited.

Sanllehi’s influence at Arsenal has grown since his arrival in 2018, seeing off former Head of Recruitment Sven Mislintat to take control of football matters at the club, and the former Barcelona man was a key advocate of Unai Emery when the club was looking to replace Arsene Wenger.

His influence played a significant part in the decision to cut short the pursuit of Mikel Arteta who had been widely tipped for the job, and instead to go for the former Sevilla and PSG boss.

Arsenal continue to publicly back Emery despite a dismal run of form which sees us eight points off the top four and without a Premier League win since the 1-0 defeat of Bournemouth on October 6th.

While there’s a pressure on the head coach himself, it’s also growing on Sanllehi and his team as they preside over a run of results which make a top four finish increasingly unlikely.

Stats and data show a top four finish is already an outside chance

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Will Sanehelli make a decision and get rid of Emery? By not doing so he is undoing all his good work in the summer.
Are Arsenal prepared to lose Aubameyang and Lacazette because of inaction and stubbornness?


As a London-Irish type fan, I idolised O’Leary when I was a kid on the North Bank. He was a wonderful player, for both club & country BUT his managerial record is seriosuly iffy and I’d be much happier if he, like Henry, remained much loved memories rather than seiously compromised coaches


Obv, I know the proposal was for board member rather than coach, but stand by my no thanks response


For years and years we’ve needed some proper football knowledge on the board. One of the reasons why Wenger was able to turn the club into his little empire was because there was nobody above him with proper footballing authority who could challenge him. O’Leary perfectly fits the bill as to what we need right now in the boardroom.

Sanllehi and co have just made a huge mistake in appointing Emery. I’m sure they don’t want someone like O’Leary scrutinising their incompetence.


Totally agree


Gazidis signed Emery and Jumped ship as soon as he did

Da Boss

He’s wasn’t being brought on as a coach, it is a back office role that is being discussed and has been rejected by Sanllehi. I have no issues with Sanllehi or anyone else as long as they operate in the best interests of the club as opposed to sorting out their mates who are agents or only looking at certain players because of those connections. I don’t know of any evidence to date that says that they have done that though. Plus I hope they have the nuts to make tough decisions such as Emery. We need people there want… Read more »

Charles Charlie Charles

This is life under 100% KSE ownership. What is the board really there for now? Not that I have any great faith in the executive team and Stan Jnr, but Sir Chips and the rest are an irrelevance.


Agree. What’s the point of having a board anyway? Sounds like more bureaucracy to have to cut through.


I’m afraid every business has to have a board mate, that’s just the way it is.

Olivije Žirod

My initial thoughts when we appointed Sanllehi was that we will be very sorry for it and I still think the same. I am actually afraid what he will do with Arsenal. He is in the bed with some of the worst people in football. His role should do someone who cares for Arsenal and not someone who will jump ship in the first possible moment.


Him jumping ship might be our salvation. I’m starting to get a bad feeling about Raul. It’s so obvious that our current problems stem from a lack of real understanding and care from the man that owns the club. We need people that understand the club and how football works in this country.
To not want the longest serving player on the Board makes no sense to me. True it might just be an “old pals” thing too, but I truly fear that no one who really cares about Arsenal has any power anymore.


No one is bigger than the club, and Raul seems to think he is.


I have noticed some changes in the way Arsenal now do PR and the way they handle internal problems. There was a time when shit would go down at Arsenal and not many would have any idea what was going on and it was dealt with privately but these days we get leaked info, player issues discussed fully in public (Ramsey contract issues, Ramsey Ozil cant play together, Clubs decision to freeze Ozil, Kozza, xhaka issue, Auba and AFTV etc). We have shifted alot of players and experience in such a short time, the growing infuence of agents, marginalising Sven… Read more »

Jean Ralphio

Agree to an extent with the concern. However, no club legend no matter what they have achieved should be allowed to walk into a position.


I agree also.
No legend should be able to walk into a position.
I also agree with having someone who has shared a significant amount of their lives serving the club and having a proven record of winning and setting up the history that the club is known for, having a position and not being denied by somebody that has been at the club a tomatoe season, that has no history and record of acheivements with said club.
I would prefer they work together if anything but i dont agree with Raul on that one.

Scott P

The issue as I see it is one of corporate governance. Of course, Arsenal is solely owned by Kroenke, but in the setup of a typical publicly traded company, the board exists to safeguard the shareholders’ and other stakeholders’ interests, including decisions regarding the company’s management. In theory, they should be distinct and separate from the company’s management and executives, and have the power to oust them if they are not fulfilling their duties, not the other way around. In this context, the idea that a managing director could prevent an addition or change to the board is concerning, and… Read more »

Charles Charlie Charles

There are no other shareholders in this case, So the aim of corporate governance is different and does not necessarily require a traditional board.

Kranky Kroenke

Fish rots from the head. Here’s lookin at ya Raul.


Do you think there are financial incentives here with the agents etc… that we have no idea about and are driving decision making? Lots of things don’t seem to make sense at face value.


Errr yes! Why the hell have we signed David Luiz?


Only a month prior to his signing his agent (who is an arsenal supporter) was moaning in a media about us not spending big. We rejected him several times before. With new regime he has a club where he can send his clients and get a handsome fee. He’s friends with Raul.


Because Koscielny forced his way out and Edu used to work with the Brazilian national team? Not everything is some shady conspiracy


Yes. I used to think that Wenger had too much integrity sometimes as we would never get players who were tied with certain agents. Arsenal have been down a similar road with George Graham and his working relations with certain agents. Harry Rednap had a mad arrangement with Portsmouth where he made a % of all transfers!


Of course my dear !!

Eric Blair

Sounds like Emery is Sanllehi’s man and Raul is now pulling the strings at the club. Interesting and scary time for the club.


Get rig of both slimes. #riot like you mean it

Eric Blair

Oh, and I can’t really warm to O’Leary after all the bullshit he pulled while at Leeds.


I remember. It’s almost like O’Leary genuinely hated the Arsenal!


The majority of Arsenal fans have been screaming for years that ‘football people’ should be in charge instead of the ‘old boys club’ on the board. Now there ARE football people in charge but people are moaning about it!? Incredible. What has O’Leary actually done to merit a role on our board? I can think of other former players who would be better suited but O’Leary’s probably only been approached because he’s chums with Sir Chips. This isn’t a decision that would affect how we’re performing on the pitch nor would it affect the running of the club so I’m… Read more »


Most matches player for afc. Won as many trophies as nearly, any other former player. Two league titles and some cups. Did well at Leeds Utd. And yes he is not American and calls the game soccer…


That last sentence doesn’t mean what you think it means…

Lord Bendnter

I really don’t care. We have bigger problems


Have to say with the Kroenke’s now solidly in place I have been wondering what the point of Chips, Friar and Harris is? We def need younger blood in there and yet… are they necessary? I would question removing it totally because surely they can have some influence or at least inside knowledge if Stan or Josh really do decide to use the club as a piece of toilet paper? Sanllehi opposing though is interesting (if true). Is Sanllehi backing Emery purely because Emery was who he pushed for and backed? So if Emery fails, Sanllehi fails…in his mind at… Read more »

SLC Gooner

As pointed out, to a great extent, the board is pretty meaningless the way the club is now. Stan and Josh can pretty much do what they want.
O’Leary aside, I’m more bothered by the notion that we’re heading down the road of overly close relationships with some of the notorious big name agents.


Blogs or anyone who in the above picture are all the men in photo, ?(I know some) thanks


It would be nice to have someone other than Raul offering opinions on football related matters… not that the ownership would need to listen, but still.
O’Leary represents a link to the history, the pedigree, and the support of the club, something that KSE and company seem to be less interested in, unless its a tagline in a statement released to placate angry supporters after a lack of attention by ownership/executives.

Ben McBride

Please not O’Leary with his BS. I remember him saying Arsene just got lucky to inherit George’s defence( as we know invincibles all Arsene choices) Tony Cascarino called him “the most insincere man in football ” . Up he pops when we have a problem, playing the politics. He was cringeworthy with his games against us at Leeds with his “babies” ( Bowyer, Smith etc) He is on manoeuvres again. Avoid!


Most professional sports teams/clubs are poorly run. That’s just the state of market across Europe and the US. Paradoxically, the quality of the owner’s ability to hire and empower great management has never been more important, mostly because the ability to use “advanced analytics” to inform decision making is growing by leaps and bounds. And here I don’t just mean things like xG but Everything from all of the player movement data (like the best NBA teams use) to the best econometric analyses (like is your sport a weak link or strong link sport — football is a weak link… Read more »


Not a good sign. Sanlehi IMO has too much influence now. Last season I felt Mslintat flattered to deceive and there was a rift between Sanlehi Mslintat. Unai played a wise game let Mslintat have enough rope to hang himself. The German did not fully resolve many issues in market and Sanlehi replaced him. Then last summer, we saw some better gumption from Sanlehi in market than the German’s lazy fall on his old black book buy ex-Dortmund approach. Mslintat is a scout. the real genius behind Dortmund is Zorg. BUT Sanlehi isn’t a Director of Football either. At Barca… Read more »


People who love the club being kept out by people who love money.


funny how Sanllehi’s arrival coincided with a marked decline in of Arsenal’s fortune. I’m sure it’s nothing more than a coincidence.

The Spoon

I quite like o leary. I know he was a bell end at Leeds, but if I managed another club, my loyalty would be there too, they pay your wages. I’d love to see him and Tony Adams get a look in at some level. We’ve got numerous ambassadors but no one at a decent level with a say. Both football men, both club legends. Not as though we’d be appointing jermaine pennant or David Bentley to the board. What we should have is some fan say on the board, maybe o leary would give us that in a back… Read more »


I look at that picture and wonder how it got to this? Those days and nights at Highbury seem a long, long time ago.

Cultured determination

1) to prove that he doesnt need o leary, raul will beed to sack unai immediately. He’d have like millions cheering and supporting for him then. Come on raul! You can do it!

2) average age of the board is shocking, but blogs, please refrain from using big words like octogenarian and septuagenarian. Uf not for my excellent knowledge of the octopus having 8 legs, i wouldnt have guessed 80s.. you are killing our data if we google.

3) maybe the board just wants someone in there who can take over as interim manager


It seems to me that Raul doesn’t want to accept he made a mistake by appointing Emery, Else Emery should have been gone by now. I hope its his football knowledge and not his ego at play here.


I do wonder if things like this was the reason Arsene was not very forthcoming with changing the way he worked to accomodate the “modern” set up.

That said, would we be looking at O’Leary if Arsene was still here?


Can’t agree on O’Leary?
Bring in Ian Wright. Problem solved.


He’s also younger, and gis passion for Arsenal is plainly evident!


This aged extremely well haha. Well done blogs, as always.

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