Arsenal have confirmed the leaked story yesterday, that Ivan Gazidis is indeed leaving the club to take over as CEO of AC Milan.
The Gunners’ have moved quickly to instate a structural change that will cover any aperture that is left by Gazidis departing the board.
So who will be taking up the reins now that Ivan is flying the nest to take up another challenge?
One of the very men he recruited has now been promoted to the role of ‘Head of Football.’ Raul Sanllehi is very well respected in the world of football and is known to be very proactive in terms of reaching targets, so a move upwards to oversee more responsibility is a move that makes sense.
Gazidis will be in place until October, and when he does go, another man will climb a few rungs on the Arsenal ladder. Our current Chief Commercial Officer, Vinai Venkatesham, will become Managing Director.
The Kroenke move to purchase all shares and have absolute ownership of Arsenal is still not complete, and this is perhaps why Josh Kroenke, everybody’s tip to replace Gazidis, did not take the post, but this two-pronged position with Venkatesham and Sanllehi is a positive one.
Gazidis, despite his PR-friendly words, was found wanting when it came to pushing us toward the next level, or even keeping us at the level we were at when he joined. Our commercial deals are a mixed bag - dependant on standpoint - and now that all the chess pieces were in place that Gazidis had wanted, Ivan has shown he lacks the fortitude to oversee the final step.
Now we have Sanllehi and Venkatesham, we have two men who are well versed not only in business, but in football. Sanllehi was schooled at FC Barcelona,. and Venkatesham has won awards for his sporting business acumen. He has also been at Arsenal since 2010, which will help.
The uncertainty in the shadow of so many recent moves in backroom and coaching is not desired, but it could have been far worse. Josh Kroenke could have filled in - or Gazidis could have stayed. Now we can see him for what he is, it’s definitely a welcome departure.
We can now move on and concentrate on the future, with the right men in the right positions to maximise any opportunities that may come our way. Get the actions on the pitch right, and the men behind the scenes take care of the rest.