Wenger pleads with Gunners shareholders to avoid fear and keep faith
Arsene Wenger delivered an impassioned plea for unity at Arsenal's general meeting yesterday, warning shareholders that the club would not survive at the top of English football if their "fear and discontent" manifested itself in division.
"It is time to realise that, yes, times are more difficult," Wenger said, "but, yes, we can still be successful under one condition -- that we all stand behind the team and are united.
"I can see a lot of fear and discontent among you and I can understand that because we live in a world where we fight with people who have extremely high resources.
"The way we can compete is to try to be intelligent. It is difficult enough if you are united. If you are not united, you have no chance. If I would like to achieve just one thing today it is to say, 'trust us'."
Wenger also defended the rise in ticket prices, saying that the 6.5pc increase was a way of competing.
"I know that in the modern world the ticket pricing is a problem," Wenger said. "I can understand that you feel punished. It is just a decision that gives us a chance to keep our players and unfortunately it is the real situation we face."
Despite losing Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy during the summer, Wenger also expressed his confidence in keeping Robin van Persie.
Stan Kroenke had earlier delivered his first address to shareholders since becoming the club's majority owner. He praised the "wonderful" Wenger and told the 280 shareholders in attendance that he was in it for the long term. "You had better get used to seeing us," Kroenke said.
However, there was discontent among some shareholders that they could only direct their questions at Peter Hill-Wood, the Arsenal chairman, rather than Kroenke or Wenger. In previous years, Wenger has directly answered questions.
Kroenke did, however, intervene to offer his support for Hill-Wood when a shareholder urged the chairman to stand down in place of former vice-chairman David Dein.
"Peter has our support and we're with you, we are fans too," Kroenke said. Hill-Wood (75) has been the Arsenal chairman since 1982 and, before him, both his father and grandfather also held the position. (© Daily Telegraph, London)