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Venkatesham and Sanllehi Speak Up

Managing director Vinai Venkatesham and head of football Raul Sanllehi have given an interview being posted in instalments on the official club website, and if you are naturally suspicious then you will dismiss it as pure PR, and of course there is an element of that involved. They have not been verbose with the supporters in their first season, an issue shared by the club’s owner and son.

Part one of the interview concentrates on the season yet incomplete, but one game from successful or not, and the involvement and vision of the owner, absent or otherwise?

Venkatesham is the man who takes the lead in the interview but at one point Sanllehi cuts in with the observation that the pair share a vision for the future of the club. It shouldn’t need to be said, but it is something of a reassurance that he makes that positive intervention. I have seen them at close quarters once and it is clear they are definitely comfortable in their relationship. Given the occasionally fractious dealings between Wenger and Gazidis that is a comfort.

The managing director was clear in the club’s vision for the future. Talk of transition from what went before to making “the club’s fans proud” and seeking success in the Premier League and Champions League. The cynics would argue Wolves owners would be sending the same message (are they?) and I get that. Whilst it was disappointing we didn’t quite make that once controversial fourth place the objective of continuous improvement sets a clear ambition for next season. You will be measured by results, gentlemen.

The subjects of the owner and financial situation are inevitably intertwined, and anybody who expected these guys to use a public forum to call for more input from Stan were always going to be disappointed. They put a really positive spin on the fact that he has has told them that every penny the club generates in revenue is available to deliver the objectives that all are agreed on. As a generalisation that is actually ok.

Oh, but if only Laura Woods had been able to delve deeper as the interviewer. Is the revenue being reduced by ‘deductions’ to fund Stan’s buying out of Alisher Usmanov? Whilst the insistence that we can only spend what we earn is roughly in line with the objectives of FFP have we considered that we are not dining at the same table as Manchester City and PSG (for now?).

Allow me to play the devil’s advocate. Manchester City and PSG will ride roughshod over FFP and accept financial penalties because they are financed by countries. We should perhaps forgive Stan for not throwing cash at The Arsenal (bear with me) because they will frankly throw the full weight of the legal profession at any attempts to preventing them from playing in and winning the big one. Stan is worth a few bob (understatement is my middle name) but the last thing he needs is for one of his sporting clubs to be denied entry into the most profitable of tournaments. He will piggy back on any success by others, maybe?

I’m looking forward to part two, because we already know that individual contracts are likely to be addressed, however fleetingly. There was a discussion developing about getting value for money from a large wage bill (a good thing Vinai said), and making important and ‘brave’ decisions about players with two years left on their contracts. This is the itch that we need to scratch badly. I’ll give these guys the benefit of any doubt because they frankly inherited a mess from the last year of Gazidis et al.

The summer will be a supreme test. We are able to spend money that we couldn’t in January due not to FFP, but Premier League financial restrictions. We do realise the benefits of the Adidas and new Emirates deals. Hopefully we have Europa League winners income and Champions League future to make us a more attractive proposition.

Have a good one, ‘holics, but moreso The Arsenal.

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