That is not a misquote. Those are the words of Arsenal chief commercial officer Tom Fox who feels that the brand is more important than the team.
Fox was interviewed about Arsenal’s new shirt sponsorship deal with the Emirates and his comments are sure to infuriate Arsenal fans, especially with the team anguishing in 10th spot in the Premier League, after being beaten 2-0 at home by Swansea last weekend, and were booed off by their increasingly angry supporters.
Here is what FOx had to say:
“Arsenal Football Club is not only about winning.
“We have a large and engaged fan-base around the world who want to feel as if they belong to the club, and want to feel proud to belong to the club. That’s my primary business.”
Fox went on to claim that the supporters take pride in the club finding and developing young talent as well as the building of the Emirates Stadium.
“Obviously nothing instills pride in our fan-base more than winning, but there’s many things we do that make our fans feel proud.
“Developing young talent and finding those players in the marketplace make our fans feel proud.
“Whether it’s Serge Gnabry, who is a 17-year-old player in our reserve squad, whether it’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whether it’s Theo Walcott, we look at these young players and have faith in our manager to develop them as the players for the future.
“And the fans come to a stadium that the club built really at a time 10 years ago when the board decided to build that stadium.
“Everything was going our way, it was Manchester United and Arsenal.
“But we made a very bold decision and we built that stadium on time and on budget — that makes our fans very proud.
“When they see that we can attract — even though we haven’t won a trophy in seven years — one of the top global brands in the world for the type of money and financial commitment they’re making, that makes our fans feel proud.
“So our brand is defined by more than winning.
“Football can be a fairly mercenary commercial environment.
“Football clubs go into the market and they really do business with whoever wants to pay them the most money.
“By the time this current shirt deal expires with Emirates, they would have been on our shirt for 13 years.
“That says a lot about how we run the football club and what’s important to us as a football club.
“So it’s not just about finding the best commercial opportunity. “
The irony I find in Fox’s comments is that Arsenal’s commercial revenues, which is his responsibility, have been really disappointing compared to the other top teams in Europe. Maybe Fox should spend more of his time increasing Arsenal’s commercial revenues instead of talking about football, which he obviously knows nothing about.