Gazidis ends doubts over coach’s future and reveals £150m kit deal with Puma
ARSENAL chief executive Ivan Gazidis has sought to end speculation over Arsene Wenger’s future by declaring that the long-serving manager has agreed a new contract.
Wenger, 64, is yet to sign a deal just months before his current £7.5m agreement expires in the summer, leading to uncertainty surrounding the club’s challenge for the Premier League title.
But Gazidis, who yesterday confirmed a bumper new kit arrangement with sportswear firm Puma, insisted the Frenchman had pledged to stay – and likely see in a 20th season in charge.
“We have always supported Arsene,” said Gazidis. “The board has always been completely behind him, as has [majority shareholder] Stan Kroenke, and Arsene has always been committed to this football club, so we are comfortable with the position, we are relaxed about it.
“Arsene will be extending with us, and at the right time we will make that announcement.”
Wenger, the longest serving manager in England by 10 years having taken charge in September 1996, is expected to commit for a further two years on similar terms.
The announcement could help to attract signings during the final week of the transfer window, which closes on Friday at 11pm, with the Gunners thought keen on Schalke’s Julian Draxler.
Arsenal’s new five-year kit deal with Puma, meanwhile, starts next term and is believed to be worth £30m per season – a vast increase on the current contract with Nike, which brings in just under £8m a year. Only Spanish giants Real Madrid, who boast the highest revenue of any club, earn more per season from their kit manufacturer, having struck a £31m deal with Adidas.
Chelsea’s contract, also with Adidas, is thought to be worthy up to £30m a year, although Arsenal’s is understood to contain performance related clauses that make it worth even more.
Champions Manchester United, who have led the way in maximising commercial revenue, earn £25m per year from Nike but remain in protracted negotiations over a new deal that will, eventually, almost certainly dwarf all competitors.
Arsenal’s deal with Puma is further evidence of a new-found financial muscle, following a £150m shirt, training kit and stadium package renewal with airline Emirates, announced in 2012 but set to take effect from this summer, and the £42m club record signing of Mesut Ozil in September.