END OF SEASON REPORT CARD: Arsenal's board

Well, that's that then. Another season done and the only thing we have to look forward to in the next couple of months is the fixture list for the next Premier League campaign coming out: June 17 at 10am, for those of you who are Addicted as we are.

But with nothing but endless tittle tattle about who might be coming in and who might be departing the Arsenal, we thought to ourselves, what better a time to rate each of our first team players with an end of term report card.

So feel free to post your views on each of our players as we analyse their contribution in the past season - we'll be covering keepers, defenders, midfielders, strikers, coaching staff and the board of directors and major shareholders, so I reckon we'll catch everyone over the next few days.

Today it's the turn of the club's hierarchy to be put in the spotlight:

The Board
End of season mark: B-

It hasn’t been the easiest year for the custodians of Arsenal Football Club. Dramatic shifts in power have seen our usually reclusive board of directors thrust into the media spotlight at time, but I think they’ve handled the pressure remarkably well.

Of course the board is always going to be criticised for not releasing enough money for the manager to invest in new players, but I’m firmly of the belief that the club just doesn’t have the money that the newspapers like to make out that we do.

At a recent meeting between the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust and new chief executive Ivan Gazidis we were told that there is a transfer budget in place, but that it would be commercial suicide if the club were to reveal the size of that treasure chest because any players we then targeted would only be sold to us at inflated prices. So I don’t think we’ll hear the Gunners revealing the size of Arsene Wenger’s player budget any time soon.

During the past few months, Uzbekistan-born billionaire Alisher Usmanov increased his stake in Arsenal to 25%, making him the club’s biggest individual shareholder. However, American sports mogul Stan Kroenke was subsequently sold a third of Danny Fiszman’s shares, to take his stake up to more than 28%, meaning he is now the most powerful shareholder - and he is now a full member of the board.

I’d hope that within the months to come the club will offer Usmanov a place on the board. I know that many of you will disagree with that, but Usmanov is undoubtedly a successful businessman and if he can bring any of that knowledge to help the club, I believe it would be a good thing. And for those who say that the way in which he has accumulated his wealth has not exactly been transparent, just consider this: Fiszman is a diamond dealer - that isn’t exactly a business populated by saints.

What many people do not realise about Arsenal’s directors is that they do not award themselves dividend payments from the profits that the club makes. And they haven’t awarded any dividends for a long time. Yes, the value of their shares has increased many times but the board truly are custodians and the frugal way in which they balance the books is admirable, even if it does frustrate the hell out of us fans.

Another little known fact is that Arsenal FC are the biggest property developers in North London. The development of the old stadium at Highbury is close to completion, while hundreds of flats elsewhere in Islington have been sold, rented or are still to be built.

Obviously the current recession has hit the property business hard, but the board took the inspired decision to ring-fenced the property business from the club. That means that if the property business were to fail and lose millions, then that would not financially harm the football side of things. However, if the property business makes the millions that it is expected to when the market picks up, the directors can use that money in any way they want - and they’ve already pledged to invest it in the club.

The bottom line is that when it was dedided to transform the old stadium into flats, nobody knew that we’d bt hit by the credit crunch, but the board protected the club just in case anyway. And now that the recession is here they have put new development projects on hold.

The board’s unfaultering support of the manager, his methods and his vision for the club deserves mention, as a very vocal minority began a stupid campaign this season to try to end Arsene’s reign. The board and the vast majority of supporters stood firm and Wenger was left in no doubt that he is still the man for the job at our beloved club.

Another tick in the box is their appointment of Gazidis. Us Addict editors had the pleasure of meeting Ivan at the Football Writers Association dinner last week. And we were thoroughly impressed.

Our newest director revealed that the club would be changing the name of certain parts of the stadium - namely the coloured quadrants. “It might not be in time for next season, but we’re definitely going to do it,” Ivan told us. And he also said that he was not taking any holidays this summer because he would be far too busy working on club matters, which sounds very promising.

In Gazidis we have an executive who has signed more players than anyone else on the planet. Ever. We also have someone who will not be afraid to confront Arsene Wenger, but who can do all the necessary paperwork and unglamourous contract work for new and existing players, so that’s a major plus point for the club.

However, the board would have been rewarded with a higher grade had they released a bit more cash to secure the services of Xabi Alonso. And surely it wouldn’t have been rocket science to allow the supporters to pay for their season tickets in installments to show a level of understanding about the credit crunch.

Finally, on that note of personal finance, us Arsenal fans pay more on average for our season tickets than any other club in the world. But while we might be seeing some fantastic football, we would like to see some silverware and that might not happen without signing a couple of world class players.

The investment of £20 million plus would not only keep us fans happy, but it might just bring us our first trophies to Emirates Stadium. And if that can happen in the next season then the board, the manager and the team will all get an A+.

COME ON YOU GUNNERS!!