Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick has refused to detail the services provided by majority shareholder Stan Kroenke that led to the club making a £3m ($4.6m) payment to the American businessman for a second consecutive year. Speaking at the club's annual general meeting (AGM), Keswick reacted angrily to several questions regarding the arrangement, while many shareholders vented their fury in the direction of the 75-year-old.
Minority shareholder Alisher Usmanov wrote to the club before the AGM requesting for a full disclosure of the details regarding the payment to the 68-year-old's Kroneke Sports and Entertainment (KSE) group, while three questions concerning the subject were submitted by other shareholders prior to the meeting. The refusal to directly answer the questions at the start of the meeting led to several subsequent enquiries during the Q&A session, which were met by vocal support from many of those in attendance.
Keswick was however unwilling to outline the specifics over the payment of £3m that was included in Arsenal's latest accounts revealed in September, despite being repeatedly probed. It will lead to suggestions that the remuneration will become an annual occurrence to the shareholder.
"I felt it was right to pay a fee for the wide range of services provided to Arsenal football club by Kroneke Sports and Entertainment," Keswick said. "We should not be in a position where we expect these services to come for nothing. That would not be good governance or the right thing to do.
"I am reminded that KSE is one of the most respected sport organisations in the United States and they have extensive expertise and long experience in sports management. This contributed to our positive evolution in recent years in a multitude of areas.
"I would remind everyone that we have a majority owner who has been and remains respectful of our traditions and philosophies. He is fully supportive of everything we want to do in respect of our activities."
The subject was broached at the start of the meeting at the Emirates Stadium, but the unsatisfactory response led to further questions. An unscheduled question from Arsenal shareholder Geoffrey Lewis saw the subject raised again after speeches from chief executive Ivan Gazidis and manager Arsene Wenger.
"I respectfully request that my question has not been answered," Lewis said after approaching the top table, which contained Kroenke, who did not speak throughout the meeting. Kroenke owns 66.64% of the club and also has stakes in a number of American sport franchises including the St Louis Rams of the National Football League and Major League Soccer side Colorado Rapids.
"I don't know how many of you run your own business," Keswick said later. "But those of you who do know that the best advice you can possibly get is 'all organisations know more about how they are run than you do'. The answer to your question cannot be codified and I will make no effort to do so except to say that we get the best advice as quick as we possibly can.
"I am not [Michel] Platini, I am not [Sepp] Blatter. I have explained that good advice is what you get and where you get it. If you get the right advice you succeed, if you don't get the right advice you fail."