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Gazidis named CEO of Arsenal

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MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis, the No. 2 man at Major League Soccer after commissioner Don Garber, has been named the new Chief Executive Officer of English Premier League powerhouse Arsenal. The long-rumored move became official on Wednesday.

The move ends Gazidis' 14-year run with MLS that saw him be one of the league's original executives and work his way up to the No 2 post, which saw him be in charge of the league's player personnel decisions.

“I have been privileged in my 14 years with MLS to have worked with and for some of the best sports executives and owners in the world, whose vision, commitment and expertise have taken the league from strength to strength,” Gazidis said. “The League is superbly positioned for future growth and this provides me the opportunity to return home after 16 years in the United States. I am delighted to be offered the opportunity to work at Arsenal – a club rich in heritage and tradition – and I will bring all of my experiences at MLS to bear in my new role."

How will Gazidis' departure affect MLS? To a lot of insiders, Gazidis was the real soccer brain behind league operations and his business and soccer acumen won't easily be replaced. I can't help but wonder if Garber's recent slip-ups (his handling of the Montreal expansion bid, his public criticism of the U.S. national team and his slip-up at the MLS Cup post-game ceremonies) weren't a product of him being distracted by the loss of his right-hand man.

No word yet on who will replace Gazidis, but senior vice-president of player personnel Todd Durbin is one candidate. According to league sources, Durbin had taken on a larger role in recent months, perhaps in preparation for Gazidis' impending departure.

What do you think of the news? Share your thoughts below.


  1. One of the greatest days in history for Manchester United Fans. Cant wait for Ivan the Terrible to get started in destroying Arsenal FC as club President.

  2. hmm, does this mean Gazidis views MLS as a mickeymouse league?

    “This is an Englishman who grew up with the game, who has a deep understanding of Arsenal football club,” Gazidis, who lived in England from the age of four, told the Premier League side’s TV station after his appointment was announced on Wednesday.

    “It’s essential if Arsenal is going to be successful that its traditions be respected. This is not going to be an American coming with no understanding of Arsenal looking to make it into a Disneyfied version of Arsenal Football Club.”

    [from ]

  3. @jmac

    If you’re implying that Montreal had to pay the fee but others would not, that would be VERY odd — but not rational. Why would that be the case? Is there any evidence? Because from what I’ve read the fee is $40 million and all expansion bids would have to pay it. Perhaps some left it out of their calculations and I can’t understand that either, but I would think the league would go back to them and tell them to recalculate with the fee in.

    Regarding the MNT, I agree that there is no reason for him to make those comments. But I also agree with his comments and to me it demonstrates that he clearly understands our national team hasn’t improved much, if at all, when compared to the teams we’d have to face in 2010. I agree with Garber that the media loses that perspective and trumpets meaningless wins against CONCACAF competition (even to the point of overlooking poor play as long as there is a winning score line).

    He was wrong about Mexico’s rel/prom, but who cares? He was also wrong about the number of teams in SuperLiga, which is funny, but not important.



    *wipes tears from eyes*

    Good luck with that one, gooners.

  5. Garber also seems erratic about the issue of Canadian expansion. Earlier he indicated that he viewed it as a good idea, based on the success of Toronto FC. But then on Friday he says Canadian expansion would, “take away from growing our footprint and our television ratings in the United States.” So which one is it, Don?

  6. I’m up for ripping Garber in most cases. But agree there’s no reason for criticism on Montreal or his comments on the USMNT.

    Particularly Montreal, due to the fact that they were a Canadian applicant to a US League the idea that they did not meet the minimum requirements for a bid, when they probably would need to go above and beyond really was withdrawing their bid.

  7. Eugene, the Montreal ownership group said that many of the other cities DID NOT include the $40 million expansion fee in their bids. Seems a bit odd, doesn’t it?

    No reason for Garber to make those comments about the USMNT, especially from someone in his position. Very Sepp Blatter-esq.

    And he was wrong about the Mexican League’s promotion/relegation sytem, no?

  8. I also think Garber’s comments on the US national team, the league, relegation/promotion and sport’s economic sensitivity to the economy (specifically to the consumer) are SPOT ON. If people think he’s wrong on the US national team, boy is there going to be a lesson to be learned in 2010…

    Our national team is currently good for CONCACAF but not good enough to make some noise at the world cup.

  9. I also don’t think there is anything wrong with Garber’s handling on the Montreal expansion bid. It was made very clear to them that the expansion fee is $40 million. Understandbly economic conditions have changed drastically since they first considered their bid. If the new economic environment changed their thinking on joining MLS, it has nothing to do with Garber or his insistence on the expansion fee.

    Look, if there are a number of potential entrants ready, willing and able to pay the fee, why should Garber lower it just to get Montreal? I think his decision is rational and in the best interest of the league.

  10. I think it’s good in two ways: good that MLS is getting some recognition at least from a business perspective in one of it’s execs being named to the top business position at a world class club, and good that Gazidis is taking a hike so that we can get some fresh thinking in the league executive office.

    Over the last year, I don’t think Gazidis was very successful in his “Game First” initiative. Hopefully having a new person in there will put renewed focus on progressing the on-field product.

  11. Hadn’t read those comments by Garber about the USMNT. Why on earth would he say that? He sounds like some of the Kenny Cooper Fan Club that posts on this site. And he is a grown man! The leader of the Montreal expansion effort certainly has no love for him…

  12. “was there a transfer fee” that is classic! I wish the deputy all the best over in England and hopefully he can flourish. The league should be fine, there has to be someone who can fill in and continue where Gazidis left off. Besides the Don will probably be gone in less than 5 years as well so change is going to occur. Just please don’t bring in Alexi Lalas unless he has to shotgun a red bull each morning before work

  13. I wonder if Stan Kroenke (of the Rapids and Arsenal board) had much of a role in promoting or being consulted about the recruitment of Gazidis?

  14. If you attribute Montreal dropping out and Garber incorrectly identifying the Crew captain as Schelloto to his being distracted by Gazidis’ impending departure, then you are really discrediting the Commishioner.

    The Montreal folks clearly laid out their case for withdrawing their bid, and I think it’s very easy to determine the truth.

    The Schelloto thing was a little goofy because casual fans would have known Hejduk was captain. It’s probably more likely that he was caught up in handing Schelloto the MVP Trophy.

    I doubt Doug Garber stood up there on stage thinking, “Sure Crew. Cheer your little hearts out. My sadness swells from within. For my man–neigh my inspiration–will jilt me before week’s end. He shall depart via flying vessel to his motherland, and I shall be left behind to pick up the broken pieces his departure will have wrought. Whence shall my own abilities rise to overcome these shambolic circumstances? Woe is me! Now I begin my quest for a new captian. Which reminds me, the Crew’s captain is Schelloto.”

  15. Garber has already called William Gallas the captain of Arsenal and congratulated him on getting a quality man in the CEO position at Arsenal.

  16. This is truly an historic moment for Major League Soccer. Ivan who has instrumental in improving the quality of our product will be moving on to be chief executive of the Arsenals.

  17. Not a good move for Gadzidis IMO, or for Arsenal, or for MLS. He may have been the second or third choice. He’ll be churned and burned in 18 months.

  18. What a real gain for Arsenal and a TRUE loss for MLS.

    He really won’t be easily replaced and I’m not even sure where MLS would begin to look for a replacement.

    But certainly, Alexi Lalas, should not be considered.

  19. I think this is great news. Its speaks great news for MLS. It shows that even a powerhouse like arsenal has been impressed with the league so much so to offer a prestige position to an MLS executive. The league will only be better by this, and maybe this is another connection for the league in england, now that he is their.

  20. I think Luis beat you to the punch, Ives. On a serious note this says something good about MLS, I think. Players aren’t the only product we should track down when shipped overseas.


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