Football: Chief exec Gazidis worth $4.5m salary, say Arsenal, after boosting bonus by 40%

(REUTERS) - Arsenal have defended a 40 per cent increase in the bonus paid to chief executive Ivan Gazidis, whose overall financial package is now £2.65 million (S$4.51 million).

The issue was raised at the north London football club's annual general meeting on Monday, when chairman Chips Keswick said Gazidis, 52, was doing a "first-class job" and deserved the US$1.35 million (S$1.88 million) bonus despite Arsenal failing to win the Premier League since 2004.

"The appraisal of Ivan's performance covers a very broad spectrum of objectives and does so over a longer timeframe than one season including appropriate financial targets but also assessment of our longer term progress and representation of our values," he said.

"Ivan is doing a first-class job in leading the development of the club across every aspect of its operations."

Gazidis is the second highest-paid executive behind Manchester United's Ed Woodward.

Monday's meeting of around 150 shareholders was also addressed by manager Arsene Wenger, who gave an upbeat assessment of the state of the team, who are second on goal difference in the league and well-placed to progress beyond the Champions League group stage.

"Today we are in a much more competitive position than we were five or six years ago to fight for the championship," he said.

"I believe we have a competitive team in a very competitive league. If you look well after nine games, you can see the first trend is set. It is about 20 points and that means the championship will certainly be decided by 82-86 points.

"I think we have the squad for the first time that is more mature and better equipped to face the challenges we have."

Majority owner Stan Kronke presented Wenger, 67, with a framed picture of his portrait made up of the names of all 210 players he has selected during his 20 years at the club.

"We know we will compete for trophies - we always have - and we would like nothing better than to see you win the league. You should be proud of the last 20 years," said Kronke.