Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta revealed he received a personal apology from the club’s owners as he saw supporters send the “strongest message” in the history of football to bring to an end plans for a breakaway European Super League.
The Gunners were one of six Premier League clubs to announce on Sunday night that they had signed an agreement to form a new competition with other elite teams from across Europe.
The response from supporters and the wider footballing world was almost completely negative to the extent that, by Tuesday evening, Arsenal – as well as Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – withdrew from the process.
Arsenal’s statement was praised for acknowledging their misjudgement and apologising to supporters – while Arteta said he had also had direct communication with the Kroenke family, who own the club.
Asked if an apology was forthcoming, he replied: “Yes, absolutely.
As a result of listening to you and the wider football community over recent days we are withdrawing from the proposed Super League.— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 20, 2021
We made a mistake, and we apologise for it.
“They (the owners) have the maximum responsibility to run the football club and what they said was: ‘apologies for disturbing the team, we did it without the capacity to communicate in a different way earlier and pass on my message to the players’ – that is all you can ask for.
“I found out just a little bit before the news was leaked. And then everything was completely out of control and the world reacted in a really unified manner.
“There was not really time to think about it, reflect and evaluate or anything because by the time that was out, a big tsunami already came onto it and basically killed it.
“Vinai (Venkatesham, chief executive) spoke to me and explained a little bit what was happening. He was very clear and transparent with me. I understand the reasons why we could not know. We were not involved in the decision.”
Arteta spoke freely and at length about the issues of the previous week and believes the speedy backtracking from Premier League clubs served only to show how important the sport is to fans.
“I think this has given big lessons and it shows the importance of football in the world,” said Arteta.
I think this has given big lessons and it shows the importance of football in the worldMikel Arteta
“And it shows that the soul of this sport belongs to the fans – and that’s it. During this pandemic, for a year, we have been trying to sustain this industry with no fans in the stadium.
“But, when the fans have to come out and talk, they’ve done it really loud and clear, and they sent probably the strongest message that has ever been sent in the football world.
“And every club, leaving their interests apart, has done the right thing – which is, they are the ones (the fans), we have to listen to them, we put it aside and in 24 hours we kill the project.
“So that is a massive statement for the history of football.”
While he did not offer up his own opinions on whether a European Super League would have been a success, Arteta did say his players were free to do so.
Hector Bellerin posted a quote from former boss Arsene Wenger on social media earlier this week, seemingly questioning the morals behind the formation.
“They are free to express themselves,” the Gunners boss added.
“Obviously, we weren’t involved in the process so you have to respect that when you don’t do that, people are going to have different opinions with the information that they can read or guess – and that was the case.
“Hector made a post and he was free to do it and express his opinion.”