(Reuters) – Arsenal’s owners do not plan to sell the Premier League club despite the intense backlash following their involvement in the breakaway European Super League, director Josh Kroenke said.
Arsenal were one of six English clubs who signed up for the project before withdrawing amid a storm of protest from fans, players and the British government alongside threats of bans and sanctions from the game’s European and world governing bodies.
Kroenke, whose father Stan Kroenke struck a deal to take full control of Arsenal in 2018, said they had “no intention of selling” and that they believed they were fit to “carry on in our position as custodians” of the club.
“I might be met with mistrust and scepticism, but over time I hope to establish some sort of relationship with our supporter groups and show them we are capable of taking our club forward,” he added.
The decision to sign up for the controversial venture was taken to safeguard the future of the club, said Kroenke.
“The first question we asked was: what is worse, a Super League or a Super League without Arsenal? We decided a Super League without Arsenal was the worst,” he added.
Kroenke said the question of what the fans wanted was one that demanded a “much more complicated answer” than they had time to contemplate.
“From an English fan’s perspective … they want to see more big matches,” he added.
“But as one Chelsea supporter wrote on a sign that I saw online the other day, you still want your cold nights in Stoke.”
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said on Thursday Stan Kroenke, CEO Vinai Venkatesham and other figures at the London club involved in the Super League plan had apologised to the players and himself.
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)