Attempts by the ‘Big Six’ to build bridges with the other 14 Premier League clubs over the European Super League have not gone down well, with one chief executive describing Arsenal’s behaviour as “absolutely disgraceful”.
On Thursday, Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham confirmed to a fans’ forum that he telephoned the other 14 clubs to say sorry for the Gunners’ decision to join the Super League.
He admitted Arsenal made a terrible decision and are working hard to rebuild their reputation.
However, he received what can be best described as a lukewarm reaction, with one Premier League chief executive saying Venkatesham made a bad situation worse by apologising and then trying to explain why Arsenal had signed up to the breakaway competition.
Another was so angry he told Venkatesham that Arsenal’s behaviour had been “absolutely disgraceful”.
Earlier in the day, Mikel Arteta revealed Venkatesham and Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke had apologised to him and the players.
In an open letter, the Arsenal board told supporters that “we made a mistake, and we apologise for it”, and when asked if the same message had been passed on to him, Arteta said: “Yes, starting from Vinai, the ownership and everybody that is involved in the process.
“All of them with the right intentions to defend the club, and put the club in the best possible position for now and for the future. But accepting that the way it’s been handled has had terrible consequences and that it was a mistake.
“I have to really respect that when people have genuine intentions to do the best for this football club but, if it’s not the right thing to do, they can apologise. I think the players, staff and everybody working at the club has to accept that and move on.”
Meanwhile, Josh Kroenke says his father’s company Kroenke Sports & Entertainment will cover the costs related to leaving the Super League.
Venkatesham says the costs are “nowhere near” the £8m reported in newspapers on Thursday.
Kroenke said if Arsenal are invited to join a Super League again, they will consult with fans first.
He revealed they decided to join the breakaway after they asked themselves what would be worse – a European Super League or a European Super League without Arsenal?
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Alan Smith has labelled Arsenal’s owners “ignorant” following their involvement in the doomed Super League proposals, but insists he is not surprised by a decision indicative of Kroenke’s distant ownership of the club.
The fact Arsenal were involved came as no surprise to former Gunners striker Smith, who accused Kroenke – majority shareholder since April 2011 – of failing to grasp the European sporting mindset and focusing on figures rather than forging a relationship with supporters.
“I wasn’t surprised Arsenal were involved, given they have an American owner, an absent owner, who rarely says anything regarding the football club,” Smith told Sky Sports.
“There is very little bond between Stan Kroenke and the club. He rarely comes over. His son has a more hands-on connection with the club, but Josh is new to the game, he’s not been brought up around football.
“Kroenke obviously has seen that model work in the States with the NFL, NBA, and along with the Liverpool and Manchester United owners, they have seen how profitable it could be. I don’t think they understand how the European mind thinks about our sporting culture. It was ignorant not to appreciate there would be such a backlash. It beggars belief.
“For Stan, it’s about figures on the page and profits and losses. There is no emotion there. Myself and the majority of Arsenal fans are not surprised he jumped into it, but so did some other clubs. Maybe they had some misgivings and had to be persuaded, but they were persuaded and that’s the damning thing.”