Barely 48 hours after joining the European Super League Arsenal have had to pull out of the proposed competition.
The Gunners have embarrassed themselves and their fanbase by signing up to a haphazard plot designed purely to ensure their finances were protected regardless of footballing achievement.
Without consulting the fans, players or coaching staff, Stan Kroenke has made the club look amateurish on the global stage and left them at the mercy of UEFA and the Premier League when it comes to sanctions that should now come their way.
In announcing the calamitous U-turn it was the fans to whom Arsenal elected to apologise first.
“As a result of listening to you and the wider football community over recent days we are withdrawing from the proposed Super League,” read a tweet from their official account.
“We made a mistake, and we apologise for it.”
In fairness to them they were the first of the four teams (also including Tottenham, Manchester United and Liverpool) to admit some form of fault in the whole fiasco.
Accompanying the tweet was a link to a statement signed by “the Arsenal board.”
This in itself is something of a misnomer as the Arsenal board consists of just four people: Stan Kroenke and his son Josh, Tim Lewis the Kroenke-appointed lawyer and Lord Harris of Peckham – the final link to the pre-KSE hierarchy at the club.
This was likely a decision made by the Kroenkes and the signatory at the bottom is one of several questionable statements included in the club communication.
After two paragraphs of talking about their feelings of sadness over how the fans had reacted to the news the letter reads as follows:
“It was never our intention to cause such distress, however when the invitation to join the Super League came, while knowing there were no guarantees, we did not want to be left behind to ensure we protected Arsenal and its future.”
Inferred within this is the suggestion that the Kroenkes were just bystanders taken along for the ride with the aim of securing Arsenal’s best interests.
However, reports into the events of the past few days suggests that the American family were far less passive in creation of the Super League than they would like to make it seem.
Instead it has been claimed by Sky Sports that KSE along with fellow American club owners John W. Henry of Liverpool and the Glazers of Manchester United, were the driving force behind the inception of the disastrous plot to usurp European football in its current format.
The Kroenkes then go on to suggest that, despite their admission they got it wrong with the Super League, this is very unlikely to be the end when it comes to attempts at trying to reform the sport of football.
“We know it will take time to restore your faith in what we are trying to achieve here at Arsenal but let us be clear that the decision to be part of the Super League was driven by our desire to protect Arsenal, the club you love, and to support the game you love through greater solidarity and financial stability,” it says.
“Stability is essential for the game to prosper and we will continue to strive to bring the security the game needs to move forward.
“The system needs to be fixed. We must work together to find solutions which protect the future of the game and harness the extraordinary power football has to get us on the edge of our seats.”
In fairness to the KSE they are not wholly wrong here.
European football is far from perfect, and Swiss model reforms to the Champions League passed by UEFA on Monday do little to fix that.
But when it comes to Arsenal’s specific concerns over “financial stability” that are mentioned here, the Kroenke’s failure to admit their own agency in causing this is telling.
When Stan Kroenke first started buying shares in the Gunners in 2007, the club were Champions League regulars, with a brand new stadium and an established global fan base built up over a century of footballing history.
This made Arsenal immensely profitable and a smart business decision.
However, after failing to put any of his own money into the Gunners up until the 2017/18 season and leaving the club to run purely on the financial resources it generated, the American saw his investment fall behind the likes of Manchester City who by comparison received around £1 billion in owner loans and equity injections after Sheikh Mansour took over the side in 2008.
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As a result, Arsenal fell behind in terms of player quality on the pitch and now find themselves in ninth place in the Premier League and some way off the lucrative financial opportunities afforded by the Champions League unless they are able to win the Europa League this season.
It is this apathy when it came to ensuring the Gunners stayed at the top of English football that has caused their revenues to decline so drastically over recent campaigns in which they have failed to quality for Europe’s top competition.
Don’t let the statement of apology fool you. KSE are far from the passive bystanders they are making themselves out to seem. This was their decision and it will be Arsenal who have to suffer the consequences.