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ARSENAL manager Mikel Arteta hailed the speed in which fans protested and forced the six Premier League clubs to back out of the ill-advised European Super League.
A planned protest will take place tonight prior to kick-off between Arsenal and Everton, with the north London club being one of the teams who signed up to the competition — alongside Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham.
Though the club backed out 48 hours after the initial announcement, Arsenal supporters are demanding owner Stan Kroenke leave the club and are voicing their concern at how the club went behind their backs and disregarded their views.
The demonstrations started with Spurs fans on Sunday night but the biggest turnout so far has been Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night. Arteta called them a “massive statement for the history of football.”
He said: “I think this has given big lessons and it shows the importance of football in the world.
“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.”
Arsenal did release a statement apologising for their initial decision and Arteta said he had received a personal apology from the Kroenke family.
“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.”
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti felt the Super League clubs were wrong to disregard the opinions of players and fans.
“My immediate reaction was they are joking, ‘Is it a joke?’” he said.
“For every supporter of football it was a strange day, a surprise. We heard about the Super League in the past few months but I was sure it was not going to happen. What can I say? They were wrong.
“The clubs were wrong because they didn’t take into consideration the players, managers and supporters.
“They wanted to build a competition without sporting merit. This is not acceptable because in our culture, we were brought up to have sporting merit. They were wrong — full stop.”
Brighton boss Graham Potter said he did not think the idea of a European Super League had completely disappeared and warned that the sport risks alienating fans.
“It’s a case of remaining vigilant because I think there is still a movement to do something,” he said.
“We have to remain wary of what competition is and how important it is and do the best for the game.
“As an industry, we have to be mindful that we can’t just keep saying: ‘We need more money, we need more money, we need more money.’
“We have to understand that, as an industry, we might need to be a bit more responsible with how we are spending our money and how we are using our money and not keep going and saying we need more and more and more because there is a danger people say: ‘Sorry, I’m going to tune into something else’.”
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