Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham speak to the BBC: full transcript

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In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC, Arsenal’s Head of Football, Raul Sanllehi, and Managing Director, Vinai Venkatesham have outlined their vision for the club, the future, how they expect to realise the stated ambitions of KSE now that they’re the 100% owners, the January transfer window, possible investment from the Kroenkes and much more.

David Ornstein was the man to pose the questions, here’s a full transcript of what’s been said via his Twitter.

Raul Sanllehi on the new structure

This is a modern organisation. This is only one organisation. We are two leaders. We have two different areas which are very compatible and not separate. He is going to be participating in most of my decision making, the same way I’m going to be with him. We both have offices here in Colney and at Highbury House, we’re neighbours all the time. We’re going to be working together. We have our areas of expertise.

To put it in a simple way, he’s off-field, I’m on-field. We can work very well and have already done that before. We know each other for seven years, working together in the ECA, many projects. I have the highest respect for this man and really looking forward to working even closer now.

Raul Sanllehi on who has final say

We’ll cross that bridge when we reach it. I don’t foresee many areas of conflict. We see the way this clubs needs to be run in a very, very similar way – we’ve talked about all the strategy we want to incorporate to the club and the direction we want to take. We are very much aligned. I really believe in dialogue. Of course we are not going to be in agreement always but I’m sure with the healthy debate we will have, we will always reach the best solution for Arsenal. That is the final criteria – what’s the best for the club.

Vinai Venkatesham on Ivan Gazidis’ departure

Whenever a chief executive leaves an organisation it’s nearly always a surprise, unless that organisation is failing and we’re clearly not. There was some surprise around it, for sure, but I do think the double act of Raul and I will provide stability to the organisation. I don’t see this as being a time for revolution, where things are going to be turned completely upside down. There will be some change, things will evolve, of course we will be looking improve and push the club forward, but don’t think you’re going to see dramatic change ahead.

Raul Sanllehi on Gazidis

He’s the reason why I’m here. He convinced me about the project, he put the right tracks, now it’s our turn to continue that. This is evolution, not revolution. We do believe that we’re in the right direction so that will go on.”

Vinai Venkatesham on Stan Kroenke’s plans

I’ve known Stan and Josh a long time, very well for probably five or six years. Raul and I a couple of weeks ago were out in Los Angeles, that’s the last time we saw Stan and Josh face to face. We’re on phone to them all the time. Their very very, very clear – they are 100% committed to this club, want to get the club back in the Champions League, back competing for Premier League and competing to win the Champions League.

They’re 100% committed behind that vision. Two individuals who are hugely passionate about the sport, very energised and excited about the future opportunity we have. The fans are everything around what a football club is, they’re the lifeblood of this club. I don’t think fans should be concerned around any lack of engagement with the club going forward.

One of the key things we’ve been speaking about over the past few weeks is how we can continue to step up our engagement with fans, look to build more constructive relationships with our fan groups as well. These aren’t just words, these are things that are very, very important to us.

Raul Sanllehi on Kroenke

The fans are the soul of the club. The reassuring messages they gave us is that we are going to have total commitment from their side. Having the owners engaged in project is going to give us stability to evolve the way we want. Stability is very precious in a football club nowadays and with this situation right now we’re going to have it.

Vinai Venkatesham on the reported loss Arsenal are set to post

I’m not going to get into speculation about what our financial results may look like on 31 May 2019, which I think is what people are talking about. What I’ll say is we have a self-sustaining business model at this football club. That means all the investments we make on the pitch are funded by the revenues we generate off the pitch. And we’re really confident we can be successful with this model. The ambition we have for this club is completely possible to be achieved in the business model that we’ve got.

Raul Sanllehi on the January transfer window

I’m not a strong believe of the winter window, normally it’s used for emergency cases when things don’t go the way you planned in the summer window. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to use it, I don’t know yet, it’s early in process. If things things go as planned, the winter window should not be as relevant as the summer window. First we need to know what the needs could be, what opportunities are in the market. We’re not actively looking into that.

Of course we’re always watching the market, we have a whole team of professionals constantly analysing what’s in the market, what opportunities could be there, also our head coach analyses what needs he may have. We have not reached the point where we’ve decided whether we are going or not for the winter window. But it will always be a decision according to the needs we may have.

Vinai Venkatesham on whether Kroenke will invest his own money

We’ve got a really clear ambition and that is to win the biggest trophies in the game, the Premier League and Champions League. We want to do that in our way, respecting our values and history and traditions of this great football club built over 130 years. We believe we can do that with the business model that we’ve got.

Raul Sanllehi on the difference between Arsenal this season and last

There isn’t one specific answer. It’s step by step, let’s enjoy the trip. We’re in a very good streak of victories. Will be ups and downs during season. All we care is that we’re facing in the right direction and in this we are convinced we are.

Raul Sanllehi on if Arsenal are challengers or work in progress

Both, probably. It’s an evolving project. We’re going to need to make the calls as we move forward. We’re going try to be as efficient as possible during this long journey, to find the most efficient signing of players, to design the team the best possible way and do it in a consensus way – with all the people and professionals we have put in sharing the same philosophy of football, starting from head coach to everyone else in the organisation.

Vinai Venkatesham on if Arsenal are challengers

No-one has a crystal ball on how season will pan out. There will be ups and down, we just ask our fans to enjoy that ride.

Raul Sanllehi on whether trophies and CL qualification are possible

We have our own goals and expectations. We’re going to be as ambitious as nobody else, not going to put extra pressure on ourselves, know what we want to achieve and know it’s something the fans will embrace immediately if we achieve what we want.

Raul Sanllehi on Ramsey

I’m not here today to talk about individual cases, I’d like to talk more of the philosophy we’re bringing. Any decision that we take is very thoroughly discussed, debated among several professional people sharing one common objective, which is what’s the best for the club? So, any decision we take along this way, is always going to be based on whether this is good or bad for Arsenal, if it’s a responsible decision or if it can be detrimental for Arsenal, that’s basically our main criteria in every step of the decision making.

Vinai Venkatesham on ‘we’ve got our Arsenal back’ chants

It’s a great run we’re on but let’s not get carried away, step by step, going to be a rise, let’s enjoy it together, know where we want to get, know there’s lots of hard work to get there, know we’re not the finished article yet but really focused on what we need to do to get this club back to where we want it to be.

Vinai Venkatesham on fan reconnection

There is a different atmosphere at the club at the moment. When we’re talking about the fans, there are always ups and downs and that’s why we love this sport so much because we don’t know what’s going to happening at the weekend, especially in the Premier League when anything can happen. It was great to see that connection with the fans at Fulham, makes us proud when we see that and we want to keep that connection with the fans going forward. This club is nothing without its fans and having that close connection, having our fans feeling energised and excited about what’s happening at the club is clearly what we want to deliver.

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Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

Sounds Good.

Russ
Russ

They certainly ‘talk the talk’. Good to hear and quite excited to be honest.

Ivan Drago
Ivan Drago

So did Ivan…

Russ
Russ

Mmm, did he though?

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

No he just talked

Devlin
Devlin

Pretty sure I have heard these kind of answers before. I might be experiencing dejavu or this is how all Chief executives and board level members talk.

We were very lucky that Arsene was around to engage the fans in a very honest and straightforward manner. He is no longer around and we will have to live like the fans of other clubs now, no real fan engagement and Ivan-esque answers about our club.

Man
Man

Worst humans ever

Erjon
Erjon

Kroenke’s muppets. We all know it’s impossible to compete with City, United, Chelsea and even Liverpool with this business model. They both said the same words as Ivan used to say in the past. Different year, same problems, same Arsenal.

Aussie Bruce
Aussie Bruce

If a team like Atletico Madrid can do it why can’t we?

LEFT08
LEFT08

Atletico are not an elite football club and they’re nowhere near as good as Real and Barcelona. Arsenal shouldn’t aspire to be the Premier League’s Atletico.

Mc1892
Mc1892

@left08 why not? A strong, passionate, club with great fans who are constantly competing with the two biggest clubs in the world with some great players? Jesus, Arsenal aren’t Madrid or Bayern or Barca or even United. The likelihood of us making that leap now with the way football is is almost impossible. I think competing consistently with the odd title win is about all we can hope for. And this isn’t negativity, rather than I’m going to just enjoy the ride for now. As a side, think it’s pathetic Ornstein didn’t push them on the share takeover and Stan’s conspicuous absence. Just a PR exercise, not an interview.

GooneRaP
GooneRaP

It depends on the ability of the manager. Atletico challenges once in a blue moon. They should be more than happy with that considering their financial status, which isn’t the case for Arsenal.

Rich
Rich

If they’ve learned 1 single thing from Ivan? It’s how to talk without directly saying anything at all.

But let me translate:
Will Stan Kroenke invest?
Hell no, it’ll be more of the same, the club will generate its own money that Stan will then use to payoff his purchase of the club, once that’s paid off, he’ll then continue to milk the club dry to fund the rest of KSE and some of his ranches.

On the January transfer window:
Spend?.. pffffffft you’ve got more chance of winning the Euromillions 2weeks on the spin….. Those that think Arsene was the reason we never got deals over the line are in dreamland.

On if Arsenal are challengers?
Champions league qualification is our mandate, no more and no less, anyone expecting the club to aim any higher than that? Needs to seriously adjust their expectations.

And_Unai_Said...
And_Unai_Said...

Most fans view on this I would think; As per quote…….
“Beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s what’s in the middle that counts. so when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up, and it will.”

emanuel
emanuel

Vinai Venkatesham on whether Kroenke will invest his own money

“I obviously can’t answer you with a straight ‘lol’, so let me give you this prolix abstract PR talk about values and stuff.”

Declan M
Declan M

Vinai Venkatesham on whether Kroenke will invest his own money

‘No’ would have sufficed.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

Dumb question methinks

sambo
sambo

Stan as a gesture of good faith should deliver us a big player from his own money to show his commitment, that would connect him to us fans beautifully. lol

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

Don’t hold your breath

Ringoxiii
Ringoxiii

“I’ve known Stan and Josh a long time … We’re on phone to them all the time”.
Based on his public persona, I can imagine being on the phone to Stan Kroenke something akin to shouting at a television that’s been permanently set to mute

Hantal
Hantal

The bit about the January transfer window sounded like the “we are open to opportunities” line from the past

Vin_Unleaded
Vin_Unleaded

Well that’s 5 minutes of my life wasted reading that.

There is absolutely nothing of note to be taken from that interview. It’s all hyperbole and hot air. Every single question of note was side stepped.

No wonder Ornstein has such good links to the club…he tows the line! Any journalist with genuine integrity (and a set of balls) would have pushed them regarding the tougher questions.

/and breathe.

Goonerink

Yep, this is also just paying lip service to ornstein because of the u turn on arteta/emery.
Ornstein was prepped/fed with the arteta stuff and within 48 hrs we had chosen unai instead, too late for ornstein and his rep. This promised exclusive is probably a sorry for that inconvenience.

The Swede
The Swede

Nonsense. Ornstein never said that Arteta was close unlike many others.

Longfellow
Longfellow

There’s a lot of really depressing perspectives there. I might be deluded but I’m going to take the fact this is new and unknown as a positive and keep optimistic until I’m proven wrong. And hope we win some more games in the mean time. A bit left field I know!

santori
santori

One suit replaced by two! Two for the price of one!

Situation normal then…

santori
santori

On the plus side, I believe we are rumoured to be tracking several players.

Sanheli and Venkatashem were reportedly looking at Pavon and also maybe Cengiz Under (exciting young 21yr old at Roma although cup tied). Both wide players who function well out right with pace and trickery.

I’m sure there are others on the radar.

A little more from left field, if should United have the hard on for Ramsey, there is Martial also reportedly on last year of contract (with albeit one year option to exercise)

All will also depend on how Ramsey sees things and if he is agreeable to be moved, if there is a club(s) willing to pay for him or should he feel he wants to see out contract and go for that Bosman.

Ozenal
Ozenal

Basically Raul’s job is to generate money on the football side through transfers if they commercial side doesn’t generate enough.

Cases like Ramsey, Ozil and Sanchez are too high profile and dumb for the board to handle.

Raul has a tough job to get right this season.

And undo the bad decisions made particularly in the last three years with wasted transfers and botched negotiations. The Wenger contract uncertainty was a contributor to many of the errors.

Real leadership is required. If Raul could deal with three terms of volatile chairmen of Barca then that’s a start.

Ozenal
Ozenal

The business model at Barca and in the Dein/Wenger years was to promote youth and improve them by blending with world class potential signings.

The amount of indecision at the club and lack of consideration for fans was astounding during the Ivan tenure.

At least they are being proactive. +1

But they said the words same business model -1

Had they said the business model could evolve as the market changes, or something to the effect of running the club competitively would have been more welcome.

The next two transfer windows should show us what Raul can do.

Con
Con

If we can consistently compete at the apex of football without additional investment, I’d be amazed.

LEFT08
LEFT08

“One of the key things we’ve been speaking about over the past few weeks is how we can continue to step up our engagement with fans, look to build more constructive relationships with our fan groups as well. These aren’t just words, these are things that are very, very important to us.” – Now they’re just taking the piss! After taking away fans shares and their say, they want to “step up engagement”. Fuck off.

Mick Malthouse
Mick Malthouse

“We have a business model that guarantees mediocrity. We are happy with that. We know you aren’t so we’ll wheel out the fan engagement crap whilst we finish 4th to 6th each year”

That’s what I read.

Safe Hands
Safe Hands

None of this comes as a surprise and it has been clear for a long time that Kroenke isn’t going to invest his own money. It’s a shame that he doesn’t see potential investment as a major opportunity to make Arsenal more profitable. By that I mean that the £40m-50m that owners are allowed to invest each year would pay for one very good/world class player a year. Do that for two years and you have that commanding CB and completely solid, physically built CM we’ve know would allow us to challenge for the league. Surely that’s a £100m worth gambling on for the potential Champs League, higher finish Premier League revenue, and wider profile we would get for achieving more. But then I’ve been a supporter for 30 years so maybe I see things differently 🙂

Irrational Gunner

Agree with this 100%. An argument can be made that Stan is like a LANs owner. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) He just bought the whole thing, and purchases like this aren’t made unless one believes the asset is undervalued. Based on previous ownership changes in the league, the new owners usually put some of their own funds directly into the team. I would also argue that the team has been semi-dysfunctional over the last few years based on some of our transfer dealing, lack of first class commercial success, and infighting between the old manager and gm. Of course, the latter problem is not something that money may necessarily fix. As above, it really seems like we are going to have to wait to see what the new regime can pull off over the next couple of years. No sense expecting the family to inject any capital directly into the “project.”

Angus
Angus

Yes to think Kroenke was going to change his spots was a hope but a vain one. In truth if we had had more ambition 10 years ago we could have there or there about kept pace with Manu, but we never had the guts to buy those final two players… and ten years later as a result we have drifted further and further away and consistently lost our best players who got fed up with lack of ambition. The stadium project line was always BS. We could have spent more had we wanted to. (As a small aside I met the lenders to Arsenal and the message to them was always that the club didn’t WANT to spend more money.) I could not agree more that 50 million per year over 3 years would yield a return but it is clear Kroenke won’t spend a cent. Dein – I loved you for all you did but this was a serious serious misjudgement ever allowing this parasite to be able to own one share in Arsenal…

Vonnie
Vonnie

Lots of negativity on here when nothing’s even happened. I’m prepared to believe until I see otherwise. Looking at the improvements made over the last season and a half there have been a lot of very positive appointments behind the scenes, and big improvements in fitness, coaching and probably lots of areas I don’t even know about. A big new shirt sponsor and a very astute recruitment can make a huge difference. We got a couple of exciting players in the summer and we’ve got a couple of real talents coming through from the academy. What’s not to like? I’d rather follow this model than some cunty plan like Real Madrid or Yanited where they throw money at the biggest name they can think of. Somebody put these things in place, and it certainly wasn’t Arsene who fought them every inch of the way, so i’m positive and happy to enjoy the ride.

Sunil
Sunil

Complete neutral sitting on the fence response. No innovations, nothing for the fans, nothing on the playing side, just the same drivel to appease nobody.
Why not have incentives for fans to arrive early, a voucher for a free cup of tea or drink sponsored by coco cola or pg tips.
Have a voucher for every young kid attending a match to spend on the club shop, it will make the kids more “brand” loyal and build the fan base for the future. Boost league cup games with 2 kids go free with every paying adult.
The club should try and fill in some more seats which they could easily do in a family section with child seats.
Well anyway I just see further apathy and fans taken for granted, as the usual franchise model will come to effect with the money Kronke spent buying the club funded by new debt.

afan
afan

yeah, well if YOU don’t invest in a few quality players we wont make the champions league, and if we don’t make the champions league, we wont attract quality players, so its a vicious circle, so what do YOU intend to do about it

Naija Gunner
Naija Gunner

👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾