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.