A couple of weeks ago German publication Der Spiegel published claims that a number of top European clubs had held discussions on the possibility of launching a breakaway European Super League; Arsenal were named as one of the clubs partaking in the talks.
While most clubs have dismissed the suggestions or refused to pick up the phone to interested journalists, Arsenal’s new management team, Vinai Venkatesham and Raul Sanllehi have, interestingly, decided to comment.
Allaying fears that a new league is on the horizon they stress that their loyalty is to the Premier League; a bosom that has produced so much milk for England’s top clubs that they’ve become the biggest in world football.
Parallel to that, they’ve made clear that if discussions on such a topic are going to take place, it’s better that Arsenal is involved and get a say, rather than step back and fade into obscurity.
“We have to be in the conversations. It doesn’t necessarily mean we support them,” briefed managing director Venkatesham.
“Arsenal aren’t, or never have been, interested in playing in any competition that weakens the Premier League. The Premier League is the world’s leading league in the leading sport – we don’t want to do anything to damage it.
“When people talk about the European Super League, that covers a really big spectrum. People jump to one end of the spectrum and think this is what we are talking about – but actually often it’s just a slight evolution from where we are today.
“I see these articles that Arsenal want to break away. We never want to do any of that. But we also have to recognise we have to be in these conversations or we wouldn’t be responsible.”
Raul Sanllehi, a man who previously operated within the corridors of power at Barcelona, also made the point that exploring such an avenue was a negotiation tactic used to heap pressure on UEFA.
He said: “We looked into that in two ways: a way of exploring the real possibility and also how it would help us to negotiate with Uefa under the new terms because every cycle we will negotiate. At the end of the day the outcome was the best possible because we got into a new deal with Uefa within the system that protected the domestic leagues.
He added: “The way it was explained may seem we were doing secret things but there is nothing secret. There is one document that has been presented in an article that has Arsenal’s name; it also has Barcelona’s name. But there’s no signature and I can assure you in Arsenal and Barcelona we have not seen the document.
“It’s a draft, probably drafted by some proposal discussed with one of those clubs in that list that I don’t know about. It’s a real document – I cannot deny that – but I can assure I’ve not seen that document.”
Both Raul and Vinai have mentioned in recent interviews that they are keen to repair the disconnect between the club and its supporters, so it’s positive that they’ve spoken on the issue.
As Blogs writes today, their stance on being a part of the negotiations is, if not wholly palatable, understandable. That said the subject matter will make most football supporters want to do a bit of sick in their mouth.