After a manic few days for the football community, Vinai Venkatesham and Josh Kroenke used today’s Fans’ Forum to apologise for dragging Arsenal’s name through the mud.
36 hours after withdrawing the Gunners from the proposed European Super League, the pair did their best to explain how they fucked up so spectacularly and promised that any financial penalties will be incurred by KSE.
They were also given a proper roasting by members of the invited supporters’ groups who, quite rightly, vented their frustrations about the fact they’d not be consulted at any stage of the planning process.
A full transcript of the video conference can be found here.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to chuck your phone/computer/tablet on the floor…it’s quite the roller coaster ride.
Our focus is on the responses to questions posed to Josh Kroenke by Peter Hoest, vice president of Arsenal Denmark, and Akhil Vyas, board member of the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust. Both were zingers, so kudos to you guys.
PH: You say the trust has been broken. But I don’t believe that’s true, because as fans of Arsenal we’ve never trusted you. I know that’s very offensive but that’s the reality that you need to learn. It’s really important that you engage with fans much, much more if you want to gain our trust. Right now people are asking what would it take for you to sell the club? That’s the reality that I want you to consider really hard. I would like to ask you what will you do to engage more with fans?
JK: What will I do to engage more with fans? Well, starting with interactions such as this on Microsoft Teams. When I’m in there in person we’re going to be sitting down in a boardroom as we did over in Highbury several years ago. There’s going to be many more interactions like this. It’s not going to be a surprise. It’s going to be a scheduled appearance by myself with dialogue back and forth between the likes of us.
PH: From our perspective, we’ve never had a conversation with you and that’s so easy. There’s so many people here who would love to help you make Arsenal a fantastic club. Just engage with us, take our invitation.
JK: Absolutely, I accept. And to your point about trust I am well aware that we’ve never really had trust, and what teeny bit we had taking forward I know that’s been shredded as well. That’s why I continually say I’m here to try and build that bridge, if there ever was a plank or no planks on the bridge of trust, I’m here to start to try and build that trust.
AV: If you’re really sorry will you actually bother to engage with fans more? Considering that’s one of your key questions and you’ve never done it, are you actually going to commit to engaging with fans more? And would you ever consider reps at boardroom level? This club needs fans at boardroom level to represent. You got this wrong this week. It was a disgrace, the way you did it, it was cowardly, you launched it and did not even justify it. I don’t think you still have justified it personally. It’s clear that you don’t know enough about our game. You don’t know enough about our club. Our club is built on traditions, on values, and class. We’ve talked about that a lot.
JK: If you’re expecting to see me more, absolutely. Let’s start on this call right now. From a board perspective, we as a club came together and made the decision as a board. That’s why we put out the statement as we did, apologising immediately and if you’re hoping to interact with me on a more meaningful basis going forward, you have my word that’s absolutely the case.
Unfortunately, any hopes that the Kroenke family might look to quit Arsenal were dismissed. Kroenke Jr reaffirmed that KSE has no intention of selling up and mentioned several more times that he/they plan to be more of a visible presence.
“Be excited,” he once said. We’re anything but.