Mikel Arteta protects Arsenal fans' right to protest but refuses to criticise KSE

22 April 2021 09:00

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta faced the media ahead of Everton's visit to the Emirates Stadium on Friday night and, as expected, the fixture was overshadowed by questions regarding the Super League.

The Gunners were one of six Premier League clubs who signed up as founding members of the competition on Sunday but late on Tuesday night they announced their withdrawal from the project.

The 38-year-old insisted he, like many of his peers, was totally unaware of the plans until shortly before the news broke and described the supporters' reaction as a 'tsunami' that 'killed' the project.

As quoted by Arsenal.com, he said: "I found out just a little bit before the news was leaked. Then everything was completely out of control and the world reacted in a really unified manner. I didn't really have time to think about it, reflect, evaluate or anything because by the time it was out, a big tsunami already came onto it and basically killed it."

Asked whether he'd heard directly from the Kroenke family, he added: "Yes, absolutely. Obviously, they have the maximum responsibility of running the football club and this is what they said.

"They apologised for disturbing the team, not having the capacity or ability to communicate in a different way earlier and explain the reasons why. They wanted me to pass on the message to the players. That's all you can ask for. The way they've done it, I have to accept it completely."

When pressed on the subject of mistrust between the fans and the club, Arteta reiterated the need to always consider the fans and highlighted the power of their protests against the formation of the Super League.

He added: "This has given a big lesson and it shows the importance of football in the world. It shows that the soul of this sport belongs to the fans and that's it.

Arsenal fans are planning a protest outside the Emirates Stadium on Friday evening to make their feelings known on KSE | IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

"They've sent probably the strongest message that has ever been sent in the football world. Every club leaving their interest apart have done the right thing, which is, they [the fans] are the ones [we have to listen to]. We have to listen to them. We put it out and within 24 hours they killed the project. That's a massive statement in the history of football."

Despite the backlash and fierce opposition to the project, Arteta refused to criticise his bosses and their handling of the situation.

He added: "I really have to respect that when people have genuine intentions to do the best for this football club. But if it doesn't happen or not the right thing to do, they can stand up here and apologise. I'm speaking for myself and I think the players, staff, everybody working at the club, we have to accept that and move on. The way it's been handled has been really good internally."

The Spaniard already divides opinion among the club's supporters given Arsenal find themselves in ninth place in the Premier League and his refusal to criticise the controversial ownership is likely to disappoint some.

Source: 90min