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ESL fiasco, plans to sell and more: Key points from Josh Kroenke's meeting with Arsenal fans' forum

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Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke’s son, Josh, attended the fans’ forum today after the outrage caused by our involvement in the European Super League.

The Gunners announced themselves as one of the founding members of the competition late on Sunday. Arsenal received a ton of backlash from fans, ex-players and the media, and that changed the Kroenkes’ mind.

About 48 hours after the initial announcement, Arsenal released an open letter to the fans. It confirmed that we would no longer be participating in the rogue competition, and that everyone on the board was sorry for making the mistake they did.

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Arsenal fans were clearly not satisfied. We wanted more communication from the owners and up stepped Josh today. Here’s every word he said, courtesy of Red Action Gooners and Peter Høst.

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Every word Josh Kroenke said in the forum today

After CEO Vinai Venkatesham began the meeting with an apology, Kroenke said: “I’m here today to talk and I agree with Vinai. Leadership from my perspective, making unpopular decisions that you feel benefit larger groups over time, is part of it.

“Leadership is also recognizing when you are wrong, quickly correcting your course of action, and apologize for them. And then educate yourself on how to lead better in the future. That’s what I’m here to do today. I’m here to explain and to listen.

“As this project (ESL) took shape in a very fast manner we asked ourselves two key questions.

“1. What is worse? A superleague? Or a superleague without Arsenal? We decided that a league without Arsenal is worse.

“2. What do the fans want? We tried to answer that question in as many ways as possible, we were obviously bound by certain confidentiality aspects, and it was a lot more complicated answer than we had time to contemplate.

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“I think the global fans want to see Arsenal vs Barcelona as much as possible. I think the European fans want to see big matches between top clubs. From an English fan’s perspective – and this was very educating for me – for the English fan, they wanna see more big matches, but also the cold nights at Stoke.

“That sent a strong message to the English Premier League. We got it wrong, and that’s why we’re here today apologizing and discussing with you.

“It was never our intention to harm English football. We can talk FFP, about racism, but for football pyramid stability, we need to ensure we are maximising revenue. But, we went about it the wrong way on this occasion.

“From myself, my father, KSE, we apologize for the angst we caused everyone. I apologize, and I’m here to listen to you guys.”

Asked about the penalties, fines and other costs Arsenal may incur for the whole Super League fiasco, Kroenke said: “Yes, KSE will cover. To confirm, KSE are covering all outside costs related to the ESL.”

Asked about fan representation on the board, he said: “I believe in it, this has been an education on the power of Arsenal fans.”

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Kroenke was then asked if he believed KSE were good enough to lead the club. A member made it clear that a vast majority of the fan base don’t believe in the Kroenkes, and asked Josh how he plans to change that.

He said: “We will rebuild, we believe we are fit to go forward with Arsenal. We were put in a difficult situation by sources outside the club. I want to get back to London, I want to do this. I am aware we never had trust. We need to build a bridge, we will.”

Asked what the board would do if another Super League proposal came around in the future, Kroenke said: “We will consult with fans. Confidentiality makes it complicated, but we would gather more info if it came around again.”

Finally, Kroenke was asked about potential investment for the upcoming summer transfer window and beyond. He was also asked if KSE are considering selling the club any time soon.

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He said: “We have big plans to invest, we have plans, we want to be great again, but a long-term model does not support long-term high investment. (We have) No intention of selling.”

Kroenke concluded the meeting by saying: “It’s been a crazy week, we have not represented the club well, we have learned.”

The Insider’s View:

It is safe to say, Josh Kroenke faced the wrath of Arsenal fans today. He can have no illusions about the supporters’ feelings whatsoever after the meeting, and it’s time for KSE to act in a really positive way.

Kroenke has promised that there are plans for big investments in the near future. The summer transfer window will be a big test for our owners. The only way they can save face is by showing some ambition.

If they don’t, the uproar will be much bigger than what they have faced over the last few days.

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