Mikel Arteta backs Arsenal fans’ plans to protest against Stan Kroenke before Everton clash

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Mikel Arteta says fans should be given space to vent their anger (Photo by TIM KEETON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says supporters must be given the opportunity to vent their anger at the club and its owners after the Gunners’ controversial plans to join the European Super League collapsed this week.

The Gunners were one of six Premier League clubs that agreed – and then consequently withdrew less than 72 hours later – to join a breakaway competition from the Champions League.

The plans were met with widespread condemnation throughout football and there have been protests before all Premier League matches so far this week, including Chelsea’s clash against Brighton and Spurs’ game against Southampton.

Arsenal’s first game since the plans were announced is against Everton at the Emirates on Friday and supporters plan to go ahead with a protest against owner Stan Kroenke, even if the club have now withdrawn their application.

Arteta could easily have played down the supporters’ unrest but he instead told the club’s owners that they have a right to protest and should be given a safe space to ‘express’ themselves.

Arteta was speaking ahead of the game against Everton (Picture: Sky Sports)

In a lengthy answer about the protests and the events of the last four days, Arteta said: ‘I think this has given a big lesson. And it shows the importance of football in the world. And it shows that the soul of this sport belongs to the fans. And that’s it. During this pandemic, for a year, we’ve been trying to sustain this industry with no fans in the stadium.

‘But when the fans have to come out and talk they do it really loud and clear. And they send probably the strongest message that has ever been sent in the football world. Every club, leaving their interests apart, have done the right thing…they [the fans] are the ones, we have to listen to them, we put this out there and in 24 hours, they killed the project. That’s a massive statement for the history of football.

‘I can talk from my experience as a player, a captain and now as a manager. We have always had great communication and full support from the ownership, which goes down to every member of the football club. The most important way to show it is that in the most challenging period for this football club during the pandemic, the way we have done things, the things we’ve reached out [and done] as a club, and the commitment of every single person at this club has shown in difficult moments, not just to be there, but when they had to help the club, they were there and that makes me really proud.

‘The fans have to express their right and they have to do it freely. For me, what it shows is the power and the capacity when they show that determination and passion to achieve what they want. If we can use this with our fans to support the team, I think that will be incredibly powerful and it will make us much, much stronger. It’s time to leave them [the fans] time to express themselves and somehow we have to engage them again, get them closer to us, believe in what we do and if we do that, we’ll be in a much better place.’

The 14 Premier League clubs that were excluded from the Super League plans are understandably furious about the proposal and they are deciding now how to deal with the ‘Big Six’.

Though talk of a points deduction or financial sanctions are unlikely, the Premier League could impose a suspended ban on the clubs for the future if they attempt to breakaway again.

Arteta admits the club need to accept the consequences of their actions.

‘I don’t know the legal details to respond to that question,’ said Arteta.

‘Obviously, when you act and make the decisions, there are always consequences. I don’t know the extent of those consequences. I think here, as well, we have to understand the principles and the reason why those clubs were trying to achieve something.

‘But if it wasn’t done in the right way, there is always consequences and we’re going to have to accept any that there are.’

MORE : Chelsea legend Didier Drogba reacts to collapse of European Super League

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