The ailing European Super League should stand as a “catalyst for change” for English football, according to a board member of a prominent Arsenal supporters’ club.
The Gunners were one of six Premier League teams who originally signed up to form a breakaway competition with some of the biggest clubs in European football.
But, alongside Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham, they have now backed out of the plans after a furious backlash from supporters and the wider footballing world.
Arsenal host Everton in the Premier League on Friday evening and, although the club has now withdrawn from the controversial plans, protests aimed at owner Stan Kroenke are still expected outside of the Emirates Stadium.
Kroenke has endured a fractious relationship with Arsenal supporters since his first involvement in 2007 and the ill-feeling only intensified when he became the sole owner of the club in August 2018.
Now Akhil Vyas, a board member of the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, has called for football to respond to the breakaway division and borrowed a phrase from Arsenal’s former chief executive Ivan Gazidis to make his point.
“He’s been such an absent owner that he will probably just hide like an absolute coward like he has been doing all week, hoping that it just blows over,” Vyas told the PA news agency when asked about Kroenke.
“There’s a lot of noise on social media protests and around London but I’m not sure how much Stan Kroenke cares or will see of it.
“They’ll be hoping it just goes away, but I’m hoping it doesn’t and I’m hoping this can really be used as a catalyst – there’s a famous Ivan Gazidis line from a few years ago when he called for a ‘catalyst for change’, well I think this is a catalyst for change, not just for Arsenal fans but for football fans.
“We absolutely dislike, hate is a strong word, but we really, really dislike our owners.
“It’s an absolute lack of respect for fans – he is not interested in any of this stuff we have spoken about and that is why he is the wrong owner.”
Vyas wants to see any planned protests carried out peacefully and adhering to social distancing rules in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But he also feels the Government could actually hold the keys to pushing through reform and holding owners to account in the future.
He added: “I think that the main piece of work here is the Government stuff.
“Yesterday the AST and other supporter representation met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who promised a review on the governance and ownership structure, but I think that’s where we start.
“If the Kroenkes are forced into doing something – whether it’s a model like Germany, whether it’s something similar I don’t know.
“But that would obviously be best because while protesting and stuff is good is good and creates noise and media coverage – I think it’s the Government piece that could really make the difference because who’s to say, even if Stan Kroenke was to sell, the next owner wouldn’t be just as bad?”