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Fans ‘would be surprised’ if they got to know owners

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he believes fans “would be surprised” if they got to know the club’s owners and claims Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE) will do “whatever it takes” to repair their relationship with supporters.

Sources told ESPN on Tuesday evening that KSE held a staff call with around 350 employees during which they apologised for the club’s involvement in the failed Super League project and reiterated their commitment to reviving the team’s fortunes.

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A statement followed in which KSE insisted the club is not for sale and they will not entertain any offers despite Spotify boss Daniel Ek organising a consortium with three former Arsenal players — Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira — with plans to make a bid for the club.

Sources have told ESPN that a formal offer is expected within the next two weeks but the Kroenke family have begun trying to build bridges with supporters, around 2,000 of whom descended on Emirates Stadium before last Friday’s Premier League game against Everton to protest at their ownership.

Director Josh Kroenke, son of owner Stan, was on Tuesday’s staff call and also spoke at an online fans’ forum event last Thursday.

When asked whether Stan would make a rare public appearance, Arteta said: “I don’t know if that will be the case. If we all feel that that is necessary and that would be helpful, I’m sure they would do anything it takes to bring the fans closer to them.

“If they get the opportunity to know them, I think most of them would be surprised. And if that is the case, I think that will benefit everybody at the football club. It will benefit the fans and bring a lot of clarity If there is a way to do that and it is going to be helpful, let’s do it, if that is what is necessary.

“We spoke to them and I think it was very clear, they showed their commitment to the football club and showed ambition to the football club – because we all want a successful team on the pitch. I think it was very clear and took any doubt out of the situation.

“I said from the beginning what my perception was, everything that I sense, all the communications I have with them and they are fully excited and committed to this project, and they really want to push everybody to do what we want to do.”

Arsenal were handed a major injury boost with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Kieran Tierney all in contention for Thursday’s Europa League semifinal, first-leg against Villarreal.

The La Liga side are managed by Unai Emery, who Arteta succeeded as Arsenal manager in December 2019. Arteta revealed Emery took the surprising step of offering advice to him despite being sacked by the club.

“I spoke to him a few times because we have people in common,” Arteta said. “And then I spoke with him before I took the club and he was really helpful.

“A very experienced and successful manager. In the Europa League it’s special what he has done, so there is no doubts that he has got the tools and the knowledge to manage at the top level.

“He offered me that opportunity which is sometimes unusual. He was very sincere and open and I was very grateful for that.”

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