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Arsenal Supporters’ Forum holds virtual meeting

The Arsenal Supporters’ Forum met via Zoom conference this evening and heard managing director Vinai Venkatesham and head of football Raúl Sanllehi give updates on the current situation. 

They explained that in the eight weeks since Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19 we have all seen our lives turned upside down. It has of course been a difficult time but we had planned well, and with all staff set up in advance with software and hardware to work from home, the transition has been efficient.  

They stressed that the thoughts of everyone at Arsenal are with those who have been directly impacted by the virus and expressed the club’s thanks to healthcare professionals and key workers worldwide. 

Turning to the economic impact the pandemic is having on football, they explained it has been significant and concerning across all countries and leagues. Revenues from matchday, broadcasting and commercial are all under threat, for all clubs no matter their size. 

They stressed that even the biggest clubs in the world are certainly not immune from the economic effects of COVID-19. They outlined the numerous measures taken so far at Arsenal to help contain costs. Vinai and Raúl said they were particularly proud of our players for stepping forward to support their club.

It was stressed that from the start of the pandemic our people have been our key priority. The focus is on protecting jobs and base salaries for our permanent staff, and there have been no redundancies with everyone on full pay. We also have more than 1,500 casual workers on our payroll who currently have no work with us, and we are paying them in full until at least the end of May. 
 
They also outlined the work we have been doing in the community in response to the pandemic. This has included the following: 

  • Delivered 45 tonnes of essential supplies to local boroughs with our partners 
  • Made six figure donations to local charities and organisations 
  • Driven NHS staff to work who need our help 
  • Offered our stadium facilities to the NHS 
  • Supported schools with digital learning resources 
  • Called many of our most vulnerable fans 
  • Supported the participants we have in our programmes in Jordan and Indonesia 

The meeting heard that at the current time players are going to Colney for individual exercise, much like they would do in a public park. They are not in training in any form we would recognise. 

Looking ahead they explained that there is much focus on how and when the Government will ease the lockdown and signal a return to work for many.

Football needs to develop protocols for that return in the same way as all other industries are doing, and the first step on the journey back to playing matches will be returning to train in small groups.  

Protocols for this first step are currently being created on a league wide basis through discussions with experts, players, managers and government. It will be a requirement to ensure no resources are taken from where they are most needed on the front-line. Protocols for further steps would be developed as we learn from this first step and based on the conditions at the time.
  
They closed by restating the club’s commitment to finish the Premier League season, if and when it is safe and appropriate to do so. It is our belief that the sporting outcomes for this season are best finalised on the pitch by players, even if in not in the way originally planned, if that is at all possible. 

Please find the full meeting minutes below:

News

An update from your club

Emirates Stadium

We hope you’re staying safe during these ongoing difficult times. Our thoughts are with everyone who has lost loved ones.

 

Everyone at Arsenal continues to send our thanks and admiration to the health professionals and key workers who are selflessly working to keep us safe.
 
Since our last update we have seen some positive developments for football with the Bundesliga in Germany returning to action, the UK Government publishing guidelines regarding the return to training for elite sport and the Premier League announcing a provisional return date for competitive matches.
 
Any return to competitive matches in the UK will only happen when the Government, authorities and medical experts declare it is safe to do so. Although we are planning to return to competitive matches later this month, this will sadly but inevitably be with no supporters present. We share everyone’s disappointment at the prospect of playing behind closed doors, but the health and safety of all of us is the most important factor.
 
 

OUR BOARD
 
On Thursday, May 28, Sir Chips Keswick announced his retirement as chairman of Arsenal Holdings Limited after seven years in the position. 
  
A lifelong fan, Sir Chips, who turned 80 in February, has been a member of the Arsenal board since 2005. On his retirement, he said: “It has been an honour to be the chairman of this great football club. Arsenal has always held a special place in my life and that will remain the case in the future.  

  
“I made my plan to retire at the end of this season clear to the board, before the global health crisis we are now experiencing. The club is in safe hands with Stan and Josh, the board and the executive team. I know Arsenal will emerge strongly from this situation and I look forward, like all our supporters around the world, to seeing the team in action as soon as possible.”
 
In a joint statement, Stan and Josh Kroenke said: “We would like to express our immense gratitude for everything Sir Chips has done for Arsenal Football Club as a board member and chairman of the board over the past 15 years. His extensive business knowledge and experience coupled with his deep love of Arsenal have made him the perfect chairman. It has been a privilege to work with him and he will always be a very welcome visitor when we return to playing matches at Emirates Stadium.” 

 

OUR PLAYERS
 
Significant progress has been made in the past week as we make steps towards the safe return of competitive matches.
 
Last Wednesday (May 27), Premier League clubs voted unanimously in favour of a return to group contact training, which means our men’s first-team squad has now started training as a group and engaging in tackling, while still minimising any unnecessary close contact. This is under the supervision of our medical team, together with a limited number of coaches and support staff, who are all delighted to be back on the training pitches.
 
This new stage of training has been agreed in consultation with the Government, medical experts, Premier League club doctors, players and managers. The health and wellbeing of everyone involved is both ours and the Premier League’s priority. Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. 

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Tierney's tricks, Saka's skills and Auba's dancing! | Inside training

 
The agreement to return to group contact training was followed on Thursday (May 28) with the Premier League announcing a provisional restart date for the 2019/20 season of Wednesday, June 17, provided that all safety requirements are in place.
 
Our away match at Manchester City, together with Aston Villa v Sheffield United, which were postponed due to the Carabao Cup final, are now scheduled for Wednesday, June 17, followed by a full round of Premier League matches planned for the weekend of Friday, June 19. Dates and kick off times for all matches will be confirmed by the Premier League in due course.
 
The Football Association has also confirmed the provisional restart dates for the 2019/20 Emirates FA Cup. Our quarter-final match at Sheffield United is now due to take place over the weekend of Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28. The semi finals and final will take place over the weekend of July 18/19 and August 1 respectively. Further information on match dates and kick off times will be announced by the FA.
 
On Monday, May 25, the FA Women’s Super League & Women’s Championship Board confirmed the decision to end the 2019/20 season for the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and the FA Women’s Championship, with immediate effect.
 
This follows overwhelming feedback from all clubs including Arsenal to follow this direction. The decision to curtail the 2019/20 season was made in the best interests of the women’s game. The FA Board will now determine the most appropriate sporting outcome for the 2019/20 season.
 
As a result of the decision, our women’s players have begun their close season. We look forward to seeing them back for pre-season ahead of the 2020/21 campaign, and await news in regard to the plans for the 2019/20 Uefa Women’s Champions League.
 
All competitive matches at academy level have ended for this season and our academy remains closed. We look forward to re-opening, subject to Government guidance, in the coming weeks

 

OUR FANS
 
Continuing to keep in touch with you is important to us, so we’ve called on our Arsenal Legends to help by taking part in our programme to support fans who may be experiencing difficult circumstances during the pandemic. This is part of an ongoing programme by our fan services team, who have now made contact with 3,500 supporters around the world. Many of those are over 80 or have underlying health conditions.
 
In addition to the fan services team calls, in recent weeks head coach Mikel Arteta and many current Arsenal players have been joined by legends including Pat Rice, Lee Dixon, Charlie George, Brendan Batson, Kevin Campbell, David O’Leary, Terry Neill, Michael Thomas, Ray Parlour, Perry Groves and Bob Wilson, who have all supported by sending signed letters and recording personal video messages for supporters.

The messages have been recorded for elderly and vulnerable Arsenal supporters, plus NHS staff and key workers, including staff at the Whittington Hospital, which is situated close to Emirates Stadium. Tony Adams also sent a message to Captain Tom Moore, who captured the UK’s hearts by raising over £30 million for the NHS. 

 

OUR COMMUNITY
 
Join us for Arsenal Together. On Thursday, June 4, we’re set to host the largest-ever online gathering of Arsenal players, legends and supporters.
 
Hosted by one of Britain’s finest comedians, Matt Lucas, the evening promises to bring supporters an unparalleled line-up of stars and heroes who will reminisce about how they fell in love with Arsenal and share stories of the players that left a lasting impression. 
 
As well as a guaranteed evening of entertainment, Arsenal Together will shine a light on the brilliant service of our key workers and aim to raise vital funds for The Arsenal Foundation’s work in the local community and around the world.
 
Sir Mo Farah, Dermot O’Leary, Tinie Tempah and Lethal Bizzle are amongst the eclectic line-up who will relive their greatest memories.
 
We will also hear from the players that created those special moments for so many. Ian Wright, David Seaman, Alex Scott, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown are all set to feature alongside Mikel Arteta, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin and Leah Williamson.
 
There will be a number of surprises throughout the show, so be sure to be part of this biggest ever gathering of the Arsenal family.
 
Arsenal Together kicks off at 7pm (UK) on Thursday, June 4 and is free to watch on our official Facebook and YouTube channels. If you want to make a contribution, you can donate here.

Emirates Stadium

Emirates Stadium

In the meantime, we continue to support deliveries of meals and emergency supplies into the local areas of Islington, Camden and Hackney. We are proud to have now helped fund and organise the delivery of more than 150,000 meals into our local communities. We have also the delivered three pallets of refreshments for NHS key workers at Homerton Hospital.
 
Staff volunteers have clocked up 5,000 miles transporting Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust workers to their places of work in Arsenal vehicles. We were recently also able to deliver a donation of 1,000 face screens to Whittington Hospital and Islington Council. The Arsenal Foundation has also committed its first batch of ‘Gunners Fund’ grants, which will see 18 local charities or organisations awarded with grants to support their COVID-19 responses.
 
Thank you to Islington, Camden and Hackney Councils; HIS Church; and the NHS who have helped us in making this effort possible. We will continue to work hard together to support our local communities through the pandemic.
 
Further afield, we’ve adapted The Arsenal Foundation Coaching for Life programme we run with Save the Children in Jordan and Indonesia. We have updated the content of our sessions to link to the pandemic and help children make sense of their new realities.  In addition, in the Za’atari camp we have created virtual groups to share aspects of our football for resilience activities, keeping child advocacy sessions going and delivering child protection engagement sessions for care givers. In Jakarta, where our participants are often living in extreme poverty, we’re exploring radio-based remote delivery and session plans. 
 
We also know that lots of you are playing your part during this crisis. In recognition, we have created a page to celebrate the best of the Arsenal family where we can recognise those going above and beyond.
 
We know the Arsenal family will continue to stay united throughout this global crisis. We will get through this and return to watching the game we all love as soon as it is safe to do so.
 
Take care and stay safe.
 Victoria Concordia Crescit

 

 

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