There is no doubt now that Daniel Ek’s bid to buy Arsenal from Stan Kroenke is in no way just a publicity stunt, and he has obviously spent a lot of time and money on putting together a serious team to be involved with him.
Not only has he been speaking to the Arsenal Supporters Trust to discuss how to include the fans in decision-making in the new regime, he has also brought together the Arsenal legends Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira, who have completely bought into his vision for Arsenal’s future if he can prise the club away from Stan Kroenke.
In support of Ek, Patrick Vieira has had a long interview (by Zoom) with the Daily Mail, and he gives his clear and careful reasoning why he is fully behind the bid from the Spotify billionaire…
He said: “After the time that I spent with Daniel, I personally believe it’s time for a change of ownership and I believe he is the right person to bring happiness back to this football club,’
‘We haven’t talked about ourselves,’ said Vieira. ‘What is happening to this club at the moment is bigger than Dennis, Thierry or myself. We are concerned about how can we help Daniel, because we strongly believe he can take it to a different level.
‘We didn’t talk about what we will do if Daniel gets the club. We didn’t get into that conversation yet because that is not the priority. The priority is to give the club back its DNA and what it deserves.
‘What is really important is to understand the football club, the fans, the country where you are. We have this kind of credibility because we know what we are talking about because of the number of years we spend in England and at Arsenal. We have experience that we can bring to the football club.
‘When you look at Dennis, Thierry and myself, we spent a lot of years at this club.
‘Maybe it was the place where we played our best football. England was a fantastic place for us to live and we enjoyed our lives at the club and outside as well. The country and the club mean a lot to us.
‘Seeing Arsenal not being one of the teams that can challenge for the Premier League or not being one of the teams guaranteed to play Champions League football is frustrating, because that is not what we are used to with Arsenal Football Club. The club deserves much better than that.’
‘Because the way that he talks about the club, the way he talks about the feeling he has for this club and what he is prepared to do for this club,’
‘When somebody is passionate about something, you have a feeling about it. I believe he can bring back the glory days at Arsenal if he managed to buy it. But to buy it, the guys need to sell and maybe the Kroenkes don’t want to sell.
‘But Daniel can be the right person to bring back this union that you used to have at this club between the fans, players and the ownership. I found him to be someone who knew a lot about Arsenal, loved Arsenal and was a true Arsenal fan. I found somebody who really wanted to build something simple around the fans. That is something that pushed us to support him.
‘What’s going wrong at Arsenal is not just this year, it’s the last couple of years. When you look at Arsenal in the Arsene Wenger era, you always had this kind of figure, a strong personality, who could represent the club.
‘Through the years, Arsenal has lost a little bit of identity, not just on the field but off the field as well. When I talk about identity on the field, in my time at Arsenal you had players like Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon, who had been at the club for years. When you got there, those players made you understand the club’s DNA, what Arsenal means.
‘Through the years, Arsenal has lost this kind of identity. People now realise that in losing Arsene, they lost more than a manager or coach. Arsene had a massive impact on Arsenal in every department. Since he left [in 2018] maybe there wasn’t the right people to fill all the positions that Arsene was doing.
‘They brought a scouting guy [Sven Mislintat] from Germany who stayed a little bit. They brought this kind of CEO or sporting director [Raul Sanllehi] from Spain who didn’t stay very long.
‘Losing Arsene and this kind of person coming into the club did not give the club the stability it needed to build a new era, a new foundation. It’s like building a house. You want to build a house on solid foundations. That is the biggest problem in the last couple of years at Arsenal.’
‘The way the fans reacted to the Super League showed that football is about the heart, the passion for the game, about winning, losing, but football is for everybody. Leicester winning the FA Cup showed to the Premier League and the world that you can still be really successful with passion.
‘I want the chairman, the players, the fans included. How many times did the Kroenkes go to a game to watch Arsenal play? I don’t have the answer but that is a question I would like to know [the answer to]. How many times have they been to see the players? How many times have they met with the fans? The answer will tell you how big the gap is between them and the fans.’
‘What Daniel will bring to this table is building the relationship with the fans. Having fans sitting on the board is something that Daniel is prepared to discuss. Having the fans understand that they are part of what Daniel will try to build, is really important.
‘The fans will be part of this club. That is something that has to be a priority. When you look at Arsenal in the last couple of years and the gap that exists between the Kroenkes and the fans and the players, that is something really difficult in a club.’
‘He’s prepared to invest to make this club successful but it’s not to get a player for £300m and then waiting for him to make a difference. It’s about building a team.
‘Look at Dennis’ experience with Ajax, being one of the greatest European football clubs. They’ve been really successful not spending a lot of money compared to other teams. Building a success is not just about the money, it’s about the people, about the strategy, about the football you want to play, the players you want to recruit and the philosophy you want to implant in your football club. That is as important as just going and spending money to buy players.
‘When you look at the Arsenal era [under Wenger], at that time we had success with players like myself, that nobody knew about and they brought me for not a lot of money. The top teams need to invest but obviously you need to have a strategy about the direction you want to go and if you have that and you have the people to make that project successful, of course you have more chance to succeed. But it’s not just about the money.
‘Arsenal showed that in the past and we have seen Leicester winning the Cup. If you want to win the Premier League you need to spend money. But you need to have a plan, a strategy and a philosophy. That will be as important as the money to be a successful football club.’
‘It’s difficult to blame somebody because I don’t know the tools they are using to identify players and how they are recruiting at the moment but something changed obviously from the period that Arsene was there,’ he said.
‘Because Arsene bought players really well and was selling them really well, that was really good business for the club. And that is something that has to improve and be done better if Daniel managed to get the club. It’s about identifying the right players and the players who have this kind of passion, the DNA of the club.
‘Again, when I arrived at Arsenal, looking at the players every day in training and the way they are competing in the game, that made me understand the importance of the fighting spirit and through the years I would say I think Arsenal lost a bit of the fire, passion, determination and competitiveness and that is quite difficult to see and accept from outside.’
So it is very clear that our legends have the belief that Ek can transform Arsenal back to their former glory, and Vieira makes it clear that they are not going to give up, no matter how long it takes. ‘When you’re talking about buying a football club for billions it will take time to make the deal or to negotiate.
‘But what I know is that Daniel is here for the long term, is going to wait and is prepared to wait the time it takes to purchase the football club.’
So perhaps Arsenal fans can start hoping for a positive future after all. Let’s get our voices behind Ek, our legends, and the Arsenal Supporters Trust, and see if we can get the Kroenkes to walk away with a big fat profit…