Vinai Venkatesham: Arsenal Won't Leave Premier League for European Super League

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 17, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  The Arsenal crest is seen ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Swansea City at Emirates Stadium on May 11, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Vinai Venkatesham has said Arsenal "aren’t or never have been" interested in featuring in a competition that would weaken the Premier League, though he admitted the club has been part of discussions regarding a European Super League.

The Gunners' managing director praised the Premier League as the pinnacle of sport and spoke against rumours Arsenal want to be a part of a breakaway continental competition, per the Guardian's Amy Lawrence:

“Arsenal aren’t or never have been interested in playing in any competition that weakens the Premier League. The Premier League is the world’s leading league in the leading sport; we don’t want to do anything to damage it. I see these articles that Arsenal want to break away – we never want to do any of that. But we also have to recognise we have to be in these conversations or we wouldn’t be responsible. We have to be in the conversations – it doesn’t necessarily mean we support them.”

One can see some logic in Venkatesham's comments. Assuming those intentions are honest, being closer to the discussions could provide insight that may otherwise be unavailable, giving an advantage if they were to fight any proposals.

However, Arseblog suggested the reasons for their involvement were more obvious:

arseblog @arseblog

New: Apart from being interested in a European Super League Arsenal are not interested in a European Super League | https://t.co/Lamw5XxOl7 #arsenal #afc https://t.co/DDdBEQEYsA

Plans for a new breakaway competition were recently brought to light by Football Leaks (h/t Der Spiegel, via Goal) and are intended as a tournament separate from UEFA ruling.  

Der Spiegel (h/t Sky Sports' Lyall Thomas) reported in early November that Arsenal were one of 16 major European clubs prepared to sign on for a breakaway international league.

The competition is said to be scheduled to begin in 2021, and Sky's report mentioned Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool executives were pictured at a meeting two years ago regarding a European Super League.

Arsenal director of football Raul Sanllehi joined the north London club in February and acknowledged that proposal as an option, but he denied suggestions Arsenal had signed up for a new competition:

“The way it was explained may seem we were doing secret things but there is nothing secret. There is one document that has been presented in an article that has Arsenal’s name; it also has Barcelona’s name. But there’s no signature and I can assure you in Arsenal and Barcelona we have not seen the document. It’s a draft, probably drafted by some proposal discussed with one of those clubs in that list that I don’t know about. It’s a real document – I cannot deny that – but I can assure I’ve not seen that document.” 

City manager Pep Guardiola was recently asked for his opinion on a potential European Super League and offered an ambiguous response while supporting the current domestic division, per BBC Sport's Simon Stone:

Simon Stone @sistoney67

Pep on potential European Super League: "I have no opinion about that. I like to know the idea but the local competition is so good. We cannot deny that."

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has already said there will be significant repercussions for players participating in the new contest, per Sky Sports News:

Sky Sports News @SkySportsNews

BREAKING: @FIFAcom president Gianni Infantino says any players involved in a European Super League would be banned from playing international football #SSN https://t.co/euHedck0tS

As one of the Premier League's most successful teams, Arsenal would understandably be a prime target for any powers looking to set up a European Super League, but the club's hierarchy insist they aren't interested.