Hundreds of Arsenal fans descend on Emirates Stadium as protesters call for club owner Stan Kroenke to be ousted amid collapse of controversial European Super League
- Arsenal fans have gathered outside the Emirates Stadium in backlash against owners after a chaotic week
- The Gunners were one of 12 clubs to sign up for the European Super League, but dropped out 48 hours later
- Arsenal fans remain furious with the club and owner Stan Kroenke over his role in the breakaway league
- Masses of supporters are calling for the owner – who has been unpopular for some time – to sell the club
- One fan has reportedly suffered a head injury amid a planned protest on Friday outside the ground
- One officer was injured by an object thrown by protesters, The Met said, while two people were arrested
Hundreds of Arsenal fans descended on North London’s Emirates Stadium tonight as protesters called for the club’s owner Stan Kronke to be ousted following the collapse of the controversial European Super League.
The protests came ahead of Arsenal’s Friday Premier League match against Everton, with fans gathering on the stadium’s concourse more than two hours before kickoff, banging metal screens above the main box office, lighting flares, setting off fireworks, blaring airhorns and chanting ‘We want Kroenke out,’ and ‘We want our Arsenal back.’
Amid the chaotic scenes, one fan reportedly suffered a broken leg and a head injury after shocking footage showed the supporter falling from the top of the club’s ticket office during the Protests.
Pictured: Arsenal fans protest against owner Stan Kronke after failed launch of a European Super League . Hundreds of fans descended on North London’s Emirates Stadium on Friday night ahead of the team’s game against Everton
Fans gathered on the stadium’s concourse more than two hours before kickoff, banging metal screens above the main box office, lighting flares, setting off fireworks, blaring airhorns and chanting ‘We want Kroenke out,’ and ‘We want our Arsenal back’. The protests came after Arsenal announced it was one of the 12 founding teams of the doomed European Super League
The hundreds of Gunners fans hung banners over the edge of the concourse including ones that read, ‘Arsenal till I die. Kroenke out,’ and ‘Our club our home. Sell up Stan.’ Stan Kroke has been an unpopular owner for a long time
Police appeared to have controlled the protests outside the stadium on Friday as Arsenal’s match against Everton inside the stadium continued
An Arsenal fan has reportedly suffered a ‘broken leg’ and a ‘head injury’ after falling from the top of the club’s ticket office during the European Super League protests, outside the club’s Emirates stadium ahead of the team’s clash with Everton
The stricken fan can be seen trying to get off the top of the Arsenal ticket office roof
Other fans, stewards and police officers watch on in horror as the fan slips and falls face-first
While Premier League games continue to be held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of Gunners fans hung banners over the edge of the concourse including ones that read, ‘Arsenal till I die. Kroenke out,’ and ‘Our club our home. Sell up Stan.’
After gathering on the concourse outside 60,000-seater stadium on Hornsey Road in Islington, the fans marched down stairs to the box office and team store to continue their noisy demonstration.
One fan climbed on top of the box office awning and waved banners and flags, riling up the hundreds of fans gathered in front of him and leading them in chants against Arsenal’s ownership.
A statement from the Metropolitan Police at around 21:50 on Friday said that the protesters had been largely dispersed after some bottles were thrown, injuring one officer, while two people had been arrested.
‘The Met responded to a protest outside The Emirates Stadium in Highbury on the evening of Friday, 23 April. Officers engaged with the group and the majority left the area without incident,’ the statement said.
‘The protest has now concluded and the group has been dispersed. One officer was treated for a minor head injury after being hit by an object. Two men were arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and taken into custody.’
American Stan Kronke and his KSE (Kroenke Sports & Entertainment) firm, that owns Arsenal and a number of other sports teams in the U.S. – including the Los Angeles Rams NFL team and the Denver Nuggets NBA team – has for a long time been unpopular with fans over a perceived lack of investment in the club.
But anger at Kroke has come to a head following Arsenal’s involvement in the doomed European Super League.
Pictured: Arsenal fans protest against the European Super League and Owner Stan Kroenke outside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on April 23, 2021. An effigy was strung up over a post – dressed to look like Stan Kronke – along with a sign that read ‘Silence Stan?’
Fans placed banners around Arsenal’s Emirates stadium with a variety of messages against the club’s owners. In this case, the words ‘Histroy, Tradition and Class’ were crossed out, with the words Kronke Out written at the bottom. Arsenal was founded in 1886 – 130 years ago – with some fans feeling the ownership has led to some of the club’s heritage diminishing
Pictured: Arsenal fans protest against owner after failed launch of a European Super League
The protest against the American was still in full voice and could be heard inside the stadium as the teams took to the pitch to warm up and after the match kicked off as a police helicopter circled above the stadium. Officers didn’t attempt to move in to break up the protest amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But the initially peaceful protests then took a shocking turn when footage showed one fan suffered a nasty fall from what appears to be the top of the ticket office, which is attached to the club’s stadium.
The protester cut his face and reports on Twitter claim he suffered a broken leg but there appeared to be no other casualties as a strong police presence kept fans calm – but they could not prevent the hordes failing to adhere to social distance measures.
An initial statement from Metropolitan Police responding to the incident said the injury sustained by the fan was not life-threatening and that he had been taken hospital.
A Police Helicopter hovers over the stadium as Arsenal fans protest outside about the European Super League during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on April 23, 2021 in London
Pictured: Police officers are seen as Arsenal fans demonstrate at owner Stan Kroenke’s involvement in the failed launch of a European Super League
Some supporters were overhead planning to block the team buses arriving but the PA news agency understands the Arsenal players arrived earlier than normal, with the Everton squad arriving via a bridge on the opposite side of the stadium
Pictured: Arsenal fans protest against the European Super League and Owner Stan Kroenke outside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on April 23, 2021 in London
Some supporters were overhead planning to block the team buses arriving but the PA news agency understands the Arsenal players arrived earlier than normal, with the Everton squad arriving via a bridge on the opposite side of the stadium.
Fan anger has been brewing since Arsenal and five other Premier League clubs announced they would join a breakaway Super League last Sunday. And it hasn’t subsided even after Arsenal quit the 12-team Super League project on Tuesday night in the face of a growing public backlash, and apologized to fans.
The competition received widespread backlash from fans, pundits and even UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Arsenal among the six English participants to announce plans to withdraw from the ESL on Tuesday night.
However, fans remain unhappy following the episode, and have gathered outside the Emirates Stadium in a planned protest ahead of their game with Everton to call for owner Stan Kroenke to leave.
Arsenal fans have gathered outside the Emirates Stadium to call for their owners to sell up
Gunners fans are furious with unpopular owner Stan Kroenke amid the European Super League
The north Londoners were one of 12 clubs to sign up for the mega-money breakaway league
However, amid widespread backlash all six participating English clubs have withdrawn
Anger remains high among fans who want unpopular owner Stan Kroenke to leave the club
‘#KroenkeOut’ was trending on Twitter with former Arsenal great Ian Wright also chipping in with a tweet.
‘I stand with them,’ Wright told DAZN. ‘The fans have every right to be out there… KSE is not fit to run the club, not fit to own the club.
‘Josh Kroenke said they’re not selling the club and I wouldn’t expect them to, it’s a massive cash cow for them. But if they are going to stay and run the club, it has to be done under different terms.’
Supporters’ protests have been key to the U-turn from the English clubs who had signed up for the Super League with Chelsea fans also protesting outside Stamford Bridge on Tuesday before their game against Brighton & Hove Albion.
‘I’m just fed up of the way that football fans are treated by so-called billionaires,’ Arsenal supporter Dave Daniels, who was at Friday’s protest, said.
‘I just want our voice heard and the fans’ representation on the board. I’ve had a season ticket for 35 years and the club just don’t care about us anymore.’
Another Arsenal fan, Mark Hamblin, added: ‘It’s important that we come up here for a peaceful protest to show that we are against that (Super) league and we are against owners like Stan Kroenke…’
Masses of supporters made their feelings about the controversial scheme known on Friday
Mikel Arteta’s side are set to play Everton in the Premier League on Friday evening
Fans up and down the country have voiced their concerns with the European Super League
Josh Kroenke (L), son of owner Stan (C), faced the music in a grilling with fans on Thursday
Kroenke Jnr was told that the ownership did not understood English football and should leave
Another fan told the chief that supporters have ‘never trusted’ the current ownership
Supporters remain unconvinced despite Kroenke Jnr’s grovelling apology on Thursday
Who is Arsenal’s American billionaire owner Stan Kronke?
The 73-year-old American billionaire is heavily involved in sport as owner of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment with Premier League side Arsenal among the biggest guns in his portfolio.
His company has been involved with the Gunners since 2007 and he took complete control three years ago.
Kroenke also owns elite-level American teams LA Rams (American Football), the Denver Nuggest (basketball), Colorado Avalanche (ice hockey) and the Colorado Rapids (football).
Kroenke was able to navigate his way around NFL rules preventing ownership of teams in other markets by having the Avalanche and Nuggets in his wife’s name. Ann Walton is the daughter of Walton co-founder James Bud Walton.
He also has the Colorado Mammoth team in the National Lacrosse League and, since 2017 has been involved in epsorts, owning teams in leagues for the video games Overwatch and Call of Duty.
Despite his involvement in sports watched by millions Kroenke prefers to avoid the spotlight and has the nickname ‘Silent Stan.’ He is estimated to be worth around $10billion.
Kroenke’s son, Josh Kroenke, joined an Arsenal fans forum on Thursday, and supporters voiced their disdain at the decision to form a Super League without consulting them. Kroenke told them the family has ‘no intention’ of selling the club.
Just before kickoff, Spotify founder and chief executive Daniel Ek said he would be interested in buying Arsenal from Kroenke Sports and Entertainment.
‘As a kid growing up, I’ve cheered for (at)Arsenal as long as I can remember. If KSE would like to sell Arsenal I’d be happy to throw my hat in the ring,’ he tweeted.
Both teams’ buses arrived earlier than normal on Friday before the bulk of the protesters arrived outside the stadium in order to ensure the match would go ahead.
On Tuesday night, kickoff in the Chelsea-Brighton match was delayed by 15 minutes after Chelsea’s bus was slowed getting into Stamford Bridge because of protests.
Friday’s protest appeared to be the biggest yet, with fans basking in the sunshine outside Emirates Stadium, many with beer cans in hand. It followed the protest at Chelsea and one outside Elland Road on Monday before Leeds’ match with Liverpool, another club that aimed to join the Super League.
The project crumbled when all six English clubs withdrew on Tuesday. The Super League was proposed to be mainly closed, and a split from the Champions League where qualification is determined annually from domestic competitions.
The Gunners are understood to have been architects behind the ploy alongside the American owners of Liverpool and Manchester United, as well as Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
However, Josh Kroenke – son of owner Stan – and Arsenal CEO Vinai Venkatesham insisted the club was one of the last to join as the pair faced the music in a gruelling virtual Q&A with supporters on Thursday.
Venkatesham reportedly said: ‘Arsenal were not the authors of this proposal, despite what many think. On this project, the train was leaving the station. We made the decision to join. We made a bad decision, a terrible one.
‘Now we need to make good ones. I have been in touch with all the other 14 Premier League clubs to apologise for our part in this. We are working hard to rebuild our reputation.’
Kroenke Jnr also issued a grovelling apology during the stormy session and despite being asked to sell the club by prominent Arsenal Supporters Trust member Akhil Vyas, the American said that Kroenke Sports and Entertainment have no intention of leaving.
‘I echo Vinai’s comments,’ Kroenke Jnr said. ‘Leadership is about recognising when you are wrong, correcting and apologising. We asked ourselves, what is worse: a Super League or a Super League without Arsenal? We also asked ourselves, what do the fans want?
‘The global fan wants Arsenal against Barcelona as often as possible. English fans want to see more big matches, but you also still want your cold nights in Stoke. Now we need to build a bridge and we will.’
Kroenke confirmed that KSE — the owner’s Kroenke Sports Entertainment company — will foot the bill for all costs associated with Arsenal’s ESL flirtation, which will run into millions. He also vowed to consult fans should another, similar Super League proposal emerge.
Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta described the furious fan reaction that triggered the collapse of the ESL plans as ‘probably the strongest message that has ever been sent in the football world’.
Asked if he found it embarrassing that Arsenal were involved, Arteta said: ‘My biggest concern now and my biggest aim is to get our people and our fans back towards the team and feeling proud of it.’
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