Mikel Arteta has given his verdict on why the European Super League was essentially doomed to fail after declaring "the soul of this sport belongs to the fans".
The Arsenal boss fielded questions regarding the club's involvement in the scuppered proposals for the breakaway league, which collapsed just 48 hours after its 12 founding clubs made their intentions public.
The initial announcement of the competition was met with widespread condemnation, followed by fan protests at various stadiums across the country, before Chelsea and Manchester City were the first clubs to pull the plug and back out.
Arsenal's owners have since apologised to the club's fans and their manager for the part they played in trying to get the ESL off the ground, and Arteta has come back with a perfectly measured response.
"I think this has given big lessons and it shows the importance of football in the world," he said at a press conference on Thursday. "And it shows that the soul of this sport belongs to the fans — and that's it.
"During this pandemic, for a year, we have been trying to sustain this industry with no fans in the stadium."
Arsenal withdrew from the ESL shortly after the house of cards began to fall, with their owners, Stan and Josh Kroenke, issuing a statement apologising over social media.
Arteta revealed he has also held private discussions with Stan Kroenke over the phone having, like many people in his position, been left completely in the lurch over the secret breakaway plans.
"I found out just a little bit before the news was leaked. And then everything was completely out of control and the world reacted in a really unified manner," Arteta said.
Asked if he had received an apology, he replied: "Yes [I did]. Starting from Vinai, the ownership, and everybody that is involved in the process.
Regarrding the Kroenkes, he added: "I had some communication with them as well, I spoke with them yesterday. As always, every time we need something and something is happening they are straight away ready to act, to give us the answers they can do, the support they can do and they have done it again.
"They have the maximum responsibility to run the football club and that is what they said was: 'apologies for disturbing the team, we did it without the capacity to communicate in a different way earlier and pass on my message to the players' — that is all you can ask for."
Arsenal will now wait to discover their fate in the Europa League, where their semi-final spot could be rescinded after daring to cross UEFA, who will make a decision on Friday.
However UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has admitted it is more likely the games will go ahead due to their commitments to television broadcasters.
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