It’s been 36 hours since Arsenal officially announced that the club is one of the founding members of the breakaway competition The Super League, meant to create a mostly-closed format Champions League replacement that would guarantee participating clubs hundreds of millions of dollars. The statement did not contain anything Arsenal-specific — no quotes from anybody at the club, no discussion of why Arsenal in particular were joining, just the boilerplate that the other 11 clubs published as well.
The club Twitter account was silent for more than 24 hours. Today, it has resumed its regularly scheduled programming with tweets about the Fulham match over the weekend and the club’s anti-online racism campaign.
The day after the announcement, Monday, the reports were that CEO Vinai Venkatesham was meeting with the coaches and the players to answer their questions about the decision. Apparently they had all been left in the dark. The club also cancelled a Q&A session with fans but has since announced that Venkatesham will be meeting with supporters groups later this week.
UPDATE: According to The Athletic, the club HAS NOT met with players or coaches about the Super League plans but HAS met with other Arsenal staff.
But is that good enough? I’m not sure that it is. Even though I know that we, as supporters, don’t truly “deserve” anything by the literal definition of the word, it feels as if we should be treated better.
It is disappointing bordering on unacceptable that Arsenal, ownership, the board, and the executives have been silent this long on something so paradigm-shifting. And that’s not to mention that this has been a pretty crappy rollout, generally. The messaging and the PR has been poor, and Florentino Pérez’s rambling, nearly unhinged interview last night did not help things. It almost feels as if maybe The Super League plans going public was sprung on them when they weren’t fully prepared. Or they are just bad at their jobs.
Sadly, the botched rollout and the silence from Arsenal are indicative of / evidence of something that has been true for a while even though we don’t really want to admit it: the big clubs, Arsenal included, don’t really care about us as fans. That’s one of the “big bets” of the entire Super League endeavor — that whatever fan resistance and reaction to it will eventually wither and die off and that once the competition begins, the fans (or at least enough fans) will continue to consume the product.
And I think they’re probably right.