Arsenal players have been left ‘frustrated’ by the club’s decision to lay off 55 members of staff, as announced on Wednesday afternoon.
A statement released by the north London club confirmed the redundancy proposal due to the financial fallout cause by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The message from head of football Raul Sanllehi and managing director Vinai Venkatesham called the redundancies ‘upsetting’ and ‘difficult’, but also confirmed Arsenal’s intention to continue investing in the playing squad as the club aim to compete ‘effectively at the top of the game here and in Europe’.
Critics of the decision pointed at Arsenal’s proposed signing of Willian and the new contract offered to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with huge sums prepared for those players while 55 lower paid staff are to lose their jobs.
And the players themselves are understood to be annoyed by the redundancies announcement, having been notified of the proposals on Wednesday.Play VideoAlly McCoist blasts Arsenal for making 55 staff redundant while offering players huge contracts
According to The Athletic, several Arsenal stars intend to speak to the club about the lay offs as they have come despite Mikel Arteta’s squad agreeing to a pay cut in April to preserve staff roles.
A large number of Arsenal players agreed to the 12.5 per cent wage reduction, but club chiefs have pressed forward with their plan to axe around 10 per cent of their permanent staff regardless.
Staff who are not being made redundant will also discover changes to their benefits, with matched pension contributions and complimentary season ticket packages being altered.
Arsenal’s redundancy statement in full
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have been working hard to ensure that Arsenal Football Club emerges in a robust and strong position for the future.
“In line with other football clubs and many other businesses operating in the sport, leisure and entertainment arena, we have been impacted directly by COVID-19.
“Our main sources of income have all reduced significantly. Revenue from broadcasters, matchday and commercial activities have all been hit severely and these impacts will continue into at least the forthcoming 2020/21 season.
“The pandemic represents one of the most challenging periods in our 134-year history and we have responded promptly by implementing wide-ranging measures to reduce our costs. Our players, senior football staff and executive team have volunteered pay cuts, we have stopped pretty much all of our capital spending, and our discretionary operating expenditure has been strictly controlled.
“We have also received significant financial support from our owners, Kroenke, Sports & Entertainment in terms of refinancing our stadium debt. These steps have all reduced the impact of the pandemic on the club and have helped us continue to maintain investment in the team. This will continue to be a key priority.
“It is now clear that we will be facing more significant and longer-lasting reductions in our revenue than we all hoped.
“Current indications are that we will not have fans back at Emirates Stadium for the start of next season and fans will only be able to return in limited numbers after that. The global economic projections are also very negative. This will impact the disposable income of our fans, the money corporate clients have to spend on hospitality and sponsorship, and the ability for broadcasters to invest in TV rights.
“We all hope there will be no ‘second wave’ but we also need to accept that is one of the many uncertainties ahead of us and plan accordingly.
“Over recent years we have consistently invested in additional staff to take the club forward but with the expected reduction of income in mind, it is now clear that we must reduce our costs further to ensure we are operating in a sustainable and responsible way, and to enable us to continue to invest in the team.
“Our aim has been to protect the jobs and base salaries of our people for as long as we possibly can. Unfortunately, we have now come to the point where we are proposing 55 redundancies.
“We do not make these proposals lightly and have looked at every aspect of the club and our expenditure before reaching this point. We are now entering the required 30-day consultation period on these proposals.
“We know this is upsetting and difficult for our dedicated staff and our focus is on managing this as sensitively as possible.
“These proposed changes are ultimately about ensuring we take this great football club forward, creating the right organisation for a post-COVID world, and ensuring we have the resources to return to competing effectively at the top of the game here and in Europe.”
Among the high-profile casualties of Arsenal’s redundancy proposal is Francis Cagigao, the famed scout who discovered the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Gabriel Martinelli.
He has been with the Gunners for over a decade but will allegedly lose his job, along with head of UK scouting Peter Clark and fellow recruitment specialist Brian McDermott.