Transcript (Part 1)
We hope you’re staying safe during these ongoing difficult times. Our thoughts are with everyone who has lost loved ones.
Everyone at Arsenal continues to send our thanks and admiration to the health professionals and key workers who are selflessly working to keep us safe.
Since our last update we have seen some positive developments for football with the Bundesliga in Germany returning to action, the UK Government publishing guidelines regarding the return to training for elite sport and the Premier League announcing a provisional return date for competitive matches.
Any return to competitive matches in the UK will only happen when the Government, authorities and medical experts declare it is safe to do so. Although we are planning to return to competitive matches later this month, this will sadly but inevitably be with no supporters present. We share everyone’s disappointment at the prospect of playing behind closed doors, but the health and safety of all of us is the most important factor.
On Thursday, May 28, Sir Chips Keswick announced his retirement as chairman of Arsenal Holdings Limited after seven years in the position.
A lifelong fan, Sir Chips, who turned 80 in February, has been a member of the Arsenal board since 2005. On his retirement, he said: “It has been an honour to be the chairman of this great football club. Arsenal has always held a special place in my life and that will remain the case in the future.
“I made my plan to retire at the end of this season clear to the board, before the global health crisis we are now experiencing. The club is in safe hands with Stan and Josh, the board and the executive team. I know Arsenal will emerge strongly from this situation and I look forward, like all our supporters around the world, to seeing the team in action as soon as possible.”
In a joint statement, Stan and Josh Kroenke said: “We would like to express our immense gratitude for everything Sir Chips has done for Arsenal Football Club as a board member and chairman of the board over the past 15 years. His extensive business knowledge and experience coupled with his deep love of Arsenal have made him the perfect chairman. It has been a privilege to work with him and he will always be a very welcome visitor when we return to playing matches at Emirates Stadium.”
Significant progress has been made in the past week as we make steps towards the safe return of competitive matches.
Last Wednesday (May 27), Premier League clubs voted unanimously in favour of a return to group contact training, which means our men’s first-team squad has now started training as a group and engaging in tackling, while still minimising any unnecessary close contact. This is under the supervision of our medical team, together with a limited number of coaches and support staff, who are all delighted to be back on the training pitches.
This new stage of training has been agreed in consultation with the Government, medical experts, Premier League club doctors, players and managers. The health and wellbeing of everyone involved is both ours and the Premier League’s priority. Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.
The agreement to return to group contact training was followed on Thursday (May 28) with the Premier League announcing a provisional restart date for the 2019/20 season of Wednesday, June 17, provided that all safety requirements are in place.
Our away match at Manchester City, together with Aston Villa v Sheffield United, which were postponed due to the Carabao Cup final, are now scheduled for Wednesday, June 17, followed by a full round of Premier League matches planned for the weekend of Friday, June 19. Dates and kick off times for all matches will be confirmed by the Premier League in due course.
The Football Association has also confirmed the provisional restart dates for the 2019/20 Emirates FA Cup. Our quarter-final match at Sheffield United is now due to take place over the weekend of Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28. The semi finals and final will take place over the weekend of July 18/19 and August 1 respectively. Further information on match dates and kick off times will be announced by the FA.
On Monday, May 25, the FA Women’s Super League & Women’s Championship Board confirmed the decision to end the 2019/20 season for the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and the FA Women’s Championship, with immediate effect.
This follows overwhelming feedback from all clubs including Arsenal to follow this direction. The decision to curtail the 2019/20 season was made in the best interests of the women’s game. The FA Board will now determine the most appropriate sporting outcome for the 2019/20 season.
As a result of the decision, our women’s players have begun their close season. We look forward to seeing them back for pre-season ahead of the 2020/21 campaign, and await news in regard to the plans for the 2019/20 Uefa Women’s Champions League.
All competitive matches at academy level have ended for this season and our academy remains closed. We look forward to re-opening, subject to Government guidance, in the coming weeks.