Patrick Vieira has opened up on his involvement in Daniel Ek’s Arsenal takeover bid , speaking out about his worries for the club.
Along with Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, Vieira was one of the former ‘Invincibles’ who backed Ek’s much-publicised attempt to replace Stan Kroenke as owner.
The Swedish billionaire, who made much of his fortune from music streaming service Spotify, announced his intention to buy Arsenal amid the fallout from the club’s involvement in the failed European Super League breakaway, which led to vocal protests from supporters.
Ek released a statement last weekend confirming that he had made an official approach about a takeover. “Inaccurate reports emerged today saying I have not made a bid for Arsenal Football Club,” he said on Twitter.
“I think it’s important to correct the record – this week an offer was made to both Josh Kroenke and their bankers that included fan ownership, representation at the board and a golden share for the supporters.
“They replied that they don’t need the money. I respect their decision but remain interested and available should that situation ever change.”
Since then, Bergkamp has given an interview claiming that Ek is “not a quitter” and the players involved in his attempted takeover “are here to stay”. Henry has already thrown his weight behind Ek and pledged to restore “Arsenal DNA” to the club , with the club suffering a marked decline over the last few seasons.
Now, speaking to The Daily Mail, Vieira has explained why he and his former teammates are backing Ek’s ownership push. “After the time that I spent with Daniel, I personally believe it’s time for a change of ownership and I believe he is the right person to bring happiness back to this football club,” he said.
“We haven’t talked about ourselves. What is happening to this club at the moment is bigger than Dennis, Thierry or myself. We are concerned about how can we help Daniel, because we strongly believe he can take it to a different level.
“We didn’t talk about what we will do if Daniel gets the club. We didn’t get into that conversation yet because that is not the priority. The priority is to give the club back its DNA and what it deserves.
“What is really important is to understand the football club, the fans, the country where you are. We have this kind of credibility because we know what we are talking about, because of the number of years we spend in England and at Arsenal. We have experience that we can bring to the football club.
“When you look at Dennis, Thierry and myself, we spent a lot of years at this club.
“Maybe it was the place where we played our best football. England was a fantastic place for us to live and we enjoyed our lives at the club and outside as well. The country and the club mean a lot to us.
“Seeing Arsenal not being one of the teams that can challenge for the Premier League or not being one of the teams guaranteed to play Champions League football is frustrating, because that is not what we are used to with Arsenal Football Club. The club deserves much better than that.”
Asked why Ek would be different to Kroenke, Vieira said: “’Because the way that he talks about the club, the way he talks about the feeling he has for this club and what he is prepared to do for this club.
“When somebody is passionate about something, you have a feeling about it. I believe he can bring back the glory days at Arsenal if he managed to buy it. But to buy it, the guys need to sell and maybe the Kroenkes don’t want to sell.
“But Daniel can be the right person to bring back this union that you used to have at this club between the fans, players and the ownership. I found him to be someone who knew a lot about Arsenal, loved Arsenal and was a true Arsenal fan.
“I found somebody who really wanted to build something simple around the fans. That is something that pushed us to support him.
“What’s going wrong at Arsenal is not just this year, it’s the last couple of years. When you look at Arsenal in the Arsene Wenger era, you always had this kind of figure, a strong personality, who could represent the club.
“Through the years, Arsenal has lost a little bit of identity, not just on the field but off the field as well. When I talk about identity on the field, in my time at Arsenal you had players like Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon, who had been at the club for years. When you got there, those players made you understand the club’s DNA, what Arsenal means.
“Through the years, Arsenal has lost this kind of identity. People now realise that in losing Arsene, they lost more than a manager or coach. Arsene had a massive impact on Arsenal in every department. Since he left [in 2018] maybe there wasn’t the right people to fill all the positions that Arsene was doing.
“They brought a scouting guy [Sven Mislintat] from Germany who stayed a little bit. They brought this kind of CEO or sporting director [Raul Sanllehi] from Spain who didn’t stay very long.
“Losing Arsene and this kind of person coming into the club did not give the club the stability it needed to build a new era, a new foundation. It’s like building a house. You want to build a house on solid foundations. That is the biggest problem in the last couple of years at Arsenal.”
Spotify has long been criticised for how little musicians and artists are remunerated for their work, so Ek would not come without controversy were he to take charge at the Emirates.
Using the hashtags #KroenkeOut and #FansIn, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust has called for fundamental changes to the club’s ownership structure to incorporate some form of fan ownership.
They have floated ideas including a 50+1 voting rights model – similar to that used in the Bundesliga – and fans being allowed to acquire shares in the club, while also calling for supporter representation on the board, greater transparency and the appointment of independent non-executive directors.
Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.