'Pure greed': Billionaire owner's 'shameful' act amid virus crisis

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Stan Kroenke, pictured here at an Arsenal game in the Premier League.
Stan Kroenke looks on before an Arsenal game in the Premier League. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Piers Morgan has savaged Arsenal and their multi-billionaire owner over the decision to layoff 55 staff amid the coronavirus crisis.

Less than a week after winning the FA Cup and as they negotiate a multi-million dollar contract extension with striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal announced plans to layoff 55 staff.

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The club said on Wednesday that the cuts were the result of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement sparked an immediate social media backlash from fans contrasting the huge sums involved with keeping key players to the lost jobs of staff at the north London outfit.

And high-profile media commentator Morgan was among those outraged, taking aim at Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke and star player Mesut Ozil.

“Arsenal firing 55 staff when we’re owned by a multi-billionaire, have just made £££ by winning the FA Cup & qualifying for Europe, & pay Mesut Ozil £350k-a-week to sit on his a**e, is morally indefensible & not what I expect from a club with our heritage,” he tweeted.

“Shameful decision.”

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Arsenal are owned by American sports tycoon Kroenke, whose net worth is reported to be around $11.4 billion.

“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 club said in a statement.

The club said they had done all they could to reduce costs, including players, senior staff and executive team members taking voluntary pay cuts, adding: “but it is now clear that we must reduce our costs further to ensure we are operating in a sustainable and responsible way.”

“We do not make these proposals lightly and have looked at every aspect of the club and our expenditure before reaching this point.

Arsenal players, pictured here celebrating after winning the FA Cup.
Arsenal players celebrate after winning the FA Cup. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“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.”

Arsenal finished eighth in the Premier League but their record 14th FA Cup triumph last Saturday ensured another year of European football and the possibility of earning up to $70 million in the Europa League.

Fans have already been incensed by the fact that the club pay former Germany international Ozil, who has not played since before lockdown, around $620,000 a week, with reference to his salary a common theme in hundreds of posts from disgruntled supporters.

Arsenal are also bidding to lure Chelsea forward Willian to the club, also on a huge weekly wage, while local media reports this week say they are offering striker Aubameyang a $540,000-a-week deal to extend his contract.

with Reuters