Arsenal chiefs admit coronavirus has hit club harder than any other crisis in 134-year history

ARSENAL chiefs have conceded the Covid-19 crisis has been the toughest spell in the club’s 134-year history.

The Gunners had to make major cutbacks — with 55 backroom staff axed.

And managing director Vinai Venkatesham admits the cull gave him sleepless nights.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta defended the cuts last month and the club are still preparing to award a new £250,000-a-week contract to skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

But Venkatesham has reiterated just how hard the pandemic has hit the North Londoners financially.

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He said: “This has been the toughest nine months of Arsenal’s 134-year history and we have had to take hard decisions for the long-term health of the club.

“We are looking at a different economy post-coronavirus and nobody really thinks this is going away in the next six months.

“And the Government announcement this week means it’s possible we won’t get fans back in the stadium in October.

“We’ve already seen the Premier League’s TV deal with China terminated.

“I would hope we can find a solution that would get fans back in a safe way.

“But our matchday, commercial and broadcast revenue streams will be impacted for a long time and we needed to restructure to deal with that.

“But we also need to invest and, just like an airline company needs to buy new planes, here we need to bring in new players.”

Part of the Emirates shake-up has involved changing Arteta’s job title from head coach to first-team manager.

And technical director Edu has been given more authority following the exit of head of football, Raul Sanllehi, last month.

Venkatesham denied Arsenal have grown too reliant on leading agent Kia Joorabchian, saying: “That would be a crazy strategy.

“We are not signing players based on the agent.

Everybody wants to do swaps and loans so we need to be patient

“We select players based on the positions we need to strengthen and characteristics we are looking for.”

Edu admitted he has found it difficult to shift fringe players to generate cash and added: “The market right now is challenging.

“Everybody wants to do swaps and loans so we need to be patient.”

Venkatesham added: “We have a responsibility to manage our wage bill and find a solution if there are players who are going to get limited minutes.”

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