CAPE TOWN – Arsenal have been rocked by the impending departure of chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who will join AC Milan in the same capacity in December.
The Gunners made the announcement on Tuesday, with the 54-year-old Gazidis – who was born in Johannesburg, but moved to Manchester at the age of four – saying it was the “hardest decision of my life”.
Arsenal said in a statement on their website that Gazidis’ role will be fulfilled by two people – Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham.
Sanllehi is currently the head of football relations, and will become the head of football going forward, with Venkatesham moving from his chief commercial officer role to managing director.
Gazidis will be at Arsenal until the end of October, before joining AC Milan on December 1.
“For the last 10 years I have been privileged to dedicate myself to this great club. Arsenal is entering a new chapter, and I have done everything I can to ensure that it is strongly placed to take on that challenge,” Gazidis said on Tuesday.
“This includes world-class facilities and outstanding leaders in every sector who carry the values of the club, including, of course, Unai Emery, Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham, in whom I have enormous faith.
“We have been building on the club’s progressive social values, leading the way on the women’s game, diversity and inclusion, and establishing the Arsenal Foundation. This will remain central to the club’s philosophy.
“Although it is very hard to do – the hardest decision of my life – I believe that, after 10 years, it is the right time for me to step aside to allow new leadership, energy and ideas to take the club forward into this exciting new era.
“I believe in the positive force of change, both for me and for the club. I am excited to see what the future holds for this great club, and I am energised by a new personal challenge with AC Milan.”
Josh Kroenke, the deputy chairman of Arsenal’s majority Kroenke Sports and Entertainment UK, added: “It has been a pleasure working with Ivan. We will miss the wisdom, insight, and energy he brought to our club on a daily basis over the past decade.
“We are confident we have outstanding people in Raul and Vinai, and we look forward to working with them and coach Unai Emery to continue to move the club forward on and off the pitch.”
Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham appointed head of football and managing director respectively, as Ivan Gazidis leaves for A.C. Milan— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) September 18, 2018