Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis has explained his decision to leave the club and join AC Milan later this year in a statement on the club’s official website.
The South African-born businessman has been at the Emirates Stadium since 2009 and overseen plenty of change at the club, most notably when he hired Unai Emery to replace the long-serving Arsene Wenger as manager of the team this summer.
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Gazidis is now the latest key figure behind the scenes to leave Arsenal, with the club also confirming on their official page that Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham will between them fill the gap left by Gazidis.
Sanllehi has been promoted from head of football relations to simply head of football, while Venkatesham will move from chief commercial officer to managing director.
Gazidis says he believes it was time for new blood to lead the way at Arsenal as he looks for a new challenge with Milan when he officially joins on December 1st.
‘I know many will think this is a strange time to be leaving but I believe it is the right time for me and for the club,’ the 54-year-old explained.
‘Change and succession is not only inevitable for a club like Arsenal, it is necessary if it is continually to keep moving forward. One of my primary responsibilities as chief executive has been to make sure that there is good succession planning in every position in the club, including my own.
‘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. While this is the most difficult and challenging course for me, I am excited to see what the future holds for this great club.
‘After so many years at Major League Soccer and Arsenal, I am now looking forward to joining one of the world’s other great clubs, AC Milan, and working to restore it to its rightful place in football.
‘Until then, I will continue to devote absolutely all my energy until my last day to ensure an orderly transition for the benefit of Arsenal Football Club.’