KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING: Ivan Gazidis has resigned as chief executive of Arsenal to take on a similar role at former world, European and Italian champions AC Milan.
Gazidis, 54, joined Arsenal in January 2009 and the club has confirmed that he is expected to leave in late October and start work in Italy in December.
Speculation about Gazidis has been increasing ever since the United States hedge fund Elliott Management took over Milan after the near-disastrous ownership of a Chinese consortium.
Uncertainty remains concerning Gazidis’s role as a vice-president of the European Club Association and one of representatives on the executive committee of European federation UEFA. He may feel that he needs to concentrate all his energies on his new challenge.
The timing is also complicated for Arsenal, though not as awkward as it might have been.
Gazidis gained full powers at the club after the summer departure of long-serving and highly-influential manager Arsene Wenger. Over the past 15 months he has put in place a new raft of senior management, including team boss Unai Emery. Now he will not be around to see that particular project through.
Raul Sanllehi, Arsenal’s head of football relations, has been appointed head of football while chief commercial officer Vinai Venkatesham is to become managing director.
“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.
“My sincere thanks go to Stan and Josh Kroenke for their support and guidance on everything we have done. To Sir Chips Keswick, Lord Phil Harris, Ken Friar and my wonderful management team and staff, on and off the field, to Arsène Wenger, Unai Emery and to the fans of this giant and incredible club, thank you for your immense support and friendship over so many years and for the wonderful privilege of being part of the journey.
“We lived through many emotions together, the highs and the lows of football, and I am proud to be able to say that I gave this club and its fantastic people everything that I had in me. I am excited and energised for the future for myself and for Arsenal Football Club and I will always hold it in my heart.
“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. 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. ”
Josh Kroenke, deputy chairman of the clubs US owner KSE, praised Gazidis’s work, saying: “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.”
Milan have been badly in need of new management and direction ever since long-time owner Silvio Berlusconi took his eye off the ball to concentrate on his political career and fighting a string of legal battles.