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In an interview with the official website Ivan Gazidis says his decision to leave Arsenal was the hardest of his life.
As he departs the club after almost 10 years as chief executive, the 54 year reflected on his time at Arsenal, the years he spent talking a lot and saying very little, and declared that planning for his own succession was part of his job – unlike, for example, saying anything last season when the club was going through its most turbulent time in years.
“For the last 10 years I have been privileged to dedicate myself to this great club,” he said.
“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 rebuilt the off-field capability of the club, which is necessary for prolonged success in modern football, we have recently concluded new primary partnership deals that, together with the new league broadcast deals, secure our medium term financial future, we have updated our stadium and rebuilt our training facilities so that they are now world class and we have transitioned to a new football structure that is capable of taking the club confidently into the future.
“Given this platform, 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. 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.”
There have been countless tributes paid to Gazidis from Arsenal fans across Twitter in the wake of the announcement. Here’s a round-up of some of the best: