Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick has broken the board’s silence over Arsene Wenger’s uncertain future to promise that there will be no knee-jerk reaction to the team’s current malaise.
Calls for Wenger to end his 20-year tenure have reached a new high following a damaging run of five defeats in seven games and amid dressing room tension that threatens to prompt an exodus of key players.
In an unusual step for a board which rarely issues public statements, Sir Chips insisted on Thursday that Arsenal directors and Wenger would jointly decide whether to renew his contract, but warned restless supporters that Tuesday’s 10-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich would not provoke a snap verdict.
“We are fully aware of the attention currently focused on the club and understand the debate,” said Sir Chips.
“We respect that fans are entitled to their different individual opinions but we will always run this great football club with its best long-term interests at heart.
“Arsene has a contract until the end of the season. Any decisions will be made by us mutually and communicated at the right time in the right way.”
Sir Chips’s comments came as Wenger vowed to weigh up discontent among Gunners fans – evident in a protest, albeit modest, before this week’s Bayern defeat – before deciding whether to quit.
“Of course, you consider everything. It will not be the most important factor but, of course, you consider it,” he said.
“I have worked very hard for 20 years to make our fans happy and when you lose the games, I understand they are not happy.”
Arsenal will aim to keep their slim hopes of silverware alive when they welcome National League leaders Lincoln to Emirates Stadium for an FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday evening.
Wenger’s selection could be complicated by a virus that has already sidelined Danny Welbeck, Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi in recent days.