Uefa to act if Arsenal fans protest during Europa League final


Arsenal face a backlash from Uefa if fans protest during next week’s Europa League final in Azerbaijan.

Officials will be on the lookout for any anti-Uefa banners in Baku as well as listening out for chants.

Fans are furious Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not travel with the squad for their clash with Chelsea on May 29 due to concerns about his safety. Uefa have a history of charging clubs for provocative messages and will not hesitate to do the same to Arsenal.

Legia Warsaw were fined £70,000 for a banner which showed a Uefa badge, a pig dressed in a suit and the words: “Because football doesn’t matter, money does.” Celtic were fined £20,000 for a banner which read: “F***Uefa.”

After the news that Mkhitaryan will not travel, because of political tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, many fans have called for protests or even a boycott. Uefa had assured Mkhitaryan of his safety but Arsenal felt it was not worth the risk.

Meanwhile, Arsenal chiefs are confident failure to qualify for the Champions League next week won’t dent the club’s ability to attract top players.

Arsenal need to beat Chelsea to make the elite European competition after finishing fifth in the Premier League. Missing out will be a blow to manager Unai Emery’s transfer plans with his budget set to start at £45m before player sales without Champions League football.

But, in a candid interview, in which he also admitted Arsenal had made an error with their handling of Aaron Ramsey’s contract talks, head of football Raul Sanllehi said: “Fortunately the image of Arsenal is strong enough. When Arsenal knocks on the door it’s a different knock than other clubs. We’re getting a lot from players that we’re talking to, that they really get that it’s a very good place to be, Arsenal, in order to project a good football career. Really, I feel like I have a lot of ammunition when I talk with players.”

Arsenal lost long-serving midfielder Ramsey, 28, to Juventus on a free transfer. He agreed his £400,000-per-week deal after a contract offer from Arsenal was withdrawn. Sanllehi said: ‘“We had to be responsible for ourselves and protect the interests of Arsenal. We realised we were going to cause an imbalance that would have been harmful for the team’s sake in the medium and longer term.”

When asked, Sanllehi conceded that an ‘error’ had been made allowing Ramsey’s contract to run down, a situation Arsenal ‘cannot’ let happen in the future.

He added: “The position of the club, of losing a player of the quality — not only the football quality but the human quality and club identification — of Aaron, we have to avoid that. It’s not correct for us.”


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