Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2022

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Vinai Venkatesham


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ARSENAL have been on a rollercoaster ride for some years now, but off the pitch it has been a steady rise for Vinai Venkatesham who became the chief executive in August 2020.

The elevation was natural as he had a key role of newly created managing director in the club’s tripartite management model – part of its efforts to manage the transition following the departure of two giants in 2018, manager of 22 years, Arsène Wenger and its chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

With the club trying to find a new lease of life under its current manager Mikel Arteta, who took charge in December 2019, the Gunners reverted to the operational model of the Wenger-era, with Venkatesham filling the boots of Gazidis. “We have no doubt that Vinai is the right person to take the club forward,” Stan and Josh Kroenke, owners of the club, said at the time of his promotion.

“He has shown outstanding leadership during the current crisis and is held in high regard internally and externally.”

Venkatesham had a tough first year in the new role, though, with the European Super League debacle and the club failing to qualify for Europe for the first time since 1995, as they finished the 2020/21 season in eighth place.

In April 2021, Arsenal were announced as a founding club of the breakaway European competition The Super League, but they withdrew from the competition two days later, alongside every other English club, after a severe backlash from supporters, players and rival clubs. Venkatesham has since led the attempts to build bridges with the other 14 Premier League clubs, confirming to a fans’ forum that he telephoned all of them to apologise for the decision.

As chief executive, he has taken a firm stand against online hate towards players, warning

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