ARSENAL’S bungled handling of Arsene Wenger’s exit became a farce as they changed their story THREE times in a day.
Wenger’s £11million pay-off is at risk after the Gunners chief admitted he had been sacked.
At 12.43pm on Wednesday (GMT), during a press briefing ahead of the Europa League semi-final, the Frenchman dismissed the official line he is leaving by mutual consent.
Asked directly why he is going before his contract ends in 2019, he replied: “The timing was not really my decision.”
Then last night Arsenal changed their story twice in 39 minutes.
At 7.21pm (GMT) a club statement said: “The boss has asked to be clear that his timing comment related to the ‘release’ of the announcement, not the decision itself.”
At 8pm (GMT) came another remarkable change of direction when a statement appeared on Arsenal’s website, attributed to Wenger.
It said: “After reaching agreement about my departure, I was happy for the club to decide when to announce.
“I wish to make it clear the timing of my announcement was right.”
Wenger’s U-turn sent Twitter into meltdown.
Arsenal legend Ian Wright had earlier tweeted: “Hearing Arsene admit that he was sacked is quite sad.
“But I would like to take this opportunity to say to all the people who said I was talking s**t, to go f**k themselves.”
Wenger is leaving the Gunners at the end of the season following negotiations with majority shareholder Stan Kroenke about his pay-off.
He is being paid the final year of his contract in exchange for a dignified, respectful exit.
That has been jeopardised by Wenger, 68, repeatedly claiming he is not tired, does not want to stop working and by Wednesday’s admission that he was not ready to walk away from Arsenal.
During the press conference ahead of tonight’s Europa League semi-final, first leg with Atletico Madrid, Wenger also revealed he has been hurt by Arsenal fans demanding his removal.
He added: “When some people are unhappy it is not always a majority, but they get the voice of the press and then it looks like a majority.
“We live in a very emotional society.
“Some people can make the difference between moments of unhappiness and global satisfaction for what I brought to the club.”
Wenger also admitted he will not have any input into his successor.
Former Barcelona chief Luis Enrique is one of a number of managers being considered by Arsenal chief Kroenke.
Wenger added: “I have a high opinion of Luis Enrique. I do not want to influence the job for the next manager but of course I have a high opinion of him.”
Patrick Vieira says he is ready if the Gunners ask him to be their new boss.
The ex-Arsenal skipper, 41, who manages New York City, said: “It is an honour to be mentioned.
“It was somewhere I spent nine years and I love the club. I’m ready to coach any side in Europe.”