fans pose for pictures with Arsenal's mascot Gunnersaurus ahead of their team's soccer match against Everton for the Barclays Asia Trophy in Singapore. Out-of-favor Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil wants to save Gunnersaurus from extinction. Ozil expressed sadness Tuesday Oct. 6, 2020. AP
Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has stepped in to save the club's giant Gunnersaurus from extinction after it was revealed the man behind the mascot had been released as part of cost-cutting measures.
Jerry Quy, who has played the role of the dinosaur mascot since 1993, has been let go, with stadiums empty during the coronavirus crisis.
"I was so sad that Jerry Quy aka our famous & loyal mascot @Gunnersaurus and integral part of our club was being made redundant after 27 years," Ozil tweeted on Tuesday.
"As such, I’m offering to reimburse @Arsenal with the full salary of our big green guy as long as I will be an Arsenal player..."
A GoFundMe page titled "Save Gunnersaurus" has already raised more than £10,000 ($13,000).
A statement on the page reads: "Gunnersaurus has been the Arsenal club mascot for 27 years. He's a club icon and we cannot let him become extinct.
"Played by lifelong fan Jerry Quy, it would be a terrible shame to lose him. The mascot league is the only one we've consistently been on top of, let's keep our all-time top scorer on top."
Former players have also spoken up in support of the Gunnersaurus.
Ozil is the club's highest earner, on a reported £300,000 ($390,000) per week, despite his limited role on the field in recent seasons.
The German has not played a minute for the club since before the coronavirus lockdown in March.
FA Cup winners Arsenal announced in August they were planning to cut 55 jobs due to the damaging effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the club's finances.
The Premier League club said their main sources of income had all been hit, including broadcast revenue, matchday takings and commercial activity.
It is understood the Gunnersaurus will return when fans are allowed back into stadiums but it is unclear who will be inside the costume.
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