The days of glory and success are over….until Stan Kroenke leaves by Big Gun
I think it is safe to say that many of us fans on this forum are from abroad, me included. I have been supporting Arsenal since the early 80’s, but I think it grew as a brand and garnered more support just before and during the Invincibles era, a time in which Arsenal were regarded one of the best clubs in the world. These types of fans were welcomed into a club where winning was the norm.
Come 2005/6, when we moved from Highbury to Emirates (ironically the last time we won a decent trophy for ages), things took a major turn (for the worse actually and I’ll explain why later). Although we had built an amazing new stadium, signed some very lucrative sponsorship and endorsement deals a few years later, it was the initial burden of funding the stadium that killed our chances of being able to compete with the top clubs for over a decade and up to this day. Through all this, us fans were patient, supported our team and manager through some tough times. I have always given Arsene the benefit of the doubt, as he managed a top four finish every consecutive year on a shoe string budget whilst having to rebuild the squad each new season after losing our key players.
I was very optimistic when in 2013 we began splashing out on some quality players. It felt as if the chains had finally been broken and Arsenal were on their way back to glory. Fast forward three years and things haven’t quite panned out as they should have. With Arsenal’s newfound financial muscle, and the decline and managerial changes of other clubs (Man United, Chelsea), it was the perfect opportunity for us to take the league by the scruff of its neck and win it. Arsene made some decent signings, but I felt it just wasn’t enough to mount a serious challenge, especially the CL (which is where a club of our stature should be aiming our sights at.)
We have lacked a world class centre forward since Van Persie’s departure. Our other strikers are far too inconsistent and waste too many chances. Ozil has the highest assists so far this season out of any EPL club, yet our goal/chance ratio is pathetic. Our defensive midfield has been in crisis since Silva and Vieira departed. Only now is it sort of coming together. Our defense too was in shambles for a long time and I feel is still a bit vulnerable.
It is easy to blame the manager for the above, for not bolstering the team when we had the opportunity. But I think we need to look at the root of the problem, because remember when Arsenal was dominating back in the nineties and early noughties, Wenger was at the helm. The manager hasn’t changed, but ownership of the club has and I believe this is why Arsenal are in the predicament we are.
Stan Kroenke is majority shareholder with over 66% shares, so he calls the shots. He is owner of multiple sports franchises all over the world, predominantly in his home country of USA. Many of us were skeptical of his takeover for many reasons, primarily his lack of passion for football. Therefore, Arsenal would simply become a cash cow, an investment for him and his family, with no real goal for success in terms of silverware. There were many rumours going around at the time, one of major concern from Nina Bracewell-Smith, a previous director and majority shareholder who stated in an interview in 2013 she had ‘deep regret’ of selling her shares to Stan Kroenke. You can read the article here. At a Sloan Sports Conference in Boston recently, Stan had the following to say about Arsenal and his intentions.
In a nutshell, our club has lost its meaning and true purpose, and to top it off us fans (especially the ones paying an arm and a leg for season passes) are being exploited to the max. I’m not really sure if a change of manager will fix the real issue, I guess time will tell because Wenger will not be around forever, BUT Stan Kroenke and his future generations will be. As long as he is majority shareholder (and he plans for his son to inherit his shares), Arsenal will NEVER be able to compete on the level we used to and deserve to be. Wenger’s replacement will be under the same restraints, low risk, minimum investment to guarantee a top four finish but not nearly enough to compete for top honours. Stan has found the happy medium with Wenger, this is why Le Prof earns 8M a year. But us ‘customers’ deserve better, and this is what it’s about end of the day as without the fans, THERE IS NO CLUB.
So get used to mediocrity fellow Gooners for a long time to come, unless we can somehow force Kroenke’s hand to sell shares to someone rich enough with a personal interest in the club? *cough*Usmanov*cough* I just think that Wenger is taking way too much flak, where the majority of it should be aimed directly at the Kroenke family.