Kroenke Buys Arsenal: A Little More Of The Soul Of Football Dies

At the outset, I’ll make my position clear. I don’t like the singular ownership model of football clubs. There’s too much power in not enough hands, and bad decisions are easily made before being a long time in being rectified.

Stan Kroenke’s move to buy the remaining shares in the club brought mixed feelings. I dislike Usmanov. He was an opportunist, a billionaire who courted popularity with well-timed jabs but he was a lightweight in a heavyweight bout.

Personally reprehensible, the Uzbek said the right things when he knew he had nothing to lose. Kroenke never had any intention of agreeing to a rights issue but Usmanov scored PR points off it, knowing his cash was safe.

He’s now gone, so I allow myself a little cheer. Yay!

But in his absence, there is now a bigger problem. Stan Kroenke owns Arsenal. For the first time in the club’s history, there is one owner. No plurality, just Stan. Whom I detest as much as Usmanov for different reasons. Politics, essentially, and all to do with Wal-mart. That’s for another time, but not today on this blog.

This day has been a long time coming. When billionaires get involved in football clubs, the minority shareholders never fare well.  They do, however, bid farewell to their shares eventually.

None of us know anything about how KSE finances are structured. Most of what is feared is based on what might happen; normal business practice strongly points to them happening. It’s guesswork because the finances on billionaires are run by snake oil salesman.

Borrowing money to buy a business is normal practice. Getting the business to service that loan is normal business practice. So far, Stan hasn’t done anything a ‘normal businessman’ wouldn’t do.

Stan – Not A Romantic Image

An even bigger problem is that Stan doesn’t fit the romantic image of a billionaire football club owner. After a decade in the doldrums, if he suddenly threw money at the transfer budget in the way FSG are at Liverpool, I’d guess a lot of opposition to him owning Arsenal would disappear.

But he’s not going to and we know it.

Which is why the normal business practice of loans being serviced by the club grates. He’s buying Arsenal for free because the club is buying itself. So far, Stan has not invested in Arsenal but taken £6m out. Now he can do so unchallenged.

We’ll see it as well. EPL rules mean Arsenal must be an English company so information will still be filed at Companies House. It doesn’t mean the holding company must be English so Holdings will toddle off to Delaware to become a file on a computer server.

That obscurity, those veils of secrecy, will be Stan’s biggest friend. Nobody will know what is going on unless the information is gathered by nefarious means.

That obscurity, those veils of secrecy, will be Stan’s biggest enemy. Fertile imaginations will run riot, no matter how healthy the club’s accounts look. This is Nightmare on Drayton Park. Only this time the villain despoiling your dreams it isn’t an iron-fingered school janitor, it’s wig-wearing builder from Missouri.

I think we also need to recognise that Stan isn’t going to run Arsenal into the ground. It isn’t in his best interests to do that; he wants a business he can sell for top dollar. He will keep the club in rude financial health. But the business of Arsenal is sport, and Stan has a long history of a lack of ambition on the pitch.

Ambition – What Is Good For?

People point to the Rams and their postseason in 2017. A young coach, vibrant thinking; it’s not all doom and gloom. Why the sudden burst of ambition? A new stadium to fill, $2bn-worth of TV rights.

What about the Nuggets, the NBA’s equivalent of Arsenal? Or the Avalanche, NHL’s version of Arsenal? Or the Rapids? More hopeless at reaching the Champions League than we are.

The Mammoth, his shining star in a sporting sense, is not 10 years without a Lacross title. Monotonously finishing second or third, losing in the semi-finals of the playoffs which follow.

It’s the singular lack of sporting ambition without the need to generate money which fills me with dread.

If Arsenal is servicing loans, then the top four will become a priority but we won’t get there through investment. There won’t be a huge splurge in the transfer market. Our route is being cleverer and more hard working on the pitch. And ultimately, winning that way is more gratifying than by cash.

It’s nothing unusual either. Bar the 1930s, we have never been England’s richest club nor a record investor in the transfer market. Look at our record fee in the early part of this century for evidence of that.

The problem for Arsenal is that other clubs are investing heavily in their playing staff. Everton’s billionaire owner is backing the club. Now they may not be players we would buy – certainly not Richarlison – but it only takes one season of mediocrity on our part for us to miss out on European football entirely.

That’s the danger of the lack of sporting ambition which the Kroenke’s bring.

The timing of the announcement took some of the shine off the new season. Momentarily, I hope. This mood will pass as life settles down as the season gets underway.

Cowards

People point to billionaire owners but Stan isn’t one of them. We hope he isn’t a Gillett and Hicks either; one runs ski lodges and the other continues to look for a ‘deal’. Snake oil salesman and not poster boys for the Premier League age.

How did we get to this? David Dein shoulders the blame. He was right: money was needed to keep the club at the top of the table but his judgement was sorely lacking. A rudimentary glance at Kroenke’s MO told Dein Stan wasn’t going to invest in the club at all.

We were told the directors were custodians. They got wealthy off the back of that line but proved exceptionally poor at that role. Danny Fiszman’s untimely death was the catalyst but the damage to Arsenal was already done when Kroenke was invited on board.

Custodians? Cowards is a better word.

A part of the soul of Arsenal Football Club died today. Commerce won and while football now is a global business, the roots of the club were in the community. Now Arsenal’s roots are in a filing cabinet in Delaware.

For fans, the bond with the club is weakened. Not the one to the XI but to the club itself. The club which was once the hub of the community is less ours than it was yesterday.

Fortunately, the social side of going to a game has yet to die although any more pub closures around the ground and we may change that tune. When the fun stops, stop. Let’s hope the fun of football never stops because if it does, what is the point.

There used to be football club over there. Now it’s just a part of the Wal-mart family. And that is no good thing at all.

’til Tomorrow.

46 thoughts on “Kroenke Buys Arsenal: A Little More Of The Soul Of Football Dies

  1. Many aspects of my life died yesterday

    Marriage – Check
    Arsenal – Check

    Not much else to mention that is of any consequence?

  2. Good piece YW.

    David Dein has a lot to answer for. He invited Wiggy along to the party. He got filthy rich by selling out to Usmanov. The Club hasn’t seen any of those funds. Custodians of the Club – my Arse!

  3. Very interesting article, thanks yogi. The only thing I will say is are you judging things before we actually see how Stan runs the club over th next few years. I recall Utd fans were dead against the Glazers (maybe some still are) but you can’t argue with the transfer spending.

  4. Very good post, nothing to disagree with and little to add.
    Maybe too good a post lol.

    Damon

    My sympathies be there twice and no fun.

  5. That was quite a way go start a day.

    I know singular ownership isn’t what Arsenal is or has been and it will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. I’m not a fan of Silent Stan but seeing thr change of his US clubs is quite because its very much out with the older managers and in with the newer, bright managers. What I will be fascinated to see is does he do what he has with the Rams and start to spend some money on established players should Emery at Arsenal have a good season like Mcvay had with the Rams.

  6. Yep, but the big ole’ piles of shite make you understand the good bits when they swing around. I’m sure there’s some due to me soon. There have to be! 🙂

    andy1886:
    Damon,

    Sorry to hear that Damon, life is just a great big pile of shit sometimes.

  7. Thanks YW.

    Damon,

    Sorry to hear the news. I’m still going through a protracted separation/divorce started in February because we are trying to sell the house as well.

    Its certainly not much fun.

    On the other hand, I did go out and find myself a new partner and am now feeling pretty good about life. Just need the house gone and me and the new lady can get on with our life together.

  8. Wavey,

    Yup, its pretty horrible, but we’re being amicable thus far and it’s all semantics from here.

    I’ve been amazed at the interest already in my lost cause from people around me. Near and far! 😉

  9. Damon,

    I remember a fine evening in Brighton with you two and Jonny—I’m glad it is amicable and hope you will find happiness as Wavey has soon. Hopefully sooner than you will see Arsenal challenging which we all can do much less about.

  10. C,

    We needed a wide forward/wing player. Not the worst if he was free… But I think Nelson is holding off signing until it is clear he will get playing time and window closes without buying a winger. Probably he is also watching whether DW and Perez move away too.

  11. YW,

    I didn’t see that, I know Max Meyer did and ultimately got it. Interesting though but it would have made sense without a transfer fee.

  12. LSG,

    Nelson is set to sign, can’t see why he wouldn’t because there are plenty of matches to be played. Perez is off by all accounts and Welbeck I would imagine he must be sold given Emery has not even really acknowledged him and when he has spoken of his strikers its always been Lacazette, Aubameyang ans Nketiah.

  13. Also, I personally would prefer we swoop in the steal Söyüncü from Leicester than try and sign Vida.

  14. One of your best posts Yogi.
    But not an encouraging outlook, either for Club OR supporters.
    We can but continue our loyalty in sure and certain hope that dictatorships never last.
    In the meantime, reality rests with the men who wear the shirt.
    They deserve and expect our support. 😉

  15. A dark cloud has pulled up over the club now that Soulless Stan has full and utter control over it. His goals and desires do not fully overlap with the fans’ wishes. AFC operates solely to generate revenue for him first and foremost. Glory and trophies are potential but unintended consequences. Stan clearly has no interest in spending money chasing for glory – he reads the financial reports, not the match score reports. I’ve been praying for his heart to give out, hoping an acute myocardial infarction will rid the club of this disinterested owner….but then I realize, this creature has no heart.

  16. Sorry to read that Damon. I suspect many other AFC can relate to what you are going through. I suspect being a passionate Arsenal fan puts stress on a lot of peoples’ relationships. My spouse never fully understands my obsession and I’ve been accused periodically of being more interested in AFC than her….mea culpa (on occasion).

  17. C,

    I agree. I’m not into Vida. Actually I would be quite in favor of Jamaal Lascelles. He is a good defender, would pair well with either Sokratis or Mustafi as a more positional defender, is left sided I think, and a leader at 24 who can improve.

  18. C,

    I’m not suggesting Nelson won’t sign. Only saying he will wait to make sure those two are leaving and we don’t sign a wide forward. He’s a smart kid and wants to make sure he has every opportunity to play and not have to take RWB chances to get a game.

  19. YW,
    Like you, I too detest a single owner of a football club. Football , indeed sporting clubs , by their very nature are community minded.
    We now join the ranks of others who have not sold their soul, but had it sold for them.
    For many people, being a member or supporter of a club is the closest thing to ownership they will experience. That’s now gone.
    It just makes even worse that a man who has zero concept of community has taken our club

  20. I didn’t think Vida was too bad at the Worlds.
    The defender I did like was Akanji. Seems to have it all.

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