The news of Stan Kroenke purchasing Alisher Usmanov’s shares – and taking him above the threshold to mandatorily acquire all remaining shares of Arsenal Football Club is news that – as a fan – should be watched very closely.
The removing of the club from the stock market, and having a sole owner, means that business decisions from Kroenke and his son Josh can be pushed through without much resistance.
The amount of fight in decisions beforehand was pretty minimal anyway, but now, KSE Holdings can act on what THEY see is fit for the club.
The key point here, is that they will go in the direction of business. If it rolls in the revenue, then fans will take a back seat. If there is a moneyspinning tour of a continent in pre-season, then by hook or by crook, Arsenal will be on the plane.
Will it be good for the team? Will it be good for the fans? It won’t matter so much.
Ticket prices, friendly fixtures, CEO appointments, and much more will now be decided by Kroenke and his henchmen. The American has hardly been a villain thus far in his time with the club, but he hasn’t exactly enamoured himself with the fanbase either.
The management consultant payments, the non-existent attendance, the stand-offishness of his appearances in the previous AGM, Stan has made it abundantly clear that this isn’t a move of passion, or love for Arsenal.
It’s about the readies.
His sporting portfolio is an impressive one, with one of his teams in every major league sport in America. He owns the Rams in the NFL – formerly of St Louis but now LA, the Nuggets in the NBA, the Avalanche in the NHL, the Rapids in the MLS and the Mammoths in the Lacrosse League. He has even recently invested in the Overwatch League, which is a massive video game competition.
What can we expect then, if we look at these teams?
Well, the Rams have had some recent success; they won the NFC West in 2017 and made the Playoffs.
The Nuggets share their Pepsi Centre home with the Mammoths and the Avalanche, and these teams haven’t tasted success for quite some time. The responsibility of these teams falls on Stan, Josh and Ann Walton Kroenke, and the chase for glory has been a long one for each franchise.
Arsenal Football Club will be run for profit, and like it or not, we have been a business for quite some time. Money not only makes the world go round, it pushes teams into a different league, and if investment is done right, then the silverware will follow – see Manchester City for example A.
What we have to be watchful over, is that if we are to partake in more sponsorship deals, more corporate dealings and more focus on our bank balance, that it is done to benefit the team. We can all be called cynical, and that we have lost sight of the magic of the game, but we need to constantly be in the search for a new vein of gold to dig up to keep up with the Joneses.
Kroenke may well be the man for that job, his history speaks volumes, as well as his bulging coffers – but is he the man to make sure the club stays on track it has been on since day one? To ensure the link with the fans is not broken, to ensure the values of the club stay intact, to protect our standing and enhance it?
As long as the numbers keep rolling, then there will be no bumps in the road, no swerving or deviation from our current path. But now Stan has all ten fingers around the club, we are at his mercy. This may sound dramatic, but there are a plethora of horror stories of clubs falling into the pit thanks to the fiscal decisions of the organization’s hierarchy.
A large portion are distressed, but we will keep supporting the club no matter what. We do though, have the right to speak out at the club losing its fan representation – no matter how measly. We have a voice that is well entitled to raise concern over where the club now has a chance of heading.
Kroenke will not run the club into the ground – we are far too lucrative for that to happen. We can however, lose what makes us Arsenal. Our fanbase may be fractured at the best of times, but a lot of us are worried, and it is fair to worry.
When the team eventually hit a hiccup, and if a slide down the table occurs, can we rely on Kroenke to dip his hands into his pockets to ensure we rise from the canvas?
With Gazidis leaving another gap to implement a Kroenke crony, KSE have the tightest grip on the club.
Watch this space.