Mikel Arteta’s car door swung open, where the exit was covered by a burly man who evidently had opened it for Mikel. The one-man monolith moved out of the way and Mikel saw that he was at the entrance to a grand, glass fronted building.
He left the car and walked toward the entrance, which swished open as he approached. The reception had a high ceiling, with dangling lights bouncing reflections across the marbled floor and on the walls. A smooth wooden-fronted desk bearing the initials ‘KSE’ was the home for three smartly dressed individuals who were the reception staff.
Mikel walked over to the desk but before he could say anything, Staff Member No.1 gave a sharp nod of her head to someone behind Mikel. He swivelled around and he saw three lift doors and one of them was open, apparently by another faceless member of staff who was manning them.
He turned back and another member of staff had slinked away from the desk silently and was now directly in front of Mikel.
“Mr Arteta, a pleasure to meet you. We have everything ready for your meeting, but Mr Kroenke is running late due to unforeseen complications in his current appointment. If you take the lift to the Boardroom on the top floor, you will find refreshments and everything you need for the coming hours.”
Mikel had barely opened his mouth. By the time he realised he had questions, he then realised they had already been answered, so he walked to the lift and rose up the floors.
He steeled himself for what was to come. He knew that Mr Kroenke was a supreme businessman. You don’t earn hundreds of millions of dollars by marrying into it. So Mikel went over his battle plan.
What he wanted was investment to return Arsenal back to the top, back into contention.
The loss made by the club last year was down to another year of Europa League involvement and missing Europe’s premiere competition again. Not to mention the lack of gate receipts.
Mikel knew the club were meant to be balancing the books, but when other clubs are investing more and bearing the fruits of their labour, he knew Arsenal had to do the same. Speculate to accumulate, and the squad needed some new blood in order to move forward.
Mikel had drawn up a list of outgoings that would bring in a decent amount, but that wasn’t a long-term fix. Arsenal needed a cash injection this summer.
The lift sounded off a ‘bing’ and the doors silently opened. Mikel walked forward into a huge room with three walls of featureless dulled silver, and one wall of all glass, overlooking the city below. It was quite breathtaking. In the centre of the room was a long, black table, ringed with ergonomic, black leather seats. In one corner of the room was a small table filled with drinks and assorted snacks.
Mikel walked over to the small table, took a bottle of water and slowly drank as he looked out at the city.
It was then that he heard the bing from the lift.
The doors opened and Stan Kroenke bustled out, with two people hurrying behind him.
“Terry, another business idea…” drawled Stan, shaded eyes fixed forward as he walked.
“Erm, sir, my name’s not Te…” mumbled Assistant Number 1, arms wrapped around a sheaf of papers and a black slab that was probably a tablet.
“We strap Go-Pro’s on homeless people and give them clues to where a meal ticket can be found. We stream the whole thing on every. Available. Channel.”
“Erm, Sir, that might go against countless human right…”
“At the end, the season finale? They all get to the destination, where the winner of the meal ticket is the last bum to bump off their rivals. The people’ll go nuts for it.” He swirled the stub of a cigar around his mouth and began his last few steps toward Mikel. The Spaniard could see the yellowed tips of Stan’s moustache as he came closer.
“Just do it Terry.Mr ARTETAAAAA! Great to meet up again! Goooooooo Gooooooneers!!!”
Mikel offered forward his hand which was clasped strongly and shook twice as hard.
Mikel said “Good to finally see you again Sir. I must say though, Gooners are the name of our fans, not the club itsel…”
“Sorry I haven’t been to the stadium in a while, y’know how running umpteen businesses can get. Terry, go and get me Walmart’s latest share price. Michelle? Jot down this latest business idea.”
‘Terry’ took his chance to be free of the oppression and hustled his way toward the lift. Michelle came forward, looking nervous.
“Sir, my name is Shawna…..”
“Michelle, send this straight to Jeff at Amazon, he’ll love this. OK, how’s this for busines. Discounts for anyone who sends in snaps of themselves destroying anything involved with an Amazon rival.”
“Sir, I don’t think that is business, that is inciteme…”
“Bonuses go to those who submit the most. At the end of the month, a leaderboard. Increasing commerce while simultaneously taking down your rival. Y’see Michelle? It’s all about victory.”
Stan turned round to face Mikel.
“And that’s business my friend.”
Stan wrapped his arm around Mikel’s shoulder.
“Let me guess Esteban. You’re here for your grand vision for Arsenal soccer club. You can see what the club needs to get back those glory days and if only the owner of this club and his vast reserves of wealth would throw a few dimes your way, Arsenal would be…”
He stopped, widened his stance and swiped both hands in the air dramatically with a cheesy grin.
“..back in business!”
Mikel, taken aback by the direction this was going, was speechless for a few seconds.
“Whatsa matter kid? Amazed by my mind? Yeah, I am too, quite often. But you don’t earn bucks by dreaming, Juan. And you know what else don’t earn you bucks?”
Mikel just shook his head.
“Throwing money at a problem. Arsenal are rich and are known throughout the world. You think by me investing my hard-earned money, that it will take the club back to the top?”
Mikel seized the initative.
“Well, Sir, one of the great coaches of this generation and the manager of possibly the wealthiest club in the world, Manchester City, said that it is no surprise that both Chelsea, Liverpool and City are the latest winners of the League as they are the ones who spend the most.”
“Well, I hate to bust your bubble kid, you got grit. I like that in a trail-hand, but I’m not spending a penny.”
Mikel waited for more.
“Businesses shouldn’t need a financial crutch. They should self-sustain And besides, I don’t buy companies to then spend more of my money. I buy them to MAKE money. Comprende amigo?”
Just then, Terry came back from the lift.
“Sir, erm, Walmart is down point two five percent in the Dow and half a percent in the NASDAQ….”
Mikel heard an ear-splitting BANG! Terry was down on the ground with a cavernous wound now pouring blood from his chest onto the smooth, cold floor. Shawna let out a squeak, which prompted Stan to swing the massive gun he was holding, round to point in her direction.
“God-damn Michelle. There is nothing I hate more than seeing my money go up in smoke. Terry paid the price for bringing me that bad news. D’you think you can do something about the bad vibes and bring me something better?”
With a flurry of nods and a scamper, ‘Michelle’ headed for the lifts. If she was sane, she wouldn’t come back.
“Now then Senor Arteta. You came here to tell me about what you can do about the future of one of my companies – and I’m very interested to hear more.”
Mikel was shocked, but ploughed forward.
“Sir, I have cut what was a bloated squad and an equally inefficient wage bill. I have tidied up the backroom staff and now we are beginning to play football the right way. Now we ned that extra push to really…”
“Son, playing football the right way would mean changing the shape of the ball and picking it up. And that extra push yer lookin for is exactly why you were hired in the first place. To push.”
Stan had widened his eyes and was looking directly at Mikel.
And Stan had now lowered the barrel of the gun level with Arteta’s eyes.
Stan then whispered harshly…