Stan Kroenke is arguably the worst thing that has ever happened to Arsenal, most definitely the worst thing in the modern era.
Arsenal fans are generally pretty unified in their discontent for ‘Silent Stan’, and I think the majority of those fans probably just feel that way due to a combination of perceiving Wenger as not being held accountable as much as they’d like him to be, as well as a general lack of investment in the squad. We’ve seen protests outside the Diamond Club entrance politely asking Stan to get out of our club, which is actually pretty weird given it’s widely known that he rarely attends games but also that it’s literally his club, not our club, let’s be serious. It’s like being annoyed with someone whose house you really like, knowing they’re probably not at home but going to their house and shouting “Get out of my house”.
The other problem is with protesting against Stan is that he really couldn’t care less what we think because overall Arsenal is doing everything that he needs it to do. Stan doesn’t think winning trophies is a priority, it’s not something he as an owner cares too much about. That’s not speculation, that’s fact. He’s bloody said it before. He said “If you want to win Championships then you would never get involved.”
Important to stop at that point, compare, and reflect. Roman Abramovich is an owner who wants to win championships. He loves Chelsea, it’s his toy, it’s his hobby. He’s not concerned about making a profit from Chelsea, if he did, he wouldn’t have absorbed the debt from their balance sheet. He turns up to games and he celebrates as a fan. He hires a Manager, he backs them in the market, if he thinks they can’t win trophies, he fires them.
So when Stan said “If you want to win Championships then you would never get involved”, a couple of questions spring to mind. The first is who is “you” in this statement? Who is Stan referring to? He’s not referring to the Romans of this world because the Romans of this world get involved and they want to win championships. Stan here is referring to investors or businessmen trying to manage a portfolio. Effectively he’s saying “Look you idiots, to have a realistic chance of winning championships you need to spend a lot of cash. If you then compare that investment to the financial gains you get from winning championships, it’s just not very attractive. Then add to that the fact there are other teams spending lots of money meaning that even if you spend lots of money there’s a good chance you won’t win a championship.”
So then the question back to Stan – “Well if you don’t want to win championships, why did you get involved then? Surely there are better investments that a football club.”
Here’s the thing. Arsenal was an incredibly shrewd and strategic investment for Stan. Don’t think for a second that he decided to become a major shareholder because he was interested in football. Stan knew how American sports were way ahead of the game in terms of revenue generation, and he knew that it was only a matter of time before European football (soccer) associations, governing bodies and clubs themselves were going to catch on. He knew there’d be more money coming into football in the long term, but he needed the right opportunity. He needed a club which could capitalise on the direction of travel. A club which when the money came flying in, could really rake it in, but also a club which weren’t already a powerhouse and therefore impossible/ too expensive to buy.
London did not have a “superclub”, there were no clubs of the same size as Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Manchester United, and out of all the London clubs positioned to become one, Arsenal were as good as any. The general mood in the global property market at the point where Stan started investing was that London was undervalued. Arsenal had a visionary manager famous for achieving success on ridiculously low net spend. All these things gave Stan a hard-on.
Stan swooped in and became Arsenal’s majority shareholder, and he was laughing. He knew he had got in at a great time. He knew he was going to make a killing and he fucking did. Stan bought his first Arsenal shares at around £8,000 each. By 2012, they were worth around £16,000 and they’re now worth about £18,000 each. The club is therefore comfortably worth over £1bn. ONE BILLION ENGLISH POUNDS.
Arsene Wenger just said that his relationship with Stan has always been the same. Arsene is the master of spin in his interviews, but when he says his relationship with Stan has always been the same, I’m pretty sure he’s telling the truth. Think about it, when Stan bought his first shares in Arsenal it was 2007 – that’s right after we moved into The Emirates, by which time we were firmly into our “let’s finish in the top 4 on as low a net spend as possible” era. Stan became majority shareholder in 2011. Stan has never, ever been involved in any period of success at Arsenal. He arrived when winning trophies wasn’t a focus, and he knew that although there were big financial benefits to playing in the Champions’ League, there weren’t big benefits to winning anything.
I reckon when Stan became the major shareholder he told Arsene: “Dude. I like your style. I don’t like the fact that you don’t have a moustache but that’s ok. I like that you think buying a team of ready made players is boring, and I love that somehow you always get Champions League football. You have my word, I’ll pay you as much money as you want and I won’t interfere with you. I don’t need you to win trophies, I just want you to get me top 4.”
So now, even if Arsene looks like he’s struggling to get top 4 for the first time in his Arsenal career, Stan’s probably looked at it and thought “Shame, this wouldn’t have happened if he grew a moustache like mine but what’s the chances I can bring someone else in who can get me top 4 without needing me to spend lots of money?” Stan wants Arsene to stay, mark my words. It’s a no-brainer for Stan. Let’s keep going back to the fact he doesn’t want to win championships. Stan does not care if the fans are angry. The only way he might care is if tickets weren’t selling out, and they still very much are even if many season ticket holders aren’t turning up.
The natural final question to all of this is that at what point does Stan think it’s time to sell given this is just an investment? That’s the dangerous thing about this. I don’t think Stan wants to “cash in” in that way. He now has an incredibly valuable asset which he can use to take out big loans against for his other ventures. That’s not me guessing, the guy is actually doing it. He’s looking to take out a $1bn loan to develop a new stadium for his NFL team in LA. The scary thing about that is that if he does do that, then as long as Arsenal maintains its value, Stan has no incentive to sell. Arsenal will just remain part of his portfolio. My biggest fear is that Arsenal get themselves in a position where even Europa League football does not result in share price dropping significantly and therefore put Stan in a position where he thinks Europa League is the new “finishing in the top 4”.
He is so dangerous to our club because he’s just such a good businessman and he doesn’t love Arsenal. We need Arsene to step down on his own accord, but broader than this, we desperately need someone to buy up Stan’s shares.