We are only 4 months or so into the custodianship of Stan Kroenke and his company KSE at Arsenal. At 4 months in, I am wondering where the hell is Stan? I remember back in April there was so much hope and desire that Kroenke’s control of the board would bring a change in how the club approached things. Papers speculated that Wenger would be given a transfer war chest and a new era of Arsenal propserity would begin. Lot’s of people said that – I wasn’t one of them. I have and remain deeply concerned by Kroenke’s purchase of the club. Given the current state of things, I am more so.
There are glaring issues with the club. From the deals off the pitch to the product on the pitch the club needs some a major refocusing. As it stands thoough we have no idea what Stan plans for this club. We have talked about the previous board under Peter Hill-Wood not providing the appropriate dirction. Well, without so much as a statement of intent from our new owner in the first four months of his tenure, we still appear rudderless and adrift while other teams immediately around us have a clear vision of where they are going and what they are doing.
For those who expected some new approach to running the club, it is likely they did not know much about the man they call silent Stan. A lot of people pointed to his successful ownership of US sports properties as a hopeful sign e would bring back the winning ways to Arsenal. As a reminder his company KSE is majority owner of the St. Louis Rams and of the MLS Colorado Rapids, NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets. With all this ownership of clubs and my knowledge of their performance in recent years, I wondered in my earlier piece on Stan if he could really be an effective owner. Mark Kizzla of the Denver Post seems to concur as he once said this about Stan in relationship to his ownership style:
. . . and simply appearing to be cheap (Stan Kroenke’s Avalanche and Nuggets). Isn’t it fair to question whether Kroenke is simply spread too thin in terms of interest with all the teams he has ownership of?
It seems like a fair question. If he has ownership in all these companies and if he is an active owner – where does his attention lie? He seems to have little interest in beefing up the ailing Rams. TheAvalanche Yo-Yo from bottom of their Western conference to around 6th place every other year. The Nuggets always look dangerous but never do too much. The only real winner he has is the Colorado Rapids.
Stan’s approach is a marked difference to that of new Liverpool owner John Henry who also owns MLB’s Boston Red Sox. He has been engaged and active. Speaking in support of his manager, talking about the plans for the team and providing vision of where the club is going. While I don’t expect Stan to be as open and vocal as Henry, a simple statement of intent on what he wants the club to be and the direction he wants the club to take in.
Right now – we still seem rudderless. We still seem like everything is status quo and in some aspects that is good – in the most important aspect, the product on the pitch the status quo is anything but allright.
This team had a collapse of epic proportions in the final 11 matches of the season. It was clear that changes needed to be made and while leaving the business end of the deals to the executives, the owner owed/owes it to the fans to let us know what his thoughts on the end where and what he as owner was going to do to make sure this club did not repeat the errors of the end of last season. As it stands noone knows exactly what Stan thought of the end of the season. All we had was Ivan Gazidis’ attempts at the meeting with the AST to diffuse the situation and placate everyone by saying – we all know it sucked. Yeah Ivan we know.
What is worrying me the most is that this lack of vision and direction coming from the ownership and the board seems to be letting Wenger off the hook for the glaring issues that are clear to everyone. We have heard from the club that players WILL be coming in. So far that isn’t untrue but the players they have brough in don’t answer the issues we have had as as a team. And it gets more worrying with comments coming out of the team during the recent Asian tour. One of our biggest, if not the biggest issue is the need for additional central defenders. We’ve heard Wenger say we need to get taller and stronger back there and we were linked with the likes of Cahill and Samba. Then after a 4-0 demolishing of a hapless Malaysia XI side, suddenly our defence wasn’t a big issue and we weren’t that bad last season. It’s Wenger falling into old patterns. If we had an engaged ownership, there should be a call from Stan to basically let Wenger know this is unacceptable, But it is very likely not going to happen.
Stan was preferred on the board and as the eventual owner because he was a like minded individual to the board. They too provided no direction, no vision and were more intent on taking money out of the club than putting it in. To our board and now to our current ownership we are merely a means to an end – lining their pockets.
I never expected much to change. after many protestations, Peter hill-Wood and Danny Fiszman’s relented to Stan being on the board. In time it seems they found someone kindered to their own mindset of how the club should be run. It made sense then when Usmanov made his move that Kroneke was given a seat on the board as opposed to the Russian. I don’t think the board would’ve allowed him a seat on the board if it didn’t in some way think he was going to carry on the traditions of prudence at the club. That being said of course, much like the debt issue, once in charge Kroneke is free to do as he pleases – to an extent. There is the issue of Usmanov still out there.
The kind treatment Stan seemed to enjoy from fan groups is already beginning to wane. While the were originally encouraged by statements to honour the traditions of the club. the lack of direction is also concerning to them too.
Admittedly, I can see the positives to a new ownership right now however, the negatives that were clear to me when he bought the club are starting to bubble up more and more. It could change, I hope it does. Really, I probably won’t know my true feelings on Stan until I start to see more ripple effects of his stewardship of the club. I hope my concerns and fears are wrong. I hope that Stan’s ownership ushers in a new era of prosperity and silverware for the club. But if first impressions are everything, my first impression on Stan is not a good one.