With news that Stan and Josh Kroenke have become co-Chairmen of Arsenal in a board reshuffle, some Gooners have felt obliged on various platforms to question ‘Do our owners now deserve some credit‘ and ‘have they proven their doubters wrong?’
I’m glad I’m finally in a position where I have to answer the question, as I never thought under the current stewardship I would have too.
Let’s be clear; having one good season doesn’t mean a section of our fan base were wrong to say all the others were not acceptable. It’s fantastic what we have accomplished in this campaign and every department deserves credit for our current status, but I have never heard a business model state it’s okay to underachieve for years if it leads to one good year.
That’s like a school failing their Ofsted for a decade. When they finally get a decent report you’re relieved and happy, but it doesn’t change the past.
Your first point of call is to determine when and how long the current regime had power over the club? It suits their agenda to ask to be judged since they officially brought the club in 2018. That would absolve them of a lot of blame but many (including myself) view them having power over the club since they brought their first shares in 2008. By 2011 they owned over 60 percent of shares. So in other words for over a decade Stan Kroenke had the final say in what direction the club were going in. Him not wanting to invest while Usmanov was on the board isn’t okay.
He believed in the action plan designed before his arrival that the Gunners, after paying off the debt from building the Emirates, would be a self-sustained model.
The club continued to insist that knocking down Highbury would be worth it in the long term, once loans were repaid we would compete with the likes of Bayern Munich on and off the pitch. The opposite happened. Arsenal needed Champions League revenue as part of a repayment plan to pay back creditors, having spent money that was already owed to them. I remember writing at the time that only when Mr Wenger left would we realise how hard a job it was to ‘only finish in the top 4 under his employers. The same readers who mocked Mr Wenger for 4th, praised Arteta for 8th and 5th. The standards under Stan Kroenke changed. No longer were we title contenders. We were a club content on being in the Champions League but never competing to win it. When the club needed a little bit of help, such as replacing Van Persie, our billionaire owner still refused to spend a single penny of his own money. The TV contracts, especially those overseas, meant that Silent Stan no longer even cared where we finished in the League table. Like a lot of teams in his sport portfolio the 75 year old made money off Arsenal the brand. Success wasn’t everything to him ,because merchandise was still going to be brought, tickets were still being sold, and if a few thousand wanted to protest, he was aware plenty of more were on a waiting list.
This attitude contributed to our worst finish in 25 years, zero European football for the first time in quarter of a century. Arsenal not being in any UEFA competition was unthinkable when he brought his first shares. This is what we left our beloved home for?
This time last year he awarded his manager a contract extension without even knowing what UEFA tournament we would be in. He had sacked Mr Wenger and Emery for failing to make the top 4, but now was handing out pay rises for the same outcome?
So again, just because we are 11 games away from becoming champions, that doesn’t make anyone wrong for saying the previous years have been unacceptable, on and off the pitch.
How can we credit this ownership for making progress when they took us to rock bottom in the first place?
If any other business had been regressing since 2011 you wouldn’t give them a round of applause for finally meeting their targets years after their target date.
Many Gooners are experiencing a title race for the first time.
Fun, isn’t it?
Better then 8th?
Better then 5th?
See now that fans of a certain age have standards and were not going to ever be told that we should accept anything less than the Gunners trying to be the best version of themselves.
If you were miserable for the first 9 years of marriage but year 10 finally your partner fulfilled some of their promises, has it been a happy marriage?
Do you forget those 9 years?
Does it make you wrong? Of course not.
Because never forget how low we had to go for the Kroenke Family to almost be pressured into caring, and don’t assume they care about us being title contenders every year.
Never forget what their intentions were with us. If they had their way we would be playing in a Super League right now. The concept was their dream scenario. Zero promotion or relegation, zero reason to compete, Arsenal would get paid 300 million for just being the brand they are.
Fixtures would have slowly been moved to America and our name could have been changed.
I believe the turning point was when Kroenke Senior essentially gave Arsenal to his son as a pet project.
With his father more of a fan of the US franchises they own, Josh has made a better first impression with gooners then his dad did. He’s already conducted more interviews and is in more direct contact with the club day to day.
Credit must go to Arteta, Edu and BFG sitting down with their new boss and making an action plan over every department of the club, from scouting, age of players to recruit, and enforcing principles.
Again though, look how far we had to fall for that to happen.
8th was our rock bottom. That, combined with trying to destroy the pyramid system of English football forced Arsenal to change.
Maybe Josh simply cares more than his dad and has actually made a connection towards the club.
If we become champions, something tells me Josh will get more credit than his dad?
If we lift the Prem, the Kroenke Family will be part of our history, a moment no one can take away from them.
Yet they are also the owners of the worst Arsenal team in quarter of a century.
You’re not wrong for pointing that out.