Why Stan Kroenke Doesn’t Get It

I was going to go into some detail about the goings on at today’s Arsenal AGM, but as I was pondering the performance of the various Arsenal Board members who took an active part, something struck me: the problem with Stan Kroenke is he doesn’t get what it means to be a football fan.

Stan buys clubs like you and I used to buy CDs or LPs (remember them?). He’s interested in them. He may even become briefly infatuated with them. Some will always mean something, but soon there’s another one to take his interest. He owns them, so in a real sense they belong to him, but in an alternative and equally real sense, all clubs belong to their fans.

Danny Fiszman got this, which is partly why he helped the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust set up Fanshare. He knew supporters should be involved. Fiszman could see the writing on the wall, though, and had to choose someone to own Arsenal when he was gone. Rightly or wrongly, he chose Kroenke.

David Dein gets it too. Both he and Fiszman bought into Arsenal because they were long-term fans. They got lucky in buying in as football started booming and they both made fortunes from it, but that doesn’t change their understanding of the principle.

Arsène Wenger certainly gets what it means to be a fan, because he has been involved in football at all levels for his whole life. He has a slightly different perspective to the rest of us, though, because he has the responsibility for winning. Whether he’s still the right man for Arsenal is a debate for another day.

I think Ivan Gazidis gets it. He knows what fans feel, but he’s a paid employee and there’s not an awful lot he can do about appeasing us. He has to feed us whatever line Stan wants to feed us, and he has to back Arsène Wenger 100 per cent at all times, no matter how much he may disagree with either of them. That’s his job.

Peter Hill-Wood, unlike Dein and Fiszman, did not buy into Arsenal, and nor is he a Johnny-Come-Lately like Gazidis. He was given Arsenal by his father, who got it from his father. Peter Hill-Wood probably believes in the divine right of kings, and that the upper classes were born to rule and the plebs were born to serve. I wrote a parody of PH-W a couple of years ago. It’s really not that far from the truth, and it seems to get nearer all the time. PH-W is an anachronism now. He’s an old man who lives in the past and has largely been shielded from the real world of ordinary people for his whole life. I don’t have ill will towards him, I just wish he’d realise it would be best if he stepped down as Chairman of Arsenal now, and let someone else get on with it.

PH-W definitely does not get what it really means to be a fan, a supporter of a football club who spends a lot of time and a lot of income going to see his team. I’ve no doubt PH-W has feelings for Arsenal, but he doesn’t think that the rest of us belong to Arsenal, nor Arsenal to us. He doesn’t see why we want any influence, or why he needs to be accountable. He’s doing what’s best isn’t he? Why should you be bothered with the detail. In fact, how dare you even question your superiors, you impertinent little man. PH-W was born to this; it’s his right to lead, so he automatically knows what he’s doing is the best way. Or so he thinks, but time has caught him up. If he was ever a dynamic thinker he certainly isn’t any more.

Stan Kroenke, as I said at the top, doesn’t get it either, but not in quite the same way as PH-W. Stan Kroenke thinks that we want to go along and watch a sports team for a couple of hours of entertainment, and then go home and forget about it till next week. He doesn’t see why anyone needs to live and breathe it, because he doesn’t. He also thinks – because quite a number of fans have told him – that we want some trophies. But he thinks if we had some trophies, that should make us so happy that nothing else would matter. That’s why he admires the Glazers: he can’t understand why no Man Utd fan likes the Glazers, because Man Utd are successful, aren’t they? They win trophies. Isn’t that what you guys always say you want?

This is the crux of what he doesn’t get: we want OUR club to be run for us. We may not think about it rationally most of the time or be able to explain why we react in a certain way, but that’s what we want. We’re supporters, not spectators.

There are some who say, ‘I’m only interested in what happens on the pitch, finances bore me.’ Each to his own. Some people watch TOWIE and admire Big Brother contestants. This is because some people don’t do an awful lot of thinking, full stop, so they’re not going to think much about why finances are important in football, or why we need some supporters to be shareholders, or why we need meetings like today’s where we can openly challenge those who run OUR club, and why we should all be engaged in OUR club and not shut out from it. Perhaps some people don’t get that the Board are there to serve us – whether we’re shareholders or not – and not the other way round. In legal terms the Board are supposed to serve the will of the shareholders, so they do what they legally have to and let the small shareholders in once a year. Dein and Fiszman, whatever their faults, also knew that the Board are supposed to serve all fans, because all true fans own a little piece of the club. Not with a piece of paper or an electronic entry to say they do, but just because they do. It’s in their heart, to a greater or lesser degree. It’s a part of them.

Maybe one day someone will say something to Stan Kroenke and he’ll stand still and think, and the penny will drop. Maybe. I’m not holding my breath.

 Twitter: @AngryOfN5


29 thoughts on “Why Stan Kroenke Doesn’t Get It

  1. Actually, fans are totally in control of what happens at the club. If nobody turned up next Saturday, Kroenke’s investment would suddenly be worthless, so he’d have to sack people to change the status quo. Supporters have more control than you think. It’s really up to us, if we want to get rid of this shower, we can – by protesting, refusing to buy merchandise, ripping up our season tickets – the penny will soon drop.

  2. Totally agree. I think as time goes by more and more fans are seeing Kroenke for what he is – the moneykeeper. As an owner he has never won anything with any of the teams he owns. They are just income streams. The last sensible thing to come out of PHW mouth was “we don’t won’t his sort” and that statement also sums up his use to the club as chairman since then as well. Will we never win silverware again until the Board/owner is changed or a radical change of direction. Neither option is going to happen certainly not the latter. All they do is promise that the good times are round the corner and now even the players don’t believe them.

  3. If Double D were such a fan why did he chase all over Europe looking for someone to flog his shares too ?

    And then to sell them to Usmanov as well.

    And why does he let his son whisper sweet nothings on behalf of other clubs into the ears of our major players every summer.

  4. I think you are being much too kind to the Troika: Illy is arrogant and mercenary, Ivan the Awful is a two-dimensional spin merchant and the Silent One is a none-too-bright profit-seeker. What they HAVE in common is a lack of principles and what they LACK in common is any feeling for or respect for the soul of Arsenal; in fact they would probably think me absurd for believing that the club has such a thing as a soul. You have touched on Illy’s arrogance; as for being mercenary, this was the man who recommended Stanley to the shareholders (after saying he was not the type the Club wanted) no doubt thereby retaining the chairmanship. Every time Ivan opens his mouth, one trusts him less. The same tune, the same promises and always Arsene shoved forward to take the flak. As for Stanley, someone who lays out several hundred million pounds and still does not own the Club, someone that if he wants (needs?) to sell has only one customer, someone who ignores and alienates the only buyer in town – well, he can’t be terribly bright, can he? And his record in seventeen years as owner of sports outfits confirms that: three trophies, averaging one trophy per club per fifteen years. Maybe that’s why he rarely says anything.

  5. What most of you don’t seem to get is that Kroenke is first and foremost a businessman, like the Glazers and is interested in making a profit. He likes sports but Football is definitely NOT one of his passions….he treats all his sports franchises similarly so it isn’t something just with Football (or soccer as he calls it). He bought majority ownership because he saw that AFC is a financially viable, sustainable and well-run Club that perennially gets into the CL and top 4 but that’s where his interest abruptly ends.
    The BoD is charged with doing the owner’s bidding, and don’t necessarily see the fans and supporters as being part of the financial ownership. I agree that this is a shortsighted approach to us Gooners’ needs and hopes but we really can’t do much, other than boycott the Club we love. Would that get their attention? It could but it also might have serious financial and moral consequences on the players,team and all Gooners…..Kroenke wouldn’t hold onto his shares IF he started losing big money, which means he’d sell to Usmanov or another buyer and we’d be back right where we started but perhaps even worse off.
    The best way to get heard is through the AST and trying a constant bombardment of dissatisfied Gooners harassing the BoD and maybe even the staff with their concerns. But this all may be a bit premature since two losses in a row DO NOT a disaster make. We have been through these rough patches before and will again, every professional team has their dark days BUT Wenger has the expertise and experience to turn things around, it simply needs patience, faith and time.

  6. Stan Kroenke doesn’t buy sport franchises to collect them like CD’s or LP’s . He buys them to make money period. Kroenke is a product of American culture of greed and winning to him is making more money than the next billionaire. As long as Arsenal stock is rising and quarterly reports are in the green ,he is wining .

  7. Stan is really the wrong target. He buys sporting clubs in order to sit back and watch the value of his asset grow. So he’s very happy with the way Arsenal is managed. One day he might sell out to Usmanov at a massive profit. (I hope not). Otherwise he is irrelevant to the situation on the pitch.

    Hill-Wood obviously belongs to the age of noblesse oblige and really should be kicked out – if only for the sake of the Arsenal brand. Anyway he clearly can’t even chair a meeting (which, apart from giving ill-considered comments to the Daily Star, seems to be his main function). Ivan had to do it for him.

    No. Ivan and Arsene are the ones who count and, for my money, they’re doing a very good job. Maybe even an outstanding one.

  8. You’re entirely correct — the entire concept of someone in Stan’s position sitting there in front of fans who are small shareholders in a sports team and having to answer to them is an alien concept for an American businessman. It must be very strange to him.

  9. Wish I could write so clearly and concisely mate. I agree that Fiszman was and Dein is a Gooner. I even think Peter Hill-Wood is in his own batty, reactionary way. That didn’t stop any of them filling their boots with tens of millions of pounds, leaving our club to be squabbled over by an American billionaire bread-head and a Russian/Uzbek even more billionaire reactionary egomaniac. They had the chance to do something really special and new in the great Arsenal tradition. They all chose the money. That’s terribly sad.

  10. What I can’t figure out is why Danny Fiszman (who understands what it means to be a fan) would vote to have David Dein (who also understands what it means to be a fan) kicked out of the club. Then David Dein (who knows what it means to be a fan) would then start a bidding war between two billionaires (neither of whom understand what it means to be a fan) so that he could hawk his shares to the highest bidder and reap a £75m windfall. Then, on his deathbed, at the very moment that he could have done any number of things to ensure that the club stays in the hands of people who know what it means to be a fan, Danny Fiszman (who understands what it means to be a fan) would then cede full control of the club over to Stan Kroenke (who doesn’t understand what it means to be a fan).

    Why didn’t Fiszman and Dein place a majority of their shares into a blind trust so that no one person could ever control Arsenal? Why did they both, instead, sell to billionaires who don’t know what it means to be a fan much less know what Arsenal stands for? Why did they reap such huge profits off the billionaires and the fans who gave so much to the club? And why did Lady Nina and Fiszman both sell their shares below market value to this Yank who doesn’t know what it means to be a fan and who will only use Arsenal to make a profit?

    Huh. Something just doesn’t add up.

    It’s a nice story that you’ve spun though, pretending to have insight into the heart of a man who has until now said less than 600 words on the topic. Maybe you could channel Jimi Hendrix next and tell us all where Elvis and Jim Morrison are hiding?

    • Before I bother spending, and possibly wasting, my time on a full response, can you just confirm whether you accept that Dein senior and Fiszman are/were lifelong Arsenal fans?

      • Depends on your definition of “fan.” For me, being a fan means that I love Arsenal like a family. Some family members I like better than others, but we are all family.

        Now, that puts me in a strange position because I don’t pretend to know what people like Fiszman, Dein, or Kroenke love or don’t love. I know what I saw happen: I saw both Fiszman and Dein sell Arsenal for a massive windfall to Usmanov and Kroenke. Maybe they loved Arsenal, maybe they didn’t, the fact is they sold it.

        I suppose you could love a painting and sell it, but only if the price was right. I suppose you could even love your wife and sell her, you know, like that movie. Indecent Proposal. I couldn’t sell my love for Arsenal for any price. But especially not for the price that Dein did and especially when he didn’t need to sell.

        So, I can’t pretend to know what was in Dein’s heart or Fiszman’s heart. I know that Fiszman is well respected, but only among the people you cast calumny on. And I know that Dein still attends games but is despised by the people whom you praise. And while it’s easy to sentimentalize over what either does or doesn’t feel it’s their actions that I specifically asked about. Dein sold his family to Usmanov, Fiszman to Kroenke. Would you sell your family to Usmanov? Kroenke? I wouldn’t.

        But then I’m not a multi-millionaire who owned stock in a company the sale of which guaranteed me and my family would never have to work again.

      • So what about the many small shareholders who have sold their shares in the last couple of years. Obviously I don’t pretend to know the innermost thoughts of any or all of them, but some are from families that have supported Arsenal for generations, so I think it’s safe to assume that some would be considered ‘true fans’ by any reasonable definition. And yet they have sold up to either Kroenke or Usmanov in the same way as Dein and Fiszman did, just on a smaller scale. What do you think of them?

  11. Great piece; the responses alone are emotional to read. Tough times.
    Not that it matters in the slightest what i think, i have two pennies to offer.
    Football’s no longer the working man’s game, we all know that.
    New stadium, set of fans, new owners, new direction, new money.
    It’s everywhere. If you’re involved in major commerce these days, you’re in some way tied to the game and the knock on effect is that we’re no longer any different from an HMV anymore.
    We offer the occasional lacklustre performance, book signings and you can pick up your favourite whoever’s t-shirt. Great brand, doing it’s best to spread internationally.
    All the cards are in the hands of people who care about the colour of money.
    Whilst the model is still successful, who cares about what we think?
    Almost totally irrelevant seeing as we still pay 12 quid for a sausage and 8 chips in a flimsy little paper box and god knows what else on a whole year following the team we’d give a limb for.
    It’s literally not even important for Kroenke to keep “fans” onboard.
    He can quite happily make just as much, if not more, from tourists who come to London looking for a weekend out, and are willing to pay through the nose (and back in through the arse and right back out of the ear) for the experience of watching the Arsenal at the Emirates.

    Great piece though.. Looking for you on twitter now.

  12. Having met Dein a couple of times, I’m in no doubt he is an Arsenal fan. I also worked with someone years ago who knew Fiszman before he bought into the club. He confirmed that he was a fan. Fiszman was a long term season ticket holder.

    Fiszman sold his shares on his deathbed to benefit his family. I would be amazed if anyone else would do otherwise. I guess he chose the lesser of two evils. What other choices were there?

  13. I guess even the most extreme Arsenal fan would find it hard to resist selling up on his death-bed (in Danny’s case) or if he had been chucked off the BoD (in David’s case). The question should not be about whether they were fans (both of them were), the question is whether Danny sold out to Mr K because he he could not abide the idea of David (so to speak) winning the day. But even that is no longer relevant because right now we are stuck with Stanley. And if we are convinced (as I am) that he is the wrong owner for our Club, the question becomes: how do we get rid of him? And we can, very easily. The question will then become: is Mr U the right owner? Or rather, will he be a BETTER owner that Stanley – because what most of us want is what we had before (custodianship) and that appears to be no longer an option. There are many points in Mr U’s favour, but I’ll only mention one: he is not looking for sole ownership. In fact, my instincts tell me he welcomes FanShare, part ownership by fans – provided he is majority owner. Because he is in it for glory not profit. The AST should elicit a written undertaking from him that, as future owner, he promises to encourage sale of shares to fans- and then throw their open support behind him and against the Silent One.

    • With Usmanov its strictly business…nothing personal (true of Kroenke as well) so why do people expect them to be ¨fans¨ and by being so reassure all us Gooners that things are normal. Being a fan doesn’t mean thagt they’ll put Arsenal’s interest before their financial well-being. They made their fortunes by doing just the opposite……

  14. It’s time for Usmanov to take over. Why the hell should Gazidis take a massive bonus? That could have been offered to Walcott. Gazidis is the highest paid CEO in the league and all because he sells our best players and captains every summer and puts profits and dividends in Kroenke’s pockets. The Arsene bum lickers aren’t even true supporters, their happy to see a BIG famous club like Arsenal go trophy-less as long as top 4 finish is achieved. These are the fans that started supporting Arsenal during the invincible days. They don’t know how much glory Arsenal had back in the days. These are the so called ‘fans’ that sit at home streaming Arsenal games on foreign websites, they don’t realise how frustrating it is to pay one of the highest ticket prices in Europe only to watch mediocre performances and to see the team lose to rubbish teams like Norwich. The board needs to stop milking the club and needs to invest in the team. Arsenal ‘FC’ not ‘PLC’. I for one hope Usmanov takes over and kicks that prick Gazidis out of our club and hope that old mug PH-W effs off the loser. Wenger can get lost too if he doesn’t want to invest in the team properly. Nasri, Clichy, Fabregas, RVP, Song weren’t even replaced at all and they were all sold for £108million.

    • AAABum………..What makes you think Usmanov is better or even interested in ¨improving¨ the situation? Gazidis isn’t even the highest paid but regardless he has a contract approved by the BoD and has increased the financials significantly, well worth his bonus. So you think you and your AAA bum-buggers are the only true supporters because all you can do is whine,moan and diss the Club,its principles and supporters? Because you have the privilege of watching AFC games in person makes you superior to those who live overseas and cannot get to see Arsenal games in person, BS mate! Wenger has more class and nous in his pubic hair than you and your AAA morons have in your entire collective sewer you inhabit. By the way, Podolski, Giroud, the Ox, Gervinho, Walcott, Szcesny, Per,Vermaelen, Koscielny, Sagna, Jenkinson, etc. are all shit and unworthy of replacing our departed wantaways? Your negativism and blinkered rancour,vitriolic viewpoint and pessimism are truly classic AAA traits…..why don’t you stay at LeGrove,s website where bird-brains of a feather all shit together?

  15. Need to stop this romantic view that the needs of the fans need to be taken into account.

    It is a business, owned by businessmen who see an opportunity to make £millions.

    We fans are just consumers of the Arsenal product. Hooked like junkies, hoping our dealers will spice up the product or reduce the price. No chance whilst the trough is full.

  16. Personally couldn’t care less if the owner barred fanshare, the AST fan club, any of these ancillary organizations from access to the club like Abromoviç did with the Chelsea fan clubs. All I care about is finance, I want an owner who will help Arsenal compete with Chelsea and City, and Kroenke won’t do that. Usmanov might, but we’ll probably never know, as the board made a clear choice for Kroenke and he holds all the cards now. Still, one can hope.

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