Stan Don’t Deliver? How Does Kroenke Treat His US Sports Clubs?

A guest post today from @SeanMarland, who has looked at the success – or otherwise – of Stan Kroenke’s American sports franchises. Sport-loving success junkie or highway robber – which is Stan closer to?

(A very similar version of this article appeared in Issue 235 of The Gooner, and is reproduced here with Sean’s permission.) 

We’re three years into Stan’s austerity project and it’s become clear that no one is going to save us. Forget Usmanov, forget FFP and forget about that Middle Eastern consortium whose wondrous manifesto might as well have included unlimited free booze for all season ticket holders. Silent Stan has never sold a single share in any of his sport franchises, so we can assume that he and his parasitic stooge will be running things for many years to come. Even amongst the most optimistic Gooners he’s pretty unpopular (George Osborne would probably get a warmer welcome at his local Job Centre than Kroenke would get in an N5 tavern), but we’re not the only fans who’ve become collateral in his quest to build a sporting empire, so what do our American counterparts think of him? Armed with a modest understanding of US sport and a sudden urge to find my old copy of EA Hockey, I fired up my computer and engaged our transatlantic brethren.

Stan Kroenke: A Beginner’s Guide

Stan made his fortune from real estate, increased that fortune significantly by marrying an heir to American retail behemoth Wal-Mart and then decided to buy up a host of sports teams. There are also unconfirmed reports that he’s in the process of building his own Death Star. Future projects aside, Kroenke currently owns NFL franchise the St Louis Rams, NBA side the Denver Nuggets, NHL outfit Colorado Avalanche and MLS team the Colorado Rapids. He also owns a lacrosse side and an ‘arena football’ club (whatever that is) – neither of which I’ve bothered with in this article, because let’s face it, who cares? Due to American ownership rules, some of the aforementioned franchises are technically owned by his son Josh, but it’s all the same really. To write this article I contacted supporters who contribute to their team’s respective independent fansites in a bid to gauge fan opinion.

Meet me in St Louis: A Love Affair

As a semi-ethical writer, I felt honour-bound to write this article as impartially as possible and report all sides equally. However with my Arsenal hat on, I was desperate for the American fans I contacted to corroborate my own opinions and allow me to denounce Stan as the antichrist he almost certainly is. Unfortunately for me, the first person to respond to my email was a man who may have a framed picture of Kroenke on his bedside table. Eric Nagel edits Turf Show Times – a leading St Louis Rams fansite – and he told me the team’s owner has been nothing but a positive influence since he became majority owner in 2010. “He’s hired one of the top coaches, an excellent general manager and shown no aversion to spending money on talented players. Kroenke wants to win and has done everything in his power to do so. You can’t ask for more than that in an owner!”

However before we go any further with this love-in, I should point out that the Rams were hardly a force in the NFL when he took over and have only ever won one Super Bowl (1999) in their whole history, making them one of the most unsuccessful franchises in top-level gridiron. What’s more, bean counters at Forbes recently rated them the 30th most valuable of the NFL’s 32 elite franchises. Once you consider the fact that there’s more money to be made in American Football than any other US sport, you start to see the attraction of taking an under-performing but well-established side and pumping in some capital. Relatively speaking, you don’t need to put much in to get something out, yet the spending curve required to actually win something is far more severe. In financial terms, the Rams are probably more similar to Arsenal than any of his other sides.

Eric threw a little more light on the situation when I asked him how highly he believed Stan valued the team’s success. “Very highly,” he said. “No success, no money and that doesn’t fit at all with Kroenke’s business plan. He certainly cares about having a winning product on the pitch, but make no mistake – he’s in it to make money.” Now I for one wouldn’t be against Stan making a bit of cash, as long as he was delivering a winning team on the pitch (as the Glazers are at Man Utd) but our definition of a winning team and Stan’s seems to differ greatly, as I’ll demonstrate.

“The Rams haven’t been successful by any stretch for the last decade, normally ranking bottom of the league,” Eric continues. “But last year they constantly competed against some of the best teams in the NFL.” Rome wasn’t built in a day, but ‘competed against’ sounds suspiciously like ‘lost to’ to me. Eric is understandably delighted by the prospect of his side dragging themselves off the foot of the league for the first time in a decade, but will Stan stop pushing once they’ve won another Super Bowl or once he’s secured a regular profit? The fact is, none of his teams have won much under his business model, but not just because he’s a shabby owner with short arms and deep pockets, it’s also because they’re all eternal also-rans within their respective sports and Stan seems happy enough with that state of affairs providing the cash rolls in. Apart from Arsenal, the only exception to this rule is his NHL team. So let’s see how they’ve fared since he snapped them up in 2000.

"Can someone take this big silver thing away from me? It's making me nervous."

“Can someone take this big silver thing away from me? It’s making me nervous.”

Puck you Stan: An Avalanche of Criticism

In terms of stature and history, the Avalanche are more similar to Arsenal than any of Stan’s other sides and as such, their fans dislike him about as much as we do. “When he first purchased the team in 2000, it was a wildly successful franchise,” says Cheryl Bradley, the Assistant Editor of Mile High Hockey. “The team had won the Stanley Cup in its first year in Colorado (1995-96) and had been riding a sell-out streak that set league records which still stand.” Sound familiar? So Stan inherited a good side which then won another title in his first year (2001) and stayed competitive until 2004, when there was an NHL ‘lockout’ (a labour dispute which caused a whole season to be cancelled) before play resumed in 2005 with a firm salary cap. Which is where Cheryl picks up the story.

“The Avalanche roster had been gutted of some of its top players because of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement which forced cutbacks in contracts. Subsequently, the team dropped into mediocrity for the next few years, bottoming out in 2008-09. The management essentially blew up the team and went with young players who were on entry-level contracts and journeymen who didn’t command high salaries. At that time, ‘Kroenke is cheap and that’s why the team is losing’ became a common theme among fans.” I’m a novice when it comes to the finer points of the NHL’s structure, but Cheryl goes on to explain that Kroenke played safe by not paying big wages after the lockout and the team hasn’t really recovered since. Next I asked her whether she thought he put the team before his own business interests. “No I don’t,” she scoffed. “He took over the team to make money and build his sports business portfolio. He is not, nor ever has been a hockey guy.”

So where did it all go wrong? “One of the franchise’s biggest weaknesses is in renegotiating contracts. They do little of it. Instead they say, ‘This is our offer. Take it or leave it.’ If players push for more money they are either not re-signed or traded. There was a time when the Avalanche didn’t need to negotiate with players; the team was so successful that players vied for an opportunity to play in Colorado. Despite the allure of the Avalanche wearing off, management still approach contracts in the same way. It’s hurting the team, even if some of the choices they’ve made may have been the right ones.”

We all took Samir Nasri’s recent comments with a pinch of salt, but these comments certainly don’t contradict him. The Avalanche fans I spoke to also urged me to look up the situation with Ryan O’Reilly, the team’s star player who was effectively sent out on loan for a year while management stalled over his new contract. You don’t need to be much of an analyst to draw comparisons because it’s a story we’ve all heard before, but one thing I wasn’t prepared for was the way Cheryl described our much-vilified overlord as having a penchant for media totalitarianism that would bring a tear to Kim Il-Sung’s eye.

“There appears to be a mandate with all media associated with the Kroenke Sports Group that limits criticism of the team,” she explained. “Since KSE owns the media venues that cover the team, there’s nowhere to turn to get an honest assessment of the operations at the Avalanche – which even extends to the Denver Post!” And you thought the Arsenal website was a bit one-sided! No wonder she says Stan sees bloggers as ‘the Devil’s Spawn’.

The titles may have dried up, but Stan is getting his money’s worth. Cheryl’s colleague at MHH David Driscoll-Carignan agreed with her and when I asked him how highly Stan valued the team’s success and he told me that his hockey side have basically been turned into a giant cash machine. “Frankly, I haven’t got a clue if he cares about the team’s success. He’s so secretive about everything it’s hard to see what motivates him. The fact that he bought all the ancillary business surrounding the Avalanche makes me assume he’s motivated by profit more than winning championships. The franchise has a safe future. They aren’t in danger of failing, like some other NHL teams, but without money to bring in star players – or retain current players – it’s hard to picture the team thriving either.”

"Seriously, even I have no idea if my hair is real."

“Seriously, even I have no idea if my hair is real.”

Which Way Are We Shooting?

Having bought every other sports organisation within a 500 mile radius of Denver, Kroenke decided to press on with his quest to achieve a statewide monopoly and purchased the Colorado Rapids in 2004. Chris White, editor of the soccer side’s fansite Burgundy Wave, explained how Stan has done ‘fantastic’ things since he took over, paying for a new stadium and even constructing a standing terrace for ‘ultras’ (how good would that be?). In a rare interview with The Daily Telegraph in 2011 (well worth Googling) Kroenke said the team was in trouble when he stepped in and he simply wanted to ‘help out’, but, as Chris explains, he was also helping himself like a Northerner at a Greggs lock-in.

“Kroenke bought the team when the league was just starting an incredible growth spurt, in terms of attendance, team numbers and overall quality. In addition, MLS teams are rather cheap to maintain compared to EPL, NHL, NFL or NBA sides so it was very little risk and potentially lots of reward.”

Make no mistake, the Rapids have come a long way since Stan bought them, but he hasn’t gone any further than most other MLS owners. In business terms he’s also got in early on what is a rapidly expanding market. The Rapids may be currently losing cash, but Kroenke knows his investment will eventually come good because the MLS is on a fast upward trajectory, whereas all the other sports he’s involved in are generally plateauing. 

Yet Colorado have won some silverware since he took over – not that Stan knew much about it, as Chris explains in a story which illustrates the pitfalls of having an owner who’s following more teams than Robbie Keane.

“In 2010 on our way to the MLS Cup, the confusing playoff seedings in MLS that year had the Rapids – a Western conference team – playing in the Eastern Conference final. In a famous moment, Kroenke, making a rare appearance at a Rapids match, turned to the league’s commissioner and said something to the tune of, “Why is my team playing in the Eastern Conference finals, again?” Not much confidence is instilled when it seems like he isn’t watching what’s going on.”

Nugget!

Silent Stan may not be a ‘hockey guy’ but everyone I spoke to agreed that he’s certainly a ‘basketball guy’ – or as Nate Timmons of basketball fansite Denver Stiffs puts it, a ‘basketball junkie’. Stan had to hand the Denver Nuggets over to his son Josh (who apparently has a slightly more hands-on approach) when he bought the Rams in 2010 due to rules of NFL ownership, but he remains the de facto owner and Josh is just as enthusiastic about basketball as his old man. Indeed the two things that everyone I spoke to agreed upon were: 1. Stan is hyper-secretive, and 2. He prefers basketball to all other sports. As such it’s no surprise to hear that Nate’s pretty satisfied with Kroenke’s ownership, although he did also raise some interesting questions about his operating procedures.

“Had Stan not purchased the Nuggets in 2000, there was a small chance that the team could’ve left Colorado. The Nuggets have also made the play-offs for the past nine seasons and the stability he brought has caused that. Before Kroenke took over, the Nuggets had not made the play-offs since 1995.” However, just as with the St Louis Rams, if we look a little further we see that historically the Nuggets are archetypal also-rans. Indeed a quick Wikipedia search reveals that they’ve never appeared in an NBA Final, let alone actually won a title. Essentially, this lot are the Aston Villa of the NBA and that’s probably being generous. “The Nuggets aren’t an elite team, but they’re getting there,” explains Nate. “It’ll be interesting to see if Kroenke will go ‘all in’ to try and bring a title to Denver.”

Apparently there are plenty of fans who hold a more skeptical view than he does, but being the level-headed sports fan he is, Nate still has a few gripes. “I wish Kroenke & Co. wouldn’t wait until contracts are up to renegotiate deals!” he says. Tell us about it mate!

Carmelo Anthony’s Dream

One player the Denver Stiffs writer singled out for my attention was Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets’ star 6 foot 8 inch ‘small forward’, who decided to leave for the New York Knicks after several successful seasons in Colorado. Reading around the subject led me to believe that the situation was quite similar to our own Fabregas debacle (Anthony had persevered with the Nuggets but he’s from New York originally), yet it’s also clear that Kroenke’s cronies hardly tried to break the bank to keep him and Anthony’s comments following his departure could have been spoken by a host of former Arsenal players. “To have so many memories and being at the pinnacle, going to the conference finals here, having a team that we thought could win here, to see that break up. That’s where it all started,” he told the press.

"Are you sure this is me? I think it's just some guy who looks like me."

“Are you sure this is me? I think it’s just some guy who looks like me.”

He Who Shall Not Be Named

Nate wasn’t the only Nuggets fan I approached for an opinion. I also spoke to another prominent member of their blogging community who said he was happy to talk to me, but that our conversation should be strictly off the record. Obviously I was intrigued by this and assured him that his identity would not be revealed. This was it – I’d landed a scoop! It would be like Watergate and the Phone-Hacking Scandal all rolled into one! I’d sell the story and finally be able to afford a season ticket AND central heating! But even though my dreams of a Pulitzer had evaporated faster than Arsenal’s annual title charge, my paranoid contact did have a few interesting insights.

“In the States, we’re well aware of what’s happening with Arsenal in the UK,” he said. “One of the things you need to know about Stan is as much as he wants to win in sports, his desire to win in ‘business’ sometimes supersedes it. While I’m not familiar with the way the Premier League conducts business, his habits in American sports are to play hardball in Collective Bargaining negotiations with the players union, get the best deal he can, then adjust player salaries to fit the new business model.”

Essentially, Stan’s ethos does not allow for managers to pay special wages for special players. Back in September 2011 when The Telegraph asked him if he was confident that Van Persie would stay at the club in light of that summer’s exodus, he replied: “Yes. Fabregas and Nasri were unique situations. Arsenal is a great club. London is a great place to live. Why would you want to throw that away?” His advocates might point out to this winter’s Walcott fiasco as evidence that he is shifting his stance, but you can be sure that his attitude towards wages is a good indicator of his attitude towards transfer fees. The Glazers do not throw money around like many other foreign owners but Ferguson is allowed to break the rules by paying over the odds for a striker or upping another striker’s wages to prevent him leaving for a rival, because they understand the subtle difference between Premier League football and US sport.

Meanwhile Stan seems to be risk-averse and stuck in small-club mode. As such, when the Telegraph asked him about the slump Arsenal found themselves in two years ago he said: “That’s just part of the game. Everyone thinks it’s always going to be like that (pointing upwards to indicate success) but it’s not.” Rousing stuff.

For more of Sean, follow @SeanMarland

And follow me – @AngryOfN5. I practically insist.

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31 thoughts on “Stan Don’t Deliver? How Does Kroenke Treat His US Sports Clubs?

  1. An excellent article by Sean Marland, well written and well researched. Sometime ago I expressed my opinion of Stan Kroenke on this forum and my views have not changed since then. Sean and his correspondents have confirmed everything that I believe to be true about him. He is in my opinion a man of mediocrity. For him profit is everything. Thats his game. I believe him to be a greedy, unimaginative, self centred man who surrounds himself with “yes” men like Ivan Gadzidas He could not, nor ever would understand the collective joy that real people feel when “their” team wins something or that “gutted” feeling that losing brings with it. I don’t like Stan Kroenke, I don’t like what he stands for, and I don’t like what has been happening at Arsenal since his arrival. In case some people think that I am an admirer of Alisar Usmanov, be assured, I find his involvement with Arsenal just as repugnant. Another ego centred grubby little man for whom I have nothing but contempt. These two jerks are playing “chicken” with our club. They have no interest in, nor do they care about Arsenal, its all about winning the share battle for them. And what about us the fans ? Well we seem unable to do anything about it. I always believed that AW was the sensible voice in Arsenal, the voice of reason if you like,(god knows he earned it). But now I am convinced otherwise. His good council has been ignored and the result ? Two lunatics have taken over the asylum.

    • Noel: Kroenke, on his performance, past and present, here and in the States, is a hopeless case. Nothing will improve (no matter who is manager) while he remains as owner. Like you, I’d prefer a return to multiple owners and a policy of custodianship – but that is no longer an option (thank you, Danny, Richard, Lady N!). So how does Usmanov measure up against Kroenke? From what he says, his motive is glory, not profit, he is a fan of Arsenal, a fan of Wenger, who (if he were owner) would provide Arsene with the cash for major signings. In contrast, Kroenke is a businessman whose business is ‘sports franchises (of which he owns several), who places profit before glory, who is not a fan of Arsenal (or soccer at all), and who has denied Wenger the cash for major signings.

      • Usmanov wants seat on the Arsenal board? Well….Usmanov IS on the board at CSKA Moscow. He has not drenched that club in wealth, they havent won their league in ages – and they are not a contender for the Champions League.

        So no glory and none on the horizon for CSKA Moscow. No bags of money to blow away the competiton

        Now you wake up and tell me why Usmanov wants to be on the Arsenal board, let alone own it.

  2. This article is a bit of a hack job and is seriously blue-eyed. AFC isnt a charity – its a business. And you are the product. Which the sainted David Dein and Danny Fiszman sold for quite a lot of money. Which also Usmanov wants to acquire and milk.

    Even the players, eg Nasri and Van Persie are out to milk you. Even Theo who stayed, is out to milk you too – he wants you to subsidise his 100K per week salary and he remains an inconsistent contributor and nothing like what the Americans call a “franchise player”. All the players are milking the fans now – big money, little dedication.

    Sport is a business now. Football is one of the most commericialized businesses there is. This is 2013. And most rich people get there by TAKING your money, not spending theirs on you.

    Please grasp this and understand that no amounting of tilting at windmills will help here. The club might win and it might not. But short of putting up a billion pounds to buy it and turn it into a charitable trust, you really have no say. Even boycotting wont help. as someone else will turn up to be milked.

    Just enjoy the game from afar. Because that’s where it is now.

    • I must say I do wonder why you have any interest in football at all, given that your constant refrain is that everyone is out for nothing but profit.
      In your view, who was the last person in football who wasn’t a complete mercenary?
      Also why do you describe it as a ‘hack job’? Perhaps you’d like to explain why you’re so dismissive of it, when in fact it largely tallies with your oft-spoken view that Stan is only interested in making money at fans’ expense.

      • I have an interest in football – I’m just not naive.

        I also have an interest in film – and I do grasp the difference between an art film and a hollywood one. I can enjoy a Tom Cruise movie but no I dont think he is in it for anything but the money. And I dont expect much art or heart in those type of movies, as I do with the indepenent ones, which by the way I’m more willing to go down to Curzon and pay cash to see.

        The problem is too many football fans these days dont understand that “hollywood” has taken over here in this game.

        You’d think the fact that the clubs had been floated on the stock market might be a clue, but football fans are somewhat thick. Which is probably why they are so valuable prospects to be milked.

        No please, more ranting about “Stan” – its so utterly off point that the joke turns on you really.

      • I’m not ranting about Stan. And I notice you avoided at least two thirds of the points in my response to you. Let me repeat them:
        In your view, who was the last person in football who wasn’t a complete mercenary? Let’s make that top-level football to make it easier for you.
        Also why do you describe this article as a ‘hack job’? Perhaps you’d like to explain why you’re so dismissive of it, when in fact it largely tallies with your oft-spoken view that Stan is only interested in making money at fans’ expense.

      • I thought the analysis didnt show a good enough grasp of American leagues.

        I also dont find it interesting to detail who in football is a mercenary and who is not. These are now all commerical enterprises. There is no point in vilifying any owners. Not any more than you would go around vilifying the commercial owner of your local pub, or coffee shop, which is no less of a community institution.

        All I am saying is dont waste more time on analysing Kroenke, Usmanov or anyone else. ALL the owners want to win. Why? Well, ultimately winning increases the value of their assets i.e. the club’s players and its brand. Kroenke too! But the question is how much will each owner be willing to wager in their attempt to snatch the prize. Especially when there is a solid return to be made by being in the top level of the game in general. The choice of how much MORE to wager that the basic, is about risk and marginal return. And the answer varies based on every club’s individual circumstances.

        At Man U they have been going for it heavily and succeeding. But they are doing so because they actually have to – while they haev huge income commericially, their entire business has to support a significant debt load from the ownership and really they cant afford a down year.

        Chelsea and Man C are literally burning money. Arsenal cannot compete with them on wages or transfer fees, because they arent balancing the books. Or really aiming to, other than window dressing for UEFAs silly rules.

        In this light you cant say that Arsenal is not trying to win. But you can see how it could be very easy to burn your money in vain when one club is a russian oligopolists’ PR front and the other is back by a sovereign wealth fund.

        Personally I think Arsenal is just aiming to stay close and look for a window when those two can no longer burn money like water. Another arab spring or a dictator has a bad week and sends out his polonium buddies and this picture looks entire different. That’s the bottom line. And for me its much more relevant than how the Nuggets or Rams history.

        Every owner wants to win. But billionaires dont get rich by doing stupid things like throwing money into bottomless pits – and that is what you’d be doing if you want to start paying Adebayor or Nasri more than Man City offers, or paying more for Eden Hazard than what Chelsea offers. You’d just go broke – and for no good reason, as those players are very replaceable. Van Persie turned out to be better than Adebayor was and Cazorla as good as Nasri. The only exception was van Persie leaving and by all indications,the club did push the boat out for him, but he is a dutchman and if you’ve done business with those guys, you’ll know that they scrape every last penny off the table in a deal. He was never going to stay.

      • I still disagree that every owner is the same. Usmanov in particular has no need to make money from Arsenal, and could easily make more by buying into a host of other companies and industries. But most of those don’t give him the public face, the chance of being loved by millions if it all goes right, the prestige and the glory of winning, and even – if he’s genuinely a fan – the joy. Yes, billionaires don’t become billionaires by throwing money away, but they do sometimes recognise that there are other things they can do for pleasure.
        Anyway, I have written a short blog post about Mr Usmanov that I’ll put up tomorrow morning. On the face of it I think you’ll agree with the content, but I’ll be surprised if you don’t find something to slag off!

  3. It’s a fascinating piece and it does make you wonder about the extent of Dein’s research when he first got into bed with Kroenke – did Dein think that this was exactly the type of owner that Arsenal needed?

    It is of course true that football is, at its most basic, pure business and we are the mugs that willingly fill the coffers. And Arsenal are a safe investment; for all the talk of marches, bin bags on seats and giving up season tickets, it’s a club that will always sell out and make money whilst it’s in the top 6.

    The bottom line is that Kroenke is a very clever businessman and he’s made a very shrewd move in getting into Arsenal at the right time. We all now need to hope that he wants Arsenal to win things and not just turnover an annual profit. Thankfully there’s more of a link between success and profit in English football than there is in most US sports.

    My big worry is that Kroenke will soften the fans up by spending big this summer and then decide to give himself a whopping dividend in the autumn. Phil – you know far more about this stuff than I do, do you think this likely?

    On Usmanov: he’s a dead duck unless Kroenke decides to sell but the worst thing that fans and fans groups can do is to view him as the better option simply because he’s the most realistic alternative. Anyone that thinks Usmanov will not want to take money out of the club is naive in the extreme. And with FFP coming in, the days of billionaires bank-rolling clubs may be coming to an end (I say “may”, as i’m still dubious as to how legal and enforceable FFP is…) so we need to get over the thought that he’ll be some Abramovich-type and get realistic.

    • Don’t you think it may be a little ‘naive’ of you to suppose that Usmanov interest in AFC is profit – because you are implying that the man isn’t smart enough to know he’d make more profit more easily elsewhere. Is it too difficult for you to accept that Usmanov is a fan, plain and simple. Why on earth wouldn’t he be, given Arsenal’s history and tradition?

      • I don’t personally think he’s a fan because he’s gone on the record in the past as saying that he’s a Man Utd fan. That is a big hint.

        But my point was not whether he’s an Arsenal fan or not, it was simply that he wants to buy into a football club for the same reason that any businessman does – to make money. It’s why he buys into any business and he’s bought into many and has bought into another one very recently.

        As for making more money elsewhere, he is already, but that doesn’t mean he won’t also want to make money out of football. One presume that he thinks there’s a lot more money to be made out of football in the future and I personally think he’d be correct to think that. It’s no coincedence that the last 5 years have seen so many billionaires investing their money into the game and it certainly isn’t because of their love of the club.

    • Sir, you’re not grasping the most important thing about Dein – he ultimatley only cared about money. And at the point that he brought Kroenke in, it was because he knew that Kroenke would pay him money for ownership of AFC.

      Which by the way is the only reason Dein is now in Usmanov’s pocket.

      Incidentally Usmanov is on the board of CSKA Moscow. I hope AngryofIslington will to an “analysis” of Usmanov’s impact at that club. I have been watching the champions leagues quarter finals, semi, finals and finals and I didnt see this club. They havent won their league in ages either.

      • There have always been ‘benevolent’ owners – that is, owners whose prime motive in buying a club was not profit. Right now, Bill Kenwright and Dave Whelan could be classified as such; even Roman and the Sheikh, at a stretch.

  4. This is a good article, but it doesn’t cover how difficult it is to win as a US Sports franchise and comparing it with Arsenal is being slightly disingenuous.

    For example, with a combination of a salary cap and drafting players rather than competing in the open market like Arsenal do, makes it much harder to compete. You have to draft well and hope that your investment (the player) blossoms into a world beater while juggling your wages under a salary cap. This happens in basketball, football and ice hockey (not sure about soccer, though).

    If your team does badly one year, then you obtain the a high draft pick in which you obtain the rights to said player and the reverse is true. But you can also trade those rights away for an established player who is doing well. It creates more parity, so it becomes rare that one team will win season after season. Sometimes, it does happen, but that is only because of star players like a Messi or Michael Jordan, that get surrounded by pretty good players who they make better (not saying that Iniesta and Xavi aren’t good players too).

    If a team consistently does badly season after season, it typically is the General Manager (and coach) who get blamed for this and not the owner and really, that is the way that it should be because it isn’t Kroenke who is drafting and training the players or making bad deals.

    I think that with the examples above, I think that the examples of contract re-negotiation would be the only relevant thing that we could say that Kroenke could potentially influence at Arsenal (however, there are many who think that is more or less down to Wenger and Gazidis). The rest is largely left to the men in charge of the General Managers of their respective clubs, who are responsible for negotiation, drafting, trading, etc.

    Also, their the coaches coach the team and that is all. The rest is left to the General Management of the team. Of course, Kroenke oversees all of this, but is largely hands off from what I have been reading.

    I am not defending Kroenke here, but merely explaining that there are many factors that are quite different with American sports franchises in comparison to Arsenal which potentially could make it much more difficult to compete. In comparison, Arsenal have it easier, but probably have been hampered by a stadium move in the financial department, so haven’t really competed like we would have liked. Hopefully this summer will see the shackles come off with spending.

    • At least someone here has a handle on things. Unsiad in all this is that the salary cap and draft exist completely for the purpose of controlling player bargaining power and guaranteeing owners control over compensation (their largest expense) and therefore giving every owner a higher chance of turning a profit.

      This is where major sport is now – M-O-N-E-Y. If you want romance, watch the lower league football or watch NCAA soccer. The soul is dead and gone here. Completely..

  5. ziontrain: Why would Usmanov care to ‘drench money’ on CSKA Moscow? Or (for that matter) on Arsenal? Our Club does not need a ‘sugar-daddy’ – merely an owner who devotes ALL the revenue and resources of Arsenal to the benefit of Arsenal, whose motive is glory, not personal profit.

    • But Usmanov has taken money out of every business he has ever owned shares in. He’s also sold businesses on for a fat profit that he’s personally banked and not put back into the businesses. What makes you think that Usmanov is therefore the man who won’t take money out of Arsenal?

      For the sake of balance, it’s also worth pointing out that, to date, Kroenke hasn’t taken anything other than expenses out of Arsenal.

      • Money allows very rich men to indulge their fantasies. It may be a Ferrari, a yacht, a beautiful woman – anything which turns them on. Like backing Broadway shows or owning a football Club. It’s a goodie, a treat, a self-indulgence – fun, if you like. Usmanov strikes me as such a man – whereas Kroenke does not. He is an enigma (or perhaps a blank) but, judged on the evidence thus far, he has a different kind of fantasy – a chain of clubs and arenas that would make him as dominant in sport as WalMart is in retailing.

      • Englandsbest – Usmanov is on the board of CSKA Moscow – in his own country. Surely the stuff of romance – if a privatisation hustler had any in his heart. Now how is CSKA Moscow doing?

      • With all due respect to CSKA Moscow, they don’t have the prestige of Arsenal. Nor would owning them or making them win do anything to help anyone be accepted into English/western European ‘society’ (ie rich snobby people). There ARE other possible motives for Usmanov than money.

      • 1) Charity begins at home. He as acheived nothing with his board seat at CSKA. But he is whning for one at Arsenal. Who is he kidding?

        2) If it is “Western acceptance” that Usmanov wants at all costs, according the the TImes Rich List, the an is obviously finanicially capable of of privately offering Kroenke a number he cant refuse – or going over 30% and triggering an automatic bid to own Arsenal all by himself. He isnt doing it……because he is in it purely for the money and overbidding would wipe out his potential profit.

        Spare us the BS please. He’s a money grubbing SOB, just like practically every other billionaire out there.

    • You’re still struggling to grasp how life works.

      Once you use the word “owner”, that implies a person who put down a billion pounds of his own money to control Arsenal. Merely for YOUR benefit? Freaking hilarious concept.

      You clearly don’t understand how billionaires get to be billionaires.

      Arsenal is not a charitable trust – its a PLC and a very expensive one at that.

      I’ll go back to what I keep repeating: the stable door was open by the time Dein & Fisman slipped and took control of Arsenal form the clueless Hill-Woods. Once ITV and the venture capitalists Landsdown had bought shares the horse had bolted.

      It’s not coming back.

      And father christmas doesnt exist to turn the clock back either. Why waste your time crying that Kroenke isnt father christmas? He never made any such claims. And youa re

  6. Kroenke has won league championships as an owner (or, in the Rams’ case, as a part-owner) in 3 different sports, including this one. You want trophies? He’s WON trophies. Period. (That’s Yankish for “full stop.”) So he knows what he’s doing, so quit your whining. (That’s Yankish for “cease your whinging.”)

    • I’ve won trophies in athletics and snooker – it doesn’t mean i’d win any in baseball. (This is what us English call talking common sense – i’m not sure there’s a “Yankish” equivalent…)

      • And you have run nothing bigger than a sunday league team, so are therefore equally unlikely to be a credible strategist for a football club? Just saying…..

  7. As a fan of Arsenal and of the St. Louis Cardinals, I have to suffer a double dose of rage with this fool of a man. Not only is he an albatross around Arsenal’s neck, he gets to sport the names of not one but two St. Louis Cardinals’ greats: Enos Slaughter and Stan “The Man” Musial. It drives me mad. He should be made to get a name-change and sell his stake in AFC.

  8. Pingback: That Sums It All Up – Get the Dettol in, it’s time to support Stoke | Talking out their Arsenal

    • 1) Putin insurance – check.
      2) Property development (new stadium) – check.
      3) Club running a profit – check
      4) European youth player flipping operation disguised as loan program – check

      If you’re looking for father christmas, I can assure you that not only does he not exist, but if he did, he would show up on this planet in the guise of a crony-capitalist raider from the former soviet states….

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