So Stan Kroenke has given an interview to a couple of newspapers. It’s almost two years since he granted a wider cross-section of the press some of his time, but the messages are essentially the same:
- Arsenal are doing great
- I love Arsene and I want him to stay
- I don’t interfere in running the club, but I am really interested in it. Honestly – REALLY interested
- I’m not selling Arsenal
- I have never taken money out of my sports clubs, but I reserve the right to do so – I’m certainly not promising NOT to do it
- The American model where club owners take profits out works fine in America and I can’t see why it won’t work here – look at the great job the Glazers are doing
Where’s my salt cellar, because I need to have a few large pinches ready before I go on.
Doing great – yes, great start to the season (Villa aside), long may it continue. The open top bus company of Islington remain untroubled, though – so far. (I think this season is very open though, so I live in hope, but that’s as much down to what other clubs have done with their managers as anything in Stan’s realm.)
You love Arsene – well, of course you do, he is a one-man money-making machine. Who better to keep up the value of your asset without the sort of profligate spending that the Harry Redknapps and Mark Hugheses of the world are so keen on?
You don’t interfere – well I can believe that, though I’m sure Ivan gets a few instructions. I doubt he went out on a limb with his pronouncements about spending and keeping Usmanov at arm’s length.
Stan apparently said he spends 30-40 days a year in London on Arsenal business. Hmm. Are they all in the summer, then? Because he doesn’t get to a lot of games. He’s here this week, and look, there’s an NFL game on too. No NFL game, no Stan visible.
Another comment was that his son Josh is ‘a huge Gooner’. Pass the salt. ‘Huge Gooner’? Look, I can believe Josh K has become a fan (of sorts) of his father’s investment, I mean sports club, and who is to say what the definition of ‘huge Gooner’ is anyway? But Josh spends his time running other sports clubs for dad, not popping over to watch Arsenal away at West Brom. Which, let’s face it, he could do if he wanted to.
Not selling. Ok. I can believe that. No reason to when your investment is worth substantially more than it was two years ago.
Taking money out – this is a tricky subject. Stan likes to keep his options open. He’s been asked several times by journalists and supporters (the AST and others) if he will categorically promise not to take money out, and he won’t make that promise. My personal feeling is that he won’t take money out in the short-term, but he hopes to in the future.
Which brings us on to the American model. As he did in November 2011, Stan cited both the Glazers and the owner of the LA Lakers as examples of owners who take profit without harming their clubs, so hey, what’s the big deal?
He actually said this time that the Glazers are reducing the debt at Man U – yes Stan, the same debt they loaded onto the club to buy it in the first place! Man U generate so much cash compared to their domestic rivals that they are the one club in England that can stand having an owner taking profit, service a debt and still compete at the very top level. The model works in America because there is an overall salary spending cap, so clubs can generate more than they are allowed to spend. In England, or anywhere else in football in fact, you can spend every available penny on wages and still not have enough to compete. That’s why Stan likes FFP – it limits wages, so it keeps his costs down. But on its own that still won’t be enough to generate a surplus for most clubs because they’ll spend it on transfers.
Look Stan, if there’s spare cash, how about giving the fans something? How about lower ticket prices? How about tickets for juniors to sit anywhere in the ground for half price? How about a meaningful travel subsidy for away fans, who create a disproportionate amount of the atmosphere at any match?
If there’s ‘spare’ cash, then where did it come from? Directly or indirectly it came from fans. No fans; no cash. Find me a money making sports club anywhere in the world that doesn’t have fans.
I know some will interpret this as an attack on Stan, or Americans, or some other nonsense. It’s not. It’s just realism.
As I said when Stan last spoke to the press, I think he’s probably a better long-term bet as owner than Usmanov, and I stand by that. But I’d still rather Arsenal did not have a majority owner. I want my Arsenal ownership model back.
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