Arsenal fans lose patience with Stan Kroenke's stewardship

 

Arsenal's majority shareholder Stan Kroenke yesterday insisted he was still committed to winning trophies after an acrimonious annual general meeting at which he was confronted by supporters, accusing him of not meeting fan groups and criticising him for failing to rule out paying a dividend to investors.

With the Arsenal Supporters' Trust voicing their "suspicions" that Kroenke "might take money out of the club," the American said he was just as desperate to bring trophies to Arsenal as anyone else. "I am ambitious for the club and we all share the same goal," he said after yesterday's meeting.

Kroenke refused to confirm there would not be a dividend payout to shareholders. "This club is run through the board, so those would be board decisions," he said. The chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, told supporters to "look at the track record of the board which has consistently reinvested funds back into the club".

Tim Payton of the supporters' trust admitted his concern afterwards. "We all suspect that [Kroenke] might take money out of the club," Payton said, "and Stan Kroenke gave no commitment not to take dividends out of the club."

Payton also said at the meeting that Kroenke had "not fulfilled" a commitment at the time of the takeover to meet with supporters' groups, a point which drew applause from the floor.

The manager, Arsène Wenger, who was more warmly received than anyone, reaffirmed his belief that qualifying for the Champions League was worth more than some trophies. "For me, there are five trophies: the first is to win the Premier League, the second is to win the Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League, the fourth is to win the FA Cup and the fifth is to win the League Cup."

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