Stan Kroenke: Nobody could run Manchester United better than Glazers
Stan Kroenke, Arsenal's majority shareholder, believes nobody could have done a better job of running Manchester United than the Glazer family, despite the chronic discontent with their debt-laden regime among the Old Trafford club's fans.
Speaking to the British press en masse for the first time since acquiring 66 per cent of the north-London side earlier this year, Kroenke admitted he does not understand why the Glazers' ownership of United has triggered widespread protest over the last six years.
It will be of considerable relief to Arsenal supporters, though, that Kroenke's admiration for his fellow countrymen centres more on their ability to increase United's advertising and marketing revenues to more than £100m a year than the leveraged debt they used to acquire the club, which costs Old Trafford around £45m a year in interest.
That is irrelevant to Kroenke, though, who sees expansion of income crucial to Arsenal's model of self-sustainability, a plan the 64-year-old remains committed to implementing.
Kroenke said: "What was so tough about the Glazers' situation? OK [there were a lot of fan protests], but they won. And they have increased revenues by a huge amount. If I was a fan of that club, I would sit there and go 'wow'. How could you do it any better?
"They have increased marketing revenues massively. Some of their players have taken money [out of the club] and maybe they have not performed. We maybe have a whole different philosophy in the United States, but I think they ought to think a little bit about who invests in these clubs.
"What do you want for the long term? In the States, you would never get this dialogue. He took money out of the club? So what? [Los Angeles Lakers owner] Jerry Buss takes money out of his club. A lot of owners in the US do. No one ever says anything about it."
Kroenke has spent the last five days in England, attending a fractious Annual General Meeting at the Emirates last Thursday before watching Arsenal's remarkable victory over Chelsea on Saturday. He addressed his players at the club's Colney base yesterday, telling Robin van Persie and his team-mates he was "proud" of their "spirit in fighting through the adversity" they faced earlier in the season.
He is unlikely to have detailed to them quite why he feels the self-sustainable model Arsenal are determined to stick with despite calls from the club's Supporters' Trust to allow Alisher Usmanov, backer of Red and White Holdings and owner of just less than 30 per cent of the team, to inject capital into the club. Kroenke, indeed, remains adamant self-sustainability remains the only viable plan for Arsenal to follow in the coming years.
On Wenger, Kroenke added: "You want to be sure you want to spend the money, and that is what our manager does. That is his job. We have money. Nobody has ever said don't spend it. This club is run a certain way and I think people are proud of how it is run."
The next decision awaiting Wenger, of course, is over the contract of Van Persie, his captain, which expires in 18 months. Kroenke would not be drawn on the issue, but suggested Samir Nasri was sold after "an evaluation" of whether he was worth more to the club as a player or as the £24m fee offered by Manchester City.
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