Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Stan Kroenke's latest interviews show he still doesn't get Arsenal

In place of reassurances about the future, fans can instead see in the cold light of day just how detached Kroenke has become from his £450m investment

Ben Burrows
Thursday 26 October 2017 11:29 BST
Stan Kroenke has once again demonstrated his lack of understanding of Arsenal
Stan Kroenke has once again demonstrated his lack of understanding of Arsenal (Getty)

Stan Kroenke's silence has been deafening for Arsenal fans for too long.

So you would hope that his decision to sit down with a couple of national newspapers ahead of the club's AGM this week would be welcomed as an opening of dialogue between owner and supporters.

Think again.

In place of reassurances about the future or concrete promises of what is to come, fans can instead see in the cold light of day just how detached Kroenke has become from his £450m investment and those who have devoted their lives to it.

Arsenal fans want answers. Instead they have more questions than ever.

Perhaps Kroenke could shed some light on the futures of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil?

"They looked really good in black with the red trim,” he observed after watching them in person at Goodison Park on Sunday, sartorial elegance clearly more important than the £100m hit the club will take when both walk out for nothing next summer. The blasé attitude to the contracts of Arsenal's most valuable assets has been confusing agents and club executives alike for the last 18 months, though clearly not those at the Emirates.

"We’ll keep working to keep our top talent and to attract more talent" he says, belying his real estate mogul roots.

These are fine sentiments, except players aren’t just talent. They aren’t houses or shopping malls or factories or cowboy ranches, they are living, breathing things, things that bring joy to thousands and carry the hopes and dreams of more. In American sports, the commodification of players is worse than it ever was. Witness, if you will, the outrage at the anthem protests in the NFL recently - "how dare these people that risk serious injury every day for my entertainment have a view on anything, let alone the oppression of an entire race"

 Kroenke has always favoured the Rams over Arsenal 

Kroenke talks about Arsenal as a business - as they are undoubtedly are - but for so many they are so much more.

He doesn’t and has never got that. Perhaps he never will.

Maybe instead there would be some insight as to why Arsene Wenger was handed a new two year contract this summer after missing out on the Champions League for the first time in over 20 years?

"An easy answer is it's easy to do something. It’s harder not to do something,” he noted, seemingly without an ounce of awareness or recognition of the increasingly vocal anti-Wenger movement within the supporter base.

 31-year-old McVay has taken the league by storm this season 

This is the man who has watched Arsenal in person a handful of times, an absent owner more concerned with the Los Angeles Rams or the Denver Nuggets than what happens in N5.

And the best thing is that Kroenke invokes the example of the Rams who, buoyed by a vibrant, exciting and - most tellingly - young coach are the talk of NFL. Sean McVay has taken one of the league’s most beige franchises and made them relevant again almost overnight after the dirge under his staid, ancient predecessor Jeff Fisher.

The irony of the benefits of sacking a tired old coach and replacing him with a younger model is apparently lost on Kroenke.

Instead he appears to actually see similarities between 31-year-old McVay and 68-year-old Wenger observing that both “will win a big game and see the imperfections”.

“When you have someone with that passion the whole organisation benefits and the players buy into it in a different way,” he says.

 Wenger was rewarded with a two-year contract this summer 

“For 20 years we were in the top four, no other English club has done that and the year we fell out we had four more points than the previous year when we were second.”

Arsenal fans don’t want excuses, they don’t want to accept failure, they want change. Fisher, in the pre-season before being sacked by Kroenke, said he was aiming for the top and was "sick of this 7-9 bullshit," but the team ended up 4-12. Wenger builds up the same expectations at Arsenal but his failures are rewarded by the complacency within the club and a two-year extension.

“Sports fans are wonderful,” he adds, as he reveals he wants to engage with supporters rather than keep them at arm’s length. To his credit, the interaction with fans compares favourably with that of the owners of rivals Tottenham, Manchester United or Chelsea – he is a regular attendee at the AGM and has given a number of interviews about the state of the club in recent years - but the truth is talk ultimately is cheap in a results business.

 Kroenke is an absent owner despite being a regular attendee at the AGM 

Kroenke says he is working for “the long term rather than the short-term”. Arsenal fans are tired of the long term.

Long term has been the vision for too long. Long term is stable and long term is admirable but long term but is also no league title in over a decade.

“Arsenal is a great club,” he adds. “Our job is to do everything we can to keep it that way and push to make it even better.”

Admirable words but actions speak louder.

Kroenke just doesn’t get Arsenal. That is clearer today than ever.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in