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Arsenal: Stan Kroenke Is Not Your Sugar Daddy

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I hold no brief for Stan Kroenke. I’ve never met the man and doubt I ever will. He is a billionaire; I struggle from paycheck to paycheck. He owns sports franchises, I can’t afford a sports car. He owns massive ranches; I can barely keep my mortgage current. He directs several corporations, I barely direct my household.

But there is one thread that binds us together; he happens to be the majority owner of the football club I support. There are millions of other plebs, like meself, in England and worldwide who depend on him for his proper stewardship of the club to whom we devote our recreational time and disposable income. This is a symbiotic relationship from which he benefits financially. There is an implied contract; as long as Stan takes care of AFC we are loyal, undying supporters of the club. That is why supporters have a vested interest in an objective analysis of whether Stan’s ownership is beneficial to the football club.

But apparently the name Stan Kroenke is a dog whistle that automatically triggers anything but a reasoned, measured response among several Arsenal fans. To the contrary, yell his name and there is an immediate rabid, noisy, fevered reaction that exceeds any pack of canines. Apparently rounding on Stan Kroenke is guaranteed to get emotions worked-up and generate attention for any blogger, twitter, ex-player, or malcontent seeking to tap into the need for a scapegoat on whom all blame can be pointed for the ills of the club particularly its recent falling out of the top-four for the first time in 20 years.

This was exactly what happened this past week when news emerged that Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov had made a bid of $1.3 billion to buy out Kroenke’s majority stake. In reaction to this attempted takeover, one of the top Arsenal bloggers, who has been knocking Kroenke for ages, to the approval of his acolytes,  made the following declaration:

“Arsenal will continue to stagnate under Kroenke’s stewardship, he’s had majority control of the club for years now, and we understand his model of ownership is not really about achieving sporting success.”

As usual, I decided to test this grand declaration by measuring how it stacks up against the unbiased data.

Spending under Kroenke

One important measure of Stan’s commitment to Arsenal’s “sporting success” is the history of transfer spending since he became majority owner. Unlike the wild, baseless, emotive, incendiary assertions of various bloggers, tweeters and podcasters I prefer the unbiased data. From transfermarkt.co.uk I obtained the following information on transfer spending since the 2011-12 season when Kroenke became majority owner. (Figures below are in £-million.)

Year Ins Outs Net Lge Pos
2011-12 55.65 66.55 -10.90 3
2012-13 47.60 55.97 -8.37 4
2013-14 41.86 10.33 31.53 4
2014-15 101.13 23.63 77.50 3
2015-16 22.53 2.13 20.40 2
2016-17 96.05 8.80 87.25 5
Total £364.82 £167.41 £197.41 4

In six full seasons net transfer spend has totaled nearly £200 million rising from negative £11 million in 2011-12 to nearly £90 million last season, a more than 1000% increase. In contrast, over the previous 6 years, net transfer spend totaled negative £11 million. Yup, prior to Kroenke, the club was generating more from selling players than spending on transfers. Since he took over there has been a revolutionary reversal. This is an inconvenient truth which neither the mainstream media nor supposedly pro-Arsenal bloggers choose to emphasize, preferring to indulge in spreading fake news casting Kroenke as literally a “deadbeat” Dad who neglects his Arsenal children

Maybe deadbeat Kroenke is worse than his other top-six rivals in transfer spending?

Ins Outs Net Lge Pos
Man City 661.13 185.92 475.21 2
Man Utd 832.97 386.13 446.84 4
Arsenal 364.82 167.41 197.41 4
Chelsea 592.89 405.69 187.2 5
Lpool 469.18 289.45 179.73 6
Spurs 345.56 366.31 -20.75 4

Once again the data belies the nonsense that is spouted in social media. In the past six seasons Arsenal net-spend was third amongst its peers. Only Manchester City, with full access to the petro-dollars of the sheiks of Abu Dhabi, and Manchester United, with its enormous commercial revenue, was able to outspend Arsenal on a net basis. Chelsea, it must be said, has engaged in some serious transfer voodoo over the period, outlaying nearly £0.5 billion on buying players but showing a remarkable ability, in excess of all its peers, to make recoveries via sales to other clubs. Hmm.

Not only has Arsenal under Kroenke been competitive in the transfer market but it has been effective spending based on average league position. Only City has enjoyed better league position in the long run. AFC is in a close bunch with United and Spurs. Unlike those two other clubs the Gunners can point to two FA cups over the same period and a chance for a third this weekend. Not bad for a club who until recently was selling its best players and replacing them with callow inexperienced youth.

If AFC is “stagnating” then it is among some glorious company. They too should take the advice of Arsenal’s foremost blogger and start agitating for a change of ownership.

Despite calumnies and mendacious reporting, Stan has not taken money out of the club except for a one time-payment to Kroenke Sports Enterprises for services rendered. Resources have been allocated to Arsene Wenger and the club’s management to improve the club. Since 2013 world class players such as Ozil and Alexis were brought into the team at great cost and under the nose of bigger, more resourced clubs. The Emirates has been Arsenalized, London Colney and Hale End have been expanded and modernized, a new health and fitness complex constructed and StatDNA acquired. These are all significant capital investments which empty, vacuous fans take for granted.

Standards under Kroenke

The record shows that Kroenke became majority owner of the club in April 2011 when he increased his shareholding in Arsenal to 62.89% by purchasing the stakes of Danny Fiszman and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith. The blogger, like many, conveniently glosses over the historical fact that Danny Fiszman, who was at one point the biggest single shareholder and the driving force behind the new stadium over the objections of David Dein, whom he helped removed from the board, engineered Kroenke’s takeover by selling him his final holdings on his deathbed in clear preference over Usmanov. Yup, the real “Mr. Arsenal” preferred Kroenke’s plans for Arsenal over that of his rival.

It was former chairman Peter Hill-Wood who revealed that Kroenke was viewed favorably by Fiszman and the rest of the Board because had agreed to maintain the standards of the club:

“We have never been in better shape financially and do not want anybody to buy the club, but if Kroenke wanted to buy it he would understand it and how to maintain the standards.”

It is well known throughout the 131 year history of Arsenal that, while it has been a pioneer of great innovations on and off the field, the club has never engaged in financial excesses and has never put winning a title above financial prudence. As any adult with two neurons and a working synapse is aware these are the sort of practices that have destroyed many football clubs (and businesses) whether in England, Europe, Asia, Africa or the Americas. To the contrary Arsenal has been a model of a self-sufficient, self-sustaining club. Apparently this is the “stagnation” that is so objectionable to the blogger and others.

Kroenke’s crime it appears is to steadfastly refuse using his own money to finance the club’s operations especially transfer spending. There is this infantile mentality that it is scandalous for a billionaire to treat Arsenal as a “serious long-term investment” rather than the play thing of a rich sugar daddy.

Apparently it is preferable to some that Kroenke does what the sugar-daddy owners at Manchester City and Chelsea do routinely. To wit, achieve the glory of winning titles by pouring external money in the club to support massive transfer without a care for the long term viability of the club. None of these advocates of short-term glory, those seeking the favors and pampering of that rich old geezer, have learnt anything from real life; what the sugar-daddy giveth he also taketh away.

As recent as last month I shared with readers the ultimate fate of one of the biggest sugar-daddy projects in world football, Silvio Berlusconi’s AC Milan. After 30 years of winning eight league titles, one Italian Cup, seven Super Cups as well as five Champions League trophies and five UEFA Super Cups. But due to Milan’s growing debt and Berlusconi’s falling financial fortunes, the club was forced to sell some of its best players year after year without significant reinvestment, leaving them floundering. In a span of just two years, Milan lost world class players like Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta, Pippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso, Mark Van Bommel and Gianluca Zambrotta, who were then followed by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva. Berlusconi finally had to sell up to the Chinese for €700 million earlier this year. Milan finished 6th in the recently finished Scudetto, a far cry from their glory years.

I greatly doubt the data and recent history I have provided will do much to arrest the anti-Kroenke mania that several bloggers have done their best to cultivate over several years. Perhaps the clear statement by Kroenke on Monday that his stake in the club is not even remotely up for sale will convince some of the futility of their efforts to separate him for the club. The best one can hope for is they will move on to some easier target for their vapid bile and vituperations.

Even Stan’s severest critics will eventually realize he is no soft touch, he is nobody’s sugar daddy.

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85 comments on “Arsenal: Stan Kroenke Is Not Your Sugar Daddy

  1. santi_cazorler,

    I am pretty sure that Wenger, the players and the board will review the season and work on correcting what went wrong to the best of their abilities. On hindsight, we are all geniuses but I continue to err on the side of those whose jobs it is to deal with these issues and who are much more qualified and experienced than me in resolving them.

    We have only one role to play in Arsenal and that is to support. Our role is not to identify or solve Arsenal’s problems. It is to support Arsenal, particularly when the club is having problems. That is what I have always done and what I intend to continue to do.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. < the drip doctoring "haven't replaced Nasri" meme which is a risibly weak construct alongside the "Chamberlain can't play football" rubbish are examples of the flat lining gibberish that made Mean Lean's blog unlistenable!

    Like

  3. I’ve upset Arseblog.Bad George.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I don’t know why I think I’m so funny. But I do make myself laugh.

    Like

  5. He’s desperate George – a few seasons of mid table mediocrity and he’s back on the job market.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. And the replica cuff link trade is swamped

    Liked by 1 person

  7. @Bootoomee

    Agreed, which is why I was so keen to stress my layman status multiple times. While its hard to suppress my instinct to analyze the technical side, I am always aware of two things:

    1) On top of being unknowledgeable on the topic, we are also uninformed – the information available to us is crumbs at best
    2) My function as a supporter. I cannot claim any credit in this regard since I cannot help but show up from first till the last minute of every game because I love this club and what it stands for. This includes the drubbing at Stamford Bridge and Anfield in 13/14 – somewhat proud of that if I’m honest.

    I will never feel that the club or the players owe me anything. Another interesting aspect of the malcontents is how they criticize the club for being run like a business, yet they insist on being treated as customers (“we pay this much and we are owed titles/performances” etc.) You are a supporter, and you are paying for the privilege of watching a team now renowned the world over for their commitment to attacking/exhibition football. As a great man once said: I love Arsenal. Do you love Arsenal? Or just Arsenal with titles?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Again, I have never claimed that the sole reason of our peceived failings has been the lack of a Nasri-type, or replacing Nasri for that matter. What I was hinting at is my (again – layman) perception of lack of technical security with Cazorla and Iwobi absent. Then again, since we have changed formation and found some confidence, this seems like less of a problem.

    Not sure where exactly I implied that I no longer like Wenger, but to the contrary – I love both AW the man and the manager, and I hope he stays.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. santi_cazorler,

    The problem with us laymen listing the problems with Arsenal is that readers don’t always take the caveat in. I have no idea who listing the perceived problems of the team helps on a fan blog. On the other hand, it breeds negativity and discontent. I’m frankly tired of reading “anybody can see what is wrong with XYZ of the team” from laymen. We have no clue and we need to stop pontificating on hindsight.

    Let’s support the team and leave those tasked with solving Arsenal problems in peace to do their jobs. Arsenal is the best run football club in England and one of the best run in the world. I’d like it to remain that way.

    I recognise that we are on the same side so please take my rants as friendly opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Not you SC,

    Tim Stillman. Banging all year upon the one drum. nevernind the football on the pitch, as seen over the last few weeks.

    The Stillman Nasri meme construct depends upon ignoring the 23 year old Xhaka’s first season after the late summer tourney. Similarly we saw Rambo only reach his best towards the end of the season ideally he’d have been given a longer break and eased back in just like Xhaka was…). Not for everyone but I do tell myself that football is an atheltic sport and not a refelction of someone’s opinion.

    Like you, i don’t know any better.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. After their risible criticisms of the best english footballer from his age group, as he has proven upon the football pitch in the PL, in the CL and at International elvel, I humbly advise that the opinions of these gibberish monekys have zero relevance to what occurs upon the football pitch.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Bootoomee,

    Agreed, although I think this is, as it were, a safe space to voice such an opinion. I do take it as a friendly opinion, goes without saying.

    Finsbury,

    Agree on both Xhaka and Ramsey. I think Xhaka has already been a terrific signing and I cannot wait to see more of him as he settles in fully. We have arguably, as they say, “won the transfer market” last summer with 4 great additions, 3 of which could easily give 5-10 years of service.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I not sure if anyone has mentioned it yet but the cup final screening and possible parade have both been cancelled.

    Like

  14. It is all there at 1.45 Ian !

    I can understand the club’s decision and the absolute need to keep people safe. However I don’t like to be put off what I want to do by people threatening me. If terrorists are determined to strike, particularly the suicide bomber, then cancelling events is no answer.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. George: Anything Arsenal-style to upset Arseblog is fine with me. He is one of the biggest purveyors of Arsenal b.s. in social media. Chief fomentor of various anti-Arsene memes and tropes and when that failed switched his grubby sights on Kroenke. That too is doomed to failure. Pity the 1,000s of lemmings being led into a dead-end completely oblivious that their clicks keep him whoring away.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. anicoll5,

    Agreed. I understand increasing security but cancelling events because of fear of terrorism is a bad response. Every time I’m forced to take my shoes off before boarding planes I feel terrorised by ObL again and again. (I hate taking my shoes off in public).

    Carrying on with our lives like nothing happened is the best way to discourage the bastard. I most proud of my fellow residents of Manchester by how everybody just carried like nothing happened. Fuck the evil bastard.

    Liked by 5 people

  17. To quote the great Frank Herbert

    “Fear is the mind killer”

    If none of you will tell Trump and May’s head hopping best buddies that the Dune series was written by an insightful Islamophile (therefore they would consoder it blasphomy against their Petrodollar cult and probably try to posthumously chop poor Frankie’s resting head off with a helpful grant from Lockheed Martin), then I won’t either.

    Like

  18. They above = Trump & May’s bestest of the best buddies!

    Like

  19. Isn’t this Europa League final a stinging indictment of United, the PL and English football? Boring.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. If you haven’t started watching the game from Stockholm please don’t bother

    The dullest joyless event I can recall for any European club final – and I’ve seen some stinkers

    Liked by 2 people

  21. And as the second United goal goes in i switch off – Ajax League 2 quality – United not much above them

    Like

  22. Shotta,
    The data isn’t worth arguing with:

    “Tonight Manchester United have made 102 completed passes compared to 254 by Ajax – that just proves they are playing the long ball….but it’s effective*” – Robbie Savage

    *When Fellaini hasn’t got himself banned!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. TBF to Moyes his Sunderland looked & played better then a Mourinho team without Zlatan, Fellaini or Drogba.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Next year’s main meme is ready:

    If Utd/Mourinho won the europa cup with only a cool half billion needed why can’t the Arsenal – Ajax were weaker finalists the likes of Sevilla etc

    Like

  25. What a borefest that game was

    Liked by 1 person

  26. isn’t it odd that so many of those who complained about KSE getting paid for services to afc, seem to be of the opinion that Kroenke should spend his own money on Arsenal, and not only that, but vast amounts of it. Surely the other side of that coin is that these people should see nothing what so ever wrong with Kroenke spending Arsenal’s money for his one personal use. Let alone getting paid for services rendered.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. seemingly gibbs is a doubt for the final. he has not trained this week due to a thigh injury

    Like

  28. U.S. Soccer has ruled Gedion Zelalem out for the remainder of the U-20 World Cup with a knee injury. That injury is a torn ACL that will require surgery and keep him out for at least six months, according to the Washington Post.

    Like

  29. http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/jose-mourinho-fulfils-responsibility-manchester-10494459

    This media type saying Utd played from the heart. I actually find it hard to believe he watched that game

    Like

  30. Was seriously gutted about last night’s result- big boost for Utd and Mourinho, difference between a poor season and a good one. Eurgh

    Got no desire to hear much about it for next couple of days so I’ll just focus on the commentary.

    We know Hargreaves is comically biased and a bit of an odd fellow, but I do think he represents the common view now : result, result,result.

    A good result equals a good performance. We don’t know how the game could have gone if Ajax didn’t concede first; they did, and were then in a world of trouble.

    It surely remains the case that if a much bigger or much richer club plays ultra defensively and gets a bad result, they will be slammed for it, in most cases worse than if they had been positive and lost the same game; but if they can just win the game, there isn’t a debate about how they did so.

    That’s been the case for a while now, but last night it was clarifying to see the degree of it. I think it’s a big shame as if it’s fine for the biggest clubs to do that it’s obviously fine for much smaller ones to do the same, as at least half the prem teams do now each year.

    Cheers Mourinho!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Gibbs an injury doubt now!! Damn. Unfortunately that feels quite in keeping with his fitness luck over the years.

    Like

  32. Bootoome,

    You are making such good points concerning the attitude of so many on the blogs who are relentlessly hypercritical about AW and the club as a whole, that it is quite refreshing to read them.

    If I were to act as the Devil’s Advocate, I would have to say that the blogs fulfil an important role for many fans, as they give an opportunity to voice opinions which would otherwise go unexpressed or simply ignored by others who do not want to hear some of their cockamamie, ignorant and misguided nonsense.

    The downside of blogs, is that many impressionable fans are happy to grab the tailcoats of those with the biggest mouths, and rapidly form a clique devoted to crudely denigrating all and sundry.

    That is a sad part of modern life — the many sheep following some dodgy shepherds.

    Liked by 4 people

  33. Bootoomee is now the star attraction.- New/stolen post is up

    Liked by 1 person

  34. HenryB,

    You really understand why I don’t like the idea of listing the team’s faults and problems even in ‘friendly/positive’ terms. There is nothing that the negative Nellies love more than quoting critiques from friendly sources sans the positive and constructive manner in which they were made. It goes thus:

    “Even…….(insert the name of a friendly character/blog here)…….says the team…….(insert perceived problem here)….”

    Laymen listen to pundits (aka people who have failed at or never good enough for management) talk bollocks about one of the best human beings ever to manage any sport and the idiotic lemmings lap it up and start spreading with glee.

    The biggest problem with the world is not terrorism or any of the commonly mentioned problems; it is human stupidity. Every problem that we face as a species can be solved or at least managed fairly well if people will just stop being so fucking stupid.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. I just completed a read of the most recent output by a certain American blogger who dedicated his most recent effort to demanding Wenger be fired because (1) Arsenal’s wage spending is the 4th highest wage bill, and (2) Wenger and the club refuse to spend on big agents like Raiola.
    Contrast with Forbes magazine’s Bobby McMahon and his periodic analysis of Arsenal’s finances vs the football and you will appreciate the disparity in financial and footballing literacy. Bonkers.

    PS: Forbes is an American financial-oriented publication so it has nothing to do with nationality.

    Liked by 1 person

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