I am not one to defend Stan Kroenke, although in recent days I have found myself doing so a bit on Twitter.
Personally I do not think he is a bad owner. The only thing he did was let Ivan Gazidis and Arsene Wenger sail along too long, earning themselves millions.
In terms of an owner, he buys into the self-sufficient model that ensures longevity of a football club.
It is a self-sufficient model that sees the likes of Juventus, real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester United dominate over long periods – I am talking about 50-years plus.
The likes of PSG, Manchester City, Chelsea. These are boom and bust models.
The owners are pumping in billions and unless they can break the glass ceiling and turn their sides into self-sufficient clubs making hundreds of millions from commercial revenue, they will eventually fall off. Whether it be due to the money drying up, boredom or death.
If you want success over a long period, you need to be self sufficient.
Liverpool run a similar model to Arsenal.
The owners, FSG, do not put in any money. They do not use their own funds to buy players. Liverpool have financed a title winning team due to good recruitment and good coaching; not through their owners pumping in billions.
Stan Kroenke’s biggest criticisms seems to come from an Evening Standard article in 2016, where the headline was Stan Kroenke: I didn’t buy Arsenal stake to win trophies.
It was only this afternoon that I actually read the article. Before, that I had just followed what everyone had said on Twitter. That Kroenke was not in Arsenal to win trophies. This is what he actually said:
Speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston he said: “For me, being an individual owner, I have to have some sort of reality involved.
“If you want to win championships then you would never get involved. I think the best owners in sports are the guys that sort of watch both sides a bit. If you don’t have a good business then you can’t really afford to go out and get the best players unless you just want to rely on other sources of income.
“Over there [in the Premier League] it was sort of like ‘well, we’ve got guys from the Middle East, the oil price is over $100, they can spend anything they want’.
“But the problem I saw with all of that; those people can lose interest. It doesn’t mean that they will, but I sort of threw that out there: ‘What happens when the Middle Eastern family, this thing’s costing a lot of money and they decide to go home?’ I said what really happens in those situations is the fans get hurt because the players get picked up and paid if they’re good, the front office gets other jobs.”
At no point did Kroenke say “I didn’t buy Arsenal stake to win trophies”.
So let’s delve down into what he actually said.
We’ve got guys from the Middle East, the oil price is over $100, they can spend anything they want’ – What he is clearly talking about is Manchester City. That the wealth they have is incredible.
If you want to win championships then you would never get involved – The closest quote to the “I do not want to win trophies” misconception.
When you put these two together, it is clear what he is saying.
He is not involved in football just to win titles. That if you came in to football as an owner just to win titles, you are buying the club for the wrong reason. That with the financial wealth of Manchester City owners, even as a billionaire you can not bankroll your club to success.
Whilst Kroenke has a net worth of around $8billion, he does not have billions available to pump into Arsenal. Any fan that thinks he does is unrealistic.
The Manchester City owners are only in football to win championships. Sheikh Mansour, has an estimated individual net worth of at least £17 billion and a family fortune of at least $1 trillion.
As Stan Kroenke says, they can spend anything they want.
Their is a fabulous story around Simon Jordan and how buying a football club is the quickest way for a rich man to become poor. If you attempt to bankroll your club into winning trophies, there will always be someone richer, who can outspend you. And eventually you run out of money.
This is exactly what Kroenke was talking about in 2016.
The Evening Standard were so concerned with the sensationalist headlines that they ignored two key aspects of the interview:
“I think the best owners in sports are the guys that sort of watch both sides a bit. If you don’t have a good business then you can’t really afford to go out and get the best players unless you just want to rely on other sources of income.”
He is talking about running the club like a business. That once you have the business side sorted (ie commercial revenue) you can then go out and get the best players. That then leads to success. You do not have to rely on other sources of income.
‘What happens when the Middle Eastern family, this thing’s costing a lot of money and they decide to go home?’ I said what really happens in those situations is the fans get hurt because the players get picked up and paid if they’re good, the front office gets other jobs.”
Did we not all say similar about Roman Abramovich? What happens when he gets bored? Deported? Or worse? you end up with a club billions in debt, no way to function. And ultimatel it is the fans that lose out.
What Kroenke was clearly talking about is that you do not buy a football club to just win trophies. You buy it to be part of something. To build something.
Just like as a fan you do not support the club you love due to trophies.
If fans only supported their club to win championships, no one would go to the hundreds of games up and down the football pyramid. They would change the club they “support” depending on who is the successful side of the day.
Kroenke is saying ownership is the same. You do not get into football – or any sport – just to win trophies. You need to have “some reality involved”. you can not expect to compete when your opposing owners can spend 1/3 of your net worth bank rolling your opponents.
It is not defeatist.
Look at Leicester. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha did not buy Leicester to win the league title. He knew that he did not have the financial strength to bank roll them to the league. But they won it. Through good recruitment, coaching and togetherness.
And I bet the Leicester City title success was sweeter than any bankrolled success at Manchester City.
Kroenke did not buy Arsenal with the goal of bankrolling us to success. He bought the club to build something, to grow the side. And we are now growing.
It is perhaps time to put the “Kroenke did not buy Arsenal to win trophies” to bed.
He did buy us to win trophies, but win trophies the right way. Through running a successful business, being self-sufficient.
Kroenke can not bankroll us to success, nor should he have to.
Is the sole reason you follow Arsenal to win trophies?