Speaking to BBC Sport, Josh Kroenke has revealed that following the Europa League defeat, he pushed Vinai Venkatesham and Raul Sanllehi to ‘be aggressive and find out what’s possible’ in the transfer market.
The full interview is well worth a listen, and raises the question that maybe josh is starting to get it?
Back in June a selection representatives from all the fans groups, some bloggers and some people who have been active in fans rights sat down together to discuss what was happening with the club and how we, the fans, could influence things.
Out of that meeting came a letter to Stan Kroenke and #WeCareDoYou was born.
The letter mentioned “meaningful action” and that “change needs to start with better leadership”.
“It is sad that an institution like Arsenal FC has such passive ownership. All of us want to see a clear sense of purpose and direction. KSE should start by being more open and accountable and explain how they intend to achieve the goal of winning the game’s major trophies.”
In response to the statement, Josh Kroenke replied in kind.
Whilst this reply did not address anything within the original statement, it was the beginning of a longer communication. By acknowledging the letter and the fans concerns, he had at least shown he was willing to listen to Arsenal fans.
Now the letter to the Kroenke’s probably did not influence how the club behaved in the transfer market. Anyone who thinks that the letter or any other sort of protest has forced the club to spend nearly £140million is arrogant and only looking for personal congratulations.
But what the letter has done is force Josh Kroenke to step out of the shadows and address the fans.
At this point, some will say “Josh but not Stan”.
Josh Kroenke is his fathers representative at Arsenal. He is the one who goes to games. Attends meetings. When he speaks he is speaking on behalf of KSE, on behalf of his father.
The clubs transfer plans formed following the Europa League Final. Some might say that this is too late, too little; but I would prefer to say “better late than never”.
Kroenke speaks a lot in the interview about a decision to be more aggressive in the transfer market and showing aggressive leadership.
This is the exact opposite of the passive ownership that the letter mentions.
For years Arsenal have taken a cautious approach in the transfer market. Ensuring that the club does not overspend; but often underspending and leaving themselves short.
The summer of 2015 is a perfect example of the club not being aggressive enough in the transfer market.
That summer we bought just Petr Cech. We failed to sign an outfield player. We finished 2nd points behind Leicester City. A more aggressive approach to the transfer market would have seen us win the title.
Now I do not think the Kroenke’s have injected cash into the club. But what Josh has done is let Vinai and Sanllehi know that it is OK to be more aggressive with the clubs money. That they have a multi-billion pound empire behind them supporting them. That it is ok to take a risk, that they are not risking the future of the club.
In the interview, Kroenke also indicates that this new, aggressive Arsenal is not going to be a one off. That it will be the future.
“We’re excited to keep pushing that now and into the future… I hope our fans understand that by being aggressive that’s exactly what we were.”
“The hard part is staying patient and understanding that we’re putting plans in place that are going to unfold over the next several years.”
Josh finally goes on to dispel that myth that the Kroenke’s are ‘not interested in winning trophies.’
“Our ambitions are the same as the fans. We want to win and we want to win as much and as often as possible. And doing it a fun way, where they’re seeing some really entertaining football as well. I think we’ve got the group to do it,”
“We have the highest of ambitions. In North America, we are trying to win. The [Los Angeles] Rams were in the Super Bowl last year. I can only imagine what a Champions League final is like after being over in Baku.
“There are six great clubs in the Premier League and unfortunately only four [Champions League] spots that are guaranteed. The economics involved – to be able to reinvest back into the club, attract different players who only want Champions League football… our goal is to get back and to win the Premier League.”
Whilst the interview with Josh does not address everything that the letter back on July bought up, it does show that maybe he is starting to get it.
This summer the club have taken meaningful action, and it seemingly started with better leadership following the Europa League final defeat.
The fact that this is the 2nd time we have heard from Josh in about a month shows he realises he can not be a passive owner. That he has to be more open and accountable.
I do not expect the Kroenke’s to come out tell the world what their plan is to make Arsenal great again. But we do need to know that there is a plan, that there are goals. And Kroenke has done that.
There is still a lot to be addressed and a long way to go reconnect the fans to the club, but in coming out and speaking alongside the clubs actions this summer show we are back on the right track.
It is the beginning of a new journey, and hopefully Josh Kroenke continues to show aggressive leadership and drive the club forward.
KSE still have a lot to do to show they care, but this is a start.