American businessman Stan Kroenke might be recognised around the world as a successful sporting entrepreneur, most notably purchasing the NFL franchise ‘Rams’ and moved them from St Louis back to LA in 2016. In North London however he is known for one thing and one thing only – destroying Arsenal football club.
Where did it all go wrong?
For two decades everything seemed to be going swimmingly at board level for Arsenal. They just oversaw a move into a massive multi-billion pound stadium, attracted top stars and looked to be heading in a direction to keep everybody happy.
Kroenke first bought shares back in 2007, during Arsenal’s first season at the Emirates. The then vice-chairman, David Dein, and chairman Peter Hill-Wood seemed to have a good relationship until Dein’s sacking at the start of the next season for supporting a take-over bid from Kroenke.
Hill-Wood stepped down five years later due to ill-health, paving the way for Uzbek shareholder Alisher Uzmanov and the American to battle it out for ownership of Arsenal.
In August of last year, it was finally settled with Uzmanov selling his shares to Kroenke to become the sole owner of Arsenal Football Club.K
Why are the fans unhappy?
After another long-term contract has been sorted at another top 6 club for a weekly starter it begs the question – Why can’t Arsenal do the same?
With Andy Robertson penning a new deal for Liverpool, days before Sven Mislintat announced he will be parting ways with Arsenal as head of recruitment on February 8th (14 months after joining) it really does raise some eyebrows.
This isn’t the first time in recent months that Arsenal’s contract handling has come under scrutiny. Mesut Ozil signing a big-money extension to then be sat at home playing virtual versions of the games he should be featuring in. Then the Chief Executive leaving weeks before this recent departure does not show the resolve and stability needed at a club fighting for titles and for Champions League football.
This ambition is almost laughable. Now Manchester United have levelled on points with the Gunners, they are as far away from winning the title as Huddersfield (metaphorically speaking).
Almost 15 years have passed since Arsenal’s last title win and it is not hard to see why. The move in to the new stadium was supposed to be a symbol of a new era for Arsenal Football Club. One of prosperity, big European fixtures and most of all, trophies. However it couldn’t have been further from the case. Selling big players brought through the ranks made sense when the club needed the financial support, but years have passed and it’s still the same old story.
As the 12th year of Kroenke’s involvement at Arsenal approaches, the detachment between fans and the board is an ever-growing gulf.
The problems at the club aren’t hard to see, nor should they be particularly difficult to resolve. Any good business model is based around keeping it’s prized assets and offloading the weak links.
So in Arsenals case players like Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck and previous examples like Alexis Sanchez and Jack Wilshire should never be have been allowed to enter the last year of their contracts. It’s just poor business and in today’s game, there’s no place for poor business.
Where does it go from here?
Arsenal fans will be feeling predictably pessimistic as the final week of the transfer window looms. Over the last ten January markets, Arsenal have a deceitfully high net spend position out of the current premier league clubs.
However the Gooners ten-year expenditure, as of last year, was less than that of the tight-pursed owner of Newcastle F.C Mike Ashley – who we at LazyFan wrote a feature about his controversial relationship with Newcastle fans which you can find here.
And there lies the problem for Gunners fans. If you’re being outspent by clubs that are fighting relegation, how on Earth do you compete with the clubs at the top?
Admittedly things were a little different in the 2018 window with the board splashing £60million on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; swapping want-away Alexis Sanchez for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and around €2million on Greek defended Konstantinos Movrapanos – currently sitting in the injury room.
Besides the incredible impact Aubameyang has had since his integration into the starting line up, it feels like a case of covering cracks from the North Londoners. With more players entering the final moments of their contracts and the club announcing it will only be looking for loan deals – one can only fear for the remainder of Arsenal’s season.
There is some hope for Gunners fans yet.
It has to be remembered that Unai Emery is still inside his first year at the helm of a club that needs complete systemic change.
The signs are there to be seen that his imprint is slowly being accepted, but it will take a few more transfer windows to dismiss anyone who doesn’t fit in and acquire the personnel with the right suitability.
It’s obvious players like Mustafi, Ozil and Mkhitaryan aren’t part of the Spaniard’s long-term plans and this needs to be dealt with quicker and more effectively than seasons gone by.
This isn’t just the belief of an angry Arsenal supporter, but that of Arsenal’s Director of Football who is quoted saying:
“I do believe that a player’s contract should never go to the last year, as a policy.”…“You need to have a clear idea of what you want to do with that player when he is in the third year, at the latest.” –Raúl Sanllehi
At least someone is finally speaking some degree of logic in the boardroom – something that seemed to be lacking for a longtime.
This alongside rumours that Unai Emery wants to rekindle his partnership with AS Roma’s sporting director ‘Monchi’ to replace the departing Sven Mislintat could suggest a restructure in Arsenal’s approach to contracts and recruitment going forward. The pair worked together in Spain, at Sevilla, and together had a prosperous relationship, leading Sevilla to 3 Europa League titles.
Only time will tell what lays ahead for the red side of North London but one thing is for sure – it will not be an easy journey, especially with Kroenke at the helm.
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