Arsenal’s Issues Are Deeper Than We Think

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Updated: September 1, 2015
Stan Kroenke and arsene wenger
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For the past two seasons, Arsenal F.C. fans have been happy to look at two F.A. Cup trophies while thinking to themselves, “The worst of it is finally over.” The 9 year trophy drought that ended with the 2014 F.A. Cup win against Hull City finally signaled what we all thought would be the reemergence of the Arsenal we loved under Arsene Wenger prior to 2006.

But in actuality, we’ve all been played for fools, and it’s time that we as fans, supporters, or what ever moniker you care to claim for the club, start pointing the fingers at more than Arsene Wenger for the club’s current lack of ambition. For years the Arsenal fan base has been split on embattled manager Arsene Wenger’s reign as gaffer.

There is the “Wenger Out” section of the fanbase who feel his tenure has long run its course and he should pass the reigns to a younger manager with fresher ideas and more passion for winning. There are the “Arsene Knows Best” supporters that want to see Wenger regain his past glory and prove to the world that Wenger went years without a trophy in order to have the Emirates built, and to provide a long-lasting legacy for Arsenal.

Then there are those in the middle who are teetering on the fence as neutrals who see both sides of the argument but aren’t far left or right on the matter.

I will say this to all the supporters, we are all looking at this situation all wrong, and the biggest enemy to Arsenal’s fight to regain European prominence is not only from the man we see walking the touchline every match guiding the team, but it’s from the man you never hear from or ever see, Arsenal’s majority shareholder from America, Stan “Silent Stan” Kroenke.

 

Silent Scam Kroenke?….

 Stan-Kroenke_GI_2487742b

Stan Kroenke owns 4 professional sports teams in the United States of America: The St. Louis Rams, Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Rapids. Kroenke has owned the Rams since 1995, the Avalanche and Nuggets since 2000, Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids, and has various other holding in sports teams or sporting goods stores. Out of all his years of ownership of his four major American sports teams (Rams, Avalanche, Rockies, Rapids) Kroenke’s teams have won only 3 championships in total.

For those of you who are counting at home, that’s 20 NFL season as either the majority or sole owner of the Rams, 15 NBA seasons as owner of the Nuggets, 15 NBA seasons as owner of the Avalanche, and 10 seasons as owner of the Rapids. So out of a combined 60 seasons (give or take a few) his teams have won the entirety of three championships. That’s appalling.

But, when you’re worth 6 billions of dollars, and your revenue is streaming from all your different sports ventures, and in American sports your teams do not have to worry about relegation, winning isn’t the end all be all. Making money is.

Stan Kroenke did not become a billionaire by not finding the right venture to buy into using his Kroenke Sports Enterprises label.

The name of the game for Kroenke isn’t winning; it’s having his teams be viable enough to make a killing in the financial reports.

Enter the English Premier League. Over the past 15 years the EPL has seen an influx of foreign ownership from Russia, the Middle East, and America.

The EPL is one of the most exciting if not the most exciting Football league on Earth, and with that title comes billions of dollars from the increased viewership from around the globe.

Arsenal-Fans

In 2011 Stan Kroenke became the majority shareholder in Arsenal by owning 66.76% of the club’s shares. Kroenke saw the writing on the wall from early, and knew he had just purchased the shares of an absolute cash cow at Arsenal, and he was correct.

The EPL has never been more popular in America or around the world, and with it, comes endorsements and billions of dollars from television contracts with major networks.

The recent bidding wars amongst the major American outlets should let the world outside of America know how important the EPL TV rights are becoming.

As an Arsenal fan in America, I am privy to more games on TV than fans in England, and that perverse reality should tell you how important the EPL is to these billionaire’s bank accounts.

Year after year, Arsenal fans are told by Ivan Gazidis or Kroenke, or some other higher-up at Arsenal, that the club has a “Massive War Chest” that will be used on transfers, and year after year, us fans wait for that one enormous prize to come to Arsenal.

To be fair, the captures of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and Petr Cech are certainly nothing to scoff at, but there’s an illusion behind every single one of those transfers; I will get more into that in a bit. You ever wonder why it is that Arsenal keeps falling just short of doing what is necessary to win the EPL crown the past few seasons?

Dejected-Arsenal-fans-007

The current Arsenal squad is possibly two more world-class players away from truly running riot on the premier league. But, doesn’t Arsenal always seem to be just 2-3 players away the past few seasons?

Why is it that the club will certainly purchase quality, but lack the ambition to purchase quantity when the funds are available?

That’s down to two men, Arsene Wenger and Stan Kroenke. I’ll give you my take on Wenger shortly, but for now, humor me with this next bit on Kronke. In October 2014 it was revealed that Kroenke took £3 million pounds out of Arsenal for what the club deemed were “strategic and advisory fees” and were paid to Kroenke’s Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE).

What exactly entails strategic and advisory fees? And what can an American holding company advise a club like Arsenal that’s a footballing power on, is my question.

Did they advise the legendary football manager on tactics? Did they advise Wenger and the coaching staff on great players that the club eventually won’t spend money on? It’s quite puzzling.

And why is the billionaire owner taking money from the club while the club is systematically raising ticket prices? According to BBC Sport, Arsenal has the highest single game and season ticket prices in the country. Arsenal’s season ticket prices are higher than 17 other EPL clubs.

Granted they’re a big club from one of the biggest cities on the planet, but Arsenal surely haven’t been winning like a big club in about a decade, so something is not adding up here. Arsenal are bringing in gate revenue, TV deal money, kit deal money and whatever other endorsement money there is; yet the club is always in positive net spend by a wide margin in the transfer market.

The 2015 summer transfer window just closed with Arsenal’s only purchase being Petr Cech for £11 million pounds.

Petr-Cech-arsenal

So potentially the club left anywhere from £70-£200 million in this magical war chest to collect dust. This is where the trickery comes in.

Every year the money goes untouched, it just rolls over to the next window, and the same exact money that isn’t spent one year, is there the next. Meaning the money that could be used to replenish a transfer kitty is not needed if the transfer kitty is already full. And the money that would normally be used to replace the out-going transfer money?

That money goes back into the club and into the abyss of Lord knows whose pockets. I would venture to think though, the majority shareholder Stan Kroenke sees a good portion of it, and is quite happy about that. Even though I feel Stan Kroenke is the biggest enemy to Arsenal, his team’s manager, Arsene Wenger, has his own share of the blame.

 

Arsene Wenger’s Power is Too Absolute…

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If you ever read anything about Stan Kroenke, you’ll see that the reason he is referred to as “Silent Stan” is not only because he is a quiet man by nature, but also because he rarely gets involved in any of his team’s day to day operations.

If he can’t manage sports teams in the country he is from, then trying to run a football club as massive as Arsenal is akin to speaking a foreign language.

So in his stead, he leaves the club footballing operations to Gazidis and Wenger, and here in lies a major obstacle that Arsenal may not ever overcome with Wenger wielding so much power, and the owner happily obliging it. Arsene Wenger is a footballing genius, and that can’t be questioned by anyone.

He’s brought us some of the greatest football teams the world has ever seen at Arsenal, and he should always be commended for it. But he is a football manager, and that’s where the majority of his power should remain. Since Wenger is the transfer market Czar at Arsenal, and Kroenke either doesn’t know enough or care to know enough about the sport to question what the club needs, Wenger can do as he pleases, or, lack there of.

Wenger is trapped in a bygone era where in his head, each player has a valuation, and unless the player’s price tag meets that valuation, Wenger will refuse to budge. It was commendable years ago, but now, it’s foolhardy.

Wenger has refused to fully adapt to what needs to be done when it comes to purchasing the players needed for Arsenal to thrive and win titles on multiple fronts.

And his blind loyalty to the player’s he’s purchased has left his faith unpaid in regards to Champions League and EPL success for 11 seasons.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Fulham v Arsenal - Craven Cottage

Call Wenger a football idealist, call him a romantic, call him a genius, because he is all those things. But what we shouldn’t be calling Wenger is Judge, Jury and executioner.

There is no one at the top who has the power to challenge him other than the one man who doesn’t care to, and that’s Kroenke. Earlier I told you American sports have no relegation, so Kroenke’s teams will always get their share of their respective league’s annual revenue distribution.

That’s not the case in the EPL. Relegation and not finishing in the top four for a club like Arsenal is a financial death sentence that Kroenke and Wenger will never allow. So, Kroenke puts enough “faith” in Wenger to get into the Champions League, meaning the CL money is always guaranteed, as is the TV money from staying in the EPL.

That process is then done over and over so it’s rinse and repeat. It’s all a mirage ladies and gentlemen.

The Arsenal supporters are currently being privy to the world’s greatest smoke and mirrors show. Wenger is given enough leeway to get the club in a position to have fans thinking every year we are just close enough to be special, while in actuality he’s just balancing the books and making Kroenke and the board richer.

Meanwhile, fans are left to argue about netspend trophies, but we are never able to argue with fans about recent on-field trophies.

This would never happen at Chelsea under Roman Abromovich, or at Manchester City under The Sheiks. Reason being, those owners want to win just as much as the fans do. And if winning isn’t happening, then managers are sent packing.

MANCHESTER CITY V ARSENAL

No manager is safe at either club, and the owners let them know they can spend all the money they want, but if they don’t, that’s to their detriment, so either spend and win, or don’t spend and you’ll be fired for not winning at the end of the season.

The managers at these big clubs in England, and in big clubs all over Europe know that winning is their only job security. But Wenger keeps getting extensions and keeps pointing to how he built the Emirates. Enough is enough.

But if there is no pressure from the top, then there’s no pressure to go above and beyond to do what is necessary to achieve the ultimate goal of winning numerous titles in this current sports climate.

And as long as Wenger keeps getting players that were basically forced out of their clubs or wanted to stay in London (Ozil, Sanchez, Cech) and is not having his hand forced to do what’s needed to pay the big bucks to get more than one marquee player per window, then this current Arsenal, is the Arsenal we will see for a long time to come.

sanchez and ozil

I’ll never stop supporting Arsenal from here in America, and I know the supporters in England will never stop going to the Emirates and to away matches to support our boys. People may read this article and think I am a Wenger out person, on the contrary, I would love to see Wenger bring the club back to the Invincibles era of dominance.

But unfortunately, nothing changes if nothing changes. Kroenke knows that the fans will take their ire out mostly on Wenger, while still supporting the club non-stop.

The scary part about that is, Stan Kroenke and the board are fully aware that as long as they do just enough winning, the fans will piss and moan and hold protests, wave banners and use silly hashtags on social media to show their anger, but on match day, all eyes will be on Arsenal.

And once that startling reality hits you, you’ve finally realized that Arsenal’s Banter years weren’t finished on that sunny Saturday in May 2014 when Arsenal finally ended the trophy drought.

But on the contrary, the real Banter is us thinking we are so close to being dominant again, while in actuality, we may be just as far away as we were before.

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17 Comments

  1. Pingback: Rhyme, Reason and Conspiracy Theories – Is there actually a sinister reason for Arsenal’s recent failures? | Gunners Town

  2. Pingback: English Arsenal Fans Must Do More Than Protest Against Stan Kroenke - LA Sportsa Nostra - LA Sportsa Nostra

  3. Louie

    September 3, 2015 at 6:12 AM

    The person who wrote this could very well be legally retarded.

  4. Abhigyan

    September 2, 2015 at 10:08 PM

    Written according to the writer’s point of view. No concrete sources or evidences to support the points. Would have been better if you would have cited sources.

  5. Dave

    September 2, 2015 at 6:13 PM

    Problem at Arsenal is that Wenger needs help. He seems to be the only board member who wants to win trophies whilst others are only concerned about profits.
    With Dein he had a friend who shared his passion for winning trophies but now there is no such thing as F. C. In Arsenal.
    Future looks bleak if Kroenke remains.

  6. Aaron

    September 2, 2015 at 11:26 AM

    Nearly every point can be argued strongly against, and at least a couple contradict themselves- Wenger’s a genius who built great teams; we shouldn’t let him have too much decision-making power. Genius, if that’s what Wenger possesses, is rare, why would lesser men do a better job?

    The biggest problem of all with that opinion piece is that it doesn’t address the fact Wenger is happy to put up with a supposed bad guy. I find no logic in that. It’s possible Wenger can’t see what the author, from in front of his American television and computer, can , but pretty unlikely. Which leaves us with a situation where Wenger is fully aware of Stan’s nature and how he holds the club back improperly but stays on anyway- either through calculating greed himself or because love for the club has made him if not blind, then weak.

    Where’s the evidence Wenger is such a man? There’s none. But there’s plenty to suggest he has high principles and is far less willing to sacrifice them that most who get to the summits of their professions. I believe he offered to go at the same time as Dein but the latter told him not do so. Something which, if correct, points firmly to Wenger being willing to walk away if lines are crossed. Watching the great work of your life be wrongly undermined by some nefarious other who is demonstrably hurting the club would surely count as a big line.

    Then ,as something of that kind is almost bound to come to, if only it goes on long enough, there comes the direct comparison with rivals.

    The clubs selected are almost always Chelsea, Utd or City. Those are the clubs we are trying to beat but they are not the clubs we should copy. To try copy their practices would play into their hands completely : we’d be trying to do what they do, which relies more than anything else on money, but with less money. Wonderful idea. We are much closer to Spurs and Liverpool in our spending power than we are to Chelsea, utd, and City, so that’s where most of the comparisons should be.

    Though of course the writer has a way around that. He denies, by omission, the reality of there being any difference between our relative financial power. Or he goes for that magical 200 million figure. Really, his whole argument is tremendously reliant on the idea we have that huge pile of money in the bank, waiting to be spent, but forever held back by the clubs highest powers.

    Admittedly, I rely more on my nose than anything else for dismissing those figures. I’ve seen the claims made. I’ve seen the dismissals. I haven’t gone off on an accountancy course to educate myself to the point where I can be 100% certain.

    It sounds wishy washy, but those dismissals struck me at the time as the truth, and that’s probably underselling myself a bit. I was probably able to follow the explanations of where we really stand financially reasonably well. Well enough to see that the other claims were total bullshit and leave them there.

    Life experience comes into that. If that was the true figure, it would be used against the club and Wenger in a different way than it is. There would not be a moment’s respite from it. Instead, if it features anywhere in mainstream publications, it does so sneakily. I know the press; I know their standards and lack of them. I know some pitiful rat can decide Arsenal’s wage bill is higher than Chelsea’s, and the press can be full of it for months even though it turns out- surprise, surprise- not to be true.

    If they can cause all that anger amongst our fans with falsehood, just how much havoc could they wreak with much more damaging truth?

    If Arsenal were sitting on 100-200 million which could and should be spent on players, it would dominate every Wenger press conference. Jaqui Oatley or whoever would be there in Wenger’s face badgering him. That they aren’t tells me it isn’t at all true. They’ve no doubt questioned him about it in the past, he’s told them it’s otherwise, and if he was lying the issue would escalate instantly. The press would go look at these easily available figures and it would be game on for real protests which people actually attend.

    That 100-200 million figure is surely garbage which someone with about 5% more knowledge than me on the subject could cut to shreds in 5 minutes.

    Walter, Tony- help out someone with an average memory here and do a little piece about why that 150-200 million figure is bollocks. I’m sure you’ve done it at least once in the past but it feels like it’s necessary again. I need a recap.

    • Roger That

      September 3, 2015 at 9:05 AM

      We are much closer to Spurs and Liverpool in our spending power than we are to Chelsea, utd, and City, so that’s where most of the comparisons should be.

      This is simply not true

      M’city turnover 2014: 347m
      Chelsea turnover 2014: 318m
      Arsenal turnover 2014: 301.9m
      L’pool turnover 2014: 255m
      Tot’ham turnover 2014: 180m

      ( Man utd isn’t on the list as it’s an entity of epic proportions financially)

      Not to mention korenke is worth $6billion, his wife even more so. Throw Usmanov into the mix and we are a heavy wait like chelsea and Man city.(FFP isn’t a factor anymore either or man city wouldn’t have spent 150m this summer) So how can you possibly say we are on par with Liverpool and Tottenham with those figures.

      Abramovich and the sheikhs are willing to invest their own money along with the clubs impressive accounts. This is something that doesn’t happen at Arsenal. I love Arsene Wenger but Koernke and co are in it for themselves without question.

  7. John Keane

    September 2, 2015 at 11:05 AM

    Agree well said, first of all I’m a West Ham fan. I do find Wegner bleating on about Financial Fair Play annoying and he seems tuck in 2005 on what the vision was going to be with the new stadium and his prudent spending.

    Jump forward to 2015, we now have since the PL TV rights explode and with the PL finance rules and UEFA FFP you have seen a shift in power.

    AW is concerned at Man City’s spending this summer.

    Normally a club will pay around 35-40% of the players fee up front with the balance over another 2/3 years and sometimes even 4 years, it varies. The price and length of contract can factor the issue. The actual % are different but i’m keeping it simple and will assume payment of 40% year 1 and 20% for 3 years.

    City have spend about £95m net when taking into account loan fees they receive.That’s almost £40m to pay this year. In addition they will have to pay around £14m in agents fees so that’s £54m. Further they will have to pay around £25m assuming 20% on deals for the previous three years. So £79m net spend.

    From next year, City as a club that will likely come in the top 4 will see their TV money go up around £55m. The bottom club will get just over £100m! City will have to pay approx £35m for previous signings. Lets say they spend the same as this year, that’s £54m + £35m = £89m. So again they will still be below what the bottom club gets just on TV deals and the outlay is only £10m more even though TV up £55m (the CL also goes up a lot as well from 15/6 with the new BT deal). So don’t be surprised if City go out and spend the same sum of even more next year.

    City’s turnover in 13/14 was £ 347m and of that £102m was from PL rights. Their wage bill was £205m and other expenses which includes transfers was £68m.

    Wenger keeps moaning about FFP and totally misses the point that it has changed from his vision due to the TV money since 2012. Many clubs like Everton have limited debt and under no pressure to sell. Often before FFP many clubs overspent and cashing in a player often happened to service banking debt. The new TV deal with the PL rules has seen clubs live within their means.

    The question is whether AW is stubborn in not spending and pushing out the boat to get those 3 players that could make them a force. You could argue that hardly any of the players that moved this summer would have made much difference to their squad. If a striker is a priority then lets be honest, unless you looking at spending £50m+ you not going to get anyone this window. Changing the owner will not make a difference. What if a new owner says ok I want you to go out and spend £150m on three players. Would he be able to get them? If your going to invest over £50m in a player, do you really want him to be 28+.

    • Mitch

      September 2, 2015 at 7:14 PM

      It was all going well until 2 things happened.
      1. Arsene doesn’t buy players. Buying and player contracts are organised by Dick Law.
      2. FFP is a principle that UEFA tried to enforce until City made it look like a joke. It’s supposed to be about spending club generated revenue and not taking a blank cheque from gigolos, in essence. But you know what City did?
      They were fined for breach of ffp in 2014. So the owners thought fuck you UEFA and had their own company sponsor City for 400m for 10yrs. What a joke. Plus they increased their partners who are support partners & also earn through numerous Abu Dhabi investment authority businesses, to pay more. UEFA can’t touch them now. That’s where 165m commercial revenue comes from.

      Funny thing though is that in 2013 /14 when they were champions and into the 3rd year of their shirt deal with Etihad, Etihad tried to pull out because they were paying too much according to media research
      . City tried to find a new shirt sponsor in 2014 for 25m a year.But after they’re fined, Not only does Etihad want to extend another 10yrs after while in the 4th year of their previous 10 year contract. But & this will make you laugh, but they want to pay not 25m or 34m but 40m per year. 400m for 10 years with clauses to allow a further increase at any time.
      How can you say that’s fair to West Ham who play the same competition but have to rely on club generated revenue to survive &compete? I mean city fans aren’t the richest &their tickets are cheap, so who’s buying the extortionate vip packages to increase revenue?
      You can’t take them to court while they ruin revenue scales across the board and assist in creating a false inflated market for average players.
      Done.

      • M18CTID

        September 3, 2015 at 4:16 AM

        I’ve read plenty of ill-informed and ignorant rubbish spouted about City these past 7 years but that is up there with the worst ever.

        • Mitch

          September 4, 2015 at 7:13 AM

          At least explain or have a point.

  8. David Walsh

    September 2, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    Embarrassing omission from the article that makes much of the Stan Kroenke bit misleading: American sports teams have salary caps. Teams get fined a *ton* for going over that cap. Ambition has nothing to do with it: they’re the rules of the game. Shocking omission from this post.

  9. Mitch

    September 2, 2015 at 8:54 AM

    Dude, you’re clearly passionate about Arsenal, but there is a huge gapping flaw in your editorial.
    Even though your numbers are well researched & intelligently put together regarding Stan, you dropped the ball big time on Arsene.
    He doesn’t buy players.
    I’ll repeat he doesn’t negotiate with clubs to buy out their contracts. That job is Richard Law’s. Once he agrees on terms, Ivan then signs off the financing of the deal with the board and Stan. Arsene is not on the board.
    His last transfers were Ramsey, Vela, Nasri, Arshavin way back in 2008/9. He had been on charge of transfers since the departure of Dein while the other Directors handled the huge stadium project. It was too much for him. Not a 30 year old.
    So Ivan took that role away from him as one of his first tasks. They brought Dick Law from our South American scouting team and promoted him. He handles all player contracts and purchases in the club. He reports to Ivan not Arsene.
    Arsene clearly asked for the best of the best. He has clearly seen the same as the fans who hate him so much. Suarez, Benzema, Cavani etc are players he asked for. He gives a list to the board and reasons.
    Clearly he sells the club to the players and how they would fit into his framework etc, and if rumour is to be believed all of those players wanted to join. So he’s fantastic at what he does.
    Add to the fact that the guy pushed for us to move training grounds and stadium. Ensured that our medical facilities were pushed to meet with cutting edge medicine and rehabilitation. He has led the bank of England club into the new century with an incredible foundation by sacrificing near 10 years of personal professional gain in turning down Madrid etc. He’s stuck by us through thick & thin and reassured fans by always keeping his word on contracts.
    He has also had to sell his best to fund transfers for 10 years.
    In the last 2 seasons he has been able to keep his best and ask for new players. We have spent less then a quarter of the top 3 spenders and less then half of the next 2 spenders. And yet, we have 2 FA Cups and lead league points in 2015. A year and half after receiving a budget for players.
    You’re right he is a genius. He is a one off. However, to say that he’s past it and you need younger because he hasn’t bought is slightly worrying. It appears as ordinary unreasonable hate dressed in justifiable clothes.
    He is creating something amazing with this team and the next generation of Zalelems.
    Arsenal is a business, and Stan is in business to make money. It’s not a plaything like Chelsea or City, so I hope he continues to remain silent.
    Please research what I’ve said and if proven to be true, please amend your edit as it is a good read apart from that.
    Thanks.

    • Mark

      September 2, 2015 at 9:35 AM

      Very well said…..

  10. Clockendrider

    September 2, 2015 at 8:43 AM

    So, owner in “I want my business to be a going concern ” shocker.
    It may have escaped your attention but we are now competing nationally with 2 clubs built entirely on the largesse of their owners. Without which they would have eemained the mediocrities they always were.
    We don’t have such an owner. The second largest shareholder has publicly stated that the first thing he would do if he gained control would be to issue a dividend. That means taking money out of the club.
    Now, unless you suddenly become a multi billionaire or know a few who wish to lose money as the owners of City and Chelsea have, then I’m afraid you’re going to have a rather miserable life if the focus of your life is to be spent solely on waiting for Arsenal to be pre-eminent in England and Europe.
    It’s just reality I’m afraid. You can accept that reality, or continue shouting drunkenly at pigeons in the park.

  11. consolsbob

    September 2, 2015 at 8:30 AM

    He may be but he may well be correct as well.

    Well argued, sir.

  12. James

    September 2, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    Thank God you’re in America

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