Sometimes when writing a forthcoming blog, the story you were working on begins to change before you’ve even got to your last full stop. Arsenal have suffered numerous structural changes within the last few seasons, but there is one in particular that has encouraged supporters. Josh Kroenke was again in the news after commenting on the club’s transfer dealings, his family’s continuing commitment, coach Unai Emery and the fans. However, it’s the bits in between that make this story all the more intriguing.
◆ Our hopes for 2019/20
◆ Our summer transfer window
◆ Our January plans
The full interview with Josh Kroenke ?
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 20, 2019
Young Kronke is rapidly become the face and voice of Arsenal. Seemingly enthusiastic and speaking in a way that the fans have been longing to hear, the young American businessman has rolled up his sleeves and jumped into the trenches.
Josh Kroenke can almost certainly be credited with leading the operation in Arsenal’s best transfer window ever. Its been a period where he seemed unphased and undaunted by the unrest and expectations of the Emirates faithful, even with the added burden of limited funds.
During this time, he rallied the troops with a battle cry that claimed the club would be ‘aggressive in the market’ and while talking about the transfer window, he told fans to ‘be excited’
Never has an Arsenal Kroenke been so visible. Josh Kroenke has already doubled, trebled and quadrupled his father’s appearances in the four months of overseeing matters at the North London club and one senses this is just the beginning.
I doubt I’ll get any arguments when I say that stay away Stan Kroenke has had a detrimental impact on Arsenal, mainly due to his ignorance of the sport itself.
American audiences support clubs in a rather commercial sense by buying into a franchise but its supporters aren’t anywhere near as feverish or devoted as those connected with any of the top football sides around the world.
When Stan Kroenke, who famously referred to Arsenal as a ‘brand’, invested back in 2008, he probably thought that it would be no different to his American ventures and that he would run it as he saw fit, especially after buying out all the remaining shareholders.
“Without Champions League football we weren’t exactly sure, but I encouraged our football operations department to be aggressive and when Arsenal Football Club knocks on a player’s door it’s a different knock."
– Josh Kroenke pic.twitter.com/Kpm2Uvu5Rc
— AFTV (@AFTVMedia) August 20, 2019
However, supporters in the UK aren’t the type to sit back and allow a club that has been supported by generations of their own family, become systematically abused and radically undermined.
It’a different story in the states where stay away Stan picked up an NFL team in St Louis Rams and moved it lock, stock and barrel to LA. It was pretty much a ‘f*** the fans!’ gesture and remarkably, it was sanctioned by the sports governing body as Kroenke sidestepped objections and red tape as if never existed.
Money is the grease that moves the mighty KSE (Kroenke Sports and Entertainment) locomotive and Stan generally wins the day against all the odds and against all opposition. Is it any wonder that he is seen as two different characters, depending on your point of view?
The first perception of Stan Kroenke is as a highly successful owner of a sports group, which has him purely as an investor, meaning his motivation is purely financial, not emotional. As such he has built a multibillion dollar empire which attracts huge commercial opportunities.
The more common perception is as a brutal, unsympathetic operator, who is willing to sacrifice the history and location of a club to line his own pockets and it’s one of the main reasons that a large number of American sports fans despise him and deem him completely untrustworthy.
Statements by Kroenke (rare) or his supporters (even rarer) claim the success of his business model is undeniable but scratch the surface and you find that although there was an upturn in on the field performances and achievements, in many cases, such as the Denver Nuggets and the Avalanche, a degree of stagnation has crept in.
It’s little things like Josh Kroenke attending & Sanllehi/Edu making their way to the ground along with regular fans that makes me optimistic about the future. For the first time in years, key figures at the club seem to truly care. Hopefully a successful year lies ahead.
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) August 17, 2019
Stan Kroenke can certainly spin a buck but it appears that winning and maintaining credible success are not high on his list of priorities.
It may be presumptuous to suggest that after a bitter, almost toxic relationship with Arsenal’s supporters, Stan Kroenke has had to admit defeat on a personal level by removing himself from the equation to allow him the freedom to pursue his other lucrative commercial passions.
Kroenke simply failed to come to terms with Arsenal as a club, failed to understand it’s significance within the domestic league or global stage and completely misunderstood its relevance within the local community.
Josh Kroenke was always going to take centre stage at some point and the father and son were naturally going to be a complete contrast in a business sense. Stan, the unrelenting iron fist which acquired businesses to expand commercial opportunities and increase revenue streams and Josh, the more engaged sports fan able to connect at a grass roots level.
Don’t for one minute assume that young Kroenke is a soft touch, because that would be to your own detriment, but the one area where the two Kroenkes appear to differ is that Josh understands that a club such as Arsenal is expected to compete and be successful.
He also knows that he has to keep the fans on side by being a fan and showing a similar passion to themselves. Josh is very astute and is on the offensive to break down barriers that his father erected.
It has certainly become more noticeable in the last few years, that stay away Stan has tried to distance himself from the daily drudgery of controlling a Premier League club by appointing Raúl Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham but the club still needed a face and a voice.
Out of the shadows of his father, it appears Josh Kroenke has been tasked with transforming the club and embracing its divided fans. His recent comments on his ambitions for the club have been well received but its not about to become an instant love story, not just yet.
The 'We care do you' concept asked a clear question. Hearing Josh Kroenke say he gets up in the middle of the night in LA to watch games and frightens his dogs by shouting at the TV is a small thing but most fans would identify with those sentiments. The messaging has changed.
— Amy Lawrence (@amylawrence71) August 20, 2019
Josh appealed to the fans in a recent BBC interview when he said:
“Trust has to be earned overtime and I would love you to trust me now, but unfortunately that trust has to play out over the next several years.”
This much is clear, Arsenal’s immediate future will depend less on Stan Kroenke and more on the efforts of his son and his assembled team.