I’m always worried when two things happen simultaneously at the Emirates. Firstly, the summer transfer window opens, creating an ominous air of advanced disappointment and crippling anxiety. Secondly, someone at the club comes to the owners defence, outlining Stan Kroenke’s ambition, which tends to makes me suspicious and nauseous in equal amounts. Arsenal’s managing director Vinai Venkatesham has come out of Hibernation to rubber stamp Stan Kroenke’s ownership ‘model’ and clarify the club’s aims for the fans.
How frightfully kind of him.
Like a loyal dog, Venkatesham barked proudly:
“They’re (the Kroenke’s) hugely ambitious about where they want to take this football club and they remind us of that all the time. They’re massively involved.”
Well, what a relief, old pickled Stan is ambitious for the club and massively involved from a distance of 4,683 miles away.
Yes, this blog contains high levels of sarcasm but fear not, it’s not contagious.
Just for the record, Kroenke has been involved at Arsenal since 2007 and by 2011, he had increased his shares to a dominant 62.89. The point of reminding you all of those dates is to outline how ambitious Kroenke actually is, which on reflection, isn’t a lot.
I have shirts that are more ambitious. I own a particularly lazy cat, which sleeps for days on end, but even during her periods of all consuming slumber, she shows more signs of ambition.
Eight years on, now with complete autonomy as a private owner of Arsenal football club, he has failed to halt the decline and turn things around.
All Arsenal have to show for his tenure is a couple of FA cups and a series of rather lucrative sponsorship deals.
It’s been 12 years, since David Dein opened the door to Kroenke like a spurned lover and sold the club down the river.
It’s taken all that time to begin restructuring its management before focusing on a period of ‘ambitious’ rebuilding. Rebuilding, that was obviously needed before they rid themselves of Arsene Wenger.
“It’s well-known that they have an American Football team, an NBA team, an NHL team, an MLS team and a lacrosse team, so they know sport and they’re really, really passionate about Arsenal.”
All of those are hardly recognised global sorts. Lacrosse for gods sake !
One of his other ventures has the word ‘nugget’ in the name !
Vinai Venkatesham then attempted to assure fans that funds generated by the club would be invested in the club and used in compliance with Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
Ah, no mention of funding from pickled Stan’s incredibly cavernous pockets, just from within the clubs own reserves and generated finances.
He went on to offer a new version of a tired story:
“They know we’re not going to go from where we are at the moment to delivering our ambition overnight, and they know that there’s going to be a whole load of work along the way to get there,”
Very astute this Venkatesham, sharp as a biscuit. He continued:
“Stan and Josh and their direction is quite simple: every single penny that we generate as a football club is available for us to invest against achieving that ambition, and that is the maximum that we can ask from our owners because that is the maximum allowed through the financial fair play rule.”
How many times are we going to hear the term FFP as part of the excuses for the arrival of cheap substandard players or even as a result of no investment at all. Quite a few I suspect.
It’s almost like the new hierarchy appear like an apparition before the bad news arrives. Last time it was the director of football, Raul Sanllehi, who came out before the January window to inform us of his general dislike of it.
We should have taken the hint, no investment because of….FFP.
Yet, Kroenke’s American investments include the LA Rams, who are having a lavish new $5 billion stadium complex built, which is said to be nearly four times bigger than Disneyland. If that was from the revenue that the club generates, then that’s a shit load of burgers, popcorn and pennants.
Kroenke and his team continuously talk about franchises, brands and models, all terms that are at odds with the language of football and which antagonise the fans.
More importantly, it’s the language from inside the Emirates that appears predictable and repetitive.