So how are Arsenal fans feeling after Stan Kroenke’s flying visit?
‘Silent Stan’ jetted in from America for a week, and had a lot to say for himself
�He came, he spoke and, well, he underwhelmed. Stan Kroenke’s week-long visit to London saw him finally break his silence, to fans, shareholders and players, but Arsenal’s owner will return to the US having given very little away.
It was hardly tub-thumping, chest-beating stuff – more a case of ‘as you were’ as he revealed nothing new about Arsenal’s direction and ambitions.
In fact, after reiterating his belief in that old adage ‘you can’t win ‘em all’, the billionaire businessman then caused more concern for Gooners by praising Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, who saddled the champions with huge debt in order to buy them and then increased ticket prices by more than 40 per cent since 2005.
‘Silent’ Stan, 64, said: “Since the Glazers took over they have won and they have increased revenues by a huge amount. If I was a fan of that club, I would go there and go “Wow!” because how could you do it any better?
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“We have a whole different philosophy I think in the States, maybe, but I think it’s time maybe for everybody to think a little bit.
“He [Glazer] took money out of the club. So what? (LA Lakers owner) Jerry Buss takes money out of his club. A lot of owners in the US do.”
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But football consultant Alex Fynn, who has worked for Arsenal in the past, feels that the Glazers’ policy of spend-and-debt simply does not tally with those of their compatriot down in Denver.
“Stan Kroenke says the Glazers are good owners but their policy is diametrically opposed to his,” says Fynn, who attended last week’s club AGM and co-authored the definitive book on Arsene Wenger’s 15 years at the club, ‘Ars�nal: The Making of a Modern Superclub’.
“The Glazers believe in backing the club in an expansionist way while last week at the AGM Kroenke endorsed Arsenal’s self- sufficiency model, although it is one that does not look as though it will lead to success.
“Manchester City have arrived with very deep pockets. It is not only what they have done with their money but also it is the positive response they have engendered from the other major clubs, with the notable exception of Arsenal.
“City, United, Chelsea and Liverpool have all spent �30m on a single player, while Arsenal have spent half of that – these days, in the Premier League, you have to speculate to accumulate.”
Fynn believes Kroenke may have been ill-advised to offer such public praise for the Glazers – particularly if he continues to stay on course with the present financial model.
“In saying what he said, Mr Kroenke might conceivably have built a rod for his own back,” he adds.
“Arsenal are, by any criteria, a super club with huge revenue streams and are more profitable than most.
“Maybe they just have to spend less on wages for players with potential so they can leave more to pay the truly world-class stars.
“And one star does not make a team. They need more and they will need to spend money in January.”
But Kroenke, again, reiterated his reluctance to spend big money on transfers and wages – and backed Wenger’s judgment.
After unexpectedly addressing the players at the club’s training base, when asked by journalists if Arsenal had the financial clout to compete, Kroenke said: “Sometimes you can overspend for the wrong assets and you end up shorter in the long run.
“Or you could say ‘well, just buy him anyway’. You buy to win, but you might not. There’s examples where you haven’t.
“Now I think you want to be sure you want to spend the money, and I think that’s what our manager does. He makes that evaluation. That’s his job. It wasn’t because the money wasn’t there. We have money.”
Kroenke’s excursion into the training ground was welcomed by skipper Robin van Persie, who tweeted his approval prior to Tuesday night’s clash with Marseille – and it did not go unnoticed by Alex Fynn.
“Directors in the Arsenal dressing room is a rare sight and hasn’t really been seen since the days of David Dein shaking each player by the hand and wishing them well,” adds Fynn.
“I’m surprised he spoke to the players so directly. Arsene Wenger called on the support of the fans. It would be nice to think Mr Kroenke spoke in the same way to his highly remunerated employees.”