A Letter to Kroenke…

Posted: January 18, 2013 in Arsenal FC
Tags: , , ,

First published on arsenalvision.co.uk on the 16th. This is not meant to be a negative nor positive post. This is honestly what I see as the tip of the iceberg in terms of problems at AFC. A different owner would bring a different set of problems as no situation is without issues, but these are the ones I feel plague Arsenal at the moment and this is a letter to a non involved majority shareholder.

Dear Mr. Kroenke,

I am a supporter of the storied Arsenal Football Club. I wasn’t as lucky as some, to be born into being a Gooner; I chose to be one, which for me is as great a point as any other.  I am also a person that was raised in the US and am very well versed in your dealings in owning the Rams, Avalanche and Nuggets. For 22 years I have been following Arsenal, through ups and downs, thick and thin and besides 92/93 and 94/95 EPL campaigns when we finished 10th and 12th, I can’t recall the club being in such shambles in the EPL grind, but even in those years we managed winning some silverware,  a double in 1993.

Now, shambles is a strong word, but it is all relative isn’t it? The club has a great academy, amazing training grounds, wonderful talent in the youth and reserves and a core of good players on the first team and to top it off they play in one of the most beautiful stadiums in all of football. You see there is one problem with everything I just described, the fact that trophies or playing winning or even attractive football was not mentioned in any of that description. That is a huge problem, when in fact, Arsenal are first a football team.

Since your first involvement with the club in 2007 to your 2008 appointment to the board and finalizing in 2011 with your purchase of the remaining shares needed to become the majority shareholder, the product on the pitch has in fact lost its sparkle.

Is it coincidence? I don’t know, but perception is reality. I am going to spell out for you what my reality is at the moment. I am not pretentious enough to say I speak for all Arsenal supporters, I just speak for myself and this is what my perception, my reality is:

1. You don’t LOVE this club. You may respect it; you may like/love what it does for the bank account of your holding company, etc. But you don’t love it, deep inside like most Gooners do. When the failures of a season or a loss to a rival or the lack of trophies keeps up awake at night or ruins a day or weekend. This is a major problem. When you only show up on certain matchdays and are silent and little involved the rest of the time, this makes us worry and rightfully so, about your true intentions and your true commitment to this great club.

2. Never finding a Dein type figure to counterbalance and push Wenger in the right direction has been a great miscue. Gazidis is not the man for the job. Many of his current duties are those which used to be handled by Dein and he is failing miserably. As many know, Wenger is a great judge of talent but an intensely indecisive and Dein was always there to push him to the right decisions or in fact make those decisions for him when choosing to sign talent, etc. This has now led to the fact that there is a perceived bankroll that remains untouched because of Wenger’s personality of just making do with what he has over bringing in proven or on the rise talent to fill the void. There are too many yes men and no one else with enough power to challenge AW.

3. Obvious holes left by departing players have not been filled in the last 3 years under your watch. Many faces have left; few experienced ones have come in. That is not only perception but reality. As the top shareholder of a top 5 football club in the world, the gap between a self-sustainable model and a blank-check model could and should have been lessened somewhat by proper investment by your holding company. It is easy to see that if the club is competing on a “break even” personnel investment every year, imagine what one summer of proper investment and player purchase could do. We as supporters are not asking for hundreds of millions of pounds to be spent, we are asking that all monies derived from player sales be put back into player replacement, that is asking only the bare minimum and what is normal at these heights, any further investment by your holding company would only increase the value of the club in share price due to trophies, sponsorship money and more through the results on the pitch. It’s really very simple and very odd that it hasn’t taken place.

4. Last up is change. Change is the only thing that is going to motivate the supporters, the players, and the system if you will. Arsenal is car that’s spinning its wheels on a muddy road. There needs to be a change in the front office personnel, coaching, or an addition of talent that will kick-start all those currently at the club. There is weak movement in the sponsorship department (who wants to sponsor a club who hasn’t won a trophy in 7 years), the ideas from the coaching staff as of late have been bizarre and furthermore stale, and the motivation behind and the effort of the players on the pitch has been dismal. What will change all of this? At this point, something radical. A front office shake up, a coaching change, sales of players(even at a loss), purchase of players (even if above the budget), something, ANYTHING, EVERYTHING.

In closing Stan, I hope you don’t mind if I call you Stan; you have come to be the face of a greater problem. These last 20 years Arsenal have enjoyed some of the most storied times in the history of the club, the building of a beautiful stadium, the changing of philosophy and infrastructure and so much more. You are now linked with the time period where that philosophy has stalled, the spending has stopped, the stars have left and none are being brought in. The supporters are being shortchanged and the football is suffering, both in results and style. The momentum has seized and the whole of Arsenal from top to bottom look like deer in headlights.

You have a chance to continue this downward spiral by doing exactly what you have done these last few years, nothing. Letting the inmates rule the asylum or you can step up and effect change that will put the club back on track in respect to competing with the elite, where Arsenal was not so long ago. So what will it be Stan?

Zero or Hero? It’s up to you. Will Gooners in 20 years look back and say “Stan turned it around.” or “Wow, Stan ruined the club.” It’s really that simple, whether it is perception or reality at that point doesn’t matter. Here’s to hoping you and your fellow board members start a series of events that will set things right.


One Sad Gooner

P.S. Doing something radical in this transfer window would be a great start!


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