You are a smart man. You wouldn’t be so wealthy if you weren’t smart? Right?
Some people like to think you simply married into the wealth of the Walton family of Walmart fame. But many of us know better. You worked hard in your family business, went to business school and had more than a few pennies before you met and married Ann. So I don’t doubt how smart you are, easily much smarter than I am.
Even so, as an Arsenal fan, I am duty bound to advise you that the Arsenal brand is being harmed. As you are well aware our club, your club more than mine, was recently beaten 1-0 in the Europa League by Bate Borisov, the 54th ranked club in Europe according to UEFA. Arsenal, as you may be aware, is the 10th ranked club.
The real scandal
There is no shame in being beaten by a lesser rated club. Anybody with more than a passing interest in competitive sports knows upsets are endemic. But it is the continuing trend, the manner in which Arsenal loses games which is more concerning. According to whoscored.com Arsenal enjoyed an overwhelming 77% possession but could only manage 4 shots on target out of 16 shots. That was the exact same number of shots on target when Arsenal played Huddersfield, the worst team in the Premier League by a fair margin. While our/your club managed to beat The Terriers, the gods of football were not as kind in Belarus even though the stats were much more in favor of the Gunners when compared to the game in Yorkshire.
Mr. Kroenke, the most alarming development is in the premier league Arsenal is being outplayed in every offensive category year over year. As a businessman, am sure you demand the numbers before coming to any judgment.
|Shots on target||6||5||-26%|
That 26% reduction in both shots and shots-on-target should give you much heartache.
How do you rationalize spending humongous amounts of money on signing two of the best strikers in Europe, in the form of Lacazette and Aubameyang, yet they are inferior in shots to the likes of Giroud and Alexis who one year ago were the ones most expected to score the goals.
More scandalous, how can you rationalize agreeing to a three year extension on the contract of someone who is regarded at the best playmaker in the world, paying him a whopping £300k per week, at least, yet Mesut Ozil is not playing games when he is fit. How can you explain him not being allowed to do what he is paid, i.e. to provide the final assist to your very expensive strikers.
Debasement of the brand
Stan, the bottomline is, the club is nowhere near playing the positive attacking football that must have been the principal attraction when you first became an investor in the early 2000s. I am sure you did not pay over £400 million to become the 100% owner of the football club to see the debasement of your brand.
Let me remind you of what you said in 2016 about the importance of the brand:
“What did I learn specifically [from England]? You learn very quickly what that brand means,
“We have a gentleman who comes to Arsenal games, he flies his helicopter from South Africa, Cape Town to London quite often. It’s just an example of what a brand can mean, and what we can do in sports.
I can tell you, based on anecdotal evidence, “that dog won’t hunt no more.” You being from Missouri know exactly what I mean. Except for big matches (versus Tottenham, United, City, Liverpool and Chelsea) your front office has to be flogging tickets through all sort of promotional gimmicks. One wonders how many fans, whether near or far, are still willing to make the sacrifice to watch Arsenal labor with under 60% possession, content mostly to send Kolasinac on the overlap to cutback to the strikers, a refined form of the lumping it into the box. As long as the team was winning or drawing in that 22 game unbeaten stretch, that may have sufficed but when Arsenal are struggling against the likes of Cardiff and Huddersfield, many fans have concluded they are being served dross, not entertainment.
According to you, when Unai Emery was appointed:
“He shares our vision to move forward, to build on the platform created by Arsène Wenger and help this club enjoy greater success.”
These were your own words, not your minions, some of whom have already jumped ship since. I, like many, must hold you to account. You have the power; not Emery, not Sanhelli, not Venkatesham, not Fahmy.
A trashing by mainstream media
By the way, Stan, I am fully aware that you are not held in high regard by most of the mainstream media, mainly because you made it clear from the onset you wouldn’t and couldn’t afford the spending of Manchester City and Chelsea. As a result they did everything to turn Arsenal fans against you.
On the eve of your becoming the 100% owner, The Guardian allowed a well known Arsenal blogger, Andrew Magnan, use of their pages to virtually rip your reputation to shreds:
Not once in the 11 years since Kroenke first bought shares in the club has this billionaire put a single penny into the team. Arsenal have famously been run as a self-sustaining business, spending only what they earn – and there’s something to admire about that. In fact, far from putting money into the team, he has actively taken money out, twice taking payments of £3m for “consultancy services”
Can you imagine a fee for service being described as “actively taking money out”? Compare this to the six Glazer children being guaranteed a multi-million pound dividend annually from that club for doing fuck-all. This is the type of deliberate mendicancy that helps divide fans as they contemplate the future direction of our/your football club.
The Independent in 2017 had nothing but disrespect. Apparently you were “detached” from your £450m investment because at the end of the 2016 season you refused to sack Wenger. (Any media that says with a straight face you are uninterested in a £450m investment has forfeited any right to be considered a serious, reliable source of news and information.)
Apparently, what incensed the Independent was your observation that:
“For 20 years we were in the top four, no other English club has done that and the year we fell out we had four more points than the previous year when we were second.”
What they literally wanted was for you to sack “tired old” Wenger. But nearly one year after he is gone, the Indy and others are virtually quiet, hoping you and Arsenal fans in particular will forget there has been no miraculous turnaround post-Wenger they and others predicted. It is self-evident these days that tired, old Wenger was a shining light when compared to the nightmare the club is now experiencing especially last Thursday night in Belarussia.
Frankly Stan, with all that have gone down since Wenger left, as owner you have no choice but to assert yourself. Your management’s handling of the Aaron Ramsey contract negotiations has been a disaster. Never in the recent history of Arsenal has contract negotiations been argued out in the public in such an unseemly fashion. Based on the usually reliable reports by David Ornstein, a contract was offered and then withdrawn. In the subsequent brouhaha, your managers and their PR flacks have done everything to make Ramsey, arguably a club legend, seem like the grubby, greedy party. That is classless behavior which is destroying the reputation of our/your club as principled, quiet negotiators. There goes the brand again.
Mr. Kroenke, the Ramsey debacle and the treatment of Ozil shows the footballing side of Arsenal is heading into a crisis. Apparently you, the board and management have decided to cut costs. If the decision is to be rid of high wage earners such as Ozil and Ramey, then you’d better be aware that by getting rid of your best footballers, performance will fall and so will results, sooner or later.
The possibility of a negative spiral reminds me very much of the demise of Aston Villa, a traditional English Club very much like Arsenal, under an American owner like yourself. Ten years ago, they were competing with our/your club for top-4. Coincidentally, they were blessed with one of the largest and most modern stadium in England and well supported by fans in the second city . But they had to cut the wage bill after failing to make champions league following two very expensive campaigns. After a series of dodgy, hyped up managers and executives, who helped rather than arrested their decline, they are now a mid table championship side with no immediate prospect of a return to the top level.
Stop the rot
Stan, being out of the top-4 and being a Europa-League side has already done damage to the brand. Playing conservative, counter-attacking football will not only drive away the casual fan but it affects the commitment level of your core support. Treating star players like shit will gradually affect the performance of the entire team just as it did at United during Mourinho’s last weeks. It is a negative cycle that becomes impossible to stop until you reach rock-bottom.
You should know am just a lowly Red Member of the football club, a blogger and tweeter with a puny following compared to the big guns like Magnan. Unlike him and most of these other big Arsenal social media accounts, my minimum demand is the club plays positive, attractive football and that it demonstrates class, i.e. the value of honesty and integrity in its dealings. Stop being those things then you have no brand. Capiche?
Stan, being so lowly on the totem pole, I don’t expect you or Josh, who is your point man, to give my letter much attention. But it seems to me that, due to these self-inflicted wounds on the brand, for which you paid so much, things could spiral downwards out of control unless you take steps to address it.
Only you have the power Stan. Only you can stop the rot.