Arsenal’s divorce

Stan Kroenke’s aggressive move for control at Arsenal isn’t pleasant, but it’s nothing surprising.

A US billionaire tycoon buying an English football establishment with leverage and loans. What could go wrong? Ask Liverpool fans, we’ll tell you, not gladly, a bloody awful lot can go wrong.

Ominously, Stan Kroenke arrived on the Arsenal scene in 2007. The same year Hicks and Gillet began undermining Liverpool Football Club and putting them on a collision course with administration. It was also an era when TV revenue really began to swell and foreign investment flooded in after Abromovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003.

Now it would be unfair to say that each and every US backed takeover bid is a Halley’s Comet moment, but this development at Arsenal doesn’t bode well. However, it is also something we are all getting rather horribly accustomed to.

No custodian

Billionare sports club owner Stan Kroenke is a man who, it’s safe to say, does not have the best interests of Arsenal Football club at heart.

I’ve been a Missourian for 60 years. People in our state know me. People know I can be trusted. People know I am an honourable guy.”

So spoke the owner of the then St Louis Rams in 2010. Six years later he had moved the franchise to L.A using the available excuse of being unable to find a suitable home stadium in the city.

There was infact a waterfront stadium proposed by the mayor of St Louis in an attempt to keep the beloved club in town but Kroenke was unmoved.

All of the above is covered in wonderful detail in James Montague’s excellent book: The Billionaires Club: The Unstoppable Rise of Football’s Super-rich.

In fairness to Kroenke, franchises moving from state to state is nothing new. It’s common practise in the NFL, however it’s the cynical, faux virtue and snide antics of the Billionaire which is proof that he is no custodian. It should also have no place in English football where club’s are still beloved emblems of a fan’s community.

Predatory

The Arsenal Supporters Trust has already come out and said it is “wholly against this takeover“. Yet grim reports have been coming out all day speculating that the group’s members are seeing their shares forcibly sold.

No doubt some smart piece of neat legal gymnastics has seen them have to bow in the face of predatory behaviour. It is sad for these fans to say the least, that their stake in the club, has gone. The divorce from fan ownership looks set to be complete imminently.

Alisher Usmanov has also given fans more cause with concern. He has accused the fellow billionaire of being the root cause of Arsenal’s prudence in the transfer market.

Whether or not this is sour grapes on Usmanov’s part, over his inability to wrestle away Kroenke’s 67% share of Arsenal, is open to speculation. However, if true and many Gunners fans have seen to back the view, it doesn’t bode well for the club. Their new era under Emery may be starting under a cloud.

Sad but true

The saddest thing about all of this is the predictability and almost mundane nature of the story. As the Premier League’s wealth continues to swell, more wily billionaires will view the pickings to be had like vultures eyeing carion. Every year it seems another club falls prey to it.

Arsenal are just as vulnerable to a ruthless, profiteering owner as Liverpool were in 2007. Other Proud clubs have done far worse under American mismanagement; just ask Villa and Sunderland supporters.

Stan Kroenke is not buying the Arsenal of five years ago. If he was he’d be paying a much more expensive price, but then, that’s the point. At a time when investment and custodianship is required to back Emery in his new role, a billionaire has just bought control of the club on the cheap. Somethings never change.

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