Arsenal recorded a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over rivals Chelsea on Sunday morning to lift the FA Cup for a record 14th time.
I have been vocal in my criticism of Arsenal manager Arsene over the last few months and still believe that there is a desperate need for a change of manager.
However, there is also a larger an much more immovable problem at the club. That problem is Arsenal’s billionaire owner Stan Kroenke.
Kroenke made his fortune in real estate, benefiting greatly from his marriage to Ann Walton –
the heiress to the WalMart fortune. Since the mid nineties Kroenke has invested millions in sports teams in America as part of the Kroenke Sports and Entertainment Group.
As well as Arsenal, Kroenke owns NFL team the Los Angeles Rams, MLS franchise Colorado Rapids and Lacrosse team the Colorado Mammoths. In addition to owning these teams he has controlling stakes in the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche of the NBA and NHL respectively.
To understand why Kroenke is such a damaging influence on Arsenal it is important to explore the fortunes of the other teams he has dominion over.
St Louis/ Los Angeles Rams
Kroenke first bought a stake in the Rams in 1995 and became the team’s full owner in 2010. While the turn of the millennium was a successful time for the Rams – winning a Super Bowl in 2000 and returning to the big game in 2002 – since then it has been a dire time to support the Rams.
In the years since their two Super Bowl appearances, the Rams have made just two playoff appearances and won a single postseason game. Their last taste of success came in 2004 and since then they have failed to post a single winning season.
The years since Kroenke took full ownership have been particularly bleak with the Rams becoming a laughing stock as they consistently post an underwhelming record. Sounding familiar Arsenal fans?
The final blow was dealt in 2015 when it became apparent the current season would be the team’s last in St Louis. Kroenke had decided to move the team to Los Angeles as the draw of a more lucrative market was too powerful, leaving thousands of loyal fans without a team.
Kroenke’s eventual relocation of the Rams perfectly demonstrates how he values profit over team success or the needs of fans. It does not bode well for Arsenal.
Kroenke Sports and Entertainment took over the Nuggets in 2000 and although the NBA franchise is technically in his wife’s name, Kroenke’s fingerprints are all over the club. He inherited a struggling franchise who were rebuilding after a period of modest success in the mid nineties.
In 2003 the Nuggets hit the jackpot when they drafted Carmelo Anthony with the with the third pick in the NBA draft. Anthony was an immediate success and lead the Nuggets to seven straight playoff appearances, although in all but one of those appearances the Nuggets were defeated in the first round.
Sounds like Arsenal in the Champions league doesn’t it?
Despite the stellar play of Anthony, the Nuggets failed to surround him with enough talent to make a serious run at an NBA title, with ownership happy to milk the increased revenue of playoff basketball without breaking the bank salary wise.
Eventually Carmelo got sick of Denver and demanded a trade leaving the Nuggets in another period of rebuilding. They have a young and talented core but it remains to be seen if Kroenke invests in the team sufficiently for them to succeed.
For Arsenal fans there are eerie similarities to draw between the departure of Carmelo Anthony and the cavalcade of stars who left the club between 2011 and 2012.
I will admit that I don’t know anything about ice hockey so it is harder for me to judge Kroenke’s ownership of the team. The Avalanche won the Stanley Cup the year after Kroenke took over in 2000 but it is hard to imagine he had much to do with that if anything.
The foundations of that team would have been built before Kroenke took over.
Looking through the season by season records the Avalanche seem to be doing OK – making the playoffs reasonably consistently without threatening to win it all.
However, there have been accusations flying around that the Kroenkes – Josh (Stan’s son) is the chairman – have been absent owners of late focusing their time and energy into moving the Rams to LA.
During this period they seem to have put all the hockey decisions in the hands of GM Joe Sakic. Sakic is a franchise legend who played his entire 21 year NHL career with the Avalanche and Quebec Nordiques (where the franchise was based before it moved to Denver). However, recently his decision making has been questioned by fans who feel it may be time to change.
Sounds very familiar doesn’t it? Club legend left in complete control of team operations with little or no input from board level. Granted the situation hasn’t been raging on for as long as at Arsenal but there are definite similarities to be drawn.
Kroenke purchased the MLS franchise in 2004 and in 2007 moved the stadium out of Denver to the suitably named suburb Commerce City. Could there be a more perfect destination for a team owned by silent Stan.
It’s not been all bad for the Rapids since Kroenke took over winning the MLS cup in 2010. However ,that has been the only taste of success. More often than not the Rapids have failed to qualify for the playoffs and have been mired in mid table mediocrity.
When you look at all the sports teams Kroenke owns together it paints a very clear picture of an owner who is interested in only one thing – money, money, money. Not a single one of his franchises have been associated with winning during his tenure and Arsenal have been exactly the same.
It seems slightly unfair that much of the fury is directed at Wenger as he is the public figurehead, while Kroenke remains behind the scenes with his fortune increasing by the day.
It is time for Wenger to go but Kroenke is the root of the problem. Wenger’s prolonged period in charge is merely a consequence of his ownership,