I held back to see what the reaction from fans and the media would be to our exit from the FA Cup. It seems that the pendulum has now distinctly swung towards the “Arsene Out” brigade. It ranges from the DT/Piers Morgan faction (and there are apparently groups of divergent opinionated fans who are prepared to settle the debate under the Marquis of Queensberry rules) to those who still want him to stay. In between there are others who agree with me that it would be better if he took a long objective view of himself and then made his own arrangements to leave.
Unfortunately, the articles I have read and the snippets on the TV do not indicate that he is going to do anything of the sort. Despite the fast growing number of disillusioned supporters he continues to ignore their opinions. Even worse, he dismisses their opinions and says that anyone who does not support the club at the stage we are at now, is merely an observer, not a supporter. That leaves me to think that his attitude is very similar to that of Kroenke who has said that he knew nothing of Arsenal and its history when he bought into it and he simply bought a brand. He added that anyone who buys a football club should not do so to win trophies. The aim is to build The Brand. He actually related to one fan that regularly travels from South Africa to the Emirates in his own helicopter to see his beloved Arsenal. Kroenke rejoices at that and he recognises the man`s emotional attachment to the club which he himself does not have. That man`s devotion opened his eyes to what it means to have Arsenal in your blood but he recognises it only as confirmation of the value of a brand. He sees it as an invitation to profit from such devotion.
Whilst his acquisition of Arsenal continues to prosper and his manager is content to qualify for the top 4 in the Premier League every season, he is happy. The opinion of thousands of disillusioned supporters does not mean a jot. Why should they have any input into the profitability of the club? For possibly a different reason, Wenger shares that view. He disparages the opinions of people who are neither shareholders nor supporters. In his view, he cannot understand why they are not satisfied with perennially failing to see their dreams come true and that some of the rewards for their loyal support actually do materialise. This season is one of three recent seasons when we were well placed in March to win the league only to fail miserably. On each occasion he advised us that “This team has quality”, “This Team has determination and a great spirit”. “This team has consistency”. If that was the case, why have we not won the premiership in 12 years? Why are we fans not entitled to make our opinions known after all that he has said about his team/s?
We play Barcelona on Wednesday and realistically barring a miracle, our season will be over halfway through March. Kroenke is working on preparations for Arsenal to spend part of the summer playing and training in Florida to build up “The Brand” in the USA. Make no mistake his plans are ultimately to use The Brand to move the club ultimately to The USA and keep our Arsenal as a satellite of the Yankee one. He has a track record of moving Brands (Teams) with no regard for the fans. If you don`t think that this is a possibility, just look at replays of the soccer leagues on TV now. Twenty years ago they didn`t exist, but the crowds are increasing year on year. Once it really catches on the rest of the world will not be able to compete. Meantime his shares will go through the roof.
Make no mistake, the rewards of achieving anywhere near parity in the USA with NFL or Basketball will dwarf even the eye watering sums the European Champion League currently attracts.
As for us, where do we stand? We have to face up to it that if matters do not change, we can forget about improving any way soon. I wonder how long the man with the helicopter will continue to fly to watch a club in which the board no longer shares his love of The Arsenal that he grew up with. It is merely a dividend producing company.
I think it is time to come clean. Arsene, Kroenke and the Board need to tell the fans what input they have in the Club, if not the Company. Are they mutually exclusive? Is it the situation that our desires are not compatible with making a profit? I understand that Arsene has a degree in Economics. Is his future going to be with the Company and if so, is he simply ensuring that financial success can be obtained with a minimum of expenditure? Certainly from a commercial perspective, his achievements of expanding the club from a 36,000 capacity club to 64,000 in a brand new stadium together with a healthy set of accounts will have made Kroenke a happy man. What has happened to the man who single handedly introduced a beautiful style of playing football? Has “Filthy Lucre” affected him, either by design or by order to become a different person altogether, with different aims? Is he becoming a Yankee Doodle Dandy?
A sophisticated, articulate Arsenal Man of Mystery. Aged 70 and a bit.