Those who would purify English football believe the current debauchery and debt stems from foreign ownership. That is not necessarily true.
American billionaire Stan Kroenke bought out the Carr family shares in Arsenal for about £45m, increasing his stake in the club to 28.3%, the largest individual holding.
Despite the Guardian’s assertions that this is part of “Silent Stan’s” insidious takeover deal, Kroenke’s involvement with the club has been viewed favorably. He has been seen as a benign bulwark against a strong-arming Usmanov.
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, the group who would be outraged, praised Kroenke’s acquisition.
“We were the first shareholders at Arsenal to welcome Kroenke’s initial investment. We have since established a good dialogue with him and this will continue.
“Our position is that stability and plurality in ownership is to the benefit of Arsenal.
“New chief executive Ivan Gazidis has made a good impression and says he values our role and the importance of custodianship.
“We hope he will build relationships with all shareholders so that the club has stability off the pitch which is a vital ingredient for success on it.”
Kroenke is no carpet-bagging American. He enjoys owning sports teams, and successful sports teams at that. He co-owns the St. Louis Rams who won a Super Bowl while he was there. His Colorado Avalanche also won a Stanley Cup in 2001. His Denver Nuggets are often a playoff team.
He has invested in long-term growth projects such as Arena Football and Major League Lacrosse.
Most importantly, he’s a football guy. He owns the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer. They are a stable club with a lovely, soccer-only facility and a development partnership with Arsenal.
The common thread with all of his sporting investments is that he has been successful, has not run the clubs into crazed debt and has not meddled with personnel decisions– exactly the qualities ideal for Premier League ownership.
Fellow American Randy Lerner bought Aston Villa in 2006. He has stuck with a great manager in Martin O’Neill, funded transfers and created the nucleus of a club set to challenge the top four. The club has also more than doubled in value under his stewardship.
There have been bad seed Americans. Manchester United has been successful under Malcolm Glazer, though he saddled the club with enormous debt. Ditto on the debt front for Hicks and Gillett. Rafa Benitez should be credited for being competitive despite the travesty of their ownership. However, there have also been good ones.
Some English owners have had farts smell like roses, others have run their club into the ground.
In a globalized economy, the notion of an English owner owning an English club, with an English manager and all English players is romantic, and probably xenophobic, nonsense. It’s not American or foreign ownership the Premier League needs to avoid. It is idiots.