London (AFP) – Arsenal director Josh Kroenke admits criticism from furious fans has been “hard to take”, but he insists the club’s owners will stick to their guns.
Arsenal supporters’ organisations, fanzines and blogs published a statement hitting out at Stan Kroenke’s “passive ownership” on Monday in response to their team’s latest frustrating campaign.
The Gunners are preparing for a third successive season out of the Champions League after finishing fifth in the Premier League and losing the Europa League final to London rivals Chelsea.
Kroenke senior’s company took outright ownership of the club during August 2018 and Josh Kroenke, son of the Arsenal owner, addressed the supporters’ complaints during the current pre-season tour of the United States.
“Anyone that knows me knows how passionate I am about Arsenal Football Club,” Josh Kroenke said in an interview published by several British newspapers on Tuesday.
“Is it hard to take? Absolutely. But I’m not in this business to make friends, I’m in it to win.
“If anyone is ever going to question anything about our ownership – which I view as a custodianship, the supporters trust us to be a custodian of the values – that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to win whilst also respecting the values and traditions of the club.
“I’ve sat down with supporters’ groups. I’ve not been afraid to sit down to have tough conversations with people because I’m transparent, we’re transparent, we don’t have anything to hide.
“We all want the same thing and we’re all trying aggressively to make it happen. It’s just sometimes our timeline might not be as aggressive as others would like to see.”
– ‘Respectfully disagree’ –
Arsenal manager Unai Emery took his team to the US without captain Laurent Koscielny, who refused to travel after having his request to leave the club rejected.
Despite that distraction and Arsenal’s uncertain future on the field, Josh Kroenke is convinced they will eventually restore the Gunners to the club’s former glories.
“It’s no secret that we have a Champions League wage bill on a Europa League budget right now. That’s a fact. And one that we’re figuring out how to face internally at the moment,” Kroenke said.
“That doesn’t mean that my father or I have ever said anything about any restrictions on spending. We know where we need to be and we know the areas we need to address on the pitch.