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Stan Kroenke’s fight with St. Louis is a warning sign for Arsenal

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During the past month, there has been a scramble by three American football franchises to move from their current locations to the U.S.’s second largest city, Los Angeles. For those unfamiliar, LA has been without an NFL franchise since the Rams and Raiders left in 1995; however, with a few franchises seemingly not as lucrative as their peers, the league is taking steps to fill a void in their financial portfolio by placing one or two teams in that market. On January 12, league owners will take a vote to accept a maximum of two bids from the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and St. Louis Rams to relocate to the Los Angeles area.

The Rams have as their majority owner Stan Kroenke, a Missouri native who is also the majority shareholder for Arsenal. As part of his relocation bid, the Rams and Kroenke submitted to the NFL a proposal/justification for the relocation. This 29-page document became public this week and the outcry has been, to put it politely, not good.

Kroenke was raised in a small town in Missouri and went to school at the University of Missouri. His full name is Enos Stanley Kroenke, named after two St. Louis Cardinals’ legends. Despite his numerous residences due to his extensive business investments, he raised his family in the state of Missouri. In 2010, he told a local reporter that upon taking ownership of the Rams he would do everything in his power to keep the team in St. Louis: “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 honorable guy.”

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Remember all of that as you consider what the Rams, and by default Kroenke, wrote in the team’s bid to move to Los Angeles, something he mentioned he would not do in the article quoted above:

· “Any NFL Club that signs on to this proposal in St. Louis will be well on the road to financial ruin, and the League will be harmed” is an exact quote from the bid document describing what would happen if a team tried to relocate to St. Louis

· The city “lags, and will continue to lag, far behind in the economic drivers that are necessary for sustained success of an NFL franchise”

· San Diego and Oakland are called more attractive business markets than St. Louis and the application calls St. Louis “struggling”.

St. Louis is economically struggling but has a rich sports history and a devoted sports fanbase, one that has been supportive of a team that under Kroenke has struggled to contend in a league built on parity. While not from the city itself, the fact that he was willing to so thoroughly eviscerate a city in his home state in a chance to move the team to another market is a damning character trait.

What does this mean for Arsenal? As the majority shareholder of the club and with the seeming support of the boardroom, Kroenke is firmly in control of the club’s finance and directors. Without a revered manager in Arsene Wenger, it is curious how much more sway he would have over the direction of the club. As it is, he is exercising his power in small ways. Earlier this season, the club authorized a £3m payment to Kroenke Sports Enterprises for a second consecutive year for consulting, or something rather amorphous that fans never really got an adequate answer for.

While Arsenal likely will never relocate from London, when Arsene Wenger leaves the club there is little to stop Kroenke’s influence from expanding. Arsenal fans could see a Glazer-style debt repayment coming from the club’s coffers, or Vincent Tan-style attempt to reshape the club’s image to make more money in an overseas market. Or, if the desire struck, he could do what he has done with his American sports franchises – invested just enough for them to be competitive but not overspend to truly push them towards titles.

All of this seems unlikely, but “Silent Stan” has screamed out his style to the world. His sports investments are simply that, and whatever can be done to maximize them could be done regardless of past statements, personal affinity, or public opinion. This should make Arsenal fans incredibly concerned about the future of their club.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Tony

    January 13, 2016 at 10:56 am

    To Arsenal fans – your owner is real estate investor who is only concerned about the value of the teams he owns, not their on field performance or quest for championships. I’m a huge soccer fan here in America and I hope what has happened here with Kroenke doesn’t happen to Arsenal as well. All you have to do is look at the performance of his US teams for the 5 years prior to him owning and what they have done since he took over. Pretty bleak numbers once he owned them. He has completely ruined two successful Denver teams, the Nuggets and the Avalanche, and turned the Rams into the doormat it is today. He is not a sports fan, which is what you need in an owner – someone who is willing to spend in the hopes of winning and not just look at everything from a dollar standpoint.
    We will

  2. Joe Johnson

    January 11, 2016 at 10:32 am

    “Stan Kroenke’s fight with St. Louis and the Rams is a warning sign for Arsenal fans”

    Hmm. I think the title should read “Stan Kroenke’s fight with St. Louis is a warning sign for Arsenal fans”. He’s not fighting with the Rams, he owns the Rams.

  3. Stephen Rutherford

    January 11, 2016 at 3:26 am

    I live in St. Louis and I do not agree with the statement that St. Louis is economically struggling. We’ve lost some Fortune 500 headquarters in the past twenty years, but the economy is diverse and not heavily dependent on one industry. If St. Louis were not able to support an NFL team then neither would Buffalo, Kansas City, Green Bay, Cleveland, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Charlotte or Jacksonville. No city in America has worked harder than St. Louis to have an NFL team. We built a new domed stadium just twenty years ago and guests from out of town who attend a game ask me why in the world is the city ready to spend another $400 million in public money to build a brand new stadium when the one we have is fine. Even though everyone knew for two years that Kroenke’s wanted to move the team and the Rams have had a losing record for most of the time they’ve been in St. Louis we still averaged 57,000 people a game. That’s amazing. I’ve always like Arsenal, but I’m afraid I cannot support any team any longer that is owned by Kroenke.

  4. VicBklyn

    January 10, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    This article is like a highlight clip of what I’ve been saying for 2 years. A study over a decade ago said that the extra money spent to elevate a contender to a championship teams are not returned most of the time. #silentstan has been stacking money for his billion dollar NFL move to LA being the reason we only signed Peter Cech. MLS would not allow him to buy a 2nd franchise when they realized he is a crappy owner not interested in competing to make the league better. It’s so simple this season, if we don’t spend. And buy a top DM we will not win the league. To top everything off he is married to a billionaire Walmart Heiress. Walmart is the way our club is runned. He needs to be runned out of town and if not we need to only hope for top coaches he can’t run over like Pep

  5. Eplnfl

    January 10, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    I think this article is a real stretch to make any point at all. Frankly it is another of those articles that can find no good in an American owning a English Team. There is no chance at all that Arsenal would relocate. So there should be fear about when Wenger leaves. Can you reconcile why Wenger has been able to stay as long as he has without a major addition to the trophy case. No you can’t.

    So let’s not bother much with this article and may be it would be nice to see an article about how teams have done well under American ownership such as Arsenal this year. Btw the Glazers have won a few times haven’t they?

    • tominstl

      January 17, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      This is not an article about American owners. This is an article about Kroenke being a vampire feeding on the emotions of fans. He makes money betting that spirts lovers will give him money deapite his soulless character. Never Never Never invest your heart in a team owned by Kroenke, it ALWAYS ends badly.

    • Jim Black

      January 28, 2016 at 2:10 pm

      The Glazers took a fabulously successful team and…er…watched them continue to be successful while making a stack of cash (the club also appears to be in turmoil now, following decades of being solid as a rock). Villa and Sunderland have American owners, both historic clubs with massive fan bases, both in dire straits in recent years. Liverpool, one of the most successful clubs in world football, have won one league cup (a minnow trophy most teams field reserve sides for) since their take over. The main focus for all those teams, since US investment, has been increasing revenue and share value. Read the financial reports then come back and reform your argument please.

  6. Glenn Barker

    January 10, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Kroenke treats Arsenal like a real estate investment. He buys younger players when they appreciate
    in value he sells them. Arsenal have the highest ticket prices in the league, this is the fans paying rent.
    The fans paid for his asset Emirates stadium. He short changed the fans for a decade to pay for his stadium.Now he has those sycophants on the board paying him fees for nothing. Kroenke is an avarious
    asshole and the worst owner in the league

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