Supporter groups have united to express their dismay at the way Stan Kroenke is running Arsenal and urged the American owner to make “new and dynamic appointments” to reinvigorate a club that “feels like an investment vehicle”.
In a combined statement on behalf of 14 separate supporter groups the signatories said Arsenal fans have “never felt more marginalised”, questioned whether the board is fit for purpose and called on Kroenke to explain how he intends to get the club in a position where it is capable of winning major trophies again.
The statement, which reflects the growing sense of exasperation among Arsenal supporters about the way the club is going about its business on and off the field, read: “As Arsenal fans we have watched with frustration as the team’s football performances have declined over the past decade. When Stan Kroenke began buying Arsenal shares the club had just competed in a first Champions League final.
Twelve years on Arsenal are about to play in the Europa League for the third year running.
“Off the pitch fans have never felt more marginalised, less listened to or valued. This was sadly illustrated when Stan Kroenke forcibly bought out the last remaining supporter-shareholders without even a word of appreciation for their custodianship role in the club. It feels as though Arsenal is at a crossroads. Things need to change. What all of us as signatories to this statement want to see is meaningful action by Stan Kroenke to reinvigorate our football club.”
It is 15 years since Arsenal last won the Premier League title – they finished fifth last season – and hard to see them mounting a serious challenge any time soon. The absence of Champions League football for a third successive season has damaging financial ramifications for a club whose only signing so far this summer is the 18-year Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli.
“Change needs to start with better leadership,” continued the statement. “In his takeover document Stan Kroenke said: ‘KSE’s [Kroenke’s investment holding] ambitions for the club are to see it competing consistently to win the Premier League and the Champions League.’ We see little evidence of how this is to be achieved. Instead, our club feels like an investment vehicle, personified by the owner’s statement that he didn’t buy Arsenal to win trophies.
“It is sad that an institution like Arsenal FC has such passive ownership. All of us want to see a clear sense of purpose and direction. KSE should start by being more open and accountable and explain how they intend to achieve the goal of winning the game’s major trophies. If Stan Kroenke is going to be absent from London he needs to make sure the board he delegates to is fit for purpose. There is a desperate need for some new and dynamic appointments.”
In the eyes of the supporter groups, Arsenal need independently-minded directors to “act as a genuine check and balance” on Kroenke, who has total control of the club, and football and commercial expertise to improve not only the way the club operates in the transfer market but also to address the reasons behind why the Emirates has become a “soulless” place to watch football at times.
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