Stan Kroenke Witch Hunt: Why the AST needs to come off their high horse
As the AST (Arsenal Supporters’ Trust) keep complaining about the club and encouraging a mob mentality concerning Arsenal’s board members, many supporters are being fed up by the hubris displayed by the AST and its controversial spokesperson Tim Payton. The thought behind the AST is an excellent one: allow ‘normal’ supporters a chance to own a part of Arsenal, by dividing shares into a hundred pieces to create a reasonable price. But the reality is that the AST have mistaken their role in the Arsenal ecosystem as one deserving of any influence whatsoever.
The most recent outburst is a modern witch hunt for the club’s relatively new majority shareholder Stan Kroenke. Now, most supporters don’t like Stan Kroenke, but the reasons are largely based on emotion, an area where business men do not operate. As supporters, it feels wrong that someone with zero emotional investment owns our club, and that is a valid feeling. But we must also remember that Arsenal is a highly valuable investment from a business perspective: we’re not spending above our means, we have season pass waiting lists stretching for years, we have massive assets in stadium and properties, and our team constantly qualifies for the Champions League with very little economic effort.
For an investor it’s a no-brainer. Buying gold or shares in Apple is the exact same approach. But, and here is the reality many supporters fail to realise; just because you invest in gold or buy Apple shares doesn’t mean that you have to wear gold or use Apple products. You can wear silver and use a Dell. The emotional investment can be zero, even though the financial investment is massive.
And that is the situation with Kroenke. He is a sports investor, the name on the club doesn’t matter. Arsenal was a great financial investment, and that is the only reason Kroenke is a majority shareholder. Would it be nice to have a lifelong supporter as the owner of Arsenal Football Club? Yes. But we don’t, and we all need to realise it’s not necessarily 100% negative.
To increase the potential return on his investment, Kroenke would obviously want the club to prosper. With improved financial/commercial deals, the club’s finances will improve overall. Improved finances mean improved budgets, not only for infrastructure and maintenance, but also for direct investment into the team: transfers and wages. It’s also vital for Kroenke that the team performs well, as that is the only performance measure that can fundamentally alter the direction of the club’s existence.
I’m not a Kroenke supporter, but neither am I bubbling with irrational hate towards the club owner. The AST claims Kroenke has a legal requirement to meet with them, but even if that is true I have no idea why the AST feel Kroenke has any obligation to meet with an extremely small minority shareholder group owning a measly 0.0048% of Arsenal shares (yes, really). And judging by the way they act towards him, why would he want to meet an angry mob who hates his guts for daring to make a business investment?
All I hear from AST spokesperson Tim Payton is complaining about everything Arsenal. I don’t mind constructive or rational criticism where it’s due, but the witch hunt mind set is taking the AST’s delusional crusade against all parties with more shares than they have to ridiculous heights. It seems they are more interested in causing a stir to get media appearances, than supporting the club itself.