The protests Arsenal fans had planned for Friday night’s game with Everton will still take place, with the target now Stan Kroenke — the owner who did not even put his name to the club’s apology on Wednesday.
‘Shameless,’ the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust called him, in response.
Don’t imagine the 73-year-old will be devastated by this abuse, though. Kroenke has an elephant’s hide. He doesn’t care what fans think. There is a slight sensitivity whenever it is suggested that he is only rich because he married a Walmart heiress, Ann Walton. But that’s as close to offended as he has ever seemed to get.
He views the club as a commercial commodity — just like NBA’s Denver Nuggets, NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and NFL’s LA Rams, which are also his.
Those three US franchises are protected from the jeopardy of relegation because of the ‘closed-system’ nature of their leagues.
Commercially and philosophically, Kroenke has never bought into the idea of relegation.
Buried in Kroenke’s backstory is the suggestion that sport matters to him. He was christened Enos Stanley Kroenke after two St Louis Cardinals baseball legends, Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial. Kroenke’s grandfather had loved the sport and introduced it to him. But now it’s all about the money with him. His hugely contentious ownership of the Rams has demonstrated that.
He pledged to keep his home state team in St Louis when he took control in 2010, then promptly bought a vast 298-acre plot, twice the size of Vatican City, in Los Angeles and relocated.
The city of St Louis, already on its uppers economically, was left devastated. ‘Some rich people collect cars; Kroenke collects sports teams,’ wrote The Ringer website. ‘He’s the rare sports owner with low approval ratings on multiple continents.’
Kroenke seldom speaks to reporters. The New York Times has described him as ‘Silent Stanley’. He seems to have next to no emotional commitment to Arsenal, a club he rarely visits. Until recently, he charged them a £3million annual consultancy fee.
He is a big picture businessman, not one for the small detail. One source describes a conversation with Kroenke about UEFA’s financial fair play system, in which the Missourian did not seem to have a detailed grasp of the finer points.
Kroenke has become desperate for greater financial yield from his stumbling English team and the Super League was the golden ticket to sell the club’s own TV rights and stream games.
With that opportunity gone and opprobrium building, will Kroenke sell up? Don’t bet on it. Arsenal have a vast fan base and a huge social media imprint to monetise.