It is perhaps part of the sports fan’s philosophy that while the owner of their favorite team may own the most shares in the business, he can never truly own the club, because the club is not really comprised of shares of stock. The club is made up of people, fans, who sit in seats and go to the games; fans who watch Arsenal together at Maggie McGarry’s in San Francisco; fans who fly thousands of miles to see one game in their entire life just so that they can be part of something bigger than themselves for a mere 90 minutes. I feel a little bit like William Wallace in saying this but Kroenke may own a majority of the Arsenal shares but he will never own a majority of the fans.*
It should be no surprise, then, that when asked who they would prefer for owner of the club the vast majority of Arsenal supporters surveyed opted for either a multiple-owner scheme or to turn the club into a fan-owned enterprise.
Pro-Kroenke and pro-Usmanov voters combined for nearly 30% of the vote, leaving over 70% firmly in the “some type of mixed ownership” category. It would be interesting to drill in to the “no single owner” and “fan owned” categories here to get a better sense of what people are thinking. Is the “no single owner” answer a bit of nostalgia for the Invincibles era when the club were owned by Dein, Fiszman, Lady Nina, and others or are there other reasons why plurality of ownership is so appealing?
Similarly the fan-owned question, is this just an “anyone but Usmanov and Kroenke” answer or do a sizable majority of people who answer this question understand how a community owned team work? There was one person who selected “other” and wrote in “Model after the Bundesliga, 51% supporter ownership minimum” so, perhaps there are.
The reality of Arsenal’s ownership is that it’s mixed with most holdings in the hands of two men: Kroenke and Usmanov. In other words, Arsenal’s ownership is as, or somewhat like the way, the majority of fans want it to be. Kroenke is majority shareholder at nearly 63% of Arsenal but Usmanov owns somewhere near 30%. Not wanting to set up a false dualism and forcing respondents to choose between the two, I allowed them to pick who they would naturally prefer. Whether that person is Kroenke, Usmanov, a group, the fans, or other (Arsene Wenger was the most oft written in name) was entirely left to the respondent. Ostensibly, asking this was should pull out respondents ho self-identify as more of a “Kroenke man” or an “Usmanov man”.
In the dualism, you can see that a majority would prefer Usmanov over Kroenke. Why this disparity exists could be a study of epic proportion. I suspect that should one ask questions like “who would be more likely to put money into the club” versus “who do you trust with the long-term future of the club” and cross tabulated them with questions about winning trophies and losing players we might find answers as to why Usmanov was given the edge. But given the media savvy way that Usmanov and Kroenke have manipulated public opinion, a survey like that would have to be very carefully constructed so as not to mislead people to one answer over the other.
One of the reasons that I wanted to even do this survey is that I saw the results of Phil’s questionnaire at Angry of Islington where some astounding number of people from all over the globe preferred Usmanov to Kroenke. Anything over 55% in favor of one candidate over the other is a very strong majority and anything over 60% is, well, it’s a 20% difference. So, when you see results like 70% versus 30% you have to wonder if the person who is getting 30% isn’t a convicted rapist or if perhaps there was a problem with the survey.
While Phil’s survey forced respondents to choose, my survey allowed people to self-identify as Kroenkeists or Usmanovists and the numbers, to say the least, are slightly more comforting.
Among the top three groups of fans (N. American, European, and Asian) there was a slight edge in favor of Kroenke. But once you add in the people from the rest of the world, that’s when Usmanov takes the lead.
The N. American and European numbers are also interesting in that they are nearly directly inverse: Europeans gave Usmanov 43% and Americans gave Kroenke 43% of their total numbers. This is true in pure numbers as well: between the two choices, N. Americans chose Kroenke 61% of the time versus Europeans who chose Usmanov 59%. In Asia, Kroenke held an edge as well with 55% of the vote but in Africa, Usmanov won with all but two of the respondents. Outer space aliens also preferred Usmanov to Kroenke 5 to 2.
On the issue of “Kroenke v. Usmanov” the wide disparity between results of Phil’s survey which included a false dualism and mine which included an unattainable idealistic option could be explained just by design flaws but also could partly be explained by audience. Both Phil and I write very different types of blogs and as such our audiences tend to be very different. A third party (preferably not an Arsenal blog) would have to do a survey to suss out what type of support Usmanov really enjoys.
Still, while this was just a straw poll and drawing conclusions from a group of self-selecting respondents who read one blog over another is dangerous there is some evidence that despite the recent media blitz from both Kroenke and Usmanov there may be a large portion of Arsenal fans who don’t want either owner. This could be down to nostalgia for Arsenal’s golden age or some other factor which only a further and more neutral study would determine.
*Because slavery is illegal.