What is the sound of one Stan talking?

Stan Kroenke meets with fans, fan demands he meets with fans, Stan I am.

I am Stan
Stan I am.

That Stan-I-am!
That Stan-I-am!
I do not like
that Stan-I-am!

Would you like me
to meet with fans?

I would like you,
Stan-I-am.
I would love you
to meet with fans.

Would you meet me
here or there?

I would not meet you
here or there.
I would not meet you
anywhere.
I would much like you
to meet with fans.
I would much like that
Stan-I-am.

Would you meet me
on a train?
Would you meet me
in the rain?

I would not meet you
on a train.
I would not meet you
in the rain.
I would not meet you
here or there.
I would not meet you
anywhere!
I would much like you to meet with fans.
I would much like that Stan-I-am.

Would you meet me at the Emirates?
Would you meet me at the AGM?

Hey.. that doesn’t count.
I do not like you Stan-I-am.

Remember those movies in the 80′s where some concerned citizen would fight the evil corporation ruining the town? They would eventually discover that the company held an annual general meeting and that if they owned one share they could go and ask questions of the board as “shareholders”. This would inevitably result in some Perry Mason moment where the citizen activist would “catch” the board in some corporate malfeasance and the whole house of cards would come tumbling down. Well, as far as I can tell, the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust’s rather dogged insistence that Kroenke meet with them (one on one and not, you know, in another meeting) is some kind of odd Perry Mason moment where they trying to be like ‘AH HA! we caught you reneging on a promise! Game over, now you have to sell all your shares to us.” It’s the only thing that makes any sense.

The thing I got from reading the tweets about today’s AGM is that Kroenke is not meeting with the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust one-on-one and instead sees this annual general meeting as the only time he will meet with supporter’s groups. And frankly? Who could blame him? I think a lot of fans have shown themselves to be downright hostile toward Stan Kroenke. And for what? What has he actually done to harm the club? Name one thing.

You can’t. Because Kroenke hasn’t done anything wrong. There’s a lot of speculation that he might do something to hurt the club. For example, people seem to be obsessed with accusing him of planning to take a dividend from Arsenal. That question came up (twice) at the AGM and the board answered the question like this “Kroenke has never taken a dividend from his sports teams and has no plans to take a dividend from Arsenal.”

That’s not good enough and he was accused of sidestepping the answer. It’s not sidestepping, he’s telling you he won’t take dividends now. He won’t take dividends now.

But the thing that seemed to anger people the most was the fact that they didn’t allow fan-shareholders to ask Stan Kroenke questions directly. The board instead posted the questions on the big screen TV and read them aloud. This is a direct response to last year’s meeting where things got quite heated and this reaction by the board shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The irony of the fact that the people who caused this situation would be loudest to moan about it wasn’t lost on some, but in the head-shaking moment of the morning Tim Payton voiced his displeasure with this ad hominem attack:

The internet age has really changed our view of decorum. We used to debate ideas and saved the calumny for those truly deserving. But it seems like these days the first thing people go for is the individual, not the idea. Some of you may be confused here and think I’m also ironically attacking Tim Payton’s ironic moment, I’m not. I’m attacking the idea that someone would have a go directly at Stan Kroenke’s abilities and then be angry that Stan Kroenke won’t meet with them one-on-one. Kroenke’s not stupid, he’s not meeting with people who make fun of his hair, his abilities, his nationality, and who assume he’s out for the worst. Could you imagine ANY owner meeting with people who seem so openly hostile?

I can’t.

Another question that came up is why Arsenal aren’t doing more to spread Arsenal’s brand in America. This is something I’ve refrained from talking about but a topic which I have actually asked people about inside the club. The answer is quite complicated but the gist is that selling the brand in the USA isn’t simply about flying over here or getting Mesut Özil on a graphic in Times Square. There’s a lot of ground-work that needs to be done to build the corporate relationships which will make a tour like that successful. Remember that Arsenal only started doing tours in the last few years and right now the corporate strategy is in Asia and Africa. That’s where they are focusing their energy.

That question, however, provided the biggest laugh of the day when the rather delightful Sir Chips Keswick quipped that Bale being on the NBC Sports billboards in Times Square didn’t bother him because “Unfortunately he doesn’t play for Tottenham, he now plays for our rivals.”

BOOM, HEADSHOT.

And finally, there was some controversy in the accounts (because we are all accountants now) as someone noticed that Arsenal spent £2m buying a stats company. I’ve actually known about this for a while and this topic of stats and the meaning of stats has been weighing on me quite heavily lately. See, there are kiddy stats like the stuff we all get from WhoScored and Squawka and then there is real analysis of players like the company Arsenal bought. From what I understand they don’t just count passes and meters run but they also take into account a huge number of factors such as distance between passer and closest defender, and other factors which determine how difficult a certain technique is. For example, if you’ve played the game, you know that touch in traffic is different than touch in open play. You know that some players, like Gervinho, have difficulty controlling through balls. And so on. This company uses data like that to analyze players and is a part of Arsenal’s three pronged player strategy.

Wenger outlined that strategy and it shouldn’t surprise anyone: Arsenal will focus on 1) producing academy players like Wilshere 2) using analytics to uncover or develop unknown gems like Koscielny and 3) splashing the cash on huge names like Özil.

Sounds like a solid plan.

In fact, Arsenal are off to a rollicking start to the season and the AGM mostly reflected that. If only Kroenke would meet with Tim… All the Tims!

Qq

32 thoughts on “Stan Kroenke meets with fans, fan demands he meets with fans, Stan I am.

  1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

    If ever an Arsenal blogger gets to meet with Kroenke, I hope it’s you, because I know you’ll bring something back from that meeting that’s more substantial than comments about his hair or that he’s a Yank.

    My dad practiced medicine for over 40 years. He was a radiologist and actually pretty good at fixing radios AND people. He had the sign you know like a lot of doctors have, the one that says, “Primum Non Nocere” (Do No Harm), one of the first ethical principles taught in medical school.

    And I think that’s where Kroenke is coming from. I don’t think he’ll do anything to screw up his investment by actually getting seriously involved in anything day-to-day unless some catastrophic circumstance forces his hand (knock on wood).

    Some will disagree, but that’s almost the ideal owner for me: keep quiet and stay out of Wenger’s way for the next 3 years or so until the great man either retires or goes upstairs in an executive role.

    1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

      To be entirely accurate, I believe it’s “FIRST, do no harm”. Followed by, “Second, ensure that only the pharmacist can read your excreble handwriting”.

      1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        Excreble, excellent.

        I would take it seriously if I met with Kroenke and treat him with the respect he deserves. Because, you know, I don’t hate him irrationally.

  2. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Tim, today’s post is probably the most nuanced and erudite comment I’ve read so far on the indignation that met Kroenke and the AGM generally, and its relationship to digital media.

    Fantastic stuff.

    1. +10 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      It’s weird because I was thinking about this issue yesterday and what I’m afraid I’m seeing is ego run amok.

      Supporters groups thrive on the basic assumption that the clubs cannot function without the fans. We are the club. We are Arsenal FC.

      At various points in the lifecycle of a football club the need will arise for the fans to get together and remind the club that they are the club. It’s a hugely important function that these groups provide and when owners refuse to listen to these groups they run the risk of alienating the entire fan base. For example, Cardiff.

      So, what happens some times is that these groups are granted so much access and given the spotlight on TV and in the press that they start to think that instead of representing the voice of the people, they are the voice of the people. They start to think that this is isn’t Arsenal FC, it’s AST FC.

      And the whole thing about the meeting is so strange, so far removed from what the average fan wants, that I have to think this ego trip is the problem.

      I imagine that the top priorities for the fans has to be 1) winning the next game 2) cheaper ticket prices 3) better beer prices 4) transportation to and from the games 5) summer tours etc etc. In fact, whether Tim Payton meets with Stan Kroenke is so far down on my list of priorities it’s just above two clumps of whale shit.

      1. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        That last paragraph perfectly sums up my feeling, and, I would think, that of most fans.

        However, I must quibble with your phrase, “two clumps of whale shit.” As a quick Google search of “whale poop” reveals, “most whale waste is not solid, but comes out as a giant liquid plume (save for the undigested squid beaks).”

        I think the next time I have diarrhea, I will call it a “liquid plume.”

        Anyway, the above and more interesting facts about whale shit can be found here:

        http://news.discovery.com/animals/whales-dolphins/whale-waste-slideshow.htm

        I trust that from now on, Tim will instead use the phrase: “…so far down on my list of priorities, it’s just above two clumps of undigested squid beaks.”

  3. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Samuel S (@samselv)

    I think there is much to admire about the AST and the fanshare, but I think they are losing a lot of goodwill with this insistence that Kroenke talk to them. What good is expected to come out of such a meeting? Asking genuinely as in what they hope the outcome will be. Yes, there is symbolic value in it, but personal attacks of the nature I’ve seen on Twitter are hardly going to bring the man to the table.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1jax

        None of theses groups are representative of the majority of the support, but the Guardian are playing this as if it’s a big, big deal. Amy needs to get her arse out of that place.

      2. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Mare St Gooner

        That’s because the majority of the support will happily moan about things but will never organise. It’s difficult to organise. It’s difficult even to define achievable goals.

        Regardless of whether a particular spokesperson grates or not, the fact is these supporters’ groups are very important. Fan organisation in general is important. Fan involvement is important.

        Things like the Fanshare are a brilliant concept to get towards a more Bundesliga-esque model with a large number of small shareholders – who, if numbers got big enough, could effectively block takeovers and actions such as what’s happened to Cardiff, and the modus operandi of Red Bull.
        (Fanshare sadly is now dead in the water because of the lack of available shares – which leaves us with Usmanov’s shareholding as the one thing, ironically, that protects us from outright ownership in a way that the previous plural-ownership model did.)

        The ‘Young Guns’ enclosure probably wouldn’t exist without the pressure exerted by these supporters’ groups. The new Cat C prices probably wouldn’t exist either. Maybe not the Arsenalisation either, bringing back the Clock etc.

        And there is also the great historical study and work being done by the AISA guys, amongst other things.

        I don’t think Kroenke is a bad owner. I also don’t think pressuring for a face-to-face with Kroenke is a particularly good use of time or resources.

        But the mud-slinging that this topic has attracted towards the supporters groups is out of hand in my opinion. They have done and achieved far more than your average member of the support, whose sole act of substance will ultimately be whether or not he plumps for a ticket, or perhaps a broadband subscription to Sky or BT.

        Sadly, that choice is ultimately all that matters I suppose. Football is basically simply a loss-leader in a power struggle between these two companies (in the UK at least).

        Anyway I’m rambling a bit so I’ll shut up, but I think this anti-supporter group stance is a bizarre circular echo chamber of people moaning about people moaning. Everybody should just relax a bit.

        And for what it’s worth, if there is truly nothing in the AFC supporters groups ideas that you can agree with, you should probably at the very least have a look at the FSF and sign up for their free newsletters, just to stay informed.

      3. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1jax

        “Happily moan”, that’s a contradiction in terms. I don’t think the majority are in the least bit bothered about fan groups or action groups and just see them as agitators with their own agendas. I detest the lot of them.

      4. Vote -1 Vote +1Mare St Gooner

        “not the least bit bothered”, yet you “detest them”.

        That’s also a contradiction in terms. I still don’t understand where this hatred comes from.

        And the majority may not feel bothered with ‘fan action groups’ in general, but if you put the actual issues raised to the them they would probably agree on some of them.

        Fair enough some of the issues are aimed at the match-going public mainly, which excludes interest from a large portion of the support. But AFC is one of the clubs that relies the most on its matchday income as compared to tv or commercial income, if any club should have organised fan groups around issues like ticket prices it should be us. We built the fucking stadium precisely to get more matchday income! Why should those that fill it not get involved …

        Even the Premier League itself is pressuring clubs to pass on some of the broadcast income windfall, and the various forms of FFP are arguably aimed at preventing this money going straight to agents and wages.

        At all levels of the game these issues are being discussed. I stand by my point that supporters’ groups are very important.

      5. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        Here’s what supporters groups are important for: Maintaining constant contact with the club and working together to achieve common goals which are in the club’s and fans’ interests, and finding compromises where they aren’t.

        Here is why they are ‘hated’ (and by they, I generally mean the AST) They forget their place in the system, and portray (and probably think of) themselves as ‘very important’ and fighting under a flag against a reluctant and unresponsive, if not downright hostile regime. As if the club’s role in according them ‘legitimacy’ is not the reason they have the profile they do.

        Yes, a lot of good work has been done by the collaboration between club and fans’ groups. This is a good thing. But collaboration is exactly what groups like the AST no longer exist for. They exist for self aggrandizement. ‘Big mean Kroenke won’t personally meet with me. This is an affront to Arsenal fans’ ‘WE got the club to go on commercial tours’, ‘Spend ALL the money you have, because we know best and the club officials are oldies who have no new ideas, as said by the independent study we hired’ , ‘Buy Julio Cesar, not Viviano’ etc etc

        Constantly criticising the club is not the same thing as keeping any excesses in check. If anything, it is going to make it harder to work with the club, and if it hasn’t so far, it is to the club’s credit, not the AST’s. Antagonising the people you are supposed to work with, and the people you claim to speak for, is not the way to do any work. It is a way to get your name in the papers though.

        And look at the BSM. We aren’t Bayern Munich, hence the Arsenal board better listen to us. What is this except populist drivel?

        THAT is where the ‘hatred’ comes from.

      6. Vote -1 Vote +1Mare St Gooner

        Fair points, agreed for the most part.

        I’m not sure the AST has morphed quite as far as you say, but I’m not a member so maybe I’m wrong about that. I have noticed far more people moaning about them or attacking them, than I have actually seen of their activity! Granted I do think the recent letter to Kroenke was pointless, and I suppose that got more media attention than it warranted.

        For me the AST still has some goodwill in the bank, because I think the Fanshare was a brilliant concept, and it’s sad that it will no longer be a viable method to increase plurality of ownership.

        As for the BSM flier – the club itself compared itself to Bayern Munich in terms of spending power, which is obviously why they used that comparison.

        I don’t agree with all the comparisons they made in that flier, (as they could have included more positive facts such as the fact we built our stadium without state aid) – but as a starting point for discussions, particulary with regard to ticketing and safe-standing, I think it was a decent effort at raising the issue. Certainly better than silence or a lack of involvement, in my opinion.

      7. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        Safe standing areas are a govt. mandated thing though, isn’t it? And tickets prices are a reflection of that in part, as well as the other rules that exist in German football but don’t in England. Yes, it’s better than not talking about it, but what does distributing fliers about how Bayern are great achieve? I think ‘involvement’ has to be deeper than that, and more balanced/nuanced. This is just easy publicity, as are ‘protest marches’, with vague, populist, suggestions. It’s not like Arsenal haven’t been listening to fans’ groups that they feel the need to resort to public/media stunts.

        As for the AST, I think they have drifted too far away, and the moment I started to feel things went wrong was when they chose to criticise the team midway through the 2010-11 season, which led to PHW calling them idiots (and the media, and AST, proclaiming that the Chairman called Arsenal fans idiots) They abused the privileges and access they’d been accorded by the club, and used every opportunity to vitiate the atmosphere surrounding the club. That is not conducive to anything positive, and it really does smack of it being nothing more than a vanity project. That doesn’t take away from Fanshare, and doesn’t mean they can’t have some good ideas. But the way they are going about it is deserving of scorn, in my view.

        All the AST’s successes (which I believe are less than they’d like us to think), would not have happened without the club being willing to listen to them and work with them. That should show that the club is open to discussions and new ideas which make good sense, rather than being the dictatorial tyrants, or past-it aristocratic fogies, that the AST portray them as.

        The good work only happens with the club involved. The AST are doing all they can to take all the credit for everything good, and put all the blame for everything not so good – real or imagined. This not only shows them as mere publicity seekers, but contrary to what they claim, makes it harder for the club to be more open and receptive to fans’ demands. If you keep abusing whatever is given to you in good faith and demanding more, it is bound to result in the club restricting access. And not just to the AST, but everyone else as well. (Because otherwise they’d scream favouritism, and that the others are stooges) They do more harm than good, in my view.

      8. Vote -1 Vote +1Mare St Gooner

        Thanks for your reply Shard.

        I will defer to your opinion on the AST, because as I mentioned I’m not a member and my reaction in this thread was caused by what seems to be increasing vitriol towards supporters groups in general, which is surely counter-productive.

        Re: safe standing – yes it is the law of the land, but AFC could be doing more to change this. Other clubs are – eg Villa and others in the PL, the entire SPL, and I believe the FL also is in favour. I would like to see AFC take the lead in this – we were one of the only top-flight clubs to refuse to install ‘cages’ back in the day after all.

        Safe-standing, as you’ve noted, is also intrinsically linked to ticketing, because it allows for more capacity. Obviously there are policing costs and issues (although I think football is probably over-policed these days), but that’s why we have highly paid executives who can work out these issues.

        Anyway with more capacity via standing, we might have more opportunity for further cheap ticket initiatives (eg parent+child type tickets, which I believe exist in the German league).

        For me these are important issues and I’m glad there are groups that have these same views and are communicating them to the club.

        It’s a shame there’s so much bickering involved, perhaps you are right the AST is a cause of this.

        I definitely agree the club has done well in meeting and agreeing to dialogue, more so than they necessarily had to. But that doesn’t mean no one should be pressuring them!

        And these are issues that are not related to team performance, so it would be hypocritical if the supporters’ groups disappeared when the team is doing well – the AGM was obviously the time to try and raise these points.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1switchblade_smiles

    Thanks for the link you shared on Twitter (for anyone not on Twitter: http://blogs.thescore.com/counterattack/2013/10/16/football-finance-arsenal-supporters-groups-beef-with-awol-owner-stan-kroenke-reveals-a-fundamental-antagonism/ ) – it’s funny that an hour before you posted it, the thought occurred to me that the endless whining about everything and nothing from the Arsenal Detractors’ Trust seems to be about wanting to, de facto or otherwise, run the club themselves.

  5. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Jamie

    I’m really not sure why the AST exists and what it does, besides rabblerouse.

    I live in Chicago and am an avid Blackhawks fan. The Blackhawks have won 2 championships in the last 4 years, and are the concensus favorite to win a 3rd this year. I have one friend, however, who insists that the Blackhawks’ head coach is incompetent and must be replaced. He does nothing but complain about the Blackhawks no matter how well they play.

    I think there are simply fans in every sport that only want to complain about the team they like. My impression is that Tim Payton has assembled a large group of fans like this and called it the AST.

    I think they are stupid, but I think the rest of us are even stupider for even giving these idiots the time of day, by spending time tweeting about them, blogging about them, and even thinking about them. These types will always exist, and they will never be satisfied.

    So let’s just ignore them and carry on.

  6. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1AP

    I just feel there is a rampant, misplaced sense of entitlement in many aspects of today’s life….

  7. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    Can’t believe no one’s commenting on the fantastic homage to Suess, one of my favorite writers. Well I think it’s brilliant. As for the AST, AGM, and Kroenke’s participation or lack thereof, like much what passes for news these, it’s a tempest in a tea pot. I could care less about it, but not very much.

  8. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerNC

    I’m shocked SHOCKED that a billionaire owner that lives in a different country is not meeting with a minority fan group to blow smoke up their ass and derive his latest strategy. I mean, hasn’t your experience been that billionaires tend to be loaded down with extra time to hear significantly poorer people whine about things that they won’t change just because a few of them are crying?

    This whole myth that owners SHOULD be doing this time is total fairy tale. In former times, I’m sure that sort of thing happened. It’s the 21st fricking century. Get over it. That’s not going to happen. I want lower ticket prices and Arsenalization and pressure from inside to spend. All of that. So just… DO IT. Whine about it. Keep pressing. But stop getting all pious about a failed sit-down. I know Twitter is endlessly full of steaming piles of bovine feces, but can we not pile more on about something ridiculous like this? PLEASE?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Mare St Gooner

      Sorry I don’t understand what you mean by this. Can you explain?

      I can see from wikipedia that Mark Cuban is a US sports owner, but what point are you trying to make?

  9. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    @Mare St Gooner
    Mark Cuban is a hyper involved owner. Attends every game. Hangs out with fans. Very excitable. Interferes with coaching and management of the team he owns. Gets banned from games in his own home arena.
    Quite opposite of Kroenke.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Mare St Gooner

      Ah ok, thanks for clarifying.

      I don’t really see what that has to do with any of my comments here though? For the record I am not an AST member, nor did I support their demand for Kroenke to meet with fans.

  10. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1900ftGooner (@900ftGooner)

    Yet another ace piece, Tim. You’re right that Twitter and other instantaneous media make the ad hominem attacks worse. We’re now exposed to groups and individuals who traffic in descriptions of personal behavior and call that analysis, when really they’re just publicizing a shallow reaction to something scary: The US is pretty soon going to be a minority majority country, gays and lesbians are gaining acceptance, my wages aren’t growing enough to support my family’s costs = “Obama is a Muslim!” Or, capitalism is running rampant in football, my mates and I can’t afford matchdays like we used to, we’re seeing others around the ground who don’t look like us = “Kroenke won’t meet me!”

    It’s too bad because the issue of governance–in particular, the composition of the board–can have a telling effect on the team’s performance over the long term. The board might be open to conversations about its makeup but not with folks who resort to simple thinking and personal hostility.

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