Victoria Concordia Crescit…

The Arsenal world is raging over the potential (impending?) Kroenke takeover.  Is he good or is he bad for the Arsenal?  More to the point, for the old home grown fans, Kroenke threatens to Amercanize Arsenal.  And lets be fair, the new world order challenges what once was and the myths of days gone by.  But these fears are based on the wrong concerns.  Kroenke represents exactly what the Arsenal need.

This Kroenke thing raises so many questions it’s easy to get lost in the vapor of tradition.  Tradition is great for Club culture and identity.  But tradition is an unforgiving weight when it prevents us from accurately perceiving reality.  And the reality of the football world has forever changed.  The top teams today are global corporations with worldwide branding efforts and development pipelines.  Localization is the death call for an elite Club: bigger is not better; it is necessary.

Much of this change has been driven by changes in the game’s economics.  The system has never been fair, but now the disparities between leagues and clubs has become calcified.  A good run will no longer take a team to the next level, a club needs sustained economic resources.  So while some clubs have humongous wallets, whether from petro dollars (chel$ki and man$city,) tapping the public coffers (welfare madrid) or borrowing off the global capital markets (Manfool and liverpoor).  Even traditional big players are playing catchup -cough cough Italy.

This means there are only two big clubs left with any sense of self left: the Arsenal and Barca (Lyon presents a potential third, but that’s a whole other discussion).  In any case, it’s not surprising that both teams pride themselves on player development.  Bara, however, has already built its global brand.  The Arsenal, on the other hand, is still endeavoring to do so.

Given all of these pressures then, the Arsenal is faced with many questions.  How to maintain the Arsenal way?  How to expand the appeal of the Arsenal?  Can we expand our appeal without sacrificing too much of who we are?  And of course, who are we (the Arsenal)?  There is no one answer to any of these questions, least of all “who are we”?  One million fans will give you one million answers, even if you only asked those living in N5.  But at the end of the day we know that the Arsenal must change to survive and succeed.

As an Arsenal fan I love the Club and don’t want to see it become “Americanized.”  Assuming Americanized means too much debt.  But if Americanized means developing a brand of football that appeals globally, if it means being the best Club to develop talent, if it means having an owner that acts like Aston Village, not Liverpoor, then Americanization is the wrong term to use.  That’s Arsenalization of the world and an American might just have the vision and resources to bring it about.

Kroenke can be part of this solution.  Everything he has done to date separates him from the Gillette and Hicks, Abramovich, the Oil dollars up north and even Mike Ashley (lets not forget the Brits!).  Unlike ANY of them, his business is sports.  He loves sports and the sports business.    Most importantly, he has been successful in his enterprises in the Arsenal mold.  Experience that has already carried over in his share purchase policy: respect for the other owners, fans and team.  Everything done so far in the Arsenal way, by building relationships through harmony action and leadership.

GOA is going to talk more about this as the days go on, so this piece is more of an introduction to the broader issues at play.  But we want to be clear, we love the Arsenal, we love it for its old school London roots and new school beautiful play.  And going forward, we want London’s team to be The World Team.  To do so means accepting change and encouraging leadership by those that can.  Our job as fans is to keep the heart of the team alive, to question change to assure success, not to pursue tradition for the sake of tradition.  No one, no player, no fan, no owner is above the Club.  One of GOA’s greatest loves for the Arsenal is our diverse support, globally, individually, socially, lets not run from that now when the future promise is so great.

Have a wonderful thanksgiving everyone.

the student


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