Kroenke has earned a chance to run Arsenal

This January provides a powerful reminder of the new world order the Arsenal find themselves as they search for transfer targets.  The Club is fighing on every level for everything: trophies, players and debt servicing.  These pressures are not unique and frankly are just the new forces of global football.  New ownership appears a necessity.  Luckily, the person stepping up to take that challenge has already demonstrated a positive influence on the Club: “Silent” Stan Kroenke.  Silent Stan has already begun to impose vital and good changes on the Club and deserves a chance to lead the Club.

Kroenke’s potential takeover may be just what the operational side of the Club needs.  Aresne should and must be left to manage the players.  But operating a succesful Club means Arsene must have the support by the executive office (the operations) to get what he wants.  What happens in the executive offices matters.

Up until now, the Club has been satisfied with a relatively diverse ownership group and relaxed management style.  To say the Arsenal was a football club first and foremost would not be an overstatement.  The owners did not look to the club to pad their wallets, but to grow in value and success.  Unfortunatey, changes to the game outside of the boardroom have undermined this luxury.

Simply put, the old way of doing things is dead.  The Club must and will corporatize to some extent or it will die in mid-tier purgatory.  This means new strong leadership and a stable of professional functionaries to manage the Club’s business operation aspects.  No more deals over a handshake and a scotch at the men’s club.  Every aspect of the Club must be reviewed with an eye toward building a global brand.  Management must take a strong hand in the development of the global brand, from restructuring how the Club works with fan groups across the globe, to the development of international development camps.  Some might call this Americanization, but they miss the point.  The  old way of doing things is just not good enough anymore. The team must think globally now and that means updating how we do things.

Luckily, the Club seem to have a plan: we have finally, finally! begun to hire an in-house legal counsel, a new chief commercial officer and a head of people and operations.  While these things might seem satisfactory to the home country fans, these types of changes are shocking to their American cousins: they are considered basic practices.  More must be done.

More importantly to my point, it’s no surprise that so many changes in the back room have occured in the last year.  Kroenke may not own the Club yet, but he has been exerting his influence in how the Club is managed.  The hiring of Gazidis was a sure sign of good corporate managment.  In fact, one might argue that after the Arsense hiring, this might turn out to be the Club’s best decision in a decade.  Gazidis understands football, the Arsenal way and how underdeveloped the Club is, from a business perspective.  Just as important, he has the skills to “right the ship.”

Which brings us to the main point: Kroenke brings the last element necessary for the Arsenal to be the team of the future.  Leadership.  He has experience operating sports teams as a professional and he is not a short-term investor, to impose a corporate hierarchy where people are held responsible for results. Just as important, Silent Stans knows what to do behind the scenes to create stability and management, while not interferring with the on-field decisions that rightly belong to the Manager.

Least we forget, as great a Club as we are, we currently lag manfool and chel$ki in this area.  Both clubs began significant investment in their management structure several years ago.  And both Clubs have launched massive global outreach, through friendlies (GOA saw chel$ki during their American tour) and through fan outreach.  Man$ity hasn’t begun the expansion yet, but they have the money to do so.  Luckily liverpoor is such a state they can’t deal with it right now and the spanish and italian teams are, well, spanish and italian.

To prevent the Arsenal from falling behind, we need a new approach and the determination to make us a global brand.  Silent Stan has begun that process the Arsenal way.  He has reached out and made friends not just with the Board, but with the Supporters Trust.  He has stepped quietly, but improved the team’s internal architecture with new hirings and updated management.  While people fear the bogey man of debt, there’s more to building the Club than money.

As the saying goes, only time will tell if Kroenke is the right man for the job.  But at the very least he has earned the right to be given an opportunity because of the positive changes he has already brought to the Club.

-the student

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