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Arsenal fans’ groups call on Kroenke to reinvigorate flagging Gunners

Arsenal are gearing up for a third straight season without Champions League football.

Arsenal majority owner Stan Kroenke with Arsenal Chairman Chips Keswick (right) during the Emirates FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London.
Arsenal majority owner Stan Kroenke with Arsenal Chairman Chips Keswick (right) during the Emirates FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London.

A group of influential Arsenal supporters’ organisations, fanzines and blogs have joined forces to call for “better leadership” of the club and hit out at Stan Kroenke’s “passive ownership”.

A total of 16 signatories published a statement on Monday morning demanding change as the Gunners prepare for a third successive season without Champions League football.

Under a heading of ‘#WeCareDoYou’, it criticised the imbalance of the Arsenal board, “soulless” atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium and a lack of transfer strategy.

“As Arsenal fans we have watched with frustration as the team’s football performances have declined over the past decade,” the statement began.

“When Stan Kroenke began buying Arsenal shares the club had just competed in a first Champions League final.

“Twelve years on, Arsenal are about to play in the Europa League for the third year running.”

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Protests against Stan Kroenke’s ownership of Arsenal are not new. (John Walton/PA)

Kroenke began purchasing shares in April 2007, just under a year after Arsenal had lost 2-1 to Barcelona in the Champions League.

Through his company, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, he continued to increase his stake until he became majority shareholder in 2009, going on to take sole ownership of the club in August 2018, a move which included the 71-year-old using his right to buy all remaining shares, many of which were small investments held by supporters.

“Off the pitch, fans have never felt more marginalised, less listened to or valued,” the joint statement continued.

Off the pitch, fans have never felt more marginalised, less listened to or valued Statement from Arsenal fans' groups

This was sadly illustrated when Stan Kroenke forcibly bought out the last remaining supporter-shareholders without even a word of appreciation of their custodianship role in the club.”

The timing of the statement is likely to be no coincidence, given Arsenal face Colorado Rapids – a Major League Soccer franchise also owned by KSE – in their first pre-season match on their tour of the United States in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

There have been ‘Kroenke Out’ campaigns gathering pace over recent seasons, but they were often overlooked by calls for former manager Arsene Wenger to be replaced.

The Frenchman left the club in 2018 and Unai Emery was appointed his successor, with Arsenal finishing fifth and losing the Europa League final to Chelsea in his first season in charge.

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Emery’s Arsenal lost 4-1 to Chelsea in the Europa League final last season. (Adam Davy/PA)

But now the signatories on this latest message, which include the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust among others, have called on Kroenke to show “meaningful action” to “reinvigorate” the club.

“It feels as though Arsenal is at a crossroads. Things need to change,” the statement read.

“What all of us as signatories to this statement want to see is meaningful action by Stan Kroenke to reinvigorate our football club.

“This requires work to strengthen the club’s board and football executive and once again make Arsenal a place where fans have a real sense of belonging.”

The statement went on to claim Kroenke was using Arsenal as an “investment vehicle” with “passive ownership”.

As well as calling for an “independently-minded” director to be appointed to the board and for an “uncoordinated” approach to transfers and contracts to be addressed, the signatories also want to see the “soulless” Emirates Stadium reinvigorated.

They called all for Arsenal to clarify their position on any potential European Super League, saying the the club should “have no part” in what they described as the “franchisation” of European football.

The message signed off by asking the club to respond and show that they care about the club, with the statement’s hashtag #WeCareDoYou trending on Twitter soon after it was released.

PA has contacted Arsenal and KSE for comment.

PA

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