Sunday, September 25, 2022

Stan speaks + Arsecast 211

So, Silent Stan is silent no more. We awake this morning to an exclusive interview in the Telegraph and fair play to them for getting it.

I suspect it’s something every newspaper in the land was trying to set up but they’ve managed it. You might ask why it was that it didn’t go out via the official site but I can see why it didn’t. He is so positive, so firmly behind Arsene Wenger, his methods and the way the club is being run, that it would probably have been written off as propaganda.

I think it’s natural that anybody with a positive outlook on the club at the moment, from owner to manager to fan in the stand, is going to find themselves, and their viewpoint, under intense scrutiny. I completely understand that but it’s also an inescapable fact that those whose perpective is firmly negative often shout down any approach that differs from theirs.

I respect their right to have that opinion, and I share many of the concerns, but you need only look at what three wins on the trot has done for daily interaction, both on this site and on various social media, for evidence of that. People have much, much more to say when things are going badly.

I offer this as context because Kroenke’s interview will offer them little and will, I suspect, get people talking again. He’s behind the manager 100%, he thinks the way we operate from a financial point of view is the right way to operate, and he’s confident that we’ll have success. Some selected quotes to follow.

On Wenger

I think Arsène historically has been able to build players better than almost anybody. If we can do that and can grow the revenue, I don’t see why the club can’t be great. I wouldn’t want to be involved if I thought we would struggle.

I love his focus. He is a very intelligent guy. You can talk to him about anything and, when he starts talking to people, I really love to listen to him. He should hold seminars he is so good at it. I have tremendous confidence in him. He is one of the great managers in the world.

On Arsenal

It is such a great club, such an interesting club. If we are going to invest in a European football club, I wouldn’t really want to invest in any other one. I know I’m supposed to say that, but it’s the truth. I like the tradition of Arsenal.

On ownership

Some people want their private benefactor. I don’t think it is sustainable. We have a self-sustaining model. We are committed to that model. There is no owner with as many years or as many hours in sports as we do. I don’t think so. We have had a good amount of success. I have a lot of respect for all of the other owners. I’m not decrying their way. What I am saying is that if you look year after year at sustaining it, Arsenal has done a pretty good job. Arsène Wenger has been the real reason for that and I like our future.

On the future

Remember, five months ago, we were in a position to win everything. Everybody doesn’t need to panic. I have a lot of confidence that Arsenal can compete, stay very competitive and hopefully win championships.

He is, as I said, hugely positive throughout, and no doubt there will be people who will look to counter that, but I don’t really see what else you could expect from an interview with the new owner of the club. He’s hardly going to sit down with a journalist and say ‘Oooh, yeah, things are shit at the moment. I’m thinking about firing the manager. That Chamakh’s a bit rubbish, eh? Ju-Young Who?”

I think one of the things that many of the fan groups identify as a major weakness in the way Arsenal is run is the commercial side of our income. Nigel Philips from the AST reckons we’re only pulling in about 40% of what a club like Arsenal should be. Of course that’s down to the deals we had to do to get the stadium built etc, but if there’s going to be increased focus on that then it’s a good thing.

And without rowing in behind Kroenke I am 100% behind the idea of Arsenal being run as a business which can sustain itself. Whether it’s Kroenke, Usmanov, Ted Richington, Boris Billionaire of Mustapha Million, I think the idea of a club which is kept afloat simply by the generosity of one wealthy owner is inherently dangerous. It’s a new-ish phenomenon in football, certainly to the level we’ve seen in recent years, and we haven’t see it go wrong yet.

At some point there’s going to be an issue with one of the clubs and one of the owners and all of a sudden all the funding is gone and you’re left with an outfit plunged into debt, unable to pay its players, and so financially broken it might never recover. There is a lot to be said for being solvent, relatively debt free and capable of generating your own income which is re-invested in the club. To me that’s just common sense.

All the same, I think it’s incumbent on a club which uses this sustainable model to use all its resources as well as it can in order to compete with the richer clubs. I don’t think that’s true of Arsenal at this moment. There’s £60m sitting in the bank since the summer sales and purchases and I think it’s fair to say that had we handled the summer better we might have avoided the shocking start to the season and, perhaps, have a stronger squad right now.

Anyway, it’s an interesting read, and it’s about time we heard from Kroekne. No doubt this will spark plenty of debate but there’s been nothing unexpected in what he said. It might not suit some but that’s always the way. To finish, Kroenke’s outlook:

A wise man was asked, ‘If you had your life to live over what would you do differently?’ He said, ‘The thing I look back on that robbed my life of the joy I had was worrying about things that never happened’.

Gnash those teeth.

Right, onto pre-Sp*rs injury news and it’s not particularly great regarding the three who missed Wednesday’s game. Walcott, Koscielny and Gervinho will all have late fitness tests but of the three Theo is the most likely to make it back. Benayoun and Squillaci are back in full training but the latter isn’t match-fit so Song will probably continue at the back if Koscielny misses out. We should get more info in his press conference today and we’ll update over on the news site – and we can preview the game more fully over the weekend.

Now, onto this week’s Arsecast and joining me to shoot the gentle, three wins in a row breeze is the man from East Lower. Also in there Internet Joe, Arshavin and more.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (20mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.


Finally for today, the winners of the competition on last week’s Arsecast were: Niall Smith, Philipe Burgess, Nigel Hickes, Danielle Rabel and Jon McLintock. I’ll be in touch with all of you to get details so your signed copy of Arsenal: The making of a modern superclub is in the post to you asap.

For those who would like to buy the book, co-authored by last week’s Arsecast guest Alex Fynn and Kevin Witcher, you can get it via the publisher’s website right here. Using the code ‘rocky’ at check-out gets you a bit of a discount too.

Right, that’s that. The dude has abidden. Till tomorrow.

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