Stan Kroenke is not the type to buy a toy, play with it for a while and throw it away when he gets bored. In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Mirror, the Arsenal majority shareholder revealed that he wants long-term success with the club and trusts Arsene Wenger to deliver it.
Kroenke was in London for Arsenal's annual shareholders' meeting. He admires the club's self-sustaining business model. He remains certain that it will allow the historic club to compete for honors beyond his tenure there.
"I think you can have people, and we have had them in the States, where they will spend a lot and they will do it for a little while and they might have some success," he said.
"And then the person everyone is relying on maybe gets tired of it or has a financial reversal, but what you are doing is that you are putting the focus on one person, one resource. Is that really in the interests of a long-term situation for a great club that many people identify with and rely on?"
Though the club finances itself, Kroenke invests in sports teams (in the U.S. and the U.K.) and treats them all as long-term assets. He does not frown upon owners who take money out of their clubs, but points out that on-field success is at the bottom line in this industry. He cites the experience of the Malcolm Glazer at Manchester United.
"Okay, guys, let's talk about it," he said. "But they [the Glazer family] won. And they have increased revenues by a huge amount. If I was a fan of that club, I would still go there and go, 'Wow', because how could you do it any better? That's what I would say."
The most revealing aspect of the interview may have been the extent to which Wenger is in control of the personnel decisions. Some managers at big clubs deal only with team selection, while others do more.
Wenger has served as Arsenal manager for 15 years and his responsibilities extend far beyond training and selecting the players. Kroenke said that it was Wenger's decision to sell Samir Nasri to Manchester City. He also backed the manager throughout the club’s poor finish to last season and its equally disastrous start to the current season.
"Arsene made a business decision [to sell Nasri]," He said.
"Arsene Wenger is an unbelievable manager. I think he's a tremendous person, I just think he is as good as there is. Now, do you lose some games? Do you have tough losses? It happens. You cant judge a manager on one game or on one stretch of games. You judge him over time. That's how the really good ones are judged."
Photo courtesy of Flickr/danmccallum