Transfer hint, Champions League dream – What Josh Kroenke really meant in Arsenal interview

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The relationship between Arsenal fans and their owners Kroenke Sports Entertainment hasn’t always been the smoothest in recent years.

The American father-son duo have been under heavy scruity in particular since they decided to sign the Gunners up to the doomed European Super League in May, which sparked mass protests outside the Emirates calling for them to sell the club amid very public interest from Daniel Ek.

In reaction to this KSE have begun attempts to smooth over relations between themselves and the supporters.

This week Josh Kroenke flew in from America to participate in the first ever Supporters’ Advisory Board meeting with elected members of fans groups.

While in London he also took in Arsenal win 1-0 over Watford in Mikel Arteta’s 100th game in charge, and also sat down for a wide ranging interview with Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves.

Here’s some things that football.london noticed in the interview and what we feel Josh really meant during his statements.

Fans on the board

One of the big suggestions made in the aftermath of the Super League debacle was the idea that there should be some sort of fan representation on the board of football clubs to ensure such a thing never happened again.

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Currently the Arsenal board is made up of Stan and Josh Kroenke, non-executive director Tim Lewis – who is essentially their man on the ground – and Lord Harris of Peckham.

MP Tracey Crouch has been asked by the UK government to conduct a report into the fallout from the Super League and there has been strong suggestions that when it is released, having fan representation on the board otherwise known as the ‘golden share’, will be included in the recommendations.

When asked about this Josh’s avoidance of the question was telling.

“It’s difficult to answer that question without knowing how everything will wind up,” he said.

Having exercised a mandatory purchase of all supporters’ shares when they took full control of the club in 2018 though, and got rid of all annual general meetings (AGMs) of shareholders in the process, it’s difficult to see how the Kroenke’s will be receptive to the notion of including fans in the boardroom.

Trophy ambitions

One of the big criticisms of Stan and Josh Kroenke since they first became involved with Arsenal is the club’s inability to challenge for the big trophies under their ownership.

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KSE first bought shares at the Emirates in 2007 you could count the number of genuine Premier League title races they have been in on one hand, while the Gunners did not make it past the Champions League round of 16 after 2010.

Josh was keen to assert that he viewed his full ownership of the club as only having started in 2018, when KSE took full control, but even if you start from that time Arsenal have finished fifth and eighth twice, and are far from competing for the elite trophies their American owners claim to have their eyes on.

The criticism of the Kroenke’s in the early part of their ownership was that they were happy to settle for simply qualifying for the Champions League due to the financial benefits it carried rather than necessarily being concerned with winning the trophy.

Josh’s initial response when asked about the immediate ambitions he had for the club did little to assuage this.



Josh Kroenke congratulates Arsene Wenger after Arsenal's victory over Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Josh Kroenke congratulates Arsene Wenger after Arsenal’s victory over Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final. (Photo by Catherine Ivill – AMA/Getty Images)

“Do we feel good about where we are? We feel better about where we are, we don’t feel good,” he said of the team’s current form.

“Our fans still deserve more. We need to get back in the top four we need to start qualifying for the Champions League regularly. With that Champions League qualification comes a different level of how you can recruit players.”

In fairness to Kroenke he did then go on to reveal his longer-term ambitions which were focused on claiming the bigger trophies rather than just being in the running, even if his answer was not necessarily the most convincing.

“Once you start consistently competing for the Premier League trophy you’re pretty much competing for every trophy in the sport,” he said.

“Our goal is to win the Premier League and once you’re in the conversation for the Premier League I think that’s when interesting things will really start to happen elsewhere as well.”

Although winning was a stated aim, the constant focus on simply ‘being in the conversation’ is unlikely to be enough to convince Arsenal fans that KSE have their shared ambitions of winning top trophies on a regular basis at heart.

Having seen their owners get too comfortable with Champions League qualification in the past, there is little words will be able to do to make them think that history won’t repeat itself.

Transfer hint

This summer was a very busy one for Arsenal in the transfer sense.

Mikel Arteta and Edu oversaw six new recruits into the club in Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Odegaard and Takehiro Tomiyasu, as the Gunners had a higher net spend than anyone else in the Premier League.

This has seen criticism of the Kroenkes fall away somewhat in recent months, particularly given how well the new recruits have started life in North London, but perhaps the most exciting aspect of Josh’s interview was the notion that he feels the squad is far from complete.

“From a collective ambition from my father, to myself, to Edu, to Mikel and on down to the rest of the football operations staff we had a clear idea of what we wanted to do with the club,” he said when asked to elaborate on the club’s summer strategy.

“There were a lot of areas that needed to be addressed. Were we going to be able to address them all in one window? I don’t think we did or were able to do.”

While it could be argued that the only reason the spending was so high was the fact that poor business decisions had been made in recent season, the notion that Kroenke does not feel the club is done building it’s squad is an exciting one.

With Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah set to leave the club when their contracts expire in the summer, a centre forward seems to be on the cards next summer, while central midfield is another area the Gunners may look to strengthen if they receive the same backing.

Source by Football London

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