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Stan Kroenke's Son Defends Arsenal Owner in Response to Fans' Complaints

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2019

Arsenal's US owner Stan Kroenke (C) looks on during the presentation to Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger after the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Burnley at the Emirates Stadium in London on May 6, 2018. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Josh Kroenke, the son of Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke, has defended his father and the club's direction in response to an open letter from fans critical of their leadership.

Per Simon Collings of the Evening Standard, he responded in an open letter of his own. He disagreed with the assertion the club is at a crossroads:

"Over the past year we have turned the page from our traditional model of football operations that included a Manager and CEO, to a new chapter of Arsenal Football Club that is led by a Head of Football and Managing Director.

"Since their appointments and that of Unai Emery as our Head Coach we have continued working to develop a modern infrastructure, designed to move us forward. This will take time to play out, but this was always going to be the case after such a long period of time operating under a different model."

COMMERCE CITY, CO - JULY 15: Arsenal manager Unai Emery waves to fans at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on July 15, 2019 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Fans accused ownership of treating the team as an "investment vehicle," but Kroenke stated the family's investments in multiple sports teams were made with an eye on winning:

"We want to be clear we are in sports for one reason and one reason only...to win.

"There is simply no better feeling in sport than winning at the highest level. We know there is a lot of hard work ahead and understand that supporters want success now. 

"We will continue to push forward trying to balance the short and long term vision without abandoning the core principles of the Club that have sustained us for the past 133 years."

Kroenke also opened up on the 2019 UEFA Europa League final defeat against Chelsea in Baku and how frustrated he was after the 4-1 defeat. Finally, he thanked the fans, calling them the Gunners' "lifeblood."

Sports writer Charles Watts shared the full contents of the letter:

Charles Watts @charles_watts

An open letter from Josh Kroenke to Arsenal fans. https://t.co/LB8hLjaU8X

Henry Winter shared the fans' letter, calling it a "powerful" signal to the club's ownership:

Henry Winter @henrywinter

Powerful letter from #afc fans: calls on Kroenke to “reinvigorate” a club “at a crossroads”, engage with “marginalised” fans, show “better leadership”, improve the “poor” atmosphere at the Emirates and make “some new and dynamic appointments” to the board. #WeCareDoYou https://t.co/83hwVTibyg

In their letter, fans took aim at the "passive" ownership, a lack of clear direction, the ticketing system and the atmosphere around the stadium.

Arsenal have only signed one player so far this summer―Gabriel Martinelli, an 18-year-old forward―and have been criticised for being overly frugal.

Per Goal's Chris Burton, Celtic manager Neil Lennon accused them of lowballing an offer for Kieran Tierney, and their reported £40 million bid for Wilfried Zaha was only half of Crystal Palace's valuation, per Sky Sports.

The Gunners have slid out of Premier League title contention in recent years, finishing the 2018-19 campaign in fifth place, 28 points behind champions Manchester City. That finishing position and the loss in the Europa League final means Arsenal won't play in the UEFA Champions League next season.

Kroenke has been a steady target of criticism. In February 2018, club legend Ian Wright accused him of not caring about the club, per Radio 5 Live (h/t Goal's Chris Burton).

He also made himself unpopular in St. Louis in 2016, when he moved his other team, now known as the Los Angeles Rams, back to the West Coast, per Jere Longman of the New York Times.

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