The owners of 12 European football clubs shook the sport to its core with the proposal of a relegation-free ‘European Super League’.
Just seventy-two hours after the tournament’s launch the so-called Super League has been crushed following a revolt by fans, pundits and politicians with the clubs involved accused of greed and complete disregard for the supporters of all football supporters.
Though the league itself has been all but cancelled following the reversal of the six English clubs involved, empowered fans are now calling for the removal of those involved.
One man under the spotlight is Stan Kroenke, the owner of Arsenal, with fans calling for the club owner to step away from the club.
Who is Stan Kroenke? Since 2018, Kroenke has been sole owner of the north London giants after he first got involved with the club in 2007.
The American billionaire heads his own holding company, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, and holds control of several franchises in various sports back in his home country.
KSE are responsible for the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, and Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League, as well as E-Sports teams like the Los Angeles Gladiators of the Overwatch League, and the newly formed Los Angeles Guerrillas of the Call of Duty League.
A real estate and sport mogul, Kroenke is worth an estimated $8.2bn. Much of his wealth derives from his real estate, the American owning some 30m square feet of land in the United States, much of which is malls in the vicinity of Walmarts. He also owns large swathes of land in the United States and Canada, amounting to 1.4m acres.
The 73-year-old is from Columbia, Missouri.
Why do Arsenal fans want rid of Stan Kroenke?
Arsenal, led by Kroenke, joined the European Super League which proposed an elite midweek European competition consisting of 15 founding teams and five invited teams.
The movement was slated by supporters of the six English clubs involved, as well as the wider football community, with critics particularly disgusted by the sealed off nature of the tournament, with all founding teams able to take part every year guaranteeing a constant stream of money. The tournament also looked set to move away from the country’s footballing traditions, favouring fans from abroad rather than the domestic audience who helped to build the clubs.
Those involved were also slated for failing to include fans, players and coaching staff in discussions and for failing to face questions on their involvement in the tournament.
Fans of all six English clubs are now calling for repercussions and the removal of those involved, with Kroenke among those taking the most heat.
In recent years a portion of the Arsenal fanbase have voiced their dislike of Kroenke due to an increasingly uncompetitive team on the pitch, with many accusing the American of focusing purely on the business side of operations. He is rarely seen at games and has frequently been accused of having little interest in the club’s fortunes.
Fans are set to hold a “Kroenke out” protest on Friday prior to the team’s match with Everton. #KroenkeOut trended following the collapse of the Super League with former player Ian Wright among those calling for the owner’s immediate removal.
Could he sell?
The owners of Arsenal have consistently said the club is not for sale and have faced down calls to leave by fans in the past.
Josh Kroenke, the son of Stan Kroenke and a director at the club explained the family’s commitment to Arsenal in 2019.
He said:“If anyone is ever going to question anything about our ownership – which I view as a custodianship, the supporters trust us to be a custodian of the values – that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to win whilst also respecting the values and traditions of the club.
“I’ve sat down with supporters’ groups. I’ve not been afraid to sit down to have tough conversations with people because I’m transparent, we’re transparent, we don’t have anything to hide.
“We all want the same thing and we’re all trying aggressively to make it happen. It’s just sometimes our timeline might not be as aggressive as others would like to see.
“But we’re not going to compromise the values that have kept Arsenal Football Club the way it is for over 130 years.
Now that the owners have “compromised the values” of Arsenal there may be some hope that the Americans will reconsider selling the club, though the club have yet to say anything that would suggest hat they are willing to sell their majority stake.
Could Aliko Dangote buy Arsenal?
Arsenal fans looking for a new era of ownership have frequently cited Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote as a potential new owner.
Africa’s richest man is a fan of the Gunners and has made no secret of his desire to buy the club in the past.
Fangote has been interested in buying the club for over a decade and in 2020 he had the following to say:
“It is a team that yes I would like to buy some day, but what I keep saying is we have $20bn worth of projects and that’s what I really want to concentrate on. I’m trying to finish building the company and then after we finish, maybe some time in 2021 we can.
“I’m not buying Arsenal right now, I’m buying Arsenal when I finish all these projects, because I’m trying to take the company to the next level.”
It remains unclear whether Dangote has completed his projects and whether he remains interested in purchasing the North London club.