Well good morning one and all.
It seems the CEO role at Arsenal is hotting up with The Evening Standard linking us with Josh K taking over the role.
I mean, I’m really struggling to see that as a viable option if I’m honest. I understand the basic premise of nepotism, but at core, Stan is still a businessman. I’m not sure stints at under-performing NHL/NBA franchises quite prepare you for the serious business of managing an entity as huge as Arsenal. The link looks thin as well… a ‘well, duh’ kind of equation to fill copy space.
American sport is a different beast geared around fairness and everyone stumbling on a winning formula at some point. They evenly distribute money, they have a draft, there are wage caps and there’s generally very little competition state by state for eyes and dollars.
Stan has witnessed first hand what happens when you take your eye off the steering wheel in the Premier League. He absolutely loved Wenger for scraping into the Champions League every year but didn’t pay attention to the marginal losses that were occurring each season. He underinvested, he ignored what was going on around his manager, and he let the club rot from the inside.
Two years after the happening and we’re £200m+ worth of investment from being able to compete at the highest level. That’s the issue with the Premier League, it takes a ruthless capitalist approach to competition. Not only do you have the big boys plunging money into staying on top, you also have team like West Ham, Fulham and Everton capable of blowing £100m. Every team in the Premier League has 2-3 decent players, they all share the same technology, and all teams boast nearly the same fitness. It’s dog eat dog throughout the league, everyone is there to compete if they can… so much so, they’ll happily bankrupt themselves in the process if that’s what it takes.
Arsenal are in a precarious position in the world of football. Like it or loath it, we gambled a lot on Emery this season. If he doesn’t return us to top 4, we’re going to be even more unappealing than we were under Wenger, because we’ll be associated with the also-rans. That’ll make bringing us back to the top even harder/more expensive for the next person in charge.
I’d much prefer a scenario where a 38-year-old is given an active role in the club where he shadows a CEO who has been tried and tested in the game. If we’re serious about taking the club to the top, we need to have someone capable of building out a long-term vision on and off the pitch. We need to drastically improve our commercials, we need to fire up our squad and start adding better parts, and we need to make an aggressive play at the Champions League.
Ivan modernised Arsenal over the last 10 years, he put in place a strong infrastructure, he took the brand global… but you’d be hard pressed to say we’ve done anything that looked like a risk outside moving stadium which was on the cards before he arrived.
Everything Ivan has done since he’s been given the keys to the club has been solid, but very, very safe.
Arsenal won’t move to the next level with safe.
Look no further than the LA Rams for a club going balls out to make a super bowl final. Big contracts, big moves, young trailblazing coaching hires… everything about what they’re doing is about the statement of intent.
Will it pay off? Who knows… a lot in LA think it already has, but at least they’re going hard for their goals.
Could Josh K be that man for us? Maybe. I mean, there’s no better person to have the ear of an absent dad than his progeny. But are we being too simplistic here? Assuming that dad gives up the habit of a lifetime and busts out the Grizmann coloured chequebook because Junior throws his toys out the pram at the Walmart Thanksgiving dinner?
I’d love to will myself into thinking that the Kroenke family are keen to dominate the NFL and European football because that’s what you should want to do when you’re a billionaire. Be the fucking best with each of the sports entities you own. You should want to build a revenue machine both sides of the pond. I mean, I can’t believe there hasn’t been talk about taking the LA Rams to London to play at The Emirates yet. Nothing shuts London down quite like the NFL crowd heading to Wembley. Imagine Arsenal being the go-to club in LA?
I WOULD GO, ONE TICKET, SOLD.
Those sorts of dreams only count if you have a product LA gives a fuck about. That was literally one of the thoughts Kroenke mused on when he moved the team, I can’t find the quote, but it was something to the effect of… ‘people from LA aren’t going to care if this team isn’t great.’
London is obviously a touch different, people would care about Arsenal if we dropped two divisions. However, the huge missed opportunity is to become the club of London. To charge exorbitant ticket prices to Asia and America. To realise the additional capacity in a stadium that generates the second most revenue in the land. To make your players and team an actual tourist hotspot.
Arsenal needs to find that ambition again. Our fans need something to believe in that’s exciting, much like the City project. Stan needs to show the same belief in our club as he does in LA.
My gut says you need to hire in know-how from a club like Juventus or Barcelona, but look, if the yin is nepotistic youth and the yang is a dad who’ll do anything to please junior, bring it on.
Nothing ever goes wrong when the kids of rich parents get the chance to show what they’re made of, right?