Many Arsenal fans shook their heads in disgust when watching a misty-eyed Stan Kroenke praise the LA Rams for winning the Super Bowl in February, wondering if that will ever materialise into Premier League Glory in the coming seasons.
Can Premier League Glory Follow Super Bowl Success?
The real estate tycoon invested $5.5 billion in building SoFiStadium, making it the world’s most expensive sports venue. He stepped onto the hallowed turf to bask in the adulation of the home fans following the Rams’ 23-20 win against the Bengals, sparking contempt on the other side of the Atlantic.
Seven days earlier, the Premier League’s January transfer window had slammed shut. Arsenal were in desperate need of attacking reinforcements after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang moved to Barcelona, but Kroenke – who has owned Arsenal since 2011 – kept his wallet closed during the window. Arsenal predictably finished fifth, missing out on Champions League football once again.
Kroenke is a vilified figure in North London. He is seen as a dispassionate, distant owner who treats the club as a cash cow, raking in money and funnelling it into projects like the SoFiStadium.
The Gunners can only dream of a $5.5 billion investment, and the fans continually bridle at Silent Stan’s aloof ownership. Yet Kroenke may not even be the most hated NFL owner in England.
Love United, Hate Glazer
The previous year, it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ turn to win the Super Bowl at a shiny stadium built by the Glazer family.
“I’m thankful to the Glazer family for giving me an opportunity,” said legendary quarterback Tom Brady after signing a two-year, $50m deal that allowed him to swap the colder climes of New England for sunny Florida.
General manager Jason Licht added;
“I would like to thank the Glazer family for providing us with the resources and the leadership to make such a bold move in free agency.”
It was an investment that paid dividends, as Brady delivered Super Bowl glory to Tampa, yet Manchester United fans could barely conceal their fury.
Protests about the Red Devils’ owners stretch back almost two decades, with “Love United Hate Glazer” banners regularly displayed at Old Trafford. The Glazers purchased the club by taking out loans secured against Man Utd’s own assets, essentially saddling the club with debt.
They have not put a penny of their own money into Man Utd, but they have taken out billions of dollars in profits, so it is easy to see why fans bridle at seeing the money used to bring glory to Tampa, particularly when Man Utd have not won the Premier League title since 2013.
A Lack of Leadership
The Glazers and Kroenke’s have reigned supreme in the NFL for the past two seasons, and more success could be forthcoming. If you check out the best NFL bets for Week 1 and browse the Super Bowl futures odds, you will see that the Bucs and the Rams are among the leading contenders for glory next season.
Meanwhile, their Premier League clubs remain fallen giants, having suffered from a chronic lack of leadership over the past decade.
Before the Kroenkes and Glazers arrived, Manchester United and Arsenal were the top two teams in England, regularly battling one another for the title.
Their demise stands in stark contrast to Manchester City and Chelsea. Those clubs have dominated English football over the past decade, thanks largely to the lavish sums invested in them by their billionaire owners.
Roman Abramovich splashed boatloads of cash in turning Chelsea into a force to be reckoned with. Yet he was also a constant presence at Stamford Bridge. He drove the club to success with an iron will, brutally sacking any manager that underperformed. Standards are not so high at Arsenal and Man Utd, where struggling managers are regularly given second and third chances.
Abramovich has now sold the club following a natural backlash against his links to Vladimir Putin, but from a purely sporting perspective, his time in London was an unqualified success.
Manchester City’s Emirati owners have also spent huge sums in turning the club into the most successful Premier League outfit of the modern era. Yet they are also keen supporters, putting in regular appearances at home games.
Contrast that with Kroenke, who has only ever seen Arsenal play live a handful of times. He would probably struggle to name the starting 11 if pressed.
Supporters may hate the Kroenkes and the Glazers, but they are resisting the pressure on them to sell their clubs. It seems unlikely that they will divest any time soon, but can they lead Man Utd and Arsenal to success?
Satisfaction in Mediocrity
Manchester City are heavy, odds-on favourites to win the Premier League title this coming season. Meanwhile, Manchester Utd are 33/1 underdogs and Arsenal are out at 66/1. The Gunners and Red Devils finished fifth and sixth respectively last term, well off the furious pace set by City and Liverpool, and it is hard to see them closing the gap on Pep Guardiola’s men in the short term.
Manchester United secured their lowest ever Premier League points tally last season. The board have pinned their hopes on Erik ten Hag, who has been parachuted in to turn things around. He worked wonders at Ajax, but whether he can replicate that success away from his homeland is another matter entirely.
The Kroenke’s have maintained their faith in Mikel Arteta, who has finished eighth twice and fifth since replacing Unai Emery as Arsenal manager. They have some talented youngsters, and they are not saddled with some of the toxicity in the United squad, but they remain a long way from mounting a genuine title challenge.
Josh Kroenke, Stan’s son, has become a more vocal presence at Arsenal in recent years, but he will struggle to turn things around unless he moves to London, immerses himself in the club and stops running it like an American franchise.
In the US, there are various systems in place to ensure no team dominates for too long. For starters, there is a salary cap, while the best young players always go to the worst performing teams via the draft system, continually levelling the playing field.
For that reason, most NFL fans are accustomed to going years – or even decades – without any tangible success. That is not the case in the Premier League, where continued dominance is entirely possible, as shown by United under Sir Alex Ferguson and City under Guardiola.
However, the Kroenkes and Glazers are unlikely to do anything too drastic until it affects their bottom line. They will continue to invest just enough to keep their clubs reasonably competitive, but it is difficult to see either United or Arsenal returning to the summit of English football under their current owners.
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