Stan Kroenke has made it clear he and his family have no intention of ceding control of Arsenal and said that Arsène Wenger is “more focused than ever” on bringing more success to the club after deciding to stay on at the end of last season.
Kroenke, who owns a 67% majority stake in the club, will be at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday for Arsenal’s annual general meeting and the American, who is set to face protests from Arsenal supporters’ groups over the makeup of the club’s board, reiterated that both he and his French manager are still planning for the long term.
“Just go look at our history,” Kroenke, 70, told the Daily Telegraph. “We get into these things to try to grow them. You don’t see us selling things. We are committed long-term. That [selling] is just not our model. I’m at a stage in life where … what good does that do? I love Arsenal, love being involved with Arsenal. There’s no finer feeling than going out and winning like we did with the FA Cup … the feeling is contagious and it makes you want to keep doing it. There’s so many easier ways to make money, I can assure you. Much, much easier.”
The decision to keep faith with Wenger and award the manager a new two-year contract extension in May left some supporters and shareholders dismayed after Arsenal slipped out of the Premier League top four and missed out on Champions League qualification for the first time in 19 years. But Kroenke added he had no regrets over extending the Frenchman’s tenure, which has just passed the 21-year mark.
“When you make decisions like that you are weighing lots of different factors but you hope that you weigh them correctly and come out with the right decision – I think we did,” said Kroenke. “We have dealt with this a lot and we believe Arsène is doing a great job and is the right guy.
“It’s easy to change coaches and people do it all the time … an easy answer is to do something. It’s harder not to do something. We have dealt with this a lot in different organisations and we just think that Arsène is doing a great job and he’s the right guy.
I’m sure he was thinking through if he wants to go on. We have a lot of respect for Arsène – we are not going to be pushy about things. I think he treated us with respect as well. I think he is more focused than ever. Focused on winning. I really think I do see that.”
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust will vote on Thursday against the re-appointment of the chairman, Sir Chips Keswick, and Kroenke’s son, Josh, to the board of directors at the AGM in a bid to show “significant corporate governance change is needed”.
As part of each AGM, one third of the directors must retire on rotation from their position and seek re-election. “Whatever the outcome of the AGM, we call upon the directors at Arsenal to address these significant corporate governance failings,” the AST said in a statement, even though they know they are unlikely to succeed in ousting either from the board.
“All of the non-executive directors have been in office for far too long and are not regarded as independent under the corporate governance code,” it continued. “
There is therefore no independence from the controlling shareholder, no one free of conflict of interest, and not enough diversity on the board or people with relevant professional skills, such as football expertise.”
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