The Denver Nuggets aren’t exactly lining the halls of Pepsi Center with championship trophies. They are, however, winning plenty of games. That makes them a gem among sports teams operated by Kroenke Sports Enterprises.
The massive holding company, owned and operated by “silent” Stan Kroenke, (who married into the Wal Mart fortune) is the most powerful sports organization in the world. One of its holdings is London’s Arsenal Football Club of the English Premier League. Arsenal plays what we yanks call “soccer“. It has been in existence since 1886, and to say that its fans are committed is a wild understatement.
Pressure has been mounting for Kroenke to surrender his ownership of the club. Arsenal has not been winning and is at risk of being downgraded. They’ve not won a trophy since 2005 and, if they fail to qualify for the Champions League, they will be relegated to a lower division. This would be disastrous. The value of Arsenal would take massive hit.
A consortium of Middle Eastern investors is working to wrestle control of Arsenal away from Kroenke, but he shows no signs of being willing to back away. Fans of the club wish we he would. Arsenal has developed a reputation of being unwilling to pay top players. Kroenke’s notoriously tight check book is problematic in the NHL and in the NBA. In big time European soccer it’s a menace. The consortium is seen by Arsenal fans as a potential savior. Kroenke, however, has made it abundantly clear that he will not sell.
From a profitability perspective selling is probably Stan’s best move. If relegation were to force the club to be downgraded it’s value would plummet.
Even American Major League Soccer there’s doubt as to whether Kroenke demonstrates the proper level of commitment. While he has the backing of MLS management, doubts exist as to whether the Colorado Rapids are equipped with the tools be competitive. Among Kroenke-owned franchises this is endemic.
For fans of Arsenal, Kroenke’s silence is considered inexcusable. An editorial in the Sun this morning calls for Stan to speak. The piece, headlined “Time Stan gave us ... ANSWERS!”, written by Ian Wright, smacks of distain for Kroenke. Wright states “Kroenke attends board meetings on the rare occasions he travels to North London but that is not really enough for me.
He rarely goes to games so you have to wonder whether he cares about the club. He seems more interested in having a business which makes a lot of money.”
For Denver sports fans this is a familiar refrain. In a way it’s nice to know that we aren’t alone. Arsenal, however, is a far, far bigger deal than any other Kroenke Sports holding. Even the St Louis Rams pale by comparison. American fans complain. English fans riot.