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Has the Arsenal board realised diplomacy beats insults?

A few short weeks ago we apparently didn’t need his sort and we didn’t want his money, but billionaire investor Stan Kroenke was yesterday welcomed with open arms by the very Arsenal hierarchy who damned him.

Chairman Peter Hill-Wood famously made the statement about “his sort” when Kroenke (pictured) managed to acquire a 12.2% stake in Arsenal, but with Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov now posing a greater threat to the Gunners, Kroenke all of a sudden appears to be the favour of the month in the corridors of power.

Now, it might just be me, but I prefer it when our chairman kept his mouth shut. Every time he seems to speak to the press lately he puts his foot in it and while I don’t mind our old Etonians looking foolish, I do object to them doing it in the name of Arsenal Football Club.

Quite frankly, the them versus us attitude that Hill-Wood seems to believe in is in very poor taste, given that the vast majority of fans, who helped generate the £200 million revenues for the club, don’t come from his privileged background and therefore probably fall into the “them” category.

Welcome to the 21st Century Peter. We’re trying to break down class barriers and xenophobia, rather than build such obstacles.

Lest the board forget its own words, you are the guardians of Arsenal Football Club, so perhaps you should reflect on your own public utterings of the past month or two before speaking about our foreign investors again...

Anyway, I digress. Today the Gunners’ board confirmed that it met with Kroenke and it is understood that he was given a comprehensive tour of the new stadium by managing director Keith Edelman.

“The meeting [with Kroenke] falls in line with the Club’s intention to maintain an open dialogue with large shareholders of Arsenal Football Club,” said a statement by the board, indicating that old school attitudes are indeed changing.

Last week the board met with Usmanov’s business partner Farhad Moshiri to discuss the Russian’s Red & White holdings investment vehicle and its intentions toward the club.

In an ideal world I’d love it if Arsenal could remain 100% British owned, but with shares freely traded on the stock exchange, there’s nothing to prevent anyone, no matter where they are from or how they might have earned their money, from buying and selling shares.

With that in mind, and the fact that foreign investors now own more than one-third of Arsenal, hopefully our club directors - and Hill-Wood in particular - will engage their brains before speaking in public and use a bit more tact and diplomacy than they have of late. A crash course in public relations wouldn’t go amiss. Maybe something can be learned from Kroenke’s dignified silence.

Antagonising foreign investors, and coming across like an upper class buffoon, is not the way to best represent the interests of Arsenal Football Club, Peter. Try being a bit more like your fans and players; cosmopolitan, multi-racial, from all social backgrounds and, above all, ready to welcome and embrace newcomers to the club, who can perhaps bring some new ideas to the table.

I’m not saying that our new billionaire investors are entirely in it for the love of Arsenal, but surely it would have been better to speak to them first before passing judgement.

Do you agree? Maybe you back the stoic way Arsenal's directors have been standing their ground against the billionaire predators? Or perhaps you think Peter Hill-Wood's statements have shown up the incumbent board as being out of touch and that it's time for a change of leadership?

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Posted by Gordon Masson on October 4, 2007 5:00 PM in Debate of the Day| News
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I don't agree at all. The chairman, the board and the vast majority of fans are rightfully proud of the way the club is evolving – by building stadium, team and fan-base in a sensible and successful way, without short-term injections of ludicrous amounts of cash, but also without saddling the club with other people's debts.

Peter Hill-Wood's comments over recent weeks have been nothing to do with "class barriers and xenophobia", and everything to do with protecting a stable and successful entity (the club's current leadership), that has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt its worth to anyone who cares about Arsenal.

Your point, to be frank, seems a little confused: at one stage you seem to be asking Hill-Wood to be both "multi-racial" and "from all social backgrounds", and if he could pull that one off, I might suggest he leave Arsenal for a career as a stage magician. It seems to me the only person bringing class into this is you: are you just a tad resentful of Hill-Wood's 'old Etonian' background, by any chance?

The point is, our recent success on and off the field should cause anyone who cares about Arsenal to give the current board a MASSIVE vote of confidence, as I think most Arsenal fans are doing. I was flabbergasted when I read these words, "..ready to welcome and embrace newcomers to the club, who can perhaps bring some new ideas to the table"

What new ideas? At this precise moment in time, what is the current board and management doing or not doing that you are dissatisfied with? On what basis do you think Usmanov or Kroenke have any 'ideas' (beyond making themselves richer) that will improve the quality of our club?

Our beloved club has, in recent times, been IMPECCABLY well managed: the incredible new stadium, the potentially world-beating young team, the pound-for-pound-best-manager-in-the-world, the eminently manageable repayments on the loan for the stadium, the frankly bloody ludicrous turnover, the big profits, the money in the bank that the CURRENT board will be happy to hand over to Wenger should he ever decide he needs to spend it on players. What exactly is the problem here?

If it ain't broke, and all that, eh?

Posted by: dom dawes | October 5, 2007 11:08 AM

Speaking as someone who is not English, but is an Arsenal fan through and through, I have to say that Hill-Wood's comments to the press have been a bit naive. And dishonest too. He's publicly lambasted Kroenke, only to welcome him into the fold (now that must have been an interesting meeting). And then the board also said they wouldn't entertain Red & White Holdings, but then met with them the very next day.
I'm proud of what the team is achieving both on and off the park, but when the supposed figurehead of the club makes such embarrassing faux pas, it's only right that he be brought to task for it.

Posted by: D'man | October 5, 2007 12:24 PM

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