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Answer them Kroenke! Why big 16 deserve public Arsenal response

COMMENT: It was calm. Constructive. And even contained one or two revelatory points. But will it prod Stan Kroenke into action? Can the efforts of these 16 supporters groups push Arsenal's owner into changing habits of a lifetime...?

You get the spirit from where this column is going. That post. That open letter addressed to Kroenke. It was near perfect. Positive. Realistic. With a catalog of solutions put forward. This was no social media rant. No idle threats. This was an olive branch. An invitation for Kroenke to wipe the slate clean and reconnect the board with the fans.

But will he? On past evidence the answer is obvious. Indeed, one of those revelatory points made in the letter suggests little will change. This column being taken aback by the disregard, as detailed in the post, Kroenke had for those final shareholders - genuine Arsenal fans - who sold up.

"Off the pitch, fans have never felt more marginalised, less listened to or valued.

"This was sadly illustrated when Stan Kroenke forcibly bought out the last remaining supporter-shareholders without even a word of appreciation for their custodianship role in the club."

As productive and positive this letter was, the revelation that Kroenke failed to even pass on a message of gratitude to those fan shareholders really does highlight the disregard he's shown the rank-and-file support. Even just as a PR stunt, as shallow as it would be, at least it would've been something. But to fail to even acknowledge them, after all the debate and agonising that had gone on about handing the American full control...? Those two sentences in this letter crystallised what has gone wrong since Kroenke began his takeover.

But this aside, the letter was positive. Conciliatory. It offered Kroenke an opportunity to make the tent big again. To re-engage with the support.

At the very least, such a considered message deserves a response. And a formal one at that. Those at the top of this consortium deserve better than an assuring phone call - even if it's from the man himself. They deserve more than a quiet message from behind the scenes. Arsenal should be responding formally. And publicly. Doing so would allow everyone connected, from the fans to the media - to the club itself - to hold Arsenal to account. And if they are serious about rebuilding this relationship, the board would embrace such a prospect.

And we say rebuild because as much as Monday's open letter dealt with the emotive aspects of this partnership, the board - particularly Kroenke - will also be looking at the bottom line.

It may've been a push. A prompt. The excellent Swiss Ramble, a football finance account, sparked great discussion a fortnight ago amongst the Arsenal support. A series of social media posts detailing - financially - how far the club has spiraled since Kroenke took control. Indeed among several lowlights, it was shown Liverpool, Manchester City and... ahem... Tottenham had all made more than double in revenue than Arsenal over the last two years. Fans aren't just venting online, they're now voting with their wallet. Something which is cutting into every part of the club's operations.

On the day the big 16 were publishing their letter, Monchi was welcoming new signing Oliver Torres to Sevilla. The arrival from Porto the eighth addition made by Monchi this summer. By rights, the Spaniard should've been in place as Arsenal's new technical director. And while claims of the pull of home do carry some weight, it's difficult to see Monchi actually accepting the parameters Arsenal's front office are having to work to this summer. Again, as a destination, there really should be no contest between Arsenal and Sevilla. Whether coach, player or sporting director.

But this isn't the Arsenal of old. It isn't the one that had a teenage Ruud Gullit wondering whether he could handle the weight of the Gunners shirt when trialling. Those marble halls of Highbury that Gullit found so intimidating are long gone. And the status of Arsenal threatens to go the same way.

The fans have made their gesture. Out of sheer goodwill and the best for the club. The very least it deserves is a response just as constructive.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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