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Thread: Bernie: Is Kroenke Spreading Himself Thin?

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    Bernie: Is Kroenke Spreading Himself Thin?

    Bernie: Is Kroenke spreading himself thin?

    BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
    Monday, April 18, 2011


    The occasion is an important match in the English Premier League, Liverpool at Arsenal, and Kroenke will be in the stands at Emirates Stadium. But will the TV cameras be able to find him? (Yes. Kroenke was on camera multiple times during the 1-1 draw.)

    "Silent Stan" Kroenke is now an international man of mystery after his friendly but stunning takeover of Arsenal FC, one of the most storied and distinguished franchises in soccer history.

    Last week, Kroenke put up an estimated $230 million to increase his ownership stake in the Gunners from 29 percent to just under 63 percent. Under terms of the deal, Kroenke is obligated to offer to buy out the remaining shareholders, which could mean an additional investment of tens of millions of dollars.

    Kroenke has added another prominent team to a collection of sports properties that includes your St. Louis Rams, the Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Colorado Rapids (MLS), the Colorado Mammoth lacrosse team, the Pepsi Center arena in Denver and a regional sports network in Colorado. That's in addition to his real-estate development and other non-sports businesses.

    Kroenke has positioned himself to be a powerful figure in the sports world. With his emergence in Europe, he's established a global presence. And if the NFL ever decides to put a franchise in London, Kroenke looms as an interesting figure, seeing that he'll already be established there.

    I'm an Arsenal fan from way back, so I join my fellow Gunners supporters across the Atlantic in wondering what we should expect from Kroenke.

    The central question seems to be this: Will he spend money to acquire the elite pieces deemed necessary to put Arsenal back atop of the EPL table?

    It's roughly the same question Rams fans have about Kroenke as he begins his second season as the team's majority owner.

    With the NFL's free-agent market shut down because of the labor dispute between the owners and players, it's impossible to get an answer. But in a recent interview with Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch, Kroenke didn't eliminate free-agent signings as a way to improve the roster but strongly reaffirmed his belief in the philosophy of building through the draft.

    Kroenke's increased stake in Arsenal raised another question: Does he own too many teams? Can he devote enough individual time to the Rams? It depends on your views. Those who prefer an on-site, hands-on owner will be disappointed.

    In my previous discussions with Kroenke, he politely dismissed this as a concern, saying that he isn't a micro-manager or meddler. He prefers to employ capable executives and coaches and let them do their jobs. There's been speculation that Kroenke plans to hire a hand-picked team president to run the show at Rams Park. We'll see what develops.

    Bringing in a more powerful exec to run the Rams won't necessarily address the looming stadium issue in St. Louis. Unless the Rams can reach a compromise agreement to remain at the Edward Jones Dome, the team almost certainly will be able to opt out of the stadium lease after the 2014 season.

    Kroenke will have to be extensively involved in those discussions.

    This would be a good time to have his undivided attention.

    To comply with NFL ownership rules, Kroenke is obligated to divest himself of the Denver sports franchises at some point. It's unclear if he'll have to sell the franchises or simply transfer them to family members. But unless Kroenke sells the Denver teams to outside interests, it's naive to think he won't have some unofficial role in their operation. And there's a way to get it done in a way that makes everyone reasonably happy. The NBA Nuggets have done well since Kroenke turned them over to his son Josh, a promising young basketball executive.

    Kroenke's style can work with the Rams. He can keep his distance and still field a winning team as long as he has a sharp management team in place. Having an aggressive, hands-on owner doesn't ensure success. (Just ask the Washington Redskins, owned by Daniel Snyder. Or the Dallas Cowboys of Jerry Jones since Jimmy Johnson left as coach-GM in the early 1990s.)

    Truth is, it's just too soon to know how all of this will play out in St. Louis.

    And columnists, bloggers and fans are saying the same thing about Kroenke's impact on Arsenal. They've generally been positive about Kroenke's emergence; in a poll by the Guardian newspaper, 71 percent of the respondents said they believe Kroenke will be a positive force for Arsenal.

    That's surprising given the considerable angst in England over the recent invasion of U.S. owners. With Kroenke in charge, the top three EPL teams are now under U.S. control. Liverpool is in the hands of Boston Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer has Manchester United. Other EPL clubs owned by Americans are Aston Villa (Randy Lerner) and Sunderland (Ellis Short.)

    Arsenal loyalists are inclined to have faith in Kroenke because he earned trust by biding his time as a minority owner over the past several years. Kroenke didn't swoop in and try to wrestle the club away from the other partners and board of directors in a brash lunge for power; he slowly cultivated relationships and respect.

    And when Kroenke finally made his move to buy the necessary shares to gain control of the club, the Arsenal board was comfortable with his leadership. Kroenke is viewed as a stable presence that won't disrupt sacred tradition or be insensitive to old-school sensibilities. And Kroenke scored points by assuring fans that he wouldn't saddle the franchise with debt by taking out loans to fund his purchase.

    Still, not everyone is happy. There's been a spirited debate among Arsenal followers; some believe that stodgy Arsenal is in need of a shake-up. Or at least a freshening. Arsenal has won 13 league championships and four FA Cups and is consistently among the top contenders in the world's most prestigious soccer league. But the North London club hasn't won the EPL championship since 2004, and the failure to add trophies is causing impatience. While still in second place in the EPL standings, Arsenal is lagging down the stretch. The failure to dispose of Liverpool Sunday was a serious blow to Arsenal's prospects of overtaking EPL power Manchester United.

    Arsenal's Arsene Wenger, a fixture in north London since 1996, is among the most heralded and astute managers in soccer. His refusal to overpay for players has made Arsenal a profitable entity. But Wenger's prudent manner has led some to wonder if he's too conservative. Wenger's critics hope that Kroenke will push the persnickety Frenchman to be more ambitious in procuring expensive talent in the transfer market instead of playing it safe.

    Observers are interested to see if Kroenke is willing to increase Wenger's funding. And Arsenal faces a decision on star midfielder and captain Cesc Fabregas, who is coveted by Barcelona and other European clubs. Arsenal stands to collect anywhere from $30 million to $40 million by accepting a transfer fee for Fabregas.

    Either way, Arsenal fans are clamoring for a talent infusion. The addition of an elite goalkeeper is near the top of the wish list.

    If Rams fans want an example that's closer to home, let's put it this way: If Arsenal fans were Rams fans, they'd demand that Kroenke pressure GM Billy Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo to add a No. 1 wide receiver for quarterback Sam Bradford.

    There's fear that EPL rival Manchester United and esteemed manager Sir Alex Ferguson will go on a typical spending binge this summer, thus widening the gap between the first-place red Man U and Kroenke's Gunners. Manchester United is to the EPL what the New York Yankees are to MLB. And though it isn't an exact fit, Arsenal is to the EPL what the St. Louis Cardinals are to MLB.

    Kroenke and Wenger had their first extensive meeting Thursday. Afterward, Wenger expressed confidence that he'll be left alone to operate Arsenal without interference from the owner. And that makes sense given Kroenke's preference to leave the soccer business to the experts.

    "On the football side of things we will continue to focus on the football the way we want to play it to develop our players," Wenger told reporters. "We have a certain philosophy of football and we will continue to develop that and to play even better. We will continue to run the club like it has been done until now that means live within our resources, produce our own resources and develop our football team."

    Sounds as if the Rams and Arsenal have a lot in common.

    Hey, at least Devaney gets to compete in the NFC West. Manchester United isn't on the schedule.


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    Re: Bernie: Is Kroenke Spreading Himself Thin?

    I love the fact the three best teams in a foreign mostly based sports are owned by americans. I just hope stan gets a deal done with the rams stadium in st louis soon. I believe it will be a issue next offseason

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    Re: Bernie: Is Kroenke Spreading Himself Thin?

    Quote Originally Posted by sjacksonrules View Post
    I love the fact the three best teams in a foreign mostly based sports are owned by americans. I just hope stan gets a deal done with the rams stadium in st louis soon. I believe it will be a issue next offseason
    I think you will find Chelsea are owned by a Russian

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    Re: Bernie: Is Kroenke Spreading Himself Thin?

    Bernie: Is Kroenke Spreading Himself Thin?
    I apologize, but when a sentence starts with Bernie and ends with thin, I have to take notice.

    Okay, adult conversation beginning......now.
    laram0 and lordwhttgr like this.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Bernie: Is Kroenke Spreading Himself Thin?

    Quote Originally Posted by tomahawk247 View Post
    I think you will find Chelsea are owned by a Russian
    I was just going by what the column said I don't follow soccer at all.

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    Re: Bernie: Is Kroenke Spreading Himself Thin?

    The 2 largest teams in europe are owned by the fans. barcelona and real madrid..

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    Re: Bernie: Is Kroenke Spreading Himself Thin?

    Has anyone else noticed that a large percentage of the PD articles about Kroenke and Spags have ZERO quotes from the owner and/or coach? Seems to me that the PD is doing a pretty good job of becoming newpapyrus non grata at Rams Park.

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    Re: Bernie: Is Kroenke Spreading Himself Thin?

    Well for stan said he has appointed personnel to run the program. Which I am fine with because money doesn't always build a football team and that's all stan can provide. Baseball kinda gets away with it but not in the nfl.

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    Re: Bernie: Is Kroenke Spreading Himself Thin?

    Quote Originally Posted by tomahawk247 View Post
    I think you will find Chelsea are owned by a Russian
    who likes Chelsea??? Best thing they did was take Torres away from us!

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