Profile: Silent Stan Kroenke

NICKNAMED Silent Stan by many of the Arsenal faithful, Kroenke is one of the less outspoken Premier League moguls, although his low profile has often led to accusations that he has little interest in the football club beyond a financial one.

The 65-year-old American, estimated to have a personal worth of around £2.7bn, is a rare sight at the Emirates, Arsenal’s state-of-the-art stadium, and his regular absence, along with a perceived lack of investment in the team, has earned Kroenke the ire of many a supporter. This criticism came to a head in December last year, when a former Arsenal director, Lady Bracewell-Smith, claimed that Kroenke had “no passion” for Arsenal following the Premier League team’s inglorious cup departure at the hands of League 2’s Bradford City. After taking majority control of the club in April 2011, Kroenke has sanctioned the sales of many of Arsenal’s star players – while the club’s expenditure has been seen as less than ambitious and ticket prices have become among England’s highest.

The situation is clouded by Kroenke’s relative silence. Although the club insists that there is money to spend, nobody is sure if it is Kroenke, or Arsenal’s manager of 17 years, Arsene Wenger, who is subduing spending.

One thing that is known about Kroenke is that he is reluctant to cash in, and he has insisted that he has never sold a share in any of his sporting interests, of which there are many.

Kroenke’s investment vehicle, Kroenke Sports Enterprises, owns a clutch of sports teams in the US, including the NFL’s St Louis Rams, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets as well as Major League Soccer team the Colorado Rapids. Unlike with Arsenal, however, Kroenke has invested heavily, and tasted success with most of these teams (though the Denver Nuggets have failed to win a trophy under Kroenke’s ownership).

Before becoming a sports mogul, Kroenke studied at the University of Missouri and founded the Kroenke Group, a building firm which made him his fortune. He and his wife Ann also inherited a stake in Walmart on the death of Ann’s father Bud Walton.

In comparison to the Premier League’s most famous billionaire, Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich, Kroenke is known for staying out of running the club’s day-to-day operations, ceding far more power than the average owner to Wenger, as well as Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis. He runs Arsenal, as well as his other teams, in tandem with his son and heir Josh, and is said to see Arsenal as a long-term investment, believing the club is well positioned to capitalise when European rules on spending are brought in.

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