Kroenke under fire as angry Gunners fans hit out at club's ambition
Stan Kroenke insisted his investment in Arsenal was motivated by a desire to win trophies rather than financial gain after the club's annual meeting was disrupted by angry outbursts from supporters.
The American's rare public statement followed pointed questions from shareholders about his long-term intentions and also a request that he guarantee that money would never leave the club in the form of shareholders' dividends.
Kroenke responded by pointing to his 17-year record in sports ownership, as well as his place on the Arsenal board over the past five years, and the fact that he has no track record of awarding himself dividends.
"We have a record in sports around the world," said Kroenke. "We've never put any debt on this club for acquisition, never in any meeting said that money was not available to spend.
"We acquired Arsenal through our own resources. We have a record of reinvestment in our other clubs, and it's there for everyone else to see."
His answer led some critics, including the Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST), to conclude that Kroenke was planning to pay dividends to shareholders.
Arsenal were left bemused by that interpretation and remain adamant that all money generated by the club will remain available to manager Arsene Wenger.
Kroenke subsequently issued a statement to further clarify his intentions for Arsenal. "The reason I am involved in sport is to win," he said. "We have an exciting future and our goal is to win trophies."
Kroenke was also challenged by the AST on his interaction with fans, with the group's spokesman Tim Payton asserting that there had been no meetings with supporters since the takeover in April 2011, something that was listed as a priority in Kroenke's offer document.
The mood of the meeting was improved when Wenger took the microphone and made an impassioned call for unity.
"For me, there are five trophies," said Wenger. "The first is to win the Premier League, the second is to win the Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League, the fourth is to win the FA Cup and the fifth is to win the League Cup."
Meanwhile, Arsenal are on the verge of signing a £25m-a-year kit deal with Adidas. The club's contract with Nike expires in 2013-14 and Adidas' interest is set to nearly double the £13m a year Arsenal earn from it. Arsenal fans buy 800,000 shirts every year, the third biggest number in Nike's portfolio after Manchester United and Barcelona. (© Daily Telegraph, London)