The recent friendly was the first time the Colorado Rapids and Arsenal had played each other, despite sharing the same ownership for several years. And on Tuesday night, another rare occurrence went down at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park - both Stan Kroenke and his son Josh were in attendance, perhaps for the first time in years.
Ahead of the game, there were talks about Arsenal fans’ growing frustrations with ownership and a hashtag #WeCareDoYou emerged. They’ve started a petition and held up signs of protest. (As far as I know, they haven’t fired up the planes yet.)
None of this is a surprise to Rapids’ supporters, who have been unhappy with KSE for more than a decade.
I thought it was all just same old, same old — a bunch of fans disappointed in Kroenke’s management of their club and complaints falling on deaf ears.
And then I saw this headline: “Josh Kroenke was hurt by open letter - but his words must become actions for Arsenal.”
According to the article in the Mirror, “The letter - dubbed WeCareDoYou - clearly surprised and stung owner Stan Kroenke’s son and the 39-year-old spoke with feeling and a single-minded determination.”
Though there are very few quotes in the article, it was reported that “he [Kroenke] gave a firm but very strong one word answer - ‘very’ - when asked how sure he would be of finishing the transfer window with a stronger squad ready to get back into the Champions League.”
Josh Kroenke also told the club’s website: “As much as we would love to say that we’ll be competing for the top trophies tomorrow, we know that that’s not the case and that we have to get to work on that. That’s a daily approach to the little things from the top down. We understand that there’s a daily approach and a daily requirement of detail that goes into the overall approach of building the club back to where it needs to be.
For me, on a personal level, I’m not sure how to address my passion. Anyone that knows me knows how passionate I am about Arsenal Football Club.”
I truly hope KSE takes their commitment to Arsenal seriously. Every club and every fan deserves an owner that cares about their club. (For more on the perspective from Arsenal fans, check out The Short Fuse.)
But unfortunately, it looks like Rapids fans need to accept that the passion just doesn’t extend to the Colorado Rapids. The Kroenkes don’t speak about the Rapids, don’t come to games, aren’t involved in the day-to-day operations, and the supporter protests don’t phase them. (Even though they are based in Denver and own other Denver teams.) If MLS mattered and getting an MLS Cup mattered, they’d take our concerns just as seriously.
UPDATE: Apparently Josh Kroenke had a secret/private/surprise press conference with members of the Arsenal media at halftime. According to the video linked in the article below, “there were a lot of tweets coming out so there was an opportunity for the ‘media’ to meet with Kroenke...” and some other guys including his lawyer and their PR person.
This line from Kroenke pretty much sums up how they feel about our club: “I think if you point to the Los Angeles Rams, if you point to the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche, Arsenal supporters should see a model there that says you have elite young talent, led by wonderful coaching, and an environment where every resource is available to them, and that’s what we can provide to Arsenal.”
I asked around and no one from the Rapids media corp were invited or even knew this was happening. You can read the full transcript here.