Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kroenke and the Wilpons - Owners Going In Different Directions

Mad Jens was back in goal
Wow, what a crazy week it's been both on the field of play and at the upper level of team management.  It's always best to start with the positives so I'll begin with Arsenal.

Since the February 27th Carling Cup Final loss to Birmingham, it's been tough times for Gooners.  Arsenal fell out of both the Champions League and the FA Cup and mediocre play produced draws with inferior teams, West Brom and Blackburn.  The English media didn't help matters with lots of negative reports and second guessing and Arsenal fans seemed to be turning on each other on social media with the Wenger out brigade vs. the in Wenger we trust army.

While all this was going on ManUre continued to find ways to win games they should have lost and Arsenal's chance at winning the EPL title seemed to be slipping further away.

Some sort of order has been restored in the last week. Gooners were treated to the site of gloating Spuds fans having their bubble burst as Madrid embarrassed Tottenham in Spain and Arsenal went to Blackpool and came away 3-1 winners (despite some nervy play).  With 7 games left, Arsenal's title dreams are hanging on by the edge of a knife, but they are still alive.

Stan Kroenke takes over
The real big news came down on Monday when it was announced that American businessman Stan Kroenke had purchased a controlling stake in the ownership of Arsenal.  Kroenke runs Kroenke Sports Enterprises which includes ownership of the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and the Colorado Rapids of MLS.

The ownership model at Arsenal is quite different than what most American sports fans are used to, but by upping his stake in the club, Kroenke has essentially taken control of the team's ownership.  Both the New York Times and Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail do a good job of explaining the details of Arsenal's ownership situation.

While I am far from a flag waving rah rah American, I do take offense to some of the anti US rhetoric being bandied about by some folks.  Yes Arsenal is a storied English football team from North London.  However, by aiming for international success and importing stars regardless of their country of origin the team has become a global entity with fans from all over the world.  The Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods jokes are a bit hypocritical if you consider the fact that Arsenal play in a stadium called "The Emirates", after the airline of the same name.  Additionally, to American sports fans, it's odd to see players running around with sponsor names on their jerseys.  Some of the sillier ones that I've seen over the years were Portsmouth with Ty (makers of the Beanie Babies), Wolves with Doritos and Man. United with the disgraced financial institution AIG.  Unfortunately, sponsorship is a necessary evil, because even if we don't want to think it, at the end of the day all sports clubs are businesses.

Time will tell how the Kroenke deal turns out, but most reports are optimistic and portray a dedicated sports owner who shuns the limelight and gives his teams the necessary tools to compete at the highest level.

The Wilpons, sending out an SOS
At the other end of the spectrum are the owners of the New York Mets; Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz. The Bernie Maddoff scandal has left them searching for an investor to buy a stake in the team due to the $1 billion lawsuit being filed against them.  Whether you like the Wilpons or not, the sad fact is that the off field problems are definitely being felt on the field.  With limited resources and coming off of several bad seasons, the situation presently looks bleak.

Bobby Parnell gives it away
The team won 2 out of 3 to start the season versus the Marlins, leaving fans somewhat hopeful.  Since then however, they've lost series' to the Phillies and Nationals and the team's bullpen has resembled the Yorkville Pee Wee League that plays just up the block from me.

A sure sign that this is going to be a long season is that the Mets have had four home games so far and I've already been offered free tickets to two of them. (One I didn't accept as I had to do my laundry).  I did attend Opening Day and there were quite a few empty seats.  Those fans proved to be prophetic as the Mets blew the game and received their first vociferous round of boos of the season.

So, hopefully Arsenal can end the season strong and somehow finish atop the table.  As for the Mets, it's a long season but the signs are not looking good.

No comments:

Post a Comment