Under-fire Arsenal chief Josh Kroenke says he only cares about winning despite Gunners failing to compete for years – The Sun

JOSH KROENKE claims he only cares about Arsenal winning football matches – and has been left hurt and upset by criticism from fans after years of mediocrity.

The son of billionaire owner Stan Kroenke has issued a passionate defence of his family’s commitment to the team they acquired as sole owners last year.

An online petition criticising the Kroenkes’ 12-year involvement at the Emirates was signed by more than 65,000 supporters in the space of just 24 hours yesterday.

Various fans groups united to issue a letter headed ‘We care, do you?’ in which they accused the Kroenke Sports & Entertainment group of using Arsenal as an investment vehicle while presiding over a steady decline on the pitch.

But speaking from his Denver base after watching Arsenal’s pre-season friendly win against Colorado Rapids last night, Josh made it crystal clear that he is not going to give in to his critics.

And he promised that manager Unai Emery will be given the financial resources to challenge for Champions League qualification in the new season.

In a broad ranging interview he told SunSport: “It absolutely hurts when the fans question my passion.

“Of course it’s hard to take and it does hit you when wake up at four in the morning to read a letter like this.

“But I’m not in this business to make friends. I’m in it to win while respecting the values and traditions of Arsenal Football Club.

“The fans have every right to their opinion, but whether that’s good or bad we’re going to do the same thing to continue working hard for the club.

Anyone who knows me will tell you how passionate I am about Arsenal. I’m over there as much as I can be, and so is my father.

“I was there in Baku for the Europa League final, standing on the podium handing out runners-up medals.

“I saw the look on the faces of our players and coaching staff. There were some people who were pretty p***ed off that we dropped that last match and I felt the same way.

“Anyone who knows me will tell you how passionate I am about Arsenal.

“I’m over there as much as I can be, and so is my father. And when we’re not able to be there, we instil the work to be done by good people.

“There’s been a lot of heavy lifting over the last 14 months but now we have an entirely new structure that we’re really excited about which will serve us well in the future.”

Yet Kroenke, 39, warns that are going to be no quick fixes at the Emirates as the club counts the cost of a third year out of the Champions League.

And he categorically refutes suggestions that his father ever said that he had not invested his billions in Arsenal to win trophies.

Kroenke insisted: “We’ve never said anything other than we’re in this to win. Someone has made that up or misconstrued a statement.


“We understand that not everyone is going to agree with what goes on, but if you are in sports just to make money, it’s a tough, tough business.”

Boss Emery is struggling to rebuild an under-performing squad with a transfer kitty of just £45million this summer.

But Arsenal’s youngest director points out: “It’s no secret that we have a Champions League wage bill on a Europa League budget right now.

“That’s a fact, and one that we’re figuring out how to face at the moment. But that doesn’t mean that my father or I have ever said anything about restrictions on spending.

“We know where we need to be and we know the areas we need to address on the pitch. We talk about those extensively, usually before the supporters become concerned about those roles.

“We try to stay ahead of the curve and we’re working as hard as we can behind the scenes to bring some more talent into the pool.”

Asked how confident he is that Arsenal will finish the transfer window in a strong enough position to secure Champions League qualification, Kroenke has a one word answer: "Very."

But he adds: “While we’re not going to be in the market for some of the top players in the world at the moment, we’re actively scouting the globe to find the next big thing to become great.

“And we’ll not only bring them to Arsenal, we’ll be able keep them in the fold going forward.

“I understand that the fans just want us to spend money, but frankly that’s not their job. Their job is to come and cheer us on the pitch.

“I don’t mind if they have unrealistic expectations because without that passion we don’t have a business.

“We need that passion because that’s the only way that sport thrives.”

Many Arsenal fans have questioned the Kroenkes’ commitment to Arsenal because they own six other teams across the entire spectrum of American sports.

Yet Kroenke believes that vast portfolio is actually working to the Gunners' benefit.

He says: “I can see how people might think we’re spreading ourselves too thin, but I think it’s only an advantage.

“I’ll point to KSE (Kroenke Sports Entertainment) over the last five or six years and we’ve done a really good job of understanding where our issues laid, putting good people in place and giving them the time and the resources to do their jobs.

“If Arsenal supporters look at the LA Rams, the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche, they should see a model that says they have elite young talent led by wonderful coaching in an environment where every resource is available to them.

“And that’s what we aim for at Arsenal.”

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