Why All Arsenal Fans Should Watch the Super Bowl
In our increasingly globalised world, in which billionaires can own a number of clubs or franchises in a number of different sports, the fortunes of teams that are continents apart and that play completely different sports can become intimately interlinked. That is why all Arsenal fans should watch the Super Bowl next weekend, regardless of whether or not they have any interest in American Football, because the result could have a profound impact on their own side’s chances of success.
All Arsenal Fans Should Watch the Super Bowl
Arsenal are owned, of course, by Stan Kroenke, the seemingly reclusive American billionaire who recently bought out the only other major shareholder in the club, Alisher Usmanov, to take complete control of the Gunners. Yet, Arsenal are far from being Kroenke’s only sporting concern, as he is also the owner of various American sporting teams, notably the LA Rams American Football team.
Just in case any non-NFL-watching Arsenal fans are unaware, the LA Rams will be competing in the Super Bowl next weekend against the mighty New England Patriots, the already fabled team of legendary quarterback Tom Brady and equally legendary coach Bill Belichick, who are going for a record-equalling sixth Super Bowl win. Unlike the Patriots, the Rams have hardly been all-conquering in recent times. Indeed, this is their first appearance in the Super Bowl since 2002, when they were the losers as Brady and Belichick’s Patriots won their very first Super Bowl. That is so long ago now that the LA Rams were not even called that then, because in 2002 they were still based in the Midwest city of St Louis, in Missouri.
An article in The Evening Standard this week told the story of how Kroenke relocated the Rams to Los Angeles, in the process turning almost everyone in St Louis against the side that they had once supported. It is unlikely that Kroenke has any plans to relocate Arsenal from North London, although Tottenham fans would doubtless argue that he should take them back to their original home in Woolwich, in south London, where they played from the club’s formation in 1886 until 1913. Nevertheless, there is every chance that Arsenal fans might end up loathing Kroenke just as much as the good people of St Louis.
An Impossible Job
That is because the recent downturn in Arsenal’s form under Unai Emery (notwithstanding the welcome win over Chelsea in the Premier League last weekend) makes it increasingly apparent that whoever manages the club – Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery or anyone else – has to operate under the kind of financial controls that make it almost impossible for Arsenal to seriously challenge for the Premier League again, let alone fulfil the dream of every Arsenal fan and win the Champions League.
In his final few years in charge at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger had operated as a kind of human shield for Kroenke, with his own increasingly obvious decline as a manager masking the fact that Arsenal were no longer really competing financially with the major clubs in England, i.e. those trying to qualify for the Champions League and ultimately win the Premier League. That impression was only confirmed earlier this month when Unai Emery admitted that despite the fact the club obviously needed new players, particularly in an injury-ravaged defence, he was only able to bring in players on loan, and this despite the fact that Arsenal remain in the top ten of the Deloitte Football Money League, which assesses the financial resources of the biggest football clubs in the world and which was announced earlier this week.
Some Arsenal fans have even accused Kroenke of using Arsenal as a cash cow to support his real sporting love, the Rams, especially as the Rams are currently in the process of building a new, billion-dollar-plus stadium in Los Angeles. (Like most billionaires, it seems, Kroenke hates spending his own money.) While that charge remains unproven, what appears increasingly incontestable is that Kroenke is a truly absentee owner, one who does not really care about Arsenal or what the world outside America calls football. At the very least, he is guilty of being infinitely more interested in, and infinitely more committed to, the Rams than Arsenal, and for any true Arsenal fan that is utterly unforgivable.
Watch a Different Football
So all Arsenal fans should watch the Super Bowl next weekend, although it might be difficult for them to decide which team to support. On the one hand, if the Rams lose, that might mean that Kroenke redoubles his interest and investment in them and further reduces his interest and investment, such as they are, in Arsenal. Equally, if the Rams win, he might find that the idea of them winning again and thus creating a sporting dynasty of their own is suddenly irresistible, and he will invest even more time, money and energy in them, rather than in Arsenal.
The likelihood is, therefore, that whoever wins the Super Bowl, the real loser will be Arsenal.