by Patrick Kidd
We all know the classic tale where you’re in the car with your mother and the towering,
golden arches of McDonald’s are drawing nearer. You think of doing what you always do.
But it never works. Maybe you shouldn’t. It’s not worth it. But what if this is the one time it
You’ve chosen hope once again. “Mom, can we get McDonald’s for dinner?” you ask
politely. The restaurant is less than 100 metres away, so much rests on this small stretch of
road. The M of gluttony draws nearer and nearer until it slowly starts to drift away. Your
dreams crushed yet again.
“There’s food at home,” your mom remarks scornfully. Little does she know that she’s
slowly robbing you of your ability to feel joy and aspiration.
“Timmy’s mom always buys him McDonald’s,” you mumble bitterly to yourself.
It’s extremely easy to relate this story to the tribulations of an Arsenal fan. Your mom is the
notoriously stingy Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke. The free-spending owners of Manchester
City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea can be likened to the beloved mother of
Timmy. The McDonald’s meal that you’ve been craving for months is the list of superstar
players for sale on the transfer market, players such as Kai Havertz, Jack Grealish, Kalidou
Koulibaly and Jadon Sancho. Finally, the musty, unpalatable leftover rice you’ve got waiting
for you at home is 32-year-old right-winger Willian who your club just signed on a three
year £100 000-per-week contract.
Historically, Arsenal Football Club is one of the most successful sides in England, if not the
whole World. But having not won the league in almost 20 years, the Gunners are slowly
losing their “big club” status. A manager change and an 8th-placed finish last season
definitely didn’t improve matters either.
As a fan of any football club, your only expectation is that they see success. Whether that
means avoiding relegation, finishing a place or two higher on the table than expected,
qualifying for Europe or winning the title, it doesn’t matter. In the case of us Arsenal fans,
these hopes are always high at the beginning of the season but they slowly wither into
painful desperation by the end of it.
For years now, we’ve had to watch our big-spending rivals succeed at our expense. Over the
last 5 seasons, Arsenal have spent just under £450 million, whilst the clubs in Manchester
have spent £818 million (City) and £611 million (United) respectively. Our London rivals
Chelsea spent a whopping £656 million pounds over the period as well. In those five
seasons, Arsenal finished behind Chelsea and City four times and behind Manchester United
twice. Furthermore, the only time the Gunners qualified for the Champion’s League was in
the first of those five seasons.
Obviously £450 million is not a meagre expenditure, but when compared to those teams
with whom Arsenal should be competing, it’s becoming impossible to keep up. Arsenal is
having to resort to signing cheaper, promising young players, or proven old players who are
out of contract. These signings are very rarely exciting for us, the fans, and the players
themselves are very much hit-and-miss. There’s rarely any certainty about the quality we’re
Our most recent acquisition and our only signing of the summer transfer window so far,
Willian, was announced only days after the club made 55 members of staff redundant in
order to free up money due to the pandemic. Needless to say, this decision was extremely
unpopular amongst fans and even more so amongst many of the players who agreed to
pay cuts in order to avoid this exact kind of scenario.
It is clear to fans that Stan Kroenke has no ambition to see the club succeed and simply
views Arsenal as another of his business ventures. The 73-year-old has a reported net worth
of $10 billion yet he very rarely invests out of his own pocket. His preferred tactic is to
let the club run itself, using profits from previous seasons as the budget for managers to use
in the transfer window. This kind of policy is common in less wealthy, relegation-battling
clubs, not teams with UEFA Champion’s League aspirations. Kroenke’s stringent spending
has led to a unanimous animosity between Arsenal fans toward the American owner.
As Arsenal fans, our ambitions have significantly dropped over recent years. We used to
view our beloved club as title contenders and perennial European competitors. Today, we’d
be overjoyed simply by a fourth-place finish in the Premier League. The taste of winning the
league has been long forgotten by Arsenal fans and so the craving is no longer existent.
But we lost the excitement of Tuesday night Champion’s League football recently enough for the longing to sting and the craving to linger.
Despite our recent lack of big-name signings, Arsenal still has a strong, youthful squad who
definitely have the ability to challenge for a Champion’s League place. With Mikel Arteta at
the helm and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leading the line, hopefully, we’ll get to see the
likes of Bukayo Saka, William Saliba and Gabriel Martinelli reach their highest potential.
There is reason to be hopeful as an Arsenal fan. Apart from the ownership, every aspect of
the club seems to be seeing new beginnings and with new beginnings comes potential.
But as an avid supporter of the Gunners, one must always maintain a certain level of
weariness. As the famous Twitter mantra warns, “You know, as an Arsenal fan, it’s the hope
that kills you.”