Below is a piece The Denver Post published in the summer
LONDON — What do Colorado Avalanche fans and soccer superstar Robin van Persie have in common? Disgruntled with a championship drought, they both call billionaire sports mogul Stan Kroenke names:
Cheap. Cheap. Cheap.
Signs on the sidewalk point to the Arsenal Football Club in the Islington neighborhood where I’m camped out for the Olympics. So a ramble past a restaurant selling curried goat and a shop promising permanent leg hair removal for 39 pounds sterling, ends with a craned neck to inspect the giant soccer stadium towering above me.
“It’s an expensive plaything for a rich man,” says Mike Peacock, a soccer fan on a pilgrimage from Cambridge with his 9-year-old son to visit the home of the Gunners,
one of the most storied and beloved clubs in the English Premier League.
Arsenal is owned by Kroenke.
“Right,” says Arsenal supporter John Wilson. “I think they call him ‘Silent’ Stan.”
Oh, boy. Now it’s a nickname that Kroenke can dislike on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
The beauty of sports is how fanatics eat and sleep the same high-octane passion, no matter what country they call home, regardless if the team of their dreams plays soccer or hockey.
Avalanche fans, aching because there has been not even a sniff of the Stanley Cup since the last happy championship toast in 2001, constantly complain Kroenke cares more about the bottom line on his worldwide sports portfolio than stocking Colorado’s roster with talent. Despite the acquisition of free-agent P.A. Parenteau and extending the contracts of young players such as Erik Johnson, the Avs are $16 million beneath the NHL salary cap.
In England, any resentment for a national sporting treasure being owned by an American seems to have died. “There once was an ideology that an English football club should be owned by an Englishman,” says Peacock, a healthcare administrator. “But I think most fans have come to accept ideology doesn’t buy you players who can win. We are willing to sacrifice ideology for trophies.”
The problem for Arsenal is it has not won any major soccer silverware since the FA Cup way back in 2005. That’s an insult to the club’s heritage, so disturbing that van Persie declared in July he would have to win his trophies elsewhere and asked to be shipped out, despite a year remaining on his contract. Didn’t Kroenke get the same headache from Carmelo Anthony with the Nuggets?
While hockey fans in Colorado won’t like it, Arsenal recently made a financial commitment reported to be in excess of $15 million to acquire forward Lukas Podolski, who has the skills to wear No. 10.
Nevertheless, the second biggest shareholder in Arsenal blasts the leadership of Kroenke. “Victory is absolutely not ruled out, but the current politics of the club’s management will leave (manager) Arsene Wenger and his team fewer and fewer opportunities in the long run,” billionaire Alisher Usmanov insists in a recent interview with the Russian edition of Forbes.
Sound familiar, Avalanche fans?
At the massive store selling team merchandise inside Emirates Stadium, a van Persie jersey is marked down 33 percent. Something else catches my eye: It’s a T-shirt printed with a quote from Wenger: “We don’t buy superstars, we make them.”
Funny, but those same words would be a perfect fit on any current piece of Avalanche gear.
But if it’s truly funny, why aren’t fans of Arsenal or the Avs laughing?