Josh Kroenke watches Arsenal in person for first time this year amid protests

Josh Kroenke has attended his first Arsenal match since early 2020 amid fan protests calling on him and his father, US billionaire Stan Kroenke , to end their association with the club.

While protests against the Kroenkes have been ongoing for several years, their involvement in the attempted European Super League breakaway has strengthened supporters’ resolve to force them to sell up.

After thousands of fans demonstrated against their ownership before Arsenal ’s 1-0 defeat to Everton last month, there was another vocal protest ahead of their final game of the season against Brighton.

With chants of “we want Kroenke out, say we want Kroenke out”, fans set off red and yellow smoke bombs and held up flags, banners and placards calling on the Kroenkes to leave.

Already deeply unpopular for his distant persona and lack of dialogue with supporters, Stan Kroenke is among the owners to have faced the fiercest backlash after the European Super League debacle.

Josh Kroenke’s attendance at the Emirates will do little to placate supporters

According to The Athletic, Josh, who is a director at the club, has been attempting to smooth things over in person this weekend. He visited Arsenal’s training ground on Saturday and addressed Mikel Arteta and his players, speaking about the importance of unity and his vision for the future.

His attendance at the Brighton game means that he will have watched his first match since before the coronavirus pandemic led to football being suspended early last year. His reappearance has coincided with the return of fans, with Arsenal welcoming 10,000 supporters back to the Emirates at the end of a profoundly disappointing campaign which has ended without silverware.

Along with fan protests, the Kroenkes have had to contend with an attempted takeover bid from Spotify founder Daniel Ek . He is backed by former ‘Invincibles’ Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, meaning that, at the very least, it represents another PR nightmare for them.

On top of that, using the hashtags #KroenkeOut and #FansIn, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust has called for root-and-branch reforms to the club’s ownership structure to incorporate some degree of fan ownership.

They have put forward proposals including a 50+1 voting rights model – similar to that used in the Bundesliga – and fans being allowed to acquire shares in the club, while also calling for supporter representation on the board, greater transparency and the appointment of independent non-executive directors.

The Supporters’ Trust helped to organise the protests against the Kroenkes ahead of the Brighton game, calling the attempted European Super League breakaway “a disgraceful betrayal of the principles the club should, and used to, stand for.”

In a statement released on Friday, they said: “Anyone who advocates Arsenal undermining our domestic football structure and joining a closed franchise model does not understand the values of our club, our fanbase or football in this country.

“This is far from the only demonstration of a lack of custodianship at Arsenal, but for the AST and many Arsenal fans it has been the tipping point.

“We have always campaigned for supporter ownership and better governance, but now we believe there must be fundamental change to the way English football clubs are owned and run.

“But we do not believe that simply campaigning for Stan Kroenke to sell Arsenal is the answer. If the ownership model doesn’t change, any new owner is not necessarily an improvement. That’s why our message is #KroenkeOut #FansIn.”

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