This reflection by Tim Stillman articulates a lot of what I, as an often unwilling but helpless Arsenal supporter, have been feeling lately. The petro-plutocrat takeover of Newcastle United adds to the list of clubs that Arsenal will simply not have the financial resources to compete with, and in a weird sort of way that’s a relief. It has been some time since Arsenal could plausibly contend for the Premier League title, but we fans have hoped for a return to the Champions League. Now, as Stillman notes, “What is the ceiling of this project? ‘If things go really well this season, we could finish 5th!’ It’s difficult to get excited about that but, unless there is a change in owners or a change in owner MO at Arsenal, qualifying for the Europa League is what success looks like for Arsenal.” Yep. For the foreseeable future Arsenal will simply be a mid-table side – and it’s strangely nice not to have to think about any higher aspirations.
Those circumstances can improve in one way only: If Stan Kroenke sells the club to some massively rich owner or consortium. (Stillman writes of a change in the Kroenke MO but I don’t consider that even a possibility.) And as frustrated as I have been by the Arsenal ownership, new ownership is probably the one thing that would end my Arsenal fandom – because in the current environment it’s hard to imagine any sufficiently wealthy ownership that doesn’t have the problem that Newcastle’s new owners have: deep entanglement with massive corruption. I prefer mediocrity to that.