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Few writers' works are read long after their death so there should be a little credit where it's due, but football may be intent on adding to the list of Karl Marx's errors. This left-winger even more famous than Gareth Bale in his day said that events repeat themselves, the first time occurring as tragedy and the second as farce; Saturday night's news of a would-be coup at Arsenal suggests the repeat can be as a mirror image.
It is not that long ago that the banners at Old Trafford, as the Glazers looked to take over the club, read "United not for sale". As even the most stubborn fan found out, the fact that the Manchester United share price was listed in the papers demonstrated that the Reds were on the market and the Americans could and would buy them up, with a little help from their bankers.
It is not clear how many Gooners right now would welcome a petrodollar takeover and the Emirates being bought by a sheikh or two. But as it is one purported fan, a Mr Stan Kroenke, is entitled to make his own banner, hang it on his vacant seat in the director's box and "Arsenal not for sale" would be absolutely true.
There is no "typical" English club owner, there is no "typical" foreign club owner; there is perhaps a typical American club owner, at least in regard to the motivation: they are in it for the money. Some English owners are in it for the glory and accept losing millions; some foreign owners are in for vanity and lose hundreds of millions; some foreign owners are in it for the PR and what's a billion between friends? But with the transatlantic cousins it is always about the dictum a speechwriter placed in the mouth of President Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s: "The business of America is business."
Not all business plans work out: see Randy Lerner's struggles at Aston Villa or Tom Hicks' and George Gillett's troubled ownership of Liverpool. The Reds of Merseyide have just announced their latest losses and last month John W Henry was claiming that owning Liverpool was having no effect on the running of the Boston Red Sox and boasting how long it was since he had been at Anfield. The hated Glazers, though, seem to be successfully getting Manchester United and their fans to pay for the privilege of being run from Florida.
Should Cristiano Ronaldo depart Manchester with Real Madrid still in the Champions League then it will be a setback but the Floridians' position seems unassailable. There have been some sticky patches and, in the shape of Jose Mourinho's divorce from Roman Abramovich, some good fortune. But a 20th title approaches, income continues to grow, and they will feel the new Premier League rights deal further vindicates their willingness to stay the course.
Kroenke's methods of finance are different from the Glazers' and Arsenal's income is not eaten up by interest payments, but his motivation is the same: profit. He could take a substantial one right now if the rumoured bid were made; reports suggest he is not keen, just as the Glazers have dismissed interest they believe undervalues their property. The price could one day be right, though.
The sugar daddy model is no guarantee of success, especially as the number of such benefactors grows. Hearing Chelsea fans go through contortions to describe how their support for Roman Abramovich is not compromised by the decisions he and his lieutenants take, one wonders how they will feel should the dismissed Andre Villas-Boas be in the Champions League next season and the Blues not. Still, when you consider the state Chelsea were in before the Russian you can understand the attraction of the model.
To many Arsenal fans, Arsene Wenger's problem is that he is too stubborn. Any Gooner wishing for a change of owner instead of a new manager may find Americans can dig their heels in as deeply as Frenchmen.
From a business perspective, if the takeover rumours are true, then Kroenke should immediately sell. He will never again receive such a generous valuation for Arsenal. The club is on course to lose its place among Europe's elite, and new powerhouses like PSG and City (and even Spurs) will eat into their global fanbase.- VivaKerala