Stan Kroenke paid tribute to the team's "spirit and fight" when he dropped into the London Colney training centre.

The Club's majority shareholder spent time with the squad and manager Arsène Wenger before the Champions League clash with Marseille. He then watched the team train before meeting members of the media.

In a wide-ranging discussion Mr Kroenke started by reliving some of the highlights from Saturday's thrilling 5-3 victory over Chelsea.

He told reporters: "It was very enjoyable. I had a great time the whole day. I walked to the stadium and the fans were having as good a day as I was. I spoke with a few of them along the way. Of course, the game was spectacular."

Mr Kroenke added that Saturday's game reinforced the role sport can play. "Sports are a very important part of our modern society," he said, "I think the English Premier League particularly has a visibility around the world. It does a lot of good in a lot of ways that often aren’t pointed out so I was happy to be there."

He clarified why he felt it slightly strange that people wanted to hear from him at the AGM. He said: "Maybe it’s because I look at the Club differently. These clubs are bigger than one person. They are about a lot more things than just one person, one fan, one manager, one anything.

"This Club has been here for 125 years. It has had periods when it was up and long periods when it wasn’t so up. But I am proud of the Club."

He also outlined his philosophy on winning trophies. He said: "We have been around the Club for four years at one stage or another and you always like to win trophies. We were very close last year but we didn’t get there.

"You are not going to win trophies every year. I am smart enough to know that. I think it is fair to say we have a broader experience than anybody in sports because we are involved in so many different teams. You don’t win trophies every year. You’d like to. But I have friends who are owners in the leagues in the US who have never won a trophy and they have been in it for 30 or 40 years. We have been fortunate to win a few.

"I am very proud of our management [at Arsenal] and I am certainly extremely proud of our manager and I am very proud of the way the Club has been run."

He revealed he had opportunities to invest in several other clubs before Arsenal. He explained: "First of all, I love London. If you look at our history we are long-term investors. We don’t get involved just to be here today, be gone tomorrow, ‘flip’ and make a profit - that’s not us. We like to get involved in things that we can help develop over time. Maybe it’s just me but I think London is a great place to be. I think long-term if you want to attract players, it is a great place.

"Arsenal Football Club - wow! One hundred and twenty-five years, great tradition, great manager, great model and lots of opportunity."

He explained his love of football began when his son Josh, now President of the Denver Nuggets NBA team owned by Mr Kroenke, started playing, becoming a member of the US Soccer Olympic Development programme.

He said: "He had a huge interest in it and I used to go to all his games. It was a game I didn’t get to play when I was young. We played baseball, a lot of basketball, ran track but we didn't have European football so it's a sport that has grown in the States. Our game on Saturday was on one of the main television national channels and a lot of people watched it."

Mr Kroenke was asked how Arsenal can continue to compete with its self-sustaining business model. He replied: "We have that in the States too with some of our partner owners in the NBA or the NFL. We compete with people in our leagues in the States who have the same resources as anyone in the world.

"I am proud of the fact that Arsenal have had this sustainable business model. I think you can have people and we have had them in the States where they will spend a lot and they will do it for a little while and they might have some success. Maybe then the person everyone is relying on maybe gets tired of it or has a financial reversal.

"What you are doing is that you are putting the focus on one person, one resource and is that really in the interests of a long-term situation for a great club that many people identify with and rely on?

"I would be much more proud if all our leagues were developed with the idea that you are competing on the basis of intellect and work and effort instead of just simply 'I am going to throw dollars against the wall'."

Mr Kroenke singled out Arsène's track record of attracting and recruiting young talent from around the world, the development of Emirates Stadium and the evolution of the Club as a whole. He said: "Arsène has been here 15 years and you look at what the Club had as assets and revenues back then. It's fantastic the growth that has occurred within the Club. It has been done very responsibly and they have the record for participating in the Champions League for the most consecutive years. For long-term stability and an approach to excellence, I think that's unsurpassed really.

"Anybody who is a sportsman would rather compete on the basis of intellectual equality rather than just being able to throw money against the wall.

"Anyone can go and buy a player but it takes a lot more to identify that player, develop that player and position him."

But would he be prepared to spend to compete? He replied: "Could you? Yeah. You could. I think that you want to be sure that you want to spend the money and I think that's what our manager does. He makes that evaluation. That's his job.

"We have money. And it wasn’t because anybody sitting here ever said ‘don’t spend it’. Now, if you spend it all and there is no more money, you guys come and say ‘well Stan, we're short now, you need to spend some more money’.

"Well then you could blame me maybe but I don’t think you can blame me now. This Club is run a certain way and I think people are proud of the way it's run. And I think our fans are proud of the way it's run.

"I think the board should be given a lot of credit. If you go back to where this Club was, revenue-wise, in the early to mid-90s, in terms of assets and things then it's dramatically different.

"That didn't just happen by itself. It's not easy to do the things that they have accomplished. The board should be given credit for that."

Looking back to the summer transfer dealings he said: "I think you know that one of the players who departed had nothing to do with money.  There was a specific personal circumstance that happened. The other you get into an evaluation. That's where being smart and not being smart comes in. You've got one year left on a player's contract. You've got a large sum of money being offered. Can you employ those resources better than you could had you not taken the money, taken a chance on losing the guy for nothing in a year or perhaps overpaying for him now and having less resources later? I don’t know. That's how I would see the evaluation."

Asked about the reaction in England to fellow American owners, Hicks and Gillett and the Glazers, Mr Kroenke, who has never taken money out of his sports businesses, responded: "What was so tough about the Glazers' situation? They won. And they have increased revenues by a huge amount. If I was a fan of that club I would sit there and go 'wow'. Because how could you do it any better? That's what I would say. In the States, we have a whole different philosophy I think but maybe it's time for everybody to think a little bit. I think they ought to think a little bit about who invests in these clubs and what do you want for the long-term?"

He finished by re-affirming his support for Arsène and the squad. "Arsène Wenger is an unbelievable manager. I think he's a tremendous person, I just think he is as good as there is. Now, do you lose some games? Do you have tough losses? It happens. You can’t judge a manager on one game or on one stretch of games. You judge him over time. That's how the really good ones are judged."

And what was his message to the players?

"That I’m proud of them, that they have shown a real class and spirit. And by the way, it was a lot of fun to watch that game on Saturday. It was a big win."

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
31 Oct 2011