Stan Kroenkes MLS team, the Colorado Rapids, have been far from consistent. Photograph: Marc Piscotty/Getty Images
Kroenke oversaw a Rams team that went 36-59-1 in his six years as majority owner in St Louis, only to then claim that fan apathy over the horrible product he put on the field necessitated a move to Los Angeles. Yes, to the City of Los Angeles, of all places,
Americas leader in NFL apathy. When Kroenke pulled out of St Louis following years of insisting he had no desire to ever do so he left local taxpayers on the hook for the millions of dollars remaining on a loan the city took out in 1995 to build the Rams a stadium. And while that bill is a fortune to most, its pocket change to a man reportedly worth $6bn, a man who bought a ranch in Texas for $725m … and then proceeded to evict the tenants who lived on the ranch. Kroenkes actions make him not just a villain by NFL standards, but in the bottom tier of soulless billionaires the world over. No small feat.
At least if Kroenke stopped at nothing to put winning products on the field, it might be easier for some fans to excuse the man up top. But Kroenkes teams are somehow as athletically inept as he is stupendously wealthy.
Arsenal supporters have every reason to be down on Wenger, but hes twice the manager the man Kroenke saddled the Rams with for nearly five seasons is. Jeff Fishers legacy as a mediocre coach was clinched in 2010 after being let go by the Tennessee Titans (previously known as the Oilers), with whom he only had six winning seasons in 17 years.
Fisher was hired before the 2012 season by Kroenke and hyped as the man to turn the franchise around. He then failed to record a winning season with the Rams. Despite all the losing, Kroenke
signed off on a two-year contract extension for Fisher last season when the Rams were out of the playoff picture … only to then fire him two games later, one game before Fisher would have set the all-time NFL record for most losses by a coach.
This is the right time to make a change, Kroenke said of the firing, made eight days after the team announced Fishers contract extension. Our performance has not lived up to my or our fans expectations. We all are focused on improving as an organization and building a team that makes Los Angeles proud.
That seems unlikely to happen as long as Kroenke is at the helm. In a league in which the draft system and salary cap is supposed to ensure parity, and in which nearly 40% of the teams make the playoffs each year, Kroenkes Rams havent been to the postseason since 2004 and havent even managed to finish a season above .500 since 2003 (a feat unmatched by any of the other 31 teams in the NFL). That isnt likely to change this year or anytime soon.
The Rams are currently stuck with a quarterback in Jared Goff whose long-term upside could optimistically be described as adequate. This for a player the Rams
paid a heavy price for a year ago in order to trade up to take with the No1 overall pick in the NFL draft. The teams new head coach is Sean McVay, the youngest in NFL history at just 31 years of age. McVay is considered a bright offensive mind, but his inexperience makes it likely his Rams tenure will be nothing but a learning experience for a future job with another franchise. Meanwhile, the teams best player (and the best defensive player in the league, Aaron Donald) refuses to sign a new contract and the Rams joint, $2.6bn stadium venture with the Los Angeles Chargers is already a year behind schedule and may not even be open by 2021. Until then, the Rams will continue to play in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, by any measure a more outdated venue than the facility the team left in St Louis.
Stan Kroenke speaks at an event to welcome The Rams franchise to LA but the move has been far from successful. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Perhaps it would be some comfort to Arsenal supporters if the Rams were the only sports franchise that Kroenke has failed to lead to greatness. Alas, that is not true. Kroenke is the head of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, which also owns the NHLs Colorado Avalanche and the NBAs Denver Nuggets. When Kroenke took over the Avalanche in 2000, the team was one of the leagues best. In fact, with a star-studded core in place, Colorado won the 2001 Stanley Cup. But the franchise has gradually slid to irrelevance. The Avs have made the playoffs once in the past seven years and last season were
the worst team in the NHL by a large margin. The Nuggets have somehow been even more irrelevant under his ownership, missing the playoffs in four consecutive seasons (in the NBA, 16 of the leagues 30 teams make the post-season) and only getting past the first-round of the playoffs one time in 17 years since becoming part of Kroenkes portfolio of failure. Nor are Arsenal even the first soccer club Kroenke has invested in. His Colorado Rapids did win the MLS title in 2010 but they have been far from a model of consistency, and have missed the playoffs in three of the last five seasons.
Its unfair to pin every poor hiring or wasted draft pick on Kroenke. Even the most meddlesome owners dont make all the moves. But it is fair to say that every sports organization Kroenke has touched the Rapids possibly aside has turned into an outright failure, and his fingerprints are all over Arsenal now, too.
For all of Kroenkes failures in pro sports, he has never had one of his teams get relegated. But thats only because relegation does not exist in the US major leagues. Arsenal arent so fortunate. Of course, the prospect of relegation for a club with the Gunners resources and history is almost unthinkable. But with Kroenkes vying for the title of worst owner in international sports history, theres no reason to think he cant pull it off. A place in the Championship would be his coup de grace.