FOR years their lack of silverware made them the butt of a thousand jokes.
You know the ones…”what does an Arsenal fan do when they win a trophy? Turn off the PlayStation” and the like.
About as funny as a fart in a spacesuit, admittedly, but you get the point of how it was until they finally won an FA Cup or two again.
Now, though, the Gunners are something of a laughing stock again, only you won’t find too many of their own fans splitting their sides.
This time it is because Arsenal, the club Forbes rated as the sixth richest in the world only six months ago, haven’t got a pot to p*** in when it comes to a January transfer kitty.
The club with an annual turnover of £427 million, with an owner whose fortune is around £7 BILLION, with the costliest season tickets in the Prem won’t be spending a penny this month.
Too far fetched for words? Not a bit of it, Unai Emery admitted as much yesterday, albeit without spitting his dummy.
When Kroenke paid £600m to buy out Alisher Usmanov and become sole owner, it didn’t all come from his own pocket.
Very little of it did, in fact. All but £50m came from a bridging loan, and he hasn’t stumped up any of his own dough for new signings.
Indeed, the Gunners spend only money generated from their own revenue, claiming they want to do in a way which respects the club’s history, values and traditions.
All very virtuous. But when you consider a lack of Champions League football has cost around £35m in each of the two years they’ve been out, in a total drop of around £40m in matchday, broadcast and commercial revenue, it doesn’t leave much.
In fact apparently, it doesn’t leave a bean. Not even a chance to sign Denis Suarez on loan as they won’t agree to Barcelona demanding a £20m commitment to buy in the summer.
The idea of speculating to accumulate clearly causes Kroenke to come out in a cold sweat, but that’s the truth of it.
Unless you’re a Man City, needing just one player, a Riyad Mahrez, a little tweak to what’s already in place, then you’re always going to be behind the eight ball.
Liverpool realised it, spending fortunes on the likes of Alisson, Virgil Van Dijk and Fabinho.
United, for all they toiled under Jose Mourinho, knew they’d have to splash big dough to get back to anywhere near their former glories.
Yet Kroenke doesn’t see it like that, he wants the glory, the kudos of owning one of the game’s elite clubs without paying too much of his own cash for the privilege.
Like a footballing version of the Little Red Hen.
No wonder Gunners fans have accused him of killing the club.
Yes, there will be more money available in the summer, when new sponsorship deals with Adidas and Emirates kick in.
But unless Kroenke finally puts his hand in his pocket to throw in a few quid of his own – and there’s no sign of it, to be honest – they’ll be backing a Europa League club at best.
Thank Heavens no-one’s seriously threatening to do a Leicester or Burnley of last season, or even that might be beyond them.