Shirt teases and kit launches have become, for a lot of people, even bigger than transfer rumors when there’s no Premier League soccer being played. Arsenal have a new kit sponsor this season, and the first efforts from new supplier adidas are, as the cool kids say, fire:*
I mean, for reals, all three of those are great, and I have pondered buying one, or if I’m being honest, actually pondered buying all three.
Here’s the thing, though. I am, as many of you are, unhappy with the state of the club right now. And that unhappiness, as we’ve come to know it in the last few years, stems from one place: the owner of the club, Stan Kroenke, who expects a self-sustaining business model. What that means, of course, on one level, is admirable - Arsenal only spend what they make.
Here’s the thing about that, though. What they make isn’t enough. At least, it isn’t enough to compete regularly at a level that Arsenal fans want the club to compete. It isn’t enough to keep up with the Manchester City-level clubs. To be fair, nobody can compete at that level, but this summer, when you see clubs the size and theoretical financial heft of Arsenal signing one difference-making player for £50 or £60m, you can rest assured those clubs won’t be Arsenal.
Arsenal are firmly in the lower tier of acquiring clubs these days, thanks to the ouroboros that the club has become. They can’t afford players who want to play in the Champions League, and they don’t play in the Champions League because they don’t have good enough players to get them there. So here we are, stuck in this really annoying circle that seems to have no appreciable exit.
In the midst of all this, of course, it’s new kit launch season, and as you see above, those are some of the nicest shirts Arsenal have released in many, many years. Not a dud in the bunch, and any of the three would look good on me** and will absolutely look good on the players on the pitch. Seems like a no-brainer to buy one, or more, right?
Here’s the thing about rich people like Stan Kroenke. They don’t care if we voice our outrage on Twitter. They don’t care about banners flying over the stadium, and they really, truly don’t care about angry blog posts.
People with “screw you all” levels of money don’t watch Arsenal Fan TV. They could not give less of a crap about anything that clouds their world view, because they’re rich, and because Arsenal, in this case, keeps making the rich that much richer. What do rich people listen to? Their money. Plain and simple. It drives their lives, it chooses their paths, and it shapes everything they do. So with that in mind, my answer to the “which Arsenal kit should I buy” question is easy:
Do not buy a single one.
I am not naive. I know that, even if everyone who was planning on buying one of these reads this, changes their mind, and doesn’t buy a new Arsenal kit this summer, our tiny little corner of the internet won’t make enough of a difference to even raise Stan’s pulse. I don’t think this slightly-more-reputable equivalent of a change dot org petition will do a damn thing.
But I do know that the only way to force Stan Kroenke to change - whether that change is to invest more in the playing staff of the club, or to make him throw up his hands and say “this isn’t worth it” and sell - is to hit him where he listens: in his wallet. And that starving of his wallet is the only control we have over even attempting to make Stan do something he doesn’t want to do.
It’s as simple as “eat better and exercise and you’ll lose weight”, and also every bit as challenging. We all know, objectively, that depriving Stan of money is the only way to force him to change. But we also love Arsenal regardless of who owns it, and want to show that support, and we know that Arsenal will not always be Stan Kroenke’s toy. And those kits are nice! So I’m not, like, ordering you to not buy a new Arsenal shirt.
Instead, I’m asking you simply to think twice about it, before joining the long chorus of SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY that accompanied the release of these shirts. Is buying one of these shirts, which will also enable Stan Kroenke to continue not caring about where Arsenal are relative to the clubs they used to compete with, worth the cost? Not just in dollars/pounds/euro to you, but in the fact that the more shirts get sold, the more pay-per-views that get bought, the more we spend on Arsenal will be interpreted, financially, as tacit approval of what Kroenke is doing.
And if you’re OK with that, that’s fine. Enjoy your new shirt - it’ll look great on you! I’m just saying, never forget your money has power, especially when it’s joined with a lot of other people’s money and kept in your pocket(s), instead of lining Stan’s.
As I said, I’m not under the illusion that even 100 of us not buying an Arsenal kit is going to come close to moving the needle on Stan’s decision to own Arsenal or not. But in the short term, the best way to show Stan that you’re fed up is to not show Stan your wallet.
*I haven’t been a cool kid since 1994 at best do kids still say fire I don’t know
**to the extent that anything athletic looks good on a slightly overweight old person, that is