Stan Kroenke’s sports empire, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, has been named the ‘most valuable sports conglomerate in the world’ by Forbes, but what is the real price of supporting a  team owned by someone like Stan?

SEATTLE, WA – DECEMBER 17: Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke walks onto the field before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 17, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

We’ve become blind to the numbers thrown around in football.

We talk in millions and billions as if they are pennies and pounds without any real concept of the sums we’re actually discussing.

Many people don’t seem to realise the vast different between a million and a billion so if you think there’s not much between them, let me put it like this – one million seconds is 11.5 days. One billion seconds is 31.5 YEARS.

That’s quite a lot more, I’m sure you’ll agree, and there is absolutely no reason for anyone or anything to be valued at that amount as millions around the world live in poverty, starve and have no access to clean water while the rest of us continue to destroy the planet.

Kroenke’s business is worth nearly three times the £2.7bn Boris Johnson thinks it costs to build 40 hospitals (it would actually cost closer to £24bn).

Stan Kroenke himself is listed at number 49 on the Forbes 400 for 2019 which lists all the top wealth hoarders around the planet, but his sports enterprises top the list with a combined value of $8.4bn (£6.43bn).

This didn’t start out as a rant against billionaires, rather, just a simple news piece reporting on how much Stan Kroenke’s business is worth.

But it’s hard to see the world around us, to watch Arsenal shame themselves as they bend the knee for China lest they lose access to their cash, to know that the UK has more foodbanks than McDonald’s and Burger Kings combined, and to then look at all these men running around the world hoarding as much money as they can while people literally die on our streets and see it all as something apart from the game we have to spend fortunes to access.

You don’t have to look abroad for harrowing photographs of people suffering, simply walk into your local town and lift your eyes up to meet those of someone in a doorway.

Then ask yourself, does one man really need something that’s worth the average salary of over 280,000 nurses? How many things, beyond the nurses themselves, are worth that sort of money?

No matter how much you love Arsenal, football and sport, you must surely say ‘not many. Certainly not these things.

What has that got to do with Stan Kroenke’s sports empire?

Arsenal's US owner Stan Kroenke (C) looks on during the presentation to Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger after the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Burnley at the Emirates Stadium in London on May 6, 2018. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP)
Arsenal’s US owner Stan Kroenke (C) looks on during the presentation to Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger after the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Burnley at the Emirates Stadium in London on May 6, 2018. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP)

Everything, but it’s not just him. It’s every billionaire and every person who supports them by claiming ‘they worked hard for their money’.

They didn’t.

The nurse working 18-hour shifts with barely a break while only getting paid minimum wage for nine hours is ‘working hard’.

What billionaires do is exploit the privilege and connections they came into this world with, take the profits from the labour of others and put it places governments can’t reinvest it as taxes to help build the roads they use to ship their goods on, the teachers who educated them and the doctors who healed their classmates to stop diseases spreading to them that might have impaired their brain function.

They take all the tax breaks and pay as little tax back as possible. Don’t come at me with ‘yeah, but they give so much back’. Kroenke has been shown to be one of the stingiest billionaires on the planet when it comes to helping charities, and that’s a pretty strong field. They are greed in its purest form and have convinced the masses that they are good for society as they systematically strip it of anything of value for their own personal enrichment.

And they are here, now, at Arsenal, in football, swarming all over the UK like a cancer. They are embedded in every aspect of our world as every penny is squeezed and every fan or citizen is appraised in terms of value to ‘the business’. We’ve watched it grow over the past few decades as football was rebranded and repackaged as entertainment for all.

We all saw it coming.

We all closed our eyes.

Now, there is a choice coming for many football fans. As the elite clubs chase ever more money, at what point does it become too much to support? For many fans I believe that point will never come, football and everything else are very much apart.

But for many, I know they see that they aren’t. I know I certainly see how interlinked everything is.

Football is, and always has been, a microcosm of the society it exists in. As the rich get richer and the poor lose even more because of it, will we continue to clap on as Stan adds another billion to his value and another few thousand find themselves living on the streets?

What is the real price of supporting Arsenal, or any football team, these days?