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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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By ESPN Staff

Kroenke speaks up for Glazers

Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has told Manchester United fans to lay off the Glazers and start thanking them for the success they have delivered since their takeover.

Malcom Glazer and his family have come under intense criticism from United supporters since they completed their leveraged takeover of the Old Trafford club in 2005.

The American family, who also own NFL club the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have been criticised for the way that they have financed their purchase of the club with loans partly secured against the club's assets.

Ticket prices at Old Trafford have soared since the Americans took over - a move which has caused the birth of a widespread protest movement against the family, who they want to see out of the club.

In Kroenke, however, the Glazers have a big fan. The American businessman, who became Arsenal's majority shareholder in May this year, thinks there is a big difference in how sports clubs are run either side of the Atlantic.

The 64-year-old maintains he has no plans to secure loans against Arsenal in the way that Glazer has done at United, but admits he is baffled at the way United fans have taken a severe dislike towards his compatriot given that United have lifted four league titles since they took over six years ago while also boosting revenue at the club.

Kroenke said: "Since they took over they have won and they have increased revenues by a huge amount. If I was a fan of that club, I would go there and go 'Wow!' because how could you do it any better?

"We have a whole different philosophy I think in the States, maybe, but I think it's time maybe for everybody to think a little bit. I think they ought to think about who invests in these clubs.

"He (Glazer) took money out of the club. So what? (LA Lakers owner) Jerry Buss takes money out of his club. A lot of owners in the US do. No-one ever says anything about it. Did the Lakers win anything? Well, yeah. They did. How big's their revenue? Pretty darn good.''

Kroenke has been criticised for his lack of public appearances at Arsenal since he took over the club in May.

The American, branded in some quarters as 'Silent Stan' has made a point of boosting his profile in London recently, however. Kroenke addressed the club's AGM last week, watched his first Arsenal match of the season last weekend - when the Gunners beat Chelsea 5-3 at Stamford Bridge - and he also visited the club's training ground on Monday.

There, Kroenke addressed the first team in the company of Arsene Wenger before re-iterating his support for the Gunners boss to the media.

As well as being a big fan of the Frenchman, Kroenke is also an admirer of the self-sustaining financial model the north London club have chosen while the likes of Manchester City have instead chosen to throw hundreds of millions of pounds at their club.

In what could be construed as a dig at City, Kroenke admitted making a club's survival dependent on one person or one company is not his idea of how to run a successful business.

He said: "I think you can have people who spend a lot, they will do it for a little while and they might have some success, but 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'. I am proud of the fact that Arsenal has had this sustainable business model.''

Kroenke, who also owns NBA side Denver Nuggets, NHL club Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Rams of the NFL, will watch the Gunners take on Marseille at the Emirates Stadium tonight before heading back to his Missouri home.

Before leaving his media briefing yesterday, Kroenke was keen to make one more point clear - his unwavering support for Wenger - a man whose future was called in to doubt after the club's shaky start to the season.

"Arsene Wenger is an unbelievable manager. I think he's a tremendous person. He is as good as there is,'' Kroenke added. "You lose some games, you have some tough loses. 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.''

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