Silent Stan finally makes it back into the Arsenal stands
22:13 GMT, 24 October 2012
Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke is expected — over four days this week — to double the number of times he has watched the team play since his takeover 17 months ago.
Silent Stan was at the Champions League game against Schalke and is due at the Arsenal v Queens Park Rangers Premier League fixture on Saturday, having previously been at only two matches since he became the controlling majority shareholder.
However, Kroenke has not just come over from his Denver base to see his side in action. Conveniently, Arsenal have their annual meeting on Thursday morning and the Kroenke-owned St Louis Rams play an American football game at Wembley against the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Rare show: Stan Kroenke not only watched Arsenal play but, what's more, he's coming back
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Kroenke’s absence from Arsenal games is all the more mystifying when a club spokesman said on Wednesday the amount of time the owner spends in London over the year adds up to around a month.
Kroenke is likely to be asked at Thursday’s shareholder summit about his intentions for buying the club. He will also be questioned over why he has yet to meet supporter groups, having made a written commitment to do so.
Arsenal’s 76-year-old chairman Peter Hill-Wood will preside over the annual meeting in his usual vague manner. But the club say Kroenke, who announced last year that fans would be seeing a lot of him because his family love coming to London, will answer questions directed at him.
The bizarre regulations of the Professional Game Match Officials are such that top referees including Howard Webb are allowed to do after-dinner speeches during the season but can’t do media activity. Mark Halsey was prevented by the PGMO from contributing to a Jose Mourinho ITV tribute for that reason, yet Webb is allowed to joke during his dinner act about his perceived bias towards Manchester United and that his sons are called Wayne and Rio.
A PGMO spokesman said private dinners were not media-facing events. Meanwhile, Halsey turned down his invitation to the North West Football Writers’ awards dinner last weekend when he discovered that former elite referee Graham Poll was the speaker. Halsey and Poll have long-standing differences.
Not a laughing matter: Howard Webb made jokes about his alleged Man United bias
The Jockey Club’s strategy under Simon Bazalgette, to put their 14 individually managed racecourses into four regional commands, has coincided with their two best-known racecourse bosses departing.
Cheltenham’s Edward Gillespie leaves next week after 32 acclaimed years at the helm and Aintree’s Julian Thick has lost his job in re-structuring. A Jockey Club spokesman said: ‘We’re very happy with our senior staff.’ But it is known Lord Daresbury, chairman of Aintree, did not want Thick to go.
Maria Miller, the new Culture Secretary, had an unfortunate start to her welcome drinks with the media when she muddled up St James’ Park with St George’s Park.
However, Miller’s arrival has seen an upgrade in the quality of wine served to the media at her cash-strapped department. After bargain basement vino and crisps at recent austerity gatherings, 7.99 bottles of Argentinian red and white were on the table, as well as olives and nuts.
Oops: Maria Miller muddled up St James' and St George's
Hugh are you kidding
There is a battle looming between Whitehall and Wembley after the FA council gave a thumbs-down to proposed governance reforms that would dilute their influence. FA vice-chairman Roger Burden reported it was now ‘very clear council will find it difficult to support anything that appears to diminish their authority’.
Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson is understood to be livid about the snub, which he described as a ‘massive’ disappointment. And it is expected Robertson will warn of more legislation and the FA being bypassed in grass-roots funding if councillors keep blocking changes.
Yet councillors do not see why the Government should meddle with football if they are not doing so in other sports. Former FA chairman Geoff Thompson brought up FIFA’s strong opposition to Government interference at a Football Regulatory Authority meeting last week.