Tim Lewis says his role as Arsenal’s Executive Vice-Chair sees him act as a conduit between the club’s US-based owners and the staff on the ground at Highbury House and London Colney.
A long-standing confidante of Stan Kroenke and a lawyer by trade, Lewis was parachuted onto the Board of Directors during the Covid-19 pandemic when owners KSE agreed to refinance Arsenal’s debts to avoid the club falling into the hands of its bondholders.
As evidenced by the new job title handed to him in March, his influence has gradually grown although, up to now, he’s preferred to keep a low profile.
“My role is not to give football advice but to be there to support and challenge,” he told The Telegraph.
“They need to be able to explain in order for me to understand and communicate for Stan and Josh to back the recommendation. The brain has to be lined up.
“Stan and Josh want great information. Then they can decide. Trust is a short word. If you’re a multi-billionaire, it’s a big word.”
Given Arsenal isn’t the sole focus of the Kroenke family, you can certainly understand the importance of having someone in place who not only has their ear but is also close to those running things on a day-to-day basis. Football moves very quickly and efficiency is key.
Arsenal also can’t afford to make mistakes like those clubs for whom money is no object. When we spend big, we have to make it count and the article hints at Lewis’ role in introducing “a series of transfer rules and parameters”.
In contrast to the short-lived Sanllehi era, where value for money seemed to be an afterthought, our new policy seems to be paying dividends. After all, when you spend cash and the team gets better, it’s far easier to go cap in hand each time the window opens.
Lewis also says Stan Kroenke’s patience is a virtue. While the American often comes across as aloof, Lewis insists the tactic of playing the long game ultimately helped him take full control of the club after a long cold war with shareholder investor Alisher Usmanov.
If there’s admiration for the way Kroenke does things, it appears Lewis is also captivated by manager Mikel Arteta.
Reflecting on the decision to renew the Spaniard’s contract last year, he said: “We didn’t think he was on a contract that reflected his contribution, or where he was in the market place, and we wanted to get ahead of the curve.
“We also knew we had a seriously talented guy on our hands. I think we all see it.”
“[Is he a] Genius? Maybe. Incredibly passionate, clever, committed and inventive. It’s a relationship. It’s important to know that people around you are supportive. Mikel wants to win. And he wants to win here.”
Clearly, that’s great to hear.
Usually, at this time of year, we also get an interview with Josh Kroenke. It’ll be interesting to see if that happens or if he’s happy to take a back seat and lets Lewis keep talking on KSE’s behalf.