US billionaire Kroenke launched My Outdoor TV (MOTV) in the UK last weekend. The channel documents angling, bloodsports and trophy hunting.
In response, Labour leader and Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn issued a statement yesterday evening, saying he was "appalled at the glorification of killing wild and rare animals on this TV channel".
Corbyn said: "As an Arsenal fan I'm disgusted that Stan Kroenke is involved in such a brutal, unethical and unnecessary activity. This is not sport. Kroenke should stick to football if he wants to be involved in sport."
Arsenal has 'nothing to say'
According to The Express, and following further backlash on social media (see below), the club issued a comment to Good Morning Britain, which stated: "This is nothing to do with the football club, so we’ve got nothing to say."
Graham Goodkind, an Arsenal fan and co-founder of Frank PR, said he's not surprised the club has been "pretty quiet". Goodkind said: "Best to let MOTV deal with the flak and try and keep their distance."
He also said that from a PR perspective, MOTV had "played things about as well as they could, trying to get the message across that money from trophy hunting goes towards the conservation of endangered species".
Football clubs react differently to 'other businesses'
David Fraser, meanwhile, founder of PR agency Ready10, said the nature of professional football means the club's reaction would typically be "very different" to that of other businesses.
Fraser said: "Football has an almost Teflon-like ability to ensure that controversies around owners don’t affect the core fanbase."
Fraser added that the club is very fortunate in that it has "an often unflappable PR operator" in manager Arsene Wenger, "who can call on years of experience to try and defuse the story and get the right message across".
Arsenal's response is 'weak'
Paddy Hobbs, head of sport at PrettyGreen, said Kroenke was reckless, adding that the channel "shows a massive lack of understanding for what’s acceptable to consumers in this market and the impact it could have on Arsenal’s reputation".
And despite Hobbs saying Arsenal's response was "understandable", he also said it was "weak". He said: "Arsenal's response portrays them as a club with the same level of guts that their players have when challenging for the title."
Unsurprisingly, fans, animal rights groups, and celebrities took to social media and reacted angrily to Kroenke's new business venture.
Journalist Robert Peston said he felt "sick", while fellow Arsenal fan Piers Morgan also had his say:
Aside from the irony of Kroenke engaging in 'trophy-hunting', this absolutely disgusts me.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 31, 2017
Sooner he leaves our club the better. https://t.co/eCI3g81FEq
Animal rights group The League Against Cruel Sports called on Kroenke to cancel the TV channel:
Meanwhile, TV personality Ben Fogle went a step further calling for a boycott of the club:
Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen labelled Kroenke a scumbag: