Josh Kroenke has issued an open letter to Arsenal fans just 24 hours after 16 influential supporters’ groups, websites and bloggers launched the #wecaredoyou campaign.On Monday morning Arsenal fans came together in an unprecedented showing of unity, calling on owner Stan Kroenke and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) to prove they have the ambition to get Arsenal back competing alongside Europe’s best.A joint statement was issued demanding Kroenke and the club start reversing the decline that has been seen in recent seasons. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? It read: “As Arsenal fans we have watched with frustration as the team’s football performances have declined over the past decade. When Stan Kroenke began buying Arsenal shares the club had just competed in a first Champions League final. Twelve years on, Arsenal are about to play in the Europa League for the third year running.“Off the pitch, fans have never felt more marginalised, less listened to or valued. This was sadly illustrated when Stan Kroenke forcibly bought out the last remaining supporter-shareholders without even a word of appreciation for their custodianship role in the club.“It feels as though Arsenal is at a crossroads. Things need to change.“What all of us as signatories to this statement want to see is meaningful action by Stan Kroenke to reinvigorate our football club.“This requires work to strengthen the club’s board and football executive and to once again make Arsenal a place where fans have a real sense of belonging. Change needs to start with better leadership.”And now Josh Kroenke, Arsenal director and the son of owner Stan, has responded with an open letter addressing some of the points made in the campaign’s statement.The 39-year-old, who was in attendance on Monday night as Arsenal kicked off their pre-season campaign with a 3-0 win against Colorado Rapids in Denver, said: “I’d like to start by clarifying that my family owns Arsenal together, and when it comes to the Club, my father and I are in constant dialogue. “So when you hear from him you are hearing from me, and the other way round. So I pen this on behalf of myself, my father, my family and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. “We know we have some of the most passionate fans in any sport, anywhere in the world. It’s part of what makes us such a special and unique Club.“And while we understand, appreciate, and agree with concerns about our Club failing to achieve our goal of qualifying for the 2019-20 Champions League, we respectfully disagree about our Club being at a crossroads and that things need to change because so much change has recently occurred.”The letter continues with Kroenke saying Arsenal now needs some stability following a 12-month period which saw huge amounts of change at the club, following the departure of Arsene Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis.Kroenke highlighted the appointment of Edu as technical director, an appointment he describes as the ‘final piece of a very important jigsaw’ in the club’s football operational structure.“He [Edu] is first and foremost an Arsenal man who understands the ethos of our Club and, as an Invincible, he understands the mentality required from top to bottom across the entire Club for us to return to the level at which we all expect to be competing,” said Kroenke. “He joins Freddie, Per and Steve Bould, all winners with Arsenal DNA, who love our Club.”A major part of the #wecaredoyou campaign that was launched on Monday centres around the perceived lack of ambition from KSE to get Arsenal back challenging for major titles.The Gunners are preparing for a third successive campaign of Europa League football having missed out once again on a top-four finish in the Premier League last season.And currently the north London club have made just one summer signing, with Brazilian teenager Gabriel Martinelli the only new addition to Unai Emery’s squad.Monday’s statement said: “In his takeover document Stan Kroenke said: ‘KSE’s ambitions for the club are to see it competing consistently to win the Premier League and the Champions League’.“We see little evidence of how this is to be achieved. Instead our club feels like an investment vehicle, personified by the owner’s statement that he didn’t buy Arsenal to win trophies.“It is sad that an institution like Arsenal FC has such passive ownership. All of us want to see a clear sense of purpose and direction. KSE should start by being more open and accountable and explain how they intend to achieve the goal of winning the game’s major trophies.”Kroenke, however, insists KSE are ambitious and their aim is very much to win titles.“We want to be clear we are in sports for one reason and one reason only…to win,” he said. “There is simply no better feeling in sport than winning at the highest level.“We know there is a lot of hard work ahead and understand that supporters want success now. We will continue to push forward trying to balance the short and long term vision without abandoning the core principles of the Club that have sustained us for the past 133 years.“We are not naive in our thinking that our ambitions can be achieved overnight, and are putting processes in place to ensure we are stacked not only with talent, but talent with the proper mentality to help us achieve our highest goals in the future.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
The Paralympic champion and Olympian still stands accused of the pre-meditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. She died in the early hours of St Valentine’s Day at Pistorius’s Pretoria home. She was shot three times.Nair revealed his ruling after a drawn-out judgement, which included explanations for decisions about media presence in courtrooms, his earlier ruling to allow Pistorius to be held in a police station rather than a prison cell and a further recap and analysis of evidence.The judge replayed the night of Steenkamp’s death and the months she spent with Pistorius before 14 February through sworn statements made by the accused and a number of her friends.The defendant kept his head down and wept continuously through most of the judgement. Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford noted that he was “sobbing and shaking” as the magistrate repeated his friends’ words about the couple being “deeply in love”.Nair said he approached the case as a schedule six offence but that he is not “at this point seized with the issue of finding beyond reasonable doubt” that the accused had committed pre-meditated murder. That is a job for the trial judge, he added.He also said that although the prosecution had only produced circumstantial evidence over the past four days, the State did reach the threshold of convincing him that the charge was acceptable.On the issue of bail, he found that Pistorius was not a flight risk, nor a risk to others through violence. He was less clear on the issue of ‘exceptional circumstances’ over the strength and weaknesses of the State and defence cases.Nair said the defence had failed to show weakness in the State case, but equally the prosecution had failed to outline a case “so strong and watertight” that the applicant would come to the conclusion that he needs to flee or evade trial.Earlier…During this morning’s proceedings, the State’s lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel continued to argue that the accused intended to kill on 14 February. He also said he was a flight risk and may not stand trial if he is bailed.During his closing argument, he also questioned Pistorius’s lawyers claim that the victim’s bladder was empty when she died, why there were open windows and doors in the house if the athlete was as paranoid about intruders as he says he is and whether he realises the gravity of what he has done.Barry Roux, counsel for Pistorius, ended his appearance with queries about the transfer of intent. He said that the State is legally incorrect when it says intent to kill a perceived burglar cannot be transferred as intent to kill Steenkamp.The defence team also pointed to Pistorius’s fame and disability as reasons he would not flee the country if granted bail.The magistrate adjourned the court for two-and-a-half-hours so he could make the “unenviable decision” about bail.The new investigating officer Vineshkumar Moonoo arrived in court as proceedings got underway. He was assigned to the case yesterday after it emerged Officer Hilton Botha was himself facing multiple attempted murder charges dating back to 2011.The Pistorius family were in court again today, the fourth day of the prolonged hearing. His younger sister Aimee sat with brother Carl and father Henke. Their uncle Arnold and Oscar’s coach Ampie Louw were also present.Before the decision was made, Louw told reporters that Pistorius’s training would resume “immediately” if he was granted bail.VIDEO: Oscar Pistorius’s uncle says the athlete is in ‘extreme shock’ OSCAR PISTORIUS HAS been granted bail, a South African court said today.The 26-year-old athlete will be free under certain conditions until his trial later this year.Magistrate Desmond Nair’s decision – given at the end of a two hour statement – was met by shouts of “Yes” from the Pistorius family and supporters.Bail has been set at one million Rand (about €85,000). He must hand over all his guns and is banned from international departures. He is not allowed consume alcohol or drugs and random tests have been ordered.His next court appearance will be 4 June 2013.