Kroenke bids £525m for Arsenal
Arsenal’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has bid £525m to purchase Alisher Usmanov’s 30.4% stake in the club.
Usmanov has attempted to buy Kroenke’s shares on a number of occasions but the American has had no interest in discussions.
An Uzbeki billionaire, Usmanov has no influence on Arsenal at all and has not been able to gain a seat on the Arsenal board as Kroenke will not work with him. After years of struggle, he could now be open to selling and moving on elsewhere.
If Kroenke’s offer were to be accepted, he would be compelled to purchase the remaining 3% of the shares and could make Arsenal a privately traded company.
That’s scary for fans. As things are, there is at least some transparency at the club. Should Kroenke buy Usmanov’s shares, that would be lost. There would be nobody to hold Kroenke accountable for his actions and – as some already fear – the American would be able to use Arsenal’s value as leverage against his other business.
Basically, Arsenal would continue to be rich but that money would be helped to fund other projects, with the club becoming little but Kroenke’s personal bank.
Chelsea are also privately owned by Roman Abramovich, but it is quite clear his ambitions – investing heavily, ruthlessly firing managers – are different to Kroenke’s, who has never put a penny into Arsenal.
A consortium of Arsenal fans have found heavyweight financial backing and are determined to stop Kroenke, though that seems unlikely at this point. Kroenke has turned down all proposals up to this point.
“We are a group of experienced local business folk who have had a longstanding involvement with Arsenal,” a spokesman for the consortium told Amy Lawrence of the Guardian.
“We came together three years ago with a vision to dislodge the impasse that exists with the current ownership. We wanted to find an alternative. Our group have spent three years searching for the right backer.
“After our own due diligence we were delighted to have found that a year ago. We have gone out to find the money for Mr Kroenke and Mr Usmanov to make a huge profit and for us to get the club back where it should be challenging at the top.
“If Kroenke were to get to 97 % he can force Arsenal into becoming a completely private company. That would be a major concern for everyone involved in Arsenal. At that point transparency would be a real minimum.”
Usmanov may well be tempted to sell. If so, the only real hope for Arsenal fans is that he refuses to sell to Stan Kroenke.