IT’S ALMOST four years to the day that American businessman Stan Kroenke first took a financial interest in Arsenal, but only now are the club’s supporters fully aware of his intentions with confirmation of a takeover bid set to be announced today.
Kroenke, 63, first became involved with the north London club back in 2007 when he bought the 9.9 per cent previously owned by Granada. He joined the Arsenal board in 2008 and has steadily increased his stake ever since.
The owner of multiple sports franchises in the United States, including the Colorado Rapids and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, Kroenke has vied with Russian billionaire, Alisher Usmanov, for the majority shareholding and now appears to have won the power struggle.
Despite his long-term involvement, Kroenke has remained aloof, very much living up to his nickname of ‘Silent Stan’ having declined the invitation to speak to the club’s shareholders at the two most recent AGMs.
The timing of Kroenke’s move appears to be shrewd with many Arsenal fans of the opinion that significant investment is needed for the purposes of squad reinforcement in a bid to end a trophy drought that looks set to extend into a seventh year.
Arsenal’s finances are in reasonable shape – at the interim results for Arsenal Holdings plc announced in February (for the half-year to last November), the company reported an operating profit of £12.6m.
That has added to the frustration of fans who attribute a lack of success on the field to a reluctance at board and managerial level to compete with their rivals in the transfer market.
In America, Kroenke is considered an owner who will spend money to achieve success. The transfers of NBA star attractions Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups to the Denver Nuggets were all masterminded by him.
Already the American’s likely move has been welcomed by the Arsenal Supporters Trust, who said in a statement last night: “Stan Kroenke has a good relationship with the AST and recently supported our Fanshare scheme. We are hopeful of having discussions with him on how our members and Arsenal supporters can keep their shares in Arsenal FC.”
KEY MOVERS | ARSENAL LOWDOWN
Stan Kroenke’s proposed takeover is to be triggered by the willingness to sell of two long-term Arsenal shareholders.
Danny Fiszman: The diamond dealer was a driving force in the move to Emirates Stadium and currently owns 16.1 per cent of the club. He is currently battling serious illness and sold a block of 659 shares to Kroenke in 2007.
Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith: The daughter of an Indian diplomat inherited her 15.9 per cent share in Arsenal from the estate of Sir Bracewell Smith. She was removed from the board in 2008 and last April appointed US broker firm Blackstone to find a buyer for her stake.