ARSENAL’S much cherished status as an independently-owned football club was under threat last night after it emerged that the US businessman Stan Kroenke had done deals to take his shareholding up to 62 per cent.
Kroenke, who already owned 29.9 per cent of the club’s shares, was said to have agreed to purchase the shares of a sick Danny Fiszman and Nina Bracewell-Smith.
A statement from Kroenke is due out this morning but last night the club was making no comment. Kroenke is expected to now offer the price he paid for his latest purchases, £11,500 each, to any of the remaining shareholders in the club, as takeover rules stipulate.
At the current share price Arsenal is valued at around £700m. It is a famously well-run club commercially, although many of its supporters feel it should at times spend more on its team.
Kroenke will be expected today to give some idea how he is financing his latest investment.
There is widespread cynicism in the UK about US stewardship of clubs since fans at Manchester United and Liverpool, where there has been a recent history of US ownership, have been unhappy about aspects of their control.
Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal’s remaining large shareholder, has not made it clear how he will react to Kroenke’s move.