STAN KROENKE made a rare public pronouncement yesterday when he issued a brief statement about his plans for Arsenal, but there remain more questions than answers regarding the reclusive American’s long-term strategy for the club.
Kroenke, who now effectively controls 63 per cent and has made a formal offer for all shares, sought to allay fears by insisting manager Arsenal Wenger and the current board would remain in place and that no debt would be placed onto the club.
“Arsenal is a fantastic club with a special history and tradition and a wonderful manager in Arsene Wenger,” said the American. “We intend to build on this rich heritage and take the club to new success.”
Chairman Peter Hill-Wood reiterated his desire to “protect the ethos and spirit” of Arsenal, adding: “We are confident that he will be a safe custodian of its future.”
Wenger has a contract until 2014 and a takeover would be unlikely to unsettle him. The Frenchman is very familiar with Kroenke, having worked with him since his invitation to join the board in 2008. But the long-term future of Hill-Wood, who turned 75 in February, is less clear. He is staying on, although for how long remains a doubt, since he too is selling his shares to Kroenke.
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis, a man said to have been identified by Kroenke, will continue running the club day-to-day and his position looks secure, unless of course Kroenke were to appoint a new chairman. Talk of David Dein (below), the former vice-chairman and close Wenger ally ousted by the board in 2007, has resurfaced. His feelings are not known but a return looks difficult with Hill-Wood still there and Gazidis, broadly speaking, doing his old job.
Kroenke has pledged his offer for the club will not place any further debt onto Arsenal, heading off fears he could bleed it to cover interest payments as the Glazer family has at Manchester United. There is no reason to doubt this, however there will also be nothing in place to stop him taking dividend payments.