Plenty of people have asked me what I think about the news that Stan Kroenke has taken full ownership of the Arsenal Football Club.
The truth is that me commenting on the finances of the club would be something akin to asking Lada Gaga what she thinks about the conflict in Libya. She’d probably have a thing or two to say of course, and some of it might have some merit, but at the end of the day you’re not going to get any definitive answers.
My personal opinion on the matter is that I don’t really have an opinion. I’m as worried as everyone that Kroenke has the power to turn Arsenal into his own little playground, but his track record with previous sporting teams in the US suggests he’s not the type of person who will do that.
The good news is that we’re not in the situation where we are borrowing money from the bank to prop our club: Kroenke’s money is for real and we’re not going to be put in horrible, debt-laden situation similar to Manchester United or Liverpool. We’ve managed our stadium debt well and if anything, a takeover should be something that can push the club even further towards the European elite.
Many people seem to believe that a change at the very top will bring a change at first-team level. That more finances will be made available and finally Arsene Wenger will have the money he requires to get rid of the deadweight in the squad and bring in the type of players necessary for us to compete at the top level (there is obviously sarcasm attached to this comment: there is very little dead weight in our squad we are already competing at the top level). I don’t think this is true and I think our youth policy will remain largely intact. Wenger is not now suddenly going to have millions and millions to spend: there might be some changes in this area moving forward but I suspect they will be less spectacular than people expect.
Anyway, that’s all I’m going to say on the matter for now. As I mentioned earlier, I’m no expert and everything I say should be read with caution. They are my opinions, they’re not built on much and they should not be held against me if they turn out to be wrong. Remember the Lada Gaga analogy I made?
As for the specific details on the takeover, you’re far better off following Arseblog’s detailed account of the situation. I’ve included the important bits below:
“It is a hugely significant day in the history of Arsenal Football Club. Stan Kroenke has agreed to purchase the shares of Danny Fiszman and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith for £11,750 per share, bringing his overall share holding to 62.89%. In accordance with stock market rules he will offer £11,750 for the remaining shares, but that doesn’t mean those shareholders have to sell.”
“It’s a marked change in the way the club is owned, however. Down the years, and particularly in recent times, plurality of ownership has been the Arsenal way and now we have Kroenke with his 62.89% and Red and White holdings with their 27%, plus a smattering of smaller shareholders.”
“It will be interesting to see how Usmanov reacts. Any chance of him owning the club is now well and truly buried and at £11,750 per share he stands to make a profit on his investment despite the fact he hoovered up shares at relatively high prices over the last few years. I don’t think there’s any hope whatsoever of Usmanov, or a representative, being invited to sit on the board. There’s certainly no love lost between the two camps and to me it’s inconceivable that any working relationship can be forged. Also, any suggestion of a return for David Dein is entirely wide of the mark for much the same reason.”
R&W are under no compulsion to sell, and could easily hold on to their stake, but there’s little they can do with it. They can’t influence things, their famous ‘blocking stake’ is no more, so ultimately they have to make a decision sooner or later about what to do with their shareholding. If Usmanov did sell to Kroenke it would take him very close to the 90% mark at which point he could make compulsory purchases of all the remain shares and take the club into private ownership.”
“We have to hope that Kroenke’s association with the current board, the fact that he’s been part of the inner-sanctum, knows how the club works and everything else, mean that he’s a man who will respect what Arsenal Football Club is all about. It may also provide a bit of impetus to change some of the things that are wrong, address some of the issues we have, but obviously we won’t see any of that in the very short term. What is for certain is that it’s going to be a very interesting summer for more than the usual reasons.”
It might seem churlish to say but at this point in the season, with so much still to play for, I would hate it if the situation off the pitch impacted on the performances on it. So on this undoubtedly very important day in the history of the club, let’s keep the Arsenal FC Blog focused on the bit that the Arsenal FC Blog likes to focus on: the eleven men in red and white running around on the pitch.
For today though, let me know what you think by leaving a comment.