Kroenke set for full Arsenal ownership
American sports magnate Stan Kroenke is set to take full ownership of Arsenal after winning a power struggle with a rival billionaire, by securing a deal valuing the English Premier League club at ÂŁ1.8 billion.
Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov, who was denied a place on the Arsenal board by Kroenke, despite building up his stake to 30 per cent, has accepted defeat and agreed to sell up to the majority shareholder, Kroenke, who also owns the NFL's Los Angeles Rams, and 67 per cent of Arsenal.
The agreement with Usmanov takes Kroenke beyond the 90 per cent threshold that allows him to mount a mandatory bid for the remaining shares to gain 100 per cent of the London club.
United States-based investment vehicle Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE) said it received an "irrevocable undertaking" from Usamanov's Red and White Securities to accept the offer for its 18,695 Arsenal shares as soon as possible. KSE said the holders of the remaining 3 per cent of Arsenal will be entitled to receive ÂŁ29,419.64 for each share.
The main Arsenal fan group said Kroenke mounting full control "marks a dreadful day" for the club, which is preparing for their first season with Unai Emery as coach, after Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign ended.
"Kroenke plans to forcibly purchase the shares held by Arsenal fans. Many of these fans are AST members and hold their shares not for value but as custodians who care for the future of the club," the Arsenal Supporters' Trust said in a statement. "Kroenke's actions will neuter their voice and involvement."
FORUMS could end
Kroenke addressed annual general meetings where he was questioned along with other directors in front of shareholders and media. Those partially public forums are now likely to end as Arsenal prepares to become entirely privately owned like most of the rest of the Premier League.
Kroenke dismissed concerns of fans who last saw the team win the Premier League in 2004 and finish sixth last season to miss out on the Champions League.
"KSE believes moving to private ownership will bring the benefits of a single owner better able to move quickly in furtherance of the club's strategy and ambitions," Kroenke's company said. "KSE is a committed, long-term owner of the club."