It emerged over the weekend that Arsenal could be subjected to a takeover bid from an Arab consortium group who wish to remain anonymous at the moment. The bid will be around £1.5bn which is more than double what Arsenal was valued at last year.
The group are made up of Quatari and United Arab Emirates members and they are looking to take full control of Arsenal in a 100% buyout which will see shareholders Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov leave the club. Their main interest is to eject Kroenke from the board but they are thought to be happy to work with Usmanov.
They will offer Kroenke £830million for his shares which will enable him to leave the club with £400million profit after he invested £430million in 2007. According to The Telegraph the Arab group have already requested a meeting with Stan Kroenke to discuss this offer further.
A lot of my fellow Gooners have been asking my opinion on this takeover bid and my answer is simple- I absolutely do not agree with any single group owning Arsenal FC. We are a club built on history which has always dictated that Arsenal will not be solely owned by ANYONE and this is one principle I believe we should always keep.
Our current board are a mess and we are unsatisfied with the way they have been dealing with things over the last few years. I think majority of Arsenal fans are united in the opinion that somethings needs to change within the board.
We have two investors but only one with a seat on the board-Stan Kroenke who holds 66.83% shares. We all know there is no love lost between Silent Stan and the fans and that is entirely his fault. If he was as good a businessman that he and the board claim him to be, he would have been aware before investing that there are certain key elements that are important when you are involved with any football club.
Kroenke has failed to grasp the importance of appearance, if someone has invested their money then he should take an interest in his investment and attend more games. The fact that he only spends a matter of weeks in the UK every year is not good enough. If he had more interest in the club and the team as opposed to complete ignorance most of the time then I’m sure he wouldn’t be criticised half as much. If he was attending more games, then I think he would have more insight to how bad things really are at Arsenal or maybe the truth is that he really doesn’t care as long as he is making a profit.
His failure to communicate with the fans is disgusting and he has still failed to adhere to any promise of meeting the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) and other fan groups despite trying to say that he already had held such meetings. He is never available to talk, at a time when our football team are falling apart because it has been neglected to make him money, he should be out there giving at least 1 press conference to explain and defend why the club are failing. If Wenger can’t manage it then it is up to him and other members of the board to come out and give their reasons.
Our second investor is Alisher Usmanov who holds 29.96% in shares but he doesn’t have a seat on the board, despite trying desperately to engage with Kroenke to remedy this but so far the American has refused to hold talks regarding this matter as well. Alisher Usmanov is an Arsenal fan and despite all we have heard about him, he has still stayed loyal to the club and kept his investment there even though he doesn’t have any control. I am aware that he has only been an Arsenal fan for 10 or so years, but that’s more years than some of our fans so I don’t render it as an issue.
What we do know about the Russian is that he is quite an astute business man, I really don’t think he would ‘chuck money’ at the Arsenal like his friend Abramovich has done. I think if he had his seat on the board Arsenal would genuinely be in a better place and he would work really hard to prove himself and he would definitely attend more games than Kroenke ever will and if my facts are right he already has.
We currently don’t know anything about the Arab consortium so it is hard to make a judgement on them without any solid facts, but I can’t help but feel that even releasing information about the bid to the media without indicating who you are is dishonest from the start. They talk a good talk when they give their objectives but I remember hearing a similar hype about a certain American and look what happened there.
Their objectives are to:
- Wipe out Arsenal £250million debt (which we will really owe to them instead of the current creditors)
- Reduce and cap tickets prices at a reasonable level so fans aren’t priced out of attending games
- Provide unlimited transfer funds
- Recreate the atmosphere from the Old Northbank
It’s easy to think with the group’s objectives how they would look like more prospective investors but I think that we would in the long run be such a different club and far from the Arsenal we know and love now. I just don’t think it would be a good idea to accept their offer, I can’t see a good future from this investment. We are finding it hard enough with Silent Stan as the majority shareholder and he is one of two investors. If they took 100% ownership and it went wrong then we would be in a much worse position than we are now.
However I do believe that the current board will not be able to continue without changing the situation as it is. Someone has to be the bad guy and make a change where it is necessary. Whether it’s ousting Kroenke or allowing Usmanov a seat on the board the club need to realise that football must take priority over finances for a while. Arsenal have many wonderful years of history but they are now being tainted with the board’s greed, but in this case I think it’s better the devil you know.