My thoughts on Stan Kroenke’s Arsenal takeover

My thoughts on Stan Kroenke’s Arsenal takeover

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.

Kroenke has now taken over control at Arsenal

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.

Cheers.

For today though, let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

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14 Responses to “My thoughts on Stan Kroenke’s Arsenal takeover”

  1. theusualsuspect
    April 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    I know a lot of fans will question will Kroenke make money available for significant investment in the transfer market. We all hope he will and in doing so issue instructions to Wenger that success (trophies, not just top 4 finish) is what is expected. However with the new financial fair play rules he can’t simply pump in money like Abramovich and the Sheikh did at Chelski and City. We still have a stadium debt to service and can only spend what we generate, which is significant. I think I’m right in saying this, Kroenke could clear the remaining debt on the stadium from his own pocket allowing for the money the club generates to be used for player investment! This wouldn’t violate UEFA’s financial fair play rules and give us the transfer war chest we were told we’d have to challenge the big boys when we moved to a bigger stadium. That’s IF he has the money, unlike a Glazer takeover at United.

  2. Andrew Weber
    April 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    @theusualsuspect – It seems hypocritical, after I said I would not like to talk further about the takeover in the article, that I am now going to do so, but here goes. The biggest thing to consider when it comes to Stan pumping his own money in is that he wants a return. He’s not a sugar daddy like Roman who has endless mounds of cash and wanted to turn Chelsea into a world power, he’s a man who has owned plenty of teams and wants them to be as profitable as possible. It’s unlikely he “loves” Arsenal the way certain fans or previous owners of the clubs do, even if his motives are less negative and crass than other owners, however he will only allow Wenger more cash if he believes there will be a financial return. Would more trophies provide that? Perhaps, but there are many other factors to consider too.

  3. Nicholas
    April 11, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Like you, Andy, when it comes to finances and all these kinds of specific money moving deals, I find little to say. However, related to this change, I would like to express a personal thought, or more likely a wish I have. It’s possible to get a lot of stick for saying this, but heck, so be it. I dont’t WANT for Arsenal to start spending money, millions upon millions, no matter who the investor is, no matter how our funds suddenly grow bigger (or larger, I’m not sure which one is the correct word). The last thing I want to see actually is another Abramovic-style takeover, so I really hope Wenger stays firm on his policy of spending smart. I want to see talended players here who prove themselves rather overpriced stars. Ok, we need to buy some two or three players this summer, we all agree on that, but I, for one, wouldn’t want them to cost tens of millions. Besides, to have half a squad changed for the next season again isn’t an option, the lads progressed together, played togeghter, they know their places on the field, the got their tactics, change all this and you risk making too many changes for our own sake.

  4. Shard
    April 11, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    I think one thing Kroenke will do, and hope to gain a return from, is increasing our revenue from commercial streams. He will have experience in that regard. In fact the positions of Gazidis and Fox at the club can probably be put down to his input and influence. But that and perhaps the online market and pre season tours of the States aside, I don’t think we should realistically expect too much to change. The statement mentioned the self sustainable model, and that indicates that there is no guarantee of cash being injected into the club.

    But in any case, even apart from Kroenke’s intentions, the situation is still very unclear. The takeover is hardly a formality. So far he’s reached an agreement to own around 63% of the club. No guarantee that he’ll be able to procure more, and Usmanov’s 27% is probably key as to what will happen.

    For the rest, I’m inclined to agree with Andrew that important as this situation is, until we know more, it would be best to wait, and watch and discuss the football instead.

  5. KC
    April 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    Being an american, i can now hope for an USA pres season tour so i can finally watch my arsenal 🙂

  6. 1NilToTheArsenal
    April 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    I agree and I’ve said before: we have all summer long to discuss non-football matters. Like the team we all need to focus on the next few games. The Blackpool match was a good first step to righting the ship

    We need to keep winning (especially the 6-pointer on May 1st of course) and will United to drop points. That it seems so unlikely right now will only make it something we can talk about and remember for years. Stranger things have happened…

    1NTTA

  7. Cisco de Tours
    April 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    We have all the summer (Winter for me) to talk about Kroenke, for now (As Andy says) let’s stay focused on the 3 games before MU clash, this month is vital for the title race!

  8. Ooh2BeAGooner
    April 11, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    If Stan brings the Gunners to the US for a summer tour, then I’ll love him forever. Spurs came last year and played Thierry Henry and the NY Red Bulls. I even went to watch Juventus play in NY right before the world cup started.

  9. Jabulani
    April 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    A brief history on Stan’s American teams. Colorado Rapids (MLS) won the title this most recent season. Denver Nuggets (NBA) were the laughing stock up until 8 years ago, now consistently makes deep runs into the playoffs. ST Louis Rams (NFL) eon the super bowl in ’98 lost it in ’01 then completely sucked till last year. Though you can blame this on the fact that the NFL is financially run like a Communist state (no joke) with teams being allotted the same amount of money and anti dynasty rules in place. If you’d like a real portrait of the man, Swiss Ramble goes pretty in-depth here http://swissramble.blogspot.com/2010/03/is-stan-man-for-arsenal.html

  10. steven
    April 11, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    I think that maybe this takeover has come too late for us to close the gap on the big spending clubs and that the board may have missed an opportunity to see major investment in line with Chelsea and Man City’s by refusing to let Kroenke take over earlier. At the beginning of the 2012-13 season the new UEFA spending restrictions kick in, which will mean a club cannot spend more than they bring in over a three year period. This will have a huge impact on us should we now try to bring in big name players on inflated wages, especially with the current 50% tax bracket effectively meaning that we have to pay higher wages than any of our counterparts in the other main footballing nations.

    We have one of the highest matchday incomes in the world but other money streams are limited due to poorly thought out long term deals being signed. We current lag way behind Man U, Chelsea and Liverpool on this front. We got £100m for a 15 year deal with Emirates while Man U got £80m for just 4 years from Aon, well it probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

    We will also be hampered by having a large number of overpaid players in our squad! Diaby, Denilson, Eboue and Bendtner have all signed new long-term contracts recently which will almost certainly mean their deals were improved? This cannot have been done on a performance related basis and can only have been done to avoid them leaving the club on a Bosman. All clubs will find it hard to maintain a 25 man squad which is filled with the top percentage earners, especially if those players are sub-standard. Manchester City are the club most likely to suffer but we will also have problems if we have the expected clearout in the summer and try to plug the gaps by buying the finished articles that we all crave. It will be a balancing act and I fear the club may decide to persevere with the current policy of polishing rough diamonds rather than bring in the experienced quality required to sustain our challenges for trophies beyond March and April.

    Arsene must be worried this morning. Will Kroenke be as patient as the current owners have been with regard to winning trophies? Maybe Arsene’s prudence will win favour with the American but there’s no guarantee of that when Kroenke will want to prove to the supporters that his takeover is good for the club. I’m not sure that any assurances will have been given to Arsene regarding his position and he will have a nervous wait before his fate is confirmed at the end of the season. If by some miracle we win the title and he is retained, I really hope that some pressure is exerted on Arsene to change direction and accept his experiment just hasn’t worked (yes even if we do win the title).

    Only time will tell if the takeover will be good for us but a break in the gloom that has surrounded the club in recent months would be a start.

  11. derek
    April 11, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    its a good move

  12. el bizarron
    April 12, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    I have to agree with Jabulani. His American teams seem to be very well run (from the point of view of someone with no business acumen). He also owns the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League. Before the league brought in a salary cap, the Avalanche were arguably the most talented team on paper as well as one of the highest paid. They won the Stanley Cup (NHL championship) in 2001 (Kroenke’s first year of ownership, I believe.) They never matched that success again but were always one of the top teams in the regular season and were competitive in the playoffs (until this year anyway). Let’s hope that success continues with Arsenal.

  13. Tricia
    April 12, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    since events are still unfolding as regards the takeover, i think our focus and everybody at that should be our remaining games. Did anybody watch the kops dismantle city, that is going to be one difficult match for us and i am already shaking in my boots

  14. theicehammer
    April 12, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    @laninja, sorry for the delay in responding to your comment, have no idea what your talking about (hate?, and what was that animal again?!!, must look it up.) . I need no reason to prove to you what i have said about my connection to the club academy and you are quite welcome to your view on any football teams blog across the whole wide world. Come one come all i say.

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