Stan Kroenke completes Arsenal takeover: What now?
Stan Kroenke completed the full takeover of Arsenal Football Club, following an agreement made last month with minority shareholder Alisher Usmanov to buy the Russian's 30% stake. Usmanov's holding was the lone stumbling block to the American assuming full control at the Emirates. Confirmation divided supporters. Some are frustrated. Others take a more understanding approach, knowing modern-day football's not the same as it once was.
The deal reiterates the sentiment for many Arsenal fans, disappointed to see the club's unorthodox ownership structure destroyed before their eyes. Fans being able to purchase and own shares in a club the Gunners' size was always a limited-time offer.
Kroenke's power tussle with Usmanov was widely reported in recent years, in tandem with the club's on-field struggles. However, it speaks volumes this was done in such a ruthless manner before the new campaign, given the wholesale changes across the club this summer.
Why Kroenke wanted full control
Already the club's largest shareholder, Kroenke wished to benefit fully from the profits while Arsenal's worth continues to increase on an annual basis. Rumoured to be worth £731 million in its entirety in 2011, the American's £600 million offer for the outstanding shares projects the club's current value to a reported £1.8 billion.
Kroenke already staked a beneficial interest in the voting rights and purchased a considerable amount from existing shares originally made available to select supporters.
Given his Kroenke Sports and Entertainment portfolio includes ownership in US teams across four sports, it should come as no surprise he too was recording impressive profit margins. Having silenced Usmanov's influence within the club, why not go for the jugular?
Kroenke turns 71 over the summer. He naturally sees son Josh as the long-term successor to his throne. Completing deals like this provide the scion with opportunities to earn more exposure in the UK while boosting his chances for a senior role at Arsenal in the future.
Why are fans upset?
Kroenke taking the club private will see the end of supporters owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values. Many are AST [Arsenal Supporter's Trust] members and hold their shares not for value but as custodians who care for the future of the club. Kroenke's actions will neuter their voice and involvement - in effect legalised theft to remove a brake on how Arsenal is managed.--an AST statement in August.
Kroenke's nickname, "Silent Stan", doesn't bode well either. It suggests less transparency and accountability on the club's behalf behind-the-scenes. He's barely, if at all, engaged with supporters, being more focused on business. Rather than helping Arsenal reach their full potential by investing smartly in the team, which would see club value surge, he remains quiet while watching from overseas.
Having first bought shares in 2007, Kroenke hasn't once placed money into the team. The Gunners took pride in being a self-sustaining business, spending no more than they earned, with a cautious nature, allowing rivals open to criticise their ambivalence towards winning trophies.
Gone are the annual general meetings where supporters gather to discuss concerns and issues moving forward. As are detailed public accounts revealing where money's allocated for various sub-sections.
Fans are helpless to stop the club from falling into disrepute if assets are stripped, such is the new ownership structure.
With no-one to question his decisions, hold him accountable for the club's finances nor simply urge him to take a hands-on approach to improving the club he's paid so much to be part of, it's a bleak situation is in north London, one unlikely to improve.