Stan Kroenke's company was not paid £3m by Arsenal this year, for first time since 2013
Arsenal have this year made no £3 million payment to the company of majority owner Stan Kroenke for the first time since 2013.
A fee was registered in the annual accounts in both 2013-14 and 2014-15 in relation to services provided by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment but that payment does not appear in the accounts that have just been lodged at Companies House for 2015-16.
No official explanation has been given for the change but it is understood that the club is still receiving the same range of services from KSE and the fee has simply been waived this year.
It follows letters from other shareholders, notably Alisher Usmanov and the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, asking for a full clarification, as well as a series of questions at the past two annual general meetings.
Chairman Sir Chips Keswick said last year that KSE was “one of most respected sports organisations in the United States” and had helped Arsenal develop their commercial, media and sporting operation.
“I don't know how many of you here run your own businesses but those of you who do will know that the best advice you can get is the quick advice from people,” he said.
KSE is the company that owns Kroenke’s basketball, ice hockey, Major League Soccer and lacrosse teams, as well as a range of related sports venues, media and ticketing operations in the United States.
Kroenke and his son, Josh, are both directors at Arsenal and regularly attend matches as well as board meetings. The AST, however, followed up questions at the AGM with a letter in January to Arsenal about the KSE fee.
After taking professional advice, they set out a series of detailed questions to the board about the payment. These included whether there was a contract for these services, whether they were valued with competing third party providers and whether there was a competitive tender process.
They also asked about the tax arrangements for the payments. “The AST is delighted that following our pressure for the board to end these payments, they have listened and none will be made this year," said spokesman Tim Payton.
Arsenal have previously stressed that they are “entirely satisfied the fee was appropriate”. The club’s accounts for 2015-15 showed a growth in football turnover to above £350 million and a rise in the wage-bill to more than £195 million.
That wage-bill is likely to break £200 million next year, with the club now also in talks to extend the contracts of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.