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New Gunners owner Kroenke wants 'new success' for the club

AMERICAN billionaire Stan Kroenke is the new owner of Arsenal after a securing a deal with shareholders which gives him full control and values the club at a massive £731m.

Kroenke, who already owns close to 30 percent of the North London club said he had offered Arsenal shareholders £11,750 per share and had already secured the backing of 17 percent shareholder Danny Fiszman and 16 percent shareholder Nina Bracewell-Smith.

He now controls 63 percent of Arsenal's shares and must now make an offer for the 27% of shares owned by Russian steel magnate Alisher Usmanov, the Gunners' other major shareholder.

Kroenke said in a statement to the Stock Exchange: "We are excited about the opportunity to increase our involvement with and commitment to Arsenal.

"Arsenal is a fantastic club with a special history and tradition and a wonderful manager in Arsene Wenger.

"We intend to build on this rich heritage and take the club to new success."

KSE already own NBA basketball franchise the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche NHL ice hockey team and Major League Soccer side the Colorado Rapids.

Meanwhile, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has no doubt Jens Lehmann can handle the pressure of the title run-in after his last-minute call to the veteran yesterday.

Wenger was forced to throw the 41-year-old, only recently coaxed out of retirement to provide emergency cover, into a must-win Premier League clash at Blackpool after first-choice Manuel Almunia was injured in the warm-up.

The German, making his first Gunners appearance in three years, initially had little to do as his side established a 2-0 lead with a commanding first-half display at Bloomfield Road.

He then survived a few nervy moments as the visitors went on to record a 3-1 win that cut Manchester United's lead at the top of the table to seven points with a game in hand.

Wenger, who will have Almunia's fitness assessed today, said: "I was not concerned because I replaced a good goalkeeper with a good goalkeeper. He did well. His decision-making was spot on."

Arsenal were in complete control at half-time, after strikes from Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Eboue.

Blackpool responded with a goal through Gary Taylor-Fletcher, but Robin van Persie restored the Gunners' two-goal advantage with a coolly-taken finish.