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Tuesday 21 August 2018

Corbyn concerned about Kroenke’s takeover of Arsenal

Labour leader backs Arsenal Supporters Trust’s opposition to development.

Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn, pictured, has spoken out against Stan Kroenke’s proposed full takeover of the Gunners (John Linton/PA)
Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn, pictured, has spoken out against Stan Kroenke’s proposed full takeover of the Gunners (John Linton/PA)

By Nick Purewal

Jeremy Corbyn has voiced the Labour Party’s opposition to Stan Kroenke’s proposed full Arsenal takeover.

Kroenke edged closer to completing a full Emirates Stadium takeover on Tuesday, after minority shareholder Alisher Usmanov agreed to sell his stake for a deal in excess of £550million.

Kroenke’s move to add Usmanov’s 30.04 per cent stake to his current 67 per cent holding would see the American businessman take the club private – ending the days of fans owning shares in the Premier League outfit.

The Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) lamented a “dreadful day” for the Gunners – and now Labour leader Corbyn has echoed the sentiment.

“It’s a real shame that this sale will bring to an end the long-standing official role of Arsenal supporters in the running of the club,” said Arsenal fan Corbyn.

“I back the Arsenal Supporters Trust’s opposition to this takeover which is sadly an all too familiar story in today’s Premier League.”

Kroenke’s consolidation of the Arsenal ownership values the club at £1.8billion.

Usmanov confirmed his decision to sell up on Tuesday, but has so far declined to reveal the full reasoning behind that move.

Shadow Sports Minister Rosena Allin-Khan fears Arsenal could surrender a level of impartiality to their governance if the deal goes through.

“The sale of any football club – particularly one of the size and stature of Arsenal Football Club, must take fans into consideration,” said Allin-Khan.

“Whilst the fans may only have a small shareholding in the club, without the fans there would be no club at all so their voices must be heard.

“It is concerning that if this deal goes ahead there could be no independent directors on the Arsenal board, and so we appeal to Stan Kroenke to ensure that fans will have a say in how the club operates going forward.

“The financial viability of the deal must also be carefully examined, especially if the club will be purchased via a loan.

“We cannot have a football club used as collateral against an owner’s other business interests and we urge the Premier League to thoroughly examine this deal.”

Usmanov confirmed in a statement released to Press Association Sport on Tuesday that he had accepted the offer for his shares but did not give a reason as to why he has now opted to cash in.

“I have decided to sell my shares in Arsenal Football Club which could be the best football club in the world,” he said.

“I wish all the best and great success to this wonderful football club and to all those whose lives and careers are entwined in it.”

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust voiced several concerns over the potential takeover in a strongly-worded statement of their own.

“This news marks a dreadful day for Arsenal Football Club,” it read.

“Stan Kroenke taking the club private will see the end of supporters owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values.

“The most dreadful part of this announcement is the news that Kroenke plans to forcibly purchase the shares held by Arsenal fans.

“Many of these fans are AST 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.

“The AST is wholly against this takeover. Arsenal remains too important to be owned by any one person.”

Press Association

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