Sunday 26 May 2019

Stan Kroenke set to take complete control of Arsenal as Usmanov accepts deal

Usmanov, who owns over 30 per cent of the Gunners, will sell his stake to Kroenke.

Stan Kroenke (centre) is set to take complete control of Arsenal (Nick Potts/PA)
Stan Kroenke (centre) is set to take complete control of Arsenal (Nick Potts/PA)

By Mark Mann-Bryans, Press Association Sport

Stan Kroenke moved a step closer to completing a full takeover of Arsenal after minority shareholder Alisher Usmanov accepted an offer worth in excess of £550million for his stake.

American businessman Kroenke currently owns 67 per cent of the Gunners through his company Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, and has offered to purchase the 30.04 per cent held by Usmanov’s Red and White Securities firm, valuing the Premier League club at £1.8billion.

The move has been met with widespread derision from a large section of fans, with the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) labelling the news as a “dreadful day” for the club.

Alisher Usmanov has agreed to sell his share in Arsenal (Nick Potts/PA)

And former Arsenal striker Ian Wright wrote on Twitter: “Incredibly sad day for so many of our fan shareholders that that no longer own a part of this club. Imagine if this wasn’t only about (money) but about the club, the community & the fans – all this new enthusiasm we are witnessing with Unai (Emery) wouldn’t feel like such a waste.”

Usmanov confirmed in a statement released to Press Association Sport 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.

Kroenke has been on the board at Arsenal since 2008 (Sean Dempsey/PA)

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

Within two hours of the announcement the phrase ‘#KroenkeOut’ was trending on Twitter in the United Kingdom.

In a statement published on the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday morning, Kroenke said: “We at KSE are moving forward with this offer leading to 100 per cent ownership of the club.

“We appreciate Mr Usmanov’s dedication to the Arsenal Football Club and the storied ethos and history the club represents.

Both Kroenke and Usmanov have made previous attempts to buy Arsenal outright (Phil Cole/PA)

“The successful implementation of the offer will result in the opening of a new chapter in the history of the club in bringing 100 per cent private ownership by KSE.

“KSE believes moving to private ownership will bring the benefits of a single owner better able to move quickly in furtherance of the club’s strategy and ambitions. KSE is a committed, long-term owner of the club.”

Later on Tuesday, Red and White Holdings released their own short statement to confirm the deal.

It read: “Red and White Holdings Limited (“Red and White”) today confirms that Mr Alisher Usmanov has given an irrevocable undertaking to KSE, UK, Inc. to accept the offer in respect of Red and White Securities’ entire holding of 18,695 Arsenal shares (representing approximately 30.05 per cent) for an agreed price of £29,419.64 per share in cash valuing Red and White Securities’ stake at just over £550 million.”

New head coach Unai Emery will lead Arsenal into the upcoming Premier League campaign (Niall Carson/PA)

In October last year KSE offered around £525million to buy the 18,695 shares held by Usmanov, the Russian businessman who himself attempted to buy-out Kroenke in May 2017.

The Gunners last won the Premier League title in 2004 and last season finished sixth, 37 points behind champions Manchester City, who they face in their opening game of the season on Sunday.

Unai Emery was appointed manager in May after the club said farewell to Arsene Wenger after 22 years in charge.

Press Association

The Left Wing: Leinster's succession plan, Munster's missing piece and the art of contract negotiations

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport