New Era In Gunners Boardroom
Arsenal’s long history of collective club ownership among directors came to end last Monday when American sports tycoon Stan Kroenke upped his stake in the North London club to 62.89%.
The 63-year-old bought the holdings of former significant shareholders Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and Danny Fiszman, for a reported price of £11,750-per-share.
News of the transfer of power was tinged with sadness, however, when Fiszman passed away this week, aged 66, after a long illness.
Meanwhile, manager Arsene Wenger’s men kept their EPL title hopes very much alive with a 3-1 win at struggling Blackpool, with goals from Abou Diaby, Emanuel Eboue and Robin Van Persie.
They moved to within seven points of leaders Manchester United despite having to field veteran German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann after a pre-match warm-up injury to first choice Manuel Almunia.
Arsenal have a game in hand on United, who still have to visit the Emirates in search of EPL points.
The takeover mounted by Kroenke’s investment vehicle, the modestly-entitled Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE), values Arsenal at £731m.
Kroenke became an Arsenal shareholder in 2007, buying a 9.9% stake in the club from broadcasting firm Granada. He then built up his shareholding to 29.9%, the maximum allowed before a shareholder is legally required to make an offer for all shares.
Kroenke said: “Arsenal are a fantastic club with a special history and tradition and a wonderful manager in Arsene Wenger.”
He has undertaken not to use club finance to fund KSE’s purchase of shares, in the manner of fellow-American Malcolm Glazer at Manchester United.
The Arsenal board has recommended KSE’s offer to all shareholders. But Uzbek steel magnate Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal’s second-largest individual shareholder, is so far refusing to transfer his 27% stake to Kroenke.
The billionaire said: “I’m not going to sell my stake. I love Arsenal. That’s why I’m a shareholder.”
Arsenal’s Supporters Trust (AST) has followed suit, saying: “Arsenal is too important to be owned by one man. The Trust wants to work with Stan Kroenke to keep Arsenal supporters involved in the club’s ownership structure.”
Fiszman owned a 16.1% stake in Arsenal. He joined the club’s board in 1992 and was a driving force behind the club’s move to the Emirates in 2006 and was described by Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood this week as a “visionary” and a “true Arsenal fan.”
Arsenal host Liverpool at the Emirates in the EPL this Sunday afternoon.
Tags: Arsenal, Stan Kroenke, Arsene Wenger, Jens Lehmann, Alisher Usmanov, EPL