US investor Stan Kroenke will soon take complete control of Arsenal as he will buy Russian strongman Alisher Usmanov's 30% stake for £550m ($712 million).
“Usmanov has given “irrevocable undertakings” to sell, after 11 years as a substantial Arsenal shareholder,” announced Kroenke’s holding company Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE) on Tuesday.
Vehemently criticised by the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST), this move would see Kroenke legally forcing small shareholders to sell all of their shares to him. Most of these shareholders are Arsenal supporters. Kroenke also intends to take the club off the stock exchange and thus completely remodel it as his own private company.
Kroenke’s latest decision is based on the belief and as the stock exchange statement confirms, that privatisation of the club with a single, long-term owner will facilitate smoother carrying out of strategy and ambitions.
Usmanov became an Arsenal shareholder back in 2007. He was officially revealed to own the largest stake in the club in February 2008 after which he had strongly stated that he had no plans to increase his share percentage.
The AST in its criticism of the announcement has said that privatisation of the club which includes legally acquiring all of the small stakes would do away with what is known as “shareholder scrutiny”. This also includes removal of a second pair of eyes from its annual general meetings which had previously seen Kroenke in tight positions, often.
“Kroenke’s actions will neuter their voice and involvement,” the statement read.
Arsenal’s performance last season under Wenger had also put Kroenke’s efficiency in the question. Moreover, KSE had also faced strong voices against it in 2014 and 2015 when an amount of £3 million was asked as a payment towards “strategic and advisory services”.
It has been known from Usmanov’s spokesman that despite owning just over 30% of the club, he was always kept away from active involvement in the Arsenal board decisions. The exclusion being frustrating subjected Kroenke to active criticism from Usmanov.
Red and White Holdings later released in its own statement a confirmation of the deal along with a statement from Usmanov.
“I have decided to sell my shares in Arsenal Football Club which could be the best football club in the world. 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,” he said.
Within a few hours of the announcement "#KroenkeOut" was trending on Twitter in Britain.
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