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Fans’ anger as Kroenke submits bid to buy Arsenal

Arsenal Supporters' Trust say club is 'too important to be owned by any one person' as American billionaire moves to further Gunners' 'strategy and ambitions'

07 August, 2018 — By Steve Barnett

Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium home

THE Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) have reacted angrily to the news that Stan Kroenke has submitted a bid to buy the club outright, saying it “marks a dreadful day” for the Gunners.

American billionaire Kroenke, who already owns 67 per cent of Arsenal through his company KSE, made a cash offer to take full ownership of the club on Monday, valuing the Gunners at around £1.8bn, after securing the backing of minority owner Alisher Usmanov, who owns 30 per cent.

A KSE statement said it has received an “irrevocable undertaking” from Usmanov’s firm to accept the offer as soon as possible, with a deadline of 3pm on Tuesday set.

The buy-out announcement was made to the London Stock exchange, with the KSE statement adding that taking the club private will help to further Arsenal’s “strategy and ambitions”.

The purchase of Usmanov’s stake would give Kroenke 97 per cent ownership and would lead to the compulsory purchase of the remaining shares, some of which are owned by Arsenal fans.

A statement from the AST on Tuesday read: “This news marks a dreadful day for Arsenal Football Club. Stan Kroenke taking the club private will see the end of supporters owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values.

Stan Kroenke

“The AST is also extremely concerned to note that this purchase is being funded by a loan. 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. It is in effect legalised theft to remove shareholder scrutiny on how Arsenal is managed.

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

Despite his shareholding, Usmanov is not part of the board at Arsenal. The Uzbek-born Russian billionaire made a £1bn bid to take over near full control in May 2017 but this was rejected by Kroenke.

In a statement to the stock exchange, KSE said that under “its stewardship since 2011 the club has invested in major transfers, player contracts, analytics, senior non-playing football management employees” and it “expects the club to build on those investments”.

It added: “KSE’s ambitions for the club are to see it competing consistently to win the Premier League and the Champions League, as well as the major trophies in the women’s senior game and at youth level.”

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