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Arsenal Takeover Getting Messy

Stan Kroenke’s move to take majority control of Arsenal is getting a little bit messy as Alisher Usmanov has confirmed that he will not sell his 27% stake in Arsenal to Kroenke.

“I’m not going to sell my stake,” Usmanov told Bloomberg from Moscow. “I love Arsenal, that’s why I’m a shareholder.”

According to The Guardian Usmanov attempted to block Kroenke’s deal in a dramatic move on Sunday night, when he beat the American’s offer to Bracewell-Smith, but his higher offer was turned down.

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust has already voted unanimously to retain the 3% stake held through its Fanshare scheme and has welcomed Usmanov’s commitment to the club.

“AST welcomes Red & White’s commitment to Arsenal and calls on all shareholders to work together,” it said. “Their priorities should firstly be making Arsenal a successful football team, secondly placing no leveraged debt on the club and no dividends or management fees that take money out of club, and thirdly Arsenal Fanshare and supporters being directly involved in the club’s ownership structure.”

Like the AST, Usmanov is seeking undertakings from Kroenke that he will not draw cash out of the club in the form of dividends or related-party payments. He is also seeking clarification in the full offer document on how Kroenke is funding the £500m takeover offer and his intentions for the club.

AST not selling its shares to KSE is not a big issue. Usmanov not selling his shares is a really big issue. If Usmanov had sold to Kroenke, the delisting of Arsenal from the stock exchange would have become mandatory. That would have left the supporters without a stake in the club and less transparency or oversight.

It will be interesting to see what Kroenke does next. Will Usmanov finally get a seat on the Arsenal board?