Arsenal fans are furious after news broke on Tuesday that the club’s majority owner had agreed to pay £550 million to buy second largest shareholder Alisher Usmanov’s 30% stake. The deal values the Gunners at £1.8B.
When Usmanov put his shares up for sale last month, we wrote that the only logical buyer for those shares would be Kroenke.
The deal will take Kroenke past the 90% shareholding threshold, triggering a mandatory offer to buy the remaining three per cent of isolated shares.
The Arsenal Supporters Trust said:
‘This news marks a dreadful day for Arsenal FC. The most dreadful part is the news that Kroenke plans to forcibly purchase the shares held by Arsenal fans.
‘Many of these fans are our 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.’
Former major shareholder Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, who sold her part ownership of the club to Kroenke in 2011, tweeted:
‘It’s a truly sad day for Arsenal Football Club.’
A large section of Arsenal fans have been highly critical of Kroenke for what they view as a lack of investment in the playing squad, high ticket prices and his apparent unwillingness to communicate with supporters.
The club moving from its current PLC status to a private company means Arsenal will not be duty bound to publicly declare their finances.
The Arsenal Supporters Trust say that by taking the club private Kroenke will be able to: pay management fees and dividends without any check or balance; no annual general meeting to hold the board to account; remove the independent directors and place debt on to the club to support other business interests.
In a statement, Kroenke justified his move to take full control by saying:
‘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.’