Stan Kroenke has purchased even more shares in Arsenal today taking his holding to 29.9% of the club. With only another 0.09% required to reach the threshold to make an offer for the rest of the clubs shares, Kroenke has purchased 627 shares this week for the princely sum of £5.3 million. The oddest part of the share purchasing is that 100 of the shares were purchased from Arsenal chairman, Peter Hill-Wood.
Hill-Wood seems to have had a change of opinion about Kroenke, after originally stating that the club didn’t need his money or his sort back in 2007 when he purchased his first shareholding in the club. Now the club seem to be relying on him to protect themselves from a takeover from Red and White Holdings, the share vehicle of Alisher Usmanov and ran by former Arsenal vice chairman David Dein.
Now for me, there is no doubt that Stan Kroenke is man who knows his sport. He owns 40% of the St. Louis Rams, the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Rapids and Colorado Avalanche. Perhaps annoyed that he doesn’t own a MLB franchise, Kroenke set his sights on Arsenal and has quietly and effectively gone about his business with a minimum of fuss over the last 30 months. Now I know why they call him “Silent Stan”, as his refusal to answer questions about his intentions at the recent Arsenal AGM saw.
British football still has a somewhat rose tinted view of foreign ownership and with the comedy roadshow at Portsmouth shows, with such investment comes a high degree of risk. Yet, British football is littered with teams destroyed by English and Scottish owners who had no idea how to run a football club. Xenophobia is still alive and well in the Premiership, but it is something we English based fans have to get used to and since Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea, most fans would welcome any Billionaire to splash the cash at their club.
When you see the damage people like Geoffrey Richmond, Robert Maxwell, Ken Richardson, Darren Brown and Anton Johnson did to clubs, the chance to bring in proven sporting expertise from outside of the UK becomes an obvious option for me. I’m sure the fans of those clubs almost destroyed by such mismanagement would gladly pay for people to fly over and buy their beloved clubs.
Arsene Wenger must be getting a bit fed up about the constant questions about the share dealings going on, two press conferences this week seem to have missed the fact that his side have climbed nicely in to 3rd, tucked in nicely behind Manchester United and Chelsea and qualified to the next round of the Champions League. All questions focused on the money changing hands in the financial markets and quiet correctly, Wenger calmly and politely avoided answering the questions with a stock answer.
“I do not know what Kroenke will do,all I know is the rules, that if he gets to 30%, he has to make a bid for the club. At the moment, he flirts with the 30, but is not there. I do not know what his intentions are, I have not spoken to him about it.”
With his side bucking all the preseason predictions of falling out of the top four, playing some lovely football and with a Billionaire shoring up his stake in the Gunners, Arsenal could be on the cusp of a wonderful new era. In to the next round of the League Cup and European football once again assured after Christmas, Wenger has continued to keep his head when everyone outside of Arsenal thinks the dream is over. Shame I’m a Spurs fan but that’s life.