Report: Kroenke launches bid to own 97 percent of Arsenal

by
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Arsenal's majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, has reportedly offered £525 million to purchase Alisher Usmanov's portion of the club, which would bring him closer to his speculated aim of fully owning the English outfit and registering it as a private business.

Kroenke and Usmanov have a well-documented fractious relationship behind the scenes at Arsenal, something that's been cited as a contributor to Arsene Wenger's side not hoisting the Premier League trophy since 2004. The north London giant is also not competing in the Champions League for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

Usmanov attempted to stage a takeover last May, but Kroenke stood firm. Now, it's instead Kroenke who's lodged a bid of £28,000 per share for Usmanov's 30.4 percent, according to the Guardian's Amy Lawrence. If that deal goes through, it would give Kroenke - who boasts the NFL's Los Angeles Rams and Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids in his stacked business portfolio - a 97.4 percent stake in Arsenal.

Kroenke procuring such a large portion would put him in a stronger bargaining position when attempting to buy out the remaining shares - many of which are owned by long-serving minority shareholders who've passed down their splits for generations - with the aim of then listing Arsenal as a private company. That would allow Kroenke to operate the Gunners in a similar vein to the Glazer family at Manchester United, using the club as leverage in other deals and to stomach personal debts.

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

His increased power would also further reduce supporters' say in club matters. A significant chunk of the Emirates Stadium faithful has spoken out about Kroenke's absenteeism, a supposed lack of investment in the playing staff, and questionable ambition when it comes to collecting honours other than the FA Cup. Most harmfully to the supporters quest for more input, Kroenke buying Usmanov's share would effectively end attempts from an ambitious fan-led consortium to gain control itself.

"We are owned 97 percent by two very wealthy individuals but it is a disappointment that they have never managed to get together and see eye to eye to move the club forward," said a spokesman for the consortium. "The benefit of their wealth and experience could have been felt in unison, but Arsenal has not been able to gain from it."

The supporters' syndicate had found backing from an unnamed source to submit two inquiries to buy Kroenke's portion at a valuation of £2 billion for the club - or £32,000 per share. Upon failing in those advances to Kroenke, the group then attempted to gather Usmanov's 30.4 percent, albeit with the requisite that the consortium would have a seat on the board. Usmanov has never held a seat on the board, nor has he held any decision-making clout during his involvement with Arsenal, Lawrence reports.

The consortium was given a thumbs-down response from Kroenke after each of their three presentations.

Ashley Brown, chief executive of Supporters Direct, expressed concern over the route English football appears to be taking, saying: "It is clear that too many clubs are moving in a similar direction, taking clubs further away from fans and treating them primarily as businesses. The best owners recognise that they are custodians of a football club loved by thousands and operating at the heart of their communities."