x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Stubborn Arsenal fans worry over Kroenke takeover

Arsenal fans voice concern over the club being acquired by Stan Kroenke, who owns the NFL's St Louis Rams, the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche.

Arsenal supporters who own shares in the club are being told not to sell to Stan Kroenke, the American billionaire who this week agreed to a takeover deal.

"The AST [Arsenal Supporters Trust] and Arsenal Fanshare scheme will not be selling the shares it owns and urges all supporters to reject this offer," said the AST in a statement. "Arsenal is too important to be owned by any one person. The AST wants to work with Stan Kroenke to keep Arsenal supporters involved in the club's ownership structure."

Kroenke, who already owned close to 30 per cent of the London club, said on Monday he had offered shareholders £11,750 (Dh70,500) per share and had already secured the backing of 17 per cent shareholder Danny Fiszman and 16 per cent shareholder Nina Bracewell-Smith.

He now controls 63 per cent of Arsenal and under Takeover Panel rules is compelled to make an offer for the remaining shares. Alisher Usmanov, the Russian steel magnate, is the other major shareholder, holding a 27 per cent stake. He has, so far, declined to comment on what his plans are."In just six months the Arsenal Fanshare scheme has gained 1,800 members who have invested £500,000 in Arsenal shares," said the AST.

More than 100 members who attended an AST meeting in London on Monday voted unanimously for the trust to continue its campaign for supporters to remain in the club's ownership structure, the statement added.

The 63-year-old Kroenke, worth US$2.9 billion (Dh10.6bn) in 2010 according to Forbes, already owns several US sports teams including the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, the NFL's St Louis Rams and the Colorado Rapids of the MLS.

On Monday he spoke of his aim to "bring new success" to Arsenal.