Key Questions (& Answers) on Arsenal Takeover

Arsenal are set to announce a formal takeover by Stan Kroenke this morning, with the American having agreed to buy shares from Danny Fizman and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, increasing his control over Arsenal to 62%.

From the Guardian:

Fiszman had previously diluted his position to 16.1%, with £8,500 per share having been his sale price. It is now believed, however, that Bracewell-Smith has achieved between £11,500 and £12,000 per share, meaning Kroenke may have paid £240m for the 32%.

From the BBC:

At that price, Arsenal have a market value in the region of £750m. With them carrying debts of £147m, the deals value the club at £900m.

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust:

“Stan Kroenke has always been a supporter of the AST and supporter shareholders. We expect him to involve us in talks about any plans he has. The AST believes that Arsenal is a stronger institution when supporters are directly involved in its ownership structure.”

My main questions (and possible answers) surrounding this deal:

1. What happens to Alisher Usmanov and his 27%?

He might end up selling his shares to Kroenke (giving him 89% control over the club), or he might end up working with Kroenke in running the club. The key question for Usmanov is – can he make a profit on his 27% in the long term, or is it better to cash out now and reinvest elsewhere?

2. What happens to Arsenal’s debt?

With Arsenal being as ‘self-sufficient’ as they keep talking about, I doubt that Kroenke will touch the debt, or look at investing significant money directly into the club. Arsenal has enough money to spend on transfers (if Arsene wishes), but remember that Usmanov has talked before of generating extra funds to help strengthen the team, and that discussion may happen again now that Kroenke is in charge.

3. What about Wenger / Fabregas?

Nothing changes – and this seems to be the mantra for Kroenke’s drip-by-drip takeover where he has battled opposition from the Arsenal board and Arsenal fans before gradually winning them over, bringing is Gazidis and now, buying out two other key shareholders.

The duo’s future depends more on the results achieved this season and their subsequent end-of-season discussions than club ownership or funds available for transfers.

Arsenal – the last ‘great’ ‘English’ club or just late?

Football fans who have been following Arsenal’s ownership stories for the last 4 years will be familiar with how it all kicked off – David Dein being kicked off the Arsenal board for wanting to deal with Kroenke, and chairman Peter Hill-Wood stressing that ‘we don’t need his money and we don’t want his sort’ (talking about Kroenke).

Given that Kroenke has made is fortunes first in the property sector and then in sport, and in Arsenal’s case is primarily a long-term ‘business’ investor, it’s funny how, bit by bit, almost everyone who owned Arsenal has come around to selling their shares off to him. Maybe it’s because they see that the new ownership can help Arsenal grow financially to consistently compete for top honours in the long run.

Maybe, for all their posturing, Arsenal are just late to the party. Now that’s very English of them.

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