SBD/Issue 156/Franchises

Arsenal Fans Watch Kroenke As He Moves Closer To 30% Ownership

Kroenke Sits Just Nine Shares Shy Of 30%, A
Mark That Would Trigger Full Takeover Attempt

Stan Kroenke sits just nine shares shy of a 30% stake in Arsenal that would require a full takeover attempt of the EPL club, and "whether Kroenke buys them, or what he'll do if he buys them, remains just as big a mystery as it was three years ago," according to John Henderson of the DENVER POST. Kroenke has "kept his plans private," and that silence has "English soccer fans spooked." Nigel Phillips, spokesperson for the Arsenal Supporters Trust fan club, said, "People think he's got something to hide. Personally, I think given his record as a sports investor, I don't have a concern. But he needs to persuade people, because of the overwhelming negative American experience in ownership of English football." Manchester United has gone $1B in debt since the Glazer family acquired the club in '05, while Liverpool has gone $364M in debt since Tom Hicks and George Gillett took over in '07. Henderson notes it is "understandable why Kroenke wants Arsenal," but what "isn't clear are his intentions should he acquire it." Henderson: "Would he borrow heavily, as the Glazers and Hicks did, and then try to sell it? Will he fork over the money to sign a needed goalkeeper and central defender?" Phillips said, "I'm not saying he's losing the PR battle, because he's not even in it. ... He can be a good owner. But he must convince people he will be a good owner" (DENVER POST, 4/27). In St. Louis, Tom Timmermann wrote "any intrigue that surrounds" Kroenke's attempt to buy the Rams "may pale in comparison" to his involvement with Arsenal. While Kroenke has voiced his intention to buy the Rams, "it's not even clear that Kroenke wants to buy Arsenal, an effort that could cost him as much" as $700M. The Guardian's Arsenal beat writer David Hytner said, "Stan has kept silent, in the background. There's some kind of reassurance to that in these times" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/26).

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