If you are an Arsenal supporter like myself then most of your knowledge of the inner workings of the Club may have come from random interviews on ATVO. As interesting as it is that Arshavin thinks Jack Wilshere is longest in the shower, this knowledge does little to prepare you to understand the significance of what has been transpiring over the past few days.
Stan Kroeneke’s name has been everywhere lately and for good reason. Stan is an American property developer who owns several American sports teams such as the Colorado Rapids, the Denver Nuggets and the St Louis Rams. He has been nicknamed “Silent Stan” for his avoidance of publicity and the media. However, what is important for us to know is that up until the weekend, he owned 29.98% of the shares in Arsenal and reached an agreement to acquire a further 16% from Danny Fiszman, a key driving force behind the move to the Emirates who sadly passed away on Wednesday.
Under UK takeover rules, once Stan reached the magic 30% threshold he had to make an offer for the remaining shares. Crucially, this included a binding agreement to acquire 15% held by Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, a former member of the Board, which virtually guarantees that Stan will be our new owner. This doesn’t mean that the rest of the shareholders such as Alisher Usmanov (who owns 27%) or the Arsenal Supporters Trust have to accept it – and they likely won’t – it just means that an offer has to be made.
Why is this a big deal, I hear you ask? Historically Arsenal has been run with more of a coalition than under one single owner. With Stan buying the majority of shares it puts him in charge. The other shareholders will have a voice but Stan will make all the final decisions. The positive news we can take from this is that our boy Stan is well-funded, which hopefully means he will not be taking on massive bank loans and debt to purchase the club like Liverpool had to endure with Hicks and Gilette or Man Utd with the Glazer family. Indeed, he has promised not to do so. Also based on his way of operating other sports organisations, Stan seems content to leave the team decisions up to the manager and focus on the business side, meaning we won’t have an owner interfering with tactics or selection or one who spends ridiculous sums of money (against the manager’s wishes?) on a player and insists this marquee signing plays in every game, like a certain Mr Abramovich is rumoured to have done at Chelsea.
If you are wondering how this affects you as a supporter right now…it really doesn’t. At the moment all we have is a lot of speculation about what Stan may or may not do. As usual for all things Arsenal I looked to Arsene for see his reaction, this is what he had to say:
“I have worked with Stan Kroenke at board meetings over the past couple of years and I believe he has the best interests of Arsenal at heart…He understands the club’s heritage and traditions and our ambition to run the club in a way which protects our long-term future.”
Amidst all the rumours and speculation, I have found these words very comforting. No-one can say what Stan will do or what kind of owner he will prove to be. With so few matches left yet so much to play for I will be focusing my attention on our team and on math I fully comprehend – the very vital three points from each game.
If you are looking for more detailed information from those much wiser than myself, here are some blogs I personally recommend:
The always excellent Swiss Ramble wrote a detailed and still relevant blog about Stan a while back – http://swissramble.blogspot.com/2010/03/is-stan-man-for-arsenal.html
A fan based blog with similar outlook to mine is Arsenal Vision – http://arsenalvision.co.uk/my-vision/3585-all-change-yet-no-apparent-change-at-arsenal-fc.html
And the ever-present granddaddy of all blogs, Arseblog’s take – http://arseblog.com/2011/04/kroenke-takever-thoughts-blackpool-1-3-arsenal/