United State Of Arsenal
American businessman Stan Kroenke has taken control of English Premier League soccer club Arsenal by increasing his holding from 29.9 percent to 62 percent.
He’s purchased the 16.1 percent of the north London club owned by diamond trader Danny Fiszman and the 15.9 percent owned by Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, whose family made a fortune in London’s hotel business and had held the stake for three generations.
Kroenke, whose U.S. sports interests include American football (St. Louis Rams), basketball (Denver Nuggets), ice hockey (Colorado Avalanche), soccer (Colorado Rapids), and even lacrosse (Colorado Mammoth), is the fifth American to take over a top English soccer side.
The Florida-based Glazer family has controlled Manchester United since 2005.
The next three years saw Randy Lerner scoop up Aston Villa, Lone Star Funds president Ellis Short gradually take Sunderland FC, and Tom Hicks and George Gillett buy Liverpool.
Last October Hicks and Gillett lost Liverpool in a buyout that led to a bitter legal battle with John W. Henry’s New England Sports Ventures, which owns Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox.
Kroenke’s move for Arsenal values the club at a about £720 million and has been on the cards since 2007, when it kicked out former vice chairman and 14.4 percent shareholder David Dein, apparently for being in cahoots with the American.
If Dein threw in his lot with Kroenke, their combined share would have been close to 27 percent, only 2 percent short of the point that London Stock Exchange rules would require a formal takeover bid.
At the time Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood dismissed the idea of a Kroenke takeover by saying he’s “not our sort.”
Hill-Wood had sold much of his family’s holdings in the club to Dein in the 1980s and 1990s, and in March 2007 he only had 500 shares or less than 1 percent of the total.
On April 10 the man known as Silent Stan told the London market that he’s now doing what it requires and making the formal offer for the 27.1 percent of Arsenal owned by Alisher Usmanov, a Moscow-based billionaire industrialist from Uzbekistan.
If he can get Usmanov’s shares and the very small stake owned by one of the team’s supporters’ organisations, where he’s already popular, Arsenal will be de-listed from the stock exchange.
It’s the 11th of 20 English Premier League clubs to pass into foreign ownership.
Arsenal is in second place in the league, three places higher than bitter north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Tottenham’s now locking horns in a legal battle with the government over its decision to award east London Premier League side West Ham United the future use of London’s new Olympic Stadium.
West Ham’s successful bid to run the stadium after the 2012 Olympics was made in cahoots with Live Nation UK and its local Lewisham council.
“It seems to be a modern trend in football that – when a decision goes against you – it must be the referee that gets the blame and not your poor tactics,” was how LN international chief ops officer Paul Latham, an Arsenal supporter, greeted the news of Tottenham’s legal challenge.
“This appeal is no different,” he said.
Tottenham’s bid appears to be more financially sustainable than the one from West Ham, currently 18th in the Premier League and in danger of dropping out of it, but it took no account of the UK’s promise to continue to use the venue for athletics.
Tottenham would tear up the athletics track and spend money on developing facilities at Crystal Palace, Britain’s national track-and-field venue in south London.