Stan Kroenke continues to edge closer to a takeover of Arsenal. He is now at a 29.6% shareholding, just shy of the 29.9% that by city rules would trigger a takeover bid. The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) sent out a press release about the news today, which stated that they were opposed to a takeover by Kroenke (and also mentioned they did not believe one was imminent anyway).
But this isn’t just a case of knee jerk anti-Americanism or supporter belligerence. Members of the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) travelled to the U.S. to meet with Kroenke when he began seriously upping his share of the club some time ago, and were impressed by the billionaire and his business.
Indeed, the AST successfully called for Kroenke to be added to Arsenal’s board, and stated in a press release yesterday that “The AST has a good relationship with both Stan Kroenke and members of his team at Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE). We have stressed to them the importance of custodianship and that the club will be stronger if it has supporters directly involved in its ownership model. While we cannot vouch for their future actions we are encouraged that they have said they see the AST having an important role to play at Arsenal.”
Compared to the other apparent alternative, slimy Georgian Alisher Usmanov, Kroenke has had the gleam of the white horse about him for Arsenal supporters concerned about the future as an alternate major investor.
But sensibly, the Trust do not see Kroenke as a saviour, and instead believe the club should continue its tradition of a “plurality of ownership”, pointing out that Arsenal do not need a new owner taking over and indebting the club to purchase it, as has happened at Manchester United and Liverpool: “Two red lines that cannot be crossed,” the AST press release continues, “are the use of debt secured on the club’s assets to fund a takeover and an ownership structure which excludes small shareholders.”