Billionaire Stan Kroenke’s deal to take full control of Arsenal has been slammed by the club’s supporters’ trust, who say it represents a “dreadful” day for the Premier League side.
Mr Kroenke, who owns the Los Angeles Rams American football team and the Denver Nuggets basketball team, has offered to buy out rival billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s 30% stake to take full control.
The deal values the north London club at £1.8bn.
In order to fund the deal, Mr Kroenke will pay £45m in cash and take a £557m loan from Deutsche Bank.
After details of the agreement emerged, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust said it was “wholly against this takeover”.
A statement from the group said: “Stan Kroenke taking the club private will see the end of supporters owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values.
“The most dreadful part of this announcement is the news that Kroenke plans to forcibly purchase the shares held by Arsenal fans.
“Many of these fans are AST members and hold their share not for value but as custodians who care about the future of the club.
“Kroenke’s actions will neuter their voice and involvement.
“The AST is wholly against this takeover. Arsenal remains too important to be owned by any one person.”
Mr Kroenke, who owns 67.09% of Arsenal through KSE UK, has received “an irrevocable undertaking” from Mr Usmanov to sell his stake in the club.
Mr Usmanov will receive £550m for his holding, based on the share price of £29,419.64.
Despite being the club’s second-largest individual shareholder, Mr Usmanov had grown frustrated at not been given a seat on the board and has made several attempts at buying out Mr Kroenke’s majority stake.
Mr Usmanov has been critical of Mr Kroenke’s running of the club on and off the field. He blamed the US billionaire for the club’s poor performance and lack of investment in players.
Arsenal finished sixth in the league and missed out on a place in the Champions League last season.
In May last year, Mr Usmanov made a $1.3bn (£1bn) offer to buy out his rival shareholder, but that was rejected.
In October, Kroenke Sports Enterprise UK (KSE) offered around £525m to buy the 18,695 shares held by Mr Usmanov’s Red and White Securities Limited. That offer was declined.
Regarding his offer to take full ownership, Mr Kroenke said: “We at KSE are moving forward with this offer leading to 100% ownership of the club.
“We appreciate Mr Usmanov’s dedication to the Arsenal Football Club and the storied ethos and history the club represents.
“KSE believes moving to private ownership will bring the benefits of a single owner better able to move quickly in furtherance of the club’s strategy and ambitions.
“KSE is a committed, long-term owner of the club.”
The deal comes at a crucial time for the club, which embarks on life without long-time manager Arsene Wenger, who stepped down in April after 22 years in charge.
Unai Emery has been charged with returning the Gunners to the summit of the league but he faces stiff competition from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
The club last won the Premier League in 2004.
From – SkyNews