The Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) have spoken out against Stan Kroenke’s bid to take full ownership of the club. Kroenke, who currently owns a majority stake in Arsenal (67%), has submitted a cash offer to buy the North London club outright, after securing the backing of 30% stakeholder Alisher Usmanov.
It’s no secret that a large section of Arsenal’s fanbase harbour an inherent distrust for majority shareholder Stan Kroenke. Over much of the last decade, Arsenal fans have been wary of Kroenke’s growing influence over their club, suggesting that the American billionaire has had little desire to see Arsenal achieve their grand ambitions, or respect the overall ethos of the club. They have accused Kroenke of allowing the club to stagnate, by offering minimal investment in the team in order to secure Champions League qualification – something former manager Arsene Wenger was often accused of being in cahoots with.
The biggest concern for Arsenal fans however, is the immediate financial strain that Kroenke could place on the club, should his takeover bid prove successful. Kroenke is understood to have taken out a huge £557 million loan in order to become the outright owner of the club, which could impact everything from future investment in the squad to ticket prices.
An official AST statement read: “This news marks a dreadful day for Arsenal Football Club. “Stan Kroenke taking the club private will see the end of supporters owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values.
“The AST is also extremely concerned to note that this purchase is being funded by a loan.
“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 shares not for value but as custodians who care for the future of the club.
“Kroenke’s actions will neuter their voice and involvement. It is in effect legalised theft to remove shareholder scrutiny on how Arsenal is managed.
“The AST is wholly against this takeover. Arsenal remains too important to be owned by any one person.”