London - Arsenal
majority shareholder Stan Kroenke on Tuesday announced an offer to take
full ownership of the Premier League club in a deal worth £1.8 billion.
The American sports mogul, who already owns 67 percent of the club
through his company Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE), has reached a
deal with Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov for the sale of his 30
percent stake, according to a statement to the London Stock Exchange.
"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," it said.
"KSE is a committed, long-term owner of the club".
But the Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST) said it was a "dreadful" day
for the club, adding it was too important to be owned by one person.
Kroenke, owner of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL, has been a
part-owner of Arsenal since 2007, gradually increasing his stake in the
Uzbekistan-born Usmanov, who made his fortune in the steel industry,
has reportedly made previous unsuccessful bids to take control of the
He was critical of Kroenke's passive ownership style, a sentiment
increasingly echoed by Arsenal fans, unhappy with what they see as the
board's willingness to settle for on-field mediocrity so long as
commercial stability was maintained.
Under takeover rules, if Usmanov accepts the offer it would trigger
the sale of the remaining minority shareholders' shares - many have
preserved a small holding for decades - and place the club under the
private control of Kroenke.
"We at KSE are moving forward with this offer leading to 100 percent ownership of the club," Kroenke said in the LSE statement.
"We appreciate Mr Usmanov's dedication to the Arsenal Football Club and the storied ethos and history the club represents."
Further details of the all-cash offer will be published by KSE later on Tuesday, it said.
But the Arsenal Supporters' Trust set out its opposition to the proposed move.
"Stan Kroenke taking the club private will see the end of supporters
owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values,"
it said in a statement.
"The AST is also extremely concerned to note that this purchase is being funded by a loan," it added.
"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."
Arsenal, who finished sixth last season, launch their 2018/19 Premier
League campaign at home to champions Manchester City on Sunday under
new manager Unai Emery.
The former Paris Saint-Germain manager replaced long-serving boss Arsene Wenger in May.