The Inevitable Takeover and Happy Holidays

By on December 24, 2009

On Monday, it was announced that Stan Kroenke had purchased another 25 shares in Arsenal Football Club for £212,500, bringing him within 17 shares of being forced to launch a takeover bid. Of course, it must be stressed that even the seemingly apocalyptic figure of 29.99% does not mean anything is going to happen. It only requires Kroenke to make an offer to the Board for their shares. They retain the right to reject his offer. However, considering recent statements from Peter Hill-Wood and the fact that Alisher Usmanov and his goons at Red & White are not far behind Kroenke, I am inclined to believe that Kroenke’s offer will be taken and he will gain control of the club.

The following day, a spokesman for Usmanov said that “it is important for the stability of the club for him to clarify his position.” This is an absolute joke. Clarification of his “position” is only important at the moment to Usmanov. Arsene has said repeatedly that what happens in the Board room regarding these transfers of shares does not affect the team on the pitch, and so far that has seemed to be true.

Kroenke has been under a gag-order, effectively, because had he made any statements regarding his intentions about the club, he could have been precluded from buying the club for up to six months, which would have given Usmanov a six-month window in which to try to reach the magic number himself. The future of Arsenal football club has been a two-horse race for over a year now and we seem to be heading into the final stretch with Kroenke in the lead.

Even though I am an American supporter, just like most Gooners, I would rather see the club remain in the hands of the Hill-Wood family and the current Board. One of the great benefits of being an Arsenal supporter is the lack of uncertainty. Most clubs, even big clubs, are regularly subjected to uncertainties either over ownership or their managerial situation. Arsenal had escaped that dynamic for many years. Until now… The last thing many of us want, with the end of the Arsene-era coming up over the horizon, is uncertainty over the ownership as well.

For me, it seems a simple choice. I often wonder about the mindset of that small group of supporters that want to see Usmanov take over the club. I imagine they think will turn into Chelsea 2.0 and start spending ridiculous amounts of money on all kinds of big names. However, if, after Arsene leaves, the club ignores everything he ever said and decides to take the Chelsea-route, a big part of Wenger’s work will be a failure.

We have been blessed to have such a man as our club’s manager for so long a period of time. We are even more blessed to have a manager who truly loves the club and always keeps an eye on the future of the club when making big decisions. To throw that away would be to waste a great amount of the work Arsene has done since he’s been at the club and especially in the last 5 years.

We can say that Kroenke is the lesser of two evils, but I have come around a bit on Kroenke since his initial interest in the club. I, like many, questioned his motives. Yet now, for whatever reason, I tend to think he has honorable intentions when it comes to the club’s long-term future. I don’t see him laying out big money in the Chelsea/Man City fashion, especially if it would jeopardize the club’s future. Since a takeover is obviously inevitable, I think the club could do a lot worse than to be taken over by Stan Kroenke.

In other news, the club is seeking to renegotiate their sponsorship deal with Emirates. Due to their need for cash during the building of the stadium, Arsenal accepted a deal with Emirates that paid £5m per season. The club is now seeking a deal more in line with Chelsea, whom receives £12m per year from Samsung, and United, whose new deal that starts next season with Aon is worth £20m per season. With the club already in the black, this extra cash could be used by Wenger for player acquisitions without any fiscal compunction.

In pitch-related news, Samir Nasri has escaped a ban after his incident with Richard Garcia was reviewed by Steve Bennett, the match official. After watching the tape, Bennett told the FA that had he seen the incident during the match, he would have only issued a caution. Since yellow-cards cannot be given after the match, Nasri escapes with no punishment. However, the FA will press ahead with charges against both Arsenal and Hull City for the ensuing  “brawl” and it is likely both clubs will be fined.

Meanwhile, statements from Arsene during his free webchat on ArsenalTV Online, have led to renewed transfer rumours regarding the club. Perhaps the most interesting has named Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as an option. One rumour involves a loan rather than a transfer.While I don’t think we desperately need to add another striker, even with van Persie out for what looks like the rest of the season, I have always admired the Dutchman. His record at Ajax was phenomenal and he has found himself in two bad situations at Madrid and Milan. I have always thought he was the kind of striker we have been missing for a while. But, of course, this is just a rumour and Huntelaar’s agent has said that there has been no contact from any clubs, with United also interested.

And, finally, Arsenal Station would like to wish all its readers a very happy holidays. The growth of the blog over the last six months is directly due to the readers, and I would especially like to thank all the regular readers and those who leave their comments often. Reading and responding to your comments is my favorite part of doing Arsenal Station and I only hope more will contribute their own opinions in the coming year. Arsenal Station is always happy to take suggestions from its readers on how to make the blog even better, so don’t be shy. If there’s something you think is missing or things that you don’t like, please let us know. Anyway, happy holidays from me and all of Arsenal Station’s contributors to all our readers.