Takeover won’t diminish my position, says Wenger

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger insists he will remain very much in charge of team affairs regardless of Stan Kroenke’s multi-million takeover at Emirates Stadium.

The American tycoon, who has a proven track record of successful sports ownership in the US, is set to take a controlling 62.89% stake in the Barclays Premier League club having agreed to buy out the holdings of the late Danny Fiszman and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith for around £234 million (€264m).

Kroenke Sports Enterprises are now obliged to make a cash offer for the remaining capital at £11,750 (€13,278) per share, valuing the Gunners’ parent company at around £731m (€826.1m).

However, that process is by no means yet guaranteed, with Red & White Holdings — backed by Usbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov — stating they have no intention of selling a 27% stake, while the Arsenal Supporters Trust have stressed all of their minority shareholders will not sell.

The deal is now subject to the strict rules of the Takeover Panel, and as such Arsenal are limited as to any public comments made.

However, when pressed at yesterday’s press conference ahead of tomorrow’s clash against Liverpool, Wenger maintained changes behind the scenes would have no impact on the way his team is managed.

“We will continue to run the club with the technical department having the decision on what is technical,” said the Gunners boss, who had long talks with Kroenke at Thursday’s board meeting.

“For all the rest I have to answer to Stan Kroenke and I am ready for any questions, but I run the technical department.”

Wenger continued: “On the football side of things we will continue to focus on the football the way we want to play it to develop our players.

“We have a certain philosophy of football and we will continue to develop that and to play even better.

“We will continue to run the club like it has been done until now — that means live within our resources, produce our own resources and develop our football team.”

Arsenal host Liverpool looking to claw back the seven-point deficit on leaders Manchester United, who take a break from league action this weekend when they face rivals City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

With the Gunners set to play their game in hand against north-London neighbours Tottenham on Wednesday night, Wenger knows there can be no more margin for error if his team are to stay in contention ahead of the showdown with United at Emirates Stadium on May 1.

However, the Arsenal manager stressed there can be no talk of one bad result now effectively ending their title bid.

“We don’t approach a game in that mental state, we think it is an opportunity we want to take,” Wenger said.

“It is one of the games that can get us to the target that we want so we look at it in a positive way.”

Wenger added: “Liverpool have a good offensive force with [Andy] Carroll and [Luiz] Suarez, we are as well an offensive team so it promises to be an interesting game.”

Meanwhile the Liverpool squad yesterday joined a crowd of thousands at Anfield to pay respect to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

Manager Kenny Dalglish, who was in charge of the team at the time of the 1989 tragedy, was also present along with many former players at the memorial service.

96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death during the Reds’ FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground.

A minute’s silence was held at 15:06 — the precise time the game was abandoned — while readings were given by television scriptwriter Jimmy McGovern and Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotherham, the city’s former lord mayor.

Present-day defender Fabio Aurelio feels it is very important the victims and their families are never forgotten.

The Brazilian said: “It is difficult to forget and get over a tragedy like that.

“But the club and the players will always try to give the support in every quantity we possibly can.

“We will never be able to compensate those parents but I think it is always good to have a moment to reflect and support them.

“It will not be a great day for them to remember but I hope they have our support and feel strength on this day and they can carry on with their lives.”

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