Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has given his approval to Stan Kroenke’s takeover bid – declaring the American businessman has the club’s “best interests at heart”.
Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE) yesterday secured a controlling 62.8% stake in the club and are now obliged to make a cash offer for the remaining capital at £11,750 (€13,300) per share.
The club’s total value has been set at £731m (€827m).
Kroenke will become the fifth American owner in the Premier League with Arsenal joining an established sporting stable.
KSE already own NFL franchise the St Louis Rams, NBA team the Denver Nuggets, NHL club the Colorado Avalanche and Major League Soccer champions the Colorado Rapids.
Wenger is convinced Kroenke will respect the traditions Arsenal have built – a reputation for developing young players – and his involvement will be for the good of the club.
“I have worked with Stan Kroenke at board meetings over the past couple of years and I believe he has the best interests of Arsenal at heart,” Wenger said.
“He understands the club’s heritage and traditions and our ambition to run the club in a way which protects our long-term future.”
Arsenal, league champions on 13 occasions, have not won a trophy since the FA Cup in 2005. But Kroenke has backed Wenger as manager and vowed to bring success to the Emirates Stadium.
“Arsenal is a fantastic club with a special history and tradition and a wonderful manager in Arsene Wenger,” said Kroenke. “We intend to build on this rich heritage and take the club to new success.”
Kroenke has committed to continue operating the club in line with its existing “self-sustaining business model” and he will not be funding his offer with debt finance secured against the club.
Kroenke’s main focus will now be on purchasing the £194million stake owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who does not have a seat on the board but controls 27% of the club’s holding company.
The Arsenal Supporters Trust discussed the takeover at last night’s AGM and members were advised not to sell their shares, to ensure supporters retain a stake in the ownership structure.
“The AST are encouraged by Kroenke’s offer but the key judgement is whether the supporters are involved in the ownership,” said spokesman Tim Payton.
“The AST wants to see supporters shareholders in the ownership structure and is encouraged that Kroenke does not intend to delist from the PLUS Stock Exchange.
“We have spoken to Ivan Gazidis who reiterated the importance placed on fans’ involvement in their commitment to custodianship.
“The AST has always been wholly opposed to any takeover placing debt on Arsenal Football Club. It is very good news that Kroenke confirmed he has no intention of doing this.”