Stan Kroenke is manouvering his way to the top of the pecking order in the Arsenal board. Since his introduction to the club in 2007 we have seen him steadily accumulate shares, and this culminated him being invited to join the Board as a non-executive director in September 2008.
He has now taken a 20% stake – buying 8% from Danny Fiszman, and becoming second largest shareholder after Usmanov – spending £42 million – he is serious about this.
Kroenke took an 11.26% share off ITV in April 2007, and the Board were initally hostile – it was the beginning of a period of turbulence which saw Dein lose his position on the Board, and is still having repercussions today. Dein then sold his stake to Usmanov and suddenly Kroenke seemed like the good guy. The Board invited him in and is now setting him up as the defence against Usmanov and Dein.
This sale has come at a very important time – April 2009 is the end of the lock-down agreement set by the Board – they may now sell their shares to whoever they want. By increasing Stan’s share they are effectively blocking Usmanov. The situation was dangerous as Lady Nina is known to be unsettled and may sell her shares very soon.
Share in Arsenal
- 25.0% Alisher Usmanov
- 20.5% Stan Kroenke
- 16.1% Danny Fiszman
- 15.9% Lady Nina
Fiszman has given up his position as the second biggest holder, but still wields considerable clout. Usmanov seems unlikely to increase his stake; owning 30% would mean that he would have to launch a take-over bid – not likely at a time when his personal wealth is dwindling.
The lockdown agreement allowed Board members to trade between themselves – and this is the important part – it allows them to leave Usmanov in the cold. This is why Kroenke was invited onto the Board; to allow him to acquire shares. Kroenke is the Board’s choice to lead Arsenal.
The fact that Gazidis was appointed in January 2009, a man who has had contact with Kroenke in the MLS, is important. He may well have been Stan’s choice and hints further at the large scale shift in power within the club. The partnership with Colorado Rapids – Stan’s US football team also points to closer ties.
Personally I would prefer the Board to stay in the hands of the ‘old guard’, but Kroenke has made some promising comments:
“I will continue to work closely with my board colleagues to maintain the stable environment in which the club operates and to preserve the self-sustaining business model enjoyed by the club.”
This makes me hopeful that Stan is the right man for us. It seems inevitable that Arsenal will be in foreign hands in the near future, but Stan has experience in sports clubs and is a proven stable investor.
If he really is interested in maintaing Arsenal as a sustainable club then I am all for him.