Stan Wants to Buy Arsenal: Not If But Why?

Or, Everything which is wrong with modern football (Part 26,496).

It didn’t take long for the billionaires to bear their teeth. The ‘Big Six’, to a man, owned by secretive billionaires who deposit themselves and their money in exotic locations, are demanding a bigger share of overseas broadcasting rights.

The wannabes, owned by the not quite as wealthy but still obscenely rich, of Leicester, Everton and West Ham are with them while the other 11 clubs are ready to defy them and stick to the man. Right on, brothers! Fight the good fight because in no way are you owned by the leaches who killed football.

We’ll come to their story later but Supporters Direct said of the soon-to-be-discussed latest Arsenal debacle, “It is clear that too many clubs are moving in a similar direction, taking clubs further away from fans and treating them primarily as businesses.”

Horse, stable door, bolted.

If Donald Trump Owned A Football Club It Would Be Arsenal

He might as well; his acolyte is the majority shareholder.

Stan might not be an acolyte and the $1m donation to Trump’s inauguration fund just a gift to his billionaire buddy. The moneyed equivalent of taking a bottle wine for dinner. Just good business. Being a billionaire, he’d bring a bottle of ropey red knowing the hosts won’t serve it – bad form, dontcha know – they’ll bring out the Priorat instead.

Look at this photo, taken from the Guardian today. Usmanov is holding court with Arfur, Terry and Dave the barman in The Winchester, with the trio hung of every word of his tales of dodgy deals. Kroenke’s sunglasses, drawn on his visage, give the air, he thinks of cool or dangerous. Instead, he resembles one of the alien mercenaries from The X-Files. 

And this pair own 97% of the club.

Stan’s bid for the Uzbek’s shares values his 30% at £525m, at a share price of £28k when the last transaction placed them at £21k. Not that it’s relevant; the offer probably represents a ‘double your money’ offer which is all that will appeal to Usmanov.

Whether he accepts or not isn’t going to hinge on the pairs’ antipathy. Screwing over Stan’s plans is a happy by-product but this is business and knowing Kroenke wants the shares strengthened Usmanov’s negotiating hand.

And he’s not going to accede to a supporters organisation request without some benefit to himself either. These people, like me, don’t want him or any billionaire owning the club. Not unless they are handing the shares out in a masterplan which ensures plurality of ownership.

If appealing to the generous side of a billionaire’s nature is your hand, you’ve been dealt some really crap cards.

Why Does Stan Want Arsenal?

Why now; a man like Kroenke didn’t wake up the other day and say to Ann, “Gee, my OCD is bad this morning. We’ve evicted all the homeowners in Wichita County so I’ll take my shareholding in Arsenal to 100% to soothe it.”

There’s a business need for this to happen so why? Is he taking the club to market like a fatted calf, in which case selling to Usmanov is just as easy and creates a bidding war scenario, or,  as I suspect is the case, does he need the club’s asset value to underpin further borrowing on what is becoming a millstone move of the Rams return to Los Angeles?

The stadium is already a year late because of the wrong kind of rain falling but there are other aspects which are playing more on the minds of owners such as Kroenke.

NFL clubs are hit by declining attendances. The Rams average bums on seats figure reflects a staggering drop but not unexpected.

Capacity at the Colosseum was, according to a franchise spokesman, deliberately capped at 65,000. Knowing advance sales wouldn’t hit the near-sell-out levels of last season, it ensures that the crowd isn’t sparsely dotted around the upper tiers. That’s worse than seeing tiers wholly closed. The former is a deliberate act which demand can reverse; a ‘good news’ story in a rebellious sport.

The interesting aspect of that story isn’t the capping of attendances but “The Rams are reportedly considering selling PSLs in the $100,000 range. If they can’t raise the money, they could have a problem financing the stadium.”

The devil is in the detail but reveals itself soon enough.

Stan’s Having the Rug Pulled From Over His Bald Patch

It’s not the only aspect of the financing of his Inglewood fantasy which is under attack. A more pressing issue is being eased through the US Legislature: all public funding for stadia is being kicked into touch. In light of recent events, the vindictive tangerine in the White House will love the notion; the fat cats gilded bowls just got replaced by plastic.

Does Stan need all the club for leveraging? Forget what he said when he became majority shareholder, this a new era, a different ballgame. Lurking in the background is the spectre of the holding company being immersed in the secrecy of Delaware. Adding $750bn to his asset base puts a nice big tick in the money men’s ‘Plusses’ column with a smaller one in the ‘Minuses’ for the borrowing to buy Usmanov out; he’s not going to put his own money in, that’s for sure.

While the club will no doubt remain visible, what is ‘above the clouds’ won’t be. It’ll be like space; we think we know it looks like but until we see it for ourselves, we can’t be sure.

It’s a thoroughly depressing state of affairs and one which drives a larger wedge between fans and the club. Supporters Direct can witter on about fan ownership but at this level that’s a ludicrous concept.

Some doubt the existence of the consortium and their funding. It’s irrelevant in any case; Kroenke won’t sell to them which means he isn’t selling Arsenal.

You see, he needs Arsenal. Lock, stock and smoking barrels, all for himself and the money men. Otherwise, he’ll have to use his own assets as security and that isn’t on the cards.

’til Tomorrow.

23 thoughts on “Stan Wants to Buy Arsenal: Not If But Why?

  1. Good morning Your Eminence, it’s all a bit of mess isn’t it?

    A quick change of subject, Christmas Eve football, the Arsenal Supporters Trust last night voted by 99% of members to oppose the switch to 4pm Christmas Eve for the Arsenal / Liverpool game. 45% said they would not attend the game. The club are also expecting stewards to refuse to work at the match.

  2. Morning Orse

    The US military term of clusterfuck has never been more aposite.

    Bravo to the stewards. It’s a staggering mess we’ve been bunged into by Sky and the PL; until the announce the deal is dead over Xmas Eve, I won’t believe it isn’t happening.

  3. YW,

    The police may well put the kibosh in the idea, they’ll be too busy buying their last minute gifts to worry about 60,000 football fans rampaging around the Emirates.

  4. First to use the club for leverage and eventually to do what the Glazers do and drain out millions in profit with no accountability to anyone. Nightmare scenarios I have feared since this awful man bought his first stake in the club.

    I wish there were a way to convince this creep to sell his shares. But he’s no Hicks/Gilette and we have no Sons of Shankley.

  5. Thanks YW. This really was however the saddest piece. The news itself combined with your cogent analysis has me in a deep funk.

  6. Great piece YW.

    Surely if he has the 500 million to pay Mr Blobinov, he has the assets to cover the Ram’s stadium? Sorry I am literal.

    There may be a benefit to the bank in owning the whole business rather than being a majority shareholder, but if he is a businessman he must be looking for getting more wedge out of a deal by investing, especially when cash could be seen as king here.

    So looking at what the possible advantages of owning more Arsenal might be in terms of returns it is easy to see that a greater share of tv money would mean more money for nothing if it came about. The Clubs revenues would presumably significantly increase without a jot of extra cost which would lead to a big corresponding increase in share value.

    In addition to this if his starting point is that shares have gone up by 25% since he bought them at a time when revenues have doubled from the Sky deal, the club has made money selling players, and they still only pay the top players under 200k per week, then Stan would be getting a steal unless he massively over-payed in the beginning.

    Oversimplified I know, but there does seem to be good Arsenal reasons to have more shares.

    Unless he just saps everyones will with a total disregard of how a football team wins and we all get bored with the shit show.

  7. If he takes full control the only thing left is a total boycott by the fans. It’s got to be better than this long slow death we’re being subjected to now. It may take a year or two of sustained abstinence and indifference but it’s the only weapon we as fans have left now.
    Desperate times call for desperate measures. Don’t buy the tickets, don’t buy the merchandise and maybe wiggy will give up on his eastern franchise.
    Watch the dodgy streams by all means, as long as the parasite isn’t making any money from them..

  8. If it’s true what they say about eyes being the windows to one’s soul , then that would explain Kroenke’s choice of eyewear.

  9. @Set me free,
    Action by fans alone will never affect the governance of Arsenal FC….in my opinion .Not when there are perpetually thousands on the waiting list for season tickets.
    The real power might come from the players….if they had a cause and if they dared to use their power.
    In fact the Club is now far too successful to be diverted by anyone but the Owner. 😉

  10. I am glad Usmanov made his statement. Probably holding out for more, but if he genuinely doesn’t want to sell to Kroenke, that helps a little. I wish we knew more about the consortium’s goals. His statement clearly alludes to them. It is probable that they would have offered AU more than Stan did but the issue of getting a seat on board can only be solved by KSE feeling it is ungovernable without that. Not likely, alas.

    What is amazing is that Stan offered an amount for AU’s 30% that seems lower that the per share valuation AU offered for Stan’s 67%! Is that right, YW? If so, what do we make of that? Other than that Stan is cheap and this was just an opening offer?!

  11. Thanks for the post Yogi

    I am in no way a fan of Stan Kronke and I would rather see Usmanov own the club. We need an owner whose first goal is to win as many big trophies as possible and I think Usmanov would be much more likely to want that to happen. However, the thing you want from an owner is to make sure there is money available to spend and then stay out of the way and let the football people make the decisions. Stan has not really been meddling in the affairs of the club and we have spent plenty of money in the last 5 years. Before last season we actually had a higher net spend then Chelsea during that 5 year period. The problem is that our football person has not had a plan and IMO our football person had enough resources and he could/should have done better. I think our football people have been the real cause of the stagnation we have seen in this decade. Again that does not mean that I am happy with Stan and ultimately he is the one who has to demand better results but I believe that Arsene could have gotten just about anything he had wanted within reason. Even with Stan, I think we could have had better results if our football people had asked for more resources and most important had done a better job of investing the resources they have been given.

  12. 5-6 years ago was when we really started to spend. Back then Chelsea had a squad that had won lots of big trophies but was filled with aging stars such as Drogba, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka etc etc who had lost their motivation and none of them were worth any money in the transfer market. They had to completely rebuild their squad and they did it successfully with less net spend then we had during that period. We certainly could have done a lot more with the money we spent if our football people would have had a plan.

  13. Still pretty murky to me, YW.

    Also Stan, in that picture looks dead, a bit like Kosygin in his last few years.

    Actually, no more dead than proper sport, football in particular, and Arsenal in the very particular.

  14. Bill
    100% correct. I don’t like Stan and would welcome the fat Uzbeck. But, Stan has allowed Wenger to spend big. No only that he has sat back and allowed Wenger to mismanage away the fees we could have got for Ozil and Sanchez.
    As much as I dont like him (Stan) I believe the real problem and whats taking the club backwards is Wenger.
    Poor desisions on and off the pitch.
    A top manager could do worlds better with the money Wenger has had at his disposal.

  15. Pistolfish

    No doubt that over the long term Stan is the biggest impediment to the clubs success. However, it’s harder to blame him for the stagnation that we have seen in this decade. The frightening thing for me is that Arsene could easily be captain of the ship until around 2025 if he keeps us in contention and makes the top 4 in most seasons. After he retires from active field management I suspect Arsene will want to move into the board room and become something like a director of football although the name of the position will be changed. I can’t imagine a new owner keeping Arsene so our best hope is they go out together if Stan ever decides to take his profits and sell the club.

  16. Does this mean that after receiving a dowry of billions from his wife, Stan is busy pissing it away? What a genius! What an exemplar of US capitalism. But, seriously, I don’t take any of this seriously. The Premier league is a billionaires’ playground. Fans are treated with contempt. I just turn on the tele every week and watch 90 minutes of football. The rest of the goings on at the club are, I must admit, rather amusing. Buy a season ticket (if I could)? Don’t make me laugh. Don’t give them a penny.

  17. freddo,

    You are right my friend. Well, almost. Dont give them a penny is spot on. However, the TV subscriptions is where the money is. The stadia sales supplement it

    Two ways forward for me. Either negotiate a deal with your tv provider that bundles the sport for free for the year (2 concurrent 12 month contracts and counting now for me) or stream it

    I haven’t been to The Emirates for sometime now, under my own personal ban on giving the club any money. I actually can’t remember exactly when it was now!!! A depressing statement in itself!!

    By a quirk of fate however Rebecca and I will be attending the Swansea game at the end of this month. I’m thoroughly looking forward to it as it has passed my rules on finances moving from my pocket to AFC. Our attendance will actually cost the club money in this instance

  18. If you haven’t already seen it, I’d suggest you google for images of the Russian stadium they’ve prepared for the World Cup. It fell short of the 35k seating capacity. So, to bring it in line they’ve cut away a stand, but not the roof and erected and enormous scaffold stand outside the stadium perimeter

    It’s so bad it’s brilliant. A visual representation that encapsulates everything about the World Cup in Russia and what is going to be served up

  19. Sorry that link doesn’t quite work, but it will take you to the Telegraph sport page, scroll down to find the article.

  20. sunglasses or not, he is an ugly dude. Let’s look on the bright side – he is already 70, past his retirement age, he bought himself that huge ranch and he might want to spend more time there rather than running oversees business. Wishful thinking me thinks 🙂

    Sadly, all of these is out of our hands, nothing we can do but pray that the Uzbek doesn’t sell, ironically he became our only hope of not becoming a yankie franchise…brrr, perish the thought. I think I would stop supporting the AFC if that ever happened.

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