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.