Sep 192008

Only one thing to talk about today, and that is with the confirmation that Stan Kroenke has now joined the Arsenal board, a quite remarkable turnaround from when Peter Hill-Wood claimed ‘we don’t need his sort’. That view has been softened not only to stave off the interest from Usmanov, but also because Kroenke does seem to be striking up a good relationship with the other board members, and his sporting background means he is actually the ‘right’ type of man to include.

Kroenke does of course already own a decent slice of the share pie, around 12.4%, which pales in comparison to Usmanov (but then Usmanov is larger on most scales), but when his share is combined with the other board members, those in power now hold around 60%, a very healthy cut.

Kroenke is not part of the lockdown agreement, at least not at present, and the wording of the statement on the official site lends some clue to the board’s ‘backup plan’:

“Mr Kroenke has confirmed that he will not increase his shareholding beyond 29.9% of Arsenal’s issued share capital within the twelve months following the date of this announcement, [but] reserves the right to increase his shareholding beyond 29.9% of Arsenal’s issued share capital within twelve months, […] with the agreement of the Board of Arsenal or following the announcement of an offer or possible offer for Arsenal or if there is a material change of circumstances”

Or to remove the legal speak – Kroenke will not purchase a 30% stake, and thus embarking on a takeover, unless another party attempts to do the same, in which case the existing board will back their man instead.

It is a leap of faith for the existing board members, but a very wise one – they have been sounding out Kroenke for some time now, and to put him in position to be their main man if Usmanov decides to take over means they retain a great degree of control. As for Kroenke himself, his has not Usmanov’s shady past, and his sporting portfolio means he has the experience to help the club, not milk it.

This is good news. Kroenke has been trusted, but that makes me feel a lot less uneasy about the vulnerability of the board as a whole.

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