L.A. Rams Owner Stan Kroenke Wants Full Control of Arsenal—Reports

Supporters of Arsenal Football Club may have yet another reason to be grumpy. 

Arsenal’s largest shareholder, Stan Kroenke—who also owns several U.S. sports franchises, including the Los Angeles Rams—has made a bid of around £525 million ($696.7 million) to buy out Alisher Usmanov, the second-largest shareholder at Emirates Stadium, according to The Guardian newspaper.

Kroenke owns 67 percent of Arsenal’s shares while Usmanov, the Uzbek-born Russian billionaire, has a 30.4 percent stake. If Kroenke is successful in buying out Usmanov he will own 97.4 percent of the club, with the remaining 2.6 percent belonging to minority shareholders, many of whom have long-standing interest in the club handed down through generations according to The Guardian.

Kroenke, who also owns the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, would potentially be in a position to buy up the remaining shares should Usmanov accept his offer of £28,000 per share, making Arsenal a private business.

Usmanov has previously tried to outmanoeuvre Kroenke to increase his own stake in the club. The Telegraph reported in May that Usmanov had made a $1 billion bid to buy Kroenke’s shares. Usmanov was described by the newspaper at the time as “increasingly frustrated” at his lack of influence over the north London club.

The attempt by Kroenke to buy out Usmanov not likely to go down well with Arsenal fans. The move to Emirates Stadium from Highbury in the summer of 2006 was meant to ensure the club remained one of English football’s superpowers. But Arsenal has not won the Premier League since 2004 and is not playing in the lucrative Champions League this season, having finished fifth in England’s top division in 2016-17.

While Manchester United, one of Arsenal’s great rivals, has mostly prospered since the Glazer family took control in 2005, The Guardian claims a similar move from Kroenke would be “troubling,” as the American would no longer need to hold A.G.M.s or publish accounts and could also leverage debt against the club.

Kroenke’s interest in Arsenal has raised considerable interest in the U.S. that is certain to increase should he assume full control. A USA Today piece from October 2016 described Kroenke as “even more of an enigma” in the U.K. than in the U.S.

Still struggling to regain its form and success of the early 21st century on the pitch, Arsenal may now be forced into more upheaval off it.

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