Better the devil you know?
There is a small but vociferous and growing band of Arsenal fans calling for Silent Stan to relinquish his majority share holding and hand over control of the club to someone (anyone) else.
It is expected that any new owner would immediately replace our long (too long?) serving manager with some shiny new messiah who would lead us instantly to the summit of European football.
Let’s look at one or two important and over-riding facts.
1 ) Stan Kroenke has never sold even a single share in any of the sports franchises that he owns.
2 ) He is independently wealthy, as of 11th April 2016 his net worth is put at $8 billion (Forbes Rich List).
3 ) His wife, the Wal-Mart heiress Ann Walton Kroenke is independently wealthy her net worth as of 11th April 2016 is put at $4.7 billion (Forbes Rich List).
What possible reason would Stan Kroenke have for selling his shareholdings in Arsenal Football Club?
In the United States there are vociferous fans calling for him to relinquish ownership of various sports franchises, all are totally ignored.
Since Kroenke took over control of the club (his club, not ours) he has brought financial stability and effectively guaranteed the clubs future.
His steadfast backing of Arsène Wenger has brought stability to the playing side, not spectacular success but a regular top four finish, regular Champions League football and two FA Cup wins. Something most of the other 91 Football League clubs would die for.
So, in the unlikely event of Silent Stan deciding to sell up who would be in line to buy his shares?
One obvious buyer would be Alisher Usmanov who already owns 30.4% of the total shares issued. Usmanov’s total worth as at 11th April 2016 is put at $13.3 billion (Forbes Rich List) so there is little doubt that he could afford to buy a controlling interest or indeed the rest of the shares held by Kroenke.
Would Usmanov be a good owner for Arsenal? In the past he has called for the club to pay a dividend to share-holders, something Kroenke has resisted, okay he takes an annual £3 million for “Corporate Services”. Would a dividend be less than that?
Beyond Usmanov there must be billionaires in abundance but do we want a dodgy oligarch, or a Middle Eastern potentate who could find himself the subject of a coup or corruption trial?
The world is awash with money hastily being laundered through various scams and schemes, a relatively successful football club might make a tasty vehicle for such activity. Not a situation that would be good for the club or it’s fans.
The major gripe with Silent Stan is that he is actively restricting investment in the squad with the connivance of Arsène Wenger. We don’t know if that is true. We don’t know how much money is available. We don’t know what performance targets are set for the manager.
It’s worth remembering that the amount of money that an owner can pour into a club is restricted by Financial Fair Play regulations.
As in the in/out referendum there are too many unknowns to make a decision easily.
Are we better to stick with the devil we know? Or should we take a leap into the dark?
Written by Norfolk Gooner