LONDON (AP) - American businessman Stan Kroenke has agreed to a full takeover of Arsenal that values the Premier League club at $1.2 billion and should end the long-running uncertainty about its ownership.
Kroenke agreed to increase his holding from 29.9 percent to 62.89 percent by acquiring shares from fellow directors Danny Fiszman and Nina Bracewell-Smith, Arsenal Holdings said Monday in a statement to London’s Plus Market.
“We are excited about the opportunity to increase our involvement with and commitment to Arsenal,” Kroenke said in a statement. “Arsenal is a fantastic club with a special history and tradition and a wonderful manager in Arsene Wenger. We intend to build on this rich heritage and take the club to new success.”
Four other Premier League clubs are owned by Americans _ Malcolm Glazer at Manchester United, John Henry at Liverpool, Randy Lerner at Aston Villa and Ellis Short at Sunderland _ while Chelsea, Manchester City, Fulham, Blackburn and Birmingham are also owned by foreigners.
Kroenke has pledged to “support and adhere to the self-sustaining business model” at Arsenal, which has a tradition of being well-run, avoiding big transfer fees and relying on talent developed through its youth teams.
“The offer will not be funded by way of any debt finance (banks loans, payment in kind loans or other debt or quasi-debt interest bearing obligations) for which the payment of interest on, repayment of or security for any liability (contingent or otherwise) will depend on the business of Arsenal,” the statement said.
“I have worked with Stan Kroenke at board meetings over the past couple of years and I believe he has the best interests of Arsenal at heart,” Wenger said. “He understands the club’s heritage and traditions and our ambition to run the club in a way which protects our long-term future.”
Wenger’s team is seven points behind Manchester United in the Premier League title race with seven matches remaining, including one in hand over the leaders.
Kroenke also owns the Denver Nuggets in the NBA, the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL and the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer.
He was invited onto the board of directors, unlike Alisher Usmanov, a Russian who owns more than 27 percent of the club through investment vehicle Red and White Holdings.
“He’s a strong, silent type, and I think that’s not necessarily the worst thing when it comes to sports team owners,” MLS commissioner Don Garber, who has talked to Kroenke about his plans for Arsenal, has told The Associated Press. “He’s very loyal. He’s a very quiet and a strategic thinker. He doesn’t make rash decisions.”
But Kroenke will come under pressure from fans to invest in a team that has not won a major title since the 2005 FA Cup and last captured the Premier League crown in 2004.