Stan Kroenke, the largest shareholder in Arsenal FC, has completed a total takeover, costing £292 million, of the St Louis Rams, the American Football Club has confirmed on Thursday morning.
Owning almost 30% of Arsenal it has been expected for a large part of the last year that Kroenke would sell his stake in the St Louis Rams, at the time his share was around 40%, to finance a complete takeover of our north London club. At the very least he was expected to buy more shares and push his influence at Arsenal towards a controlling position, perhaps acquiring a further 20% of the club. This idea that Kroenke was after a majority stake can now be put to rest. The man is worth just over £1 billion but having spend £292 million today, I think it is unlikely he will be spending another £500 million on Arsenal.
What does this mean to the club? Just that things are likely to continue as they are. Arsene Wenger signed his new contract only last week so suspicion suggests he knew about Kroenke’s proposed purchase of the St Louis Rams and was aware that his working conditions were unlikely to change. Kroenke is believed to have acquired his stake in Arsenal because of the fact that we are in very good financial shape and operate a very sound business model, reliant on long term finance instead of short term loans, which consistently records a profit.
We rarely spend much on transfers, there is no need for any short term or medium term investment (infrastructure is fine), and the club is a premium brand located in a premium market (London and the English Premier League). To put it all bluntly, it is a very safe investment. Unfortunately for fans this suggests we won’t be spending much more money than we currently do on transfers and will continue to do things very much in the same vein that we do them now. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, as the old adage goes. As a fan, and a frustrated one at that, I would have preferred the business model to change a little. A little more speculative and a little less secure. After all, I am a fan, I want to see my team win trophies, not just deliver consistently good financial performance.
It appears on the playing field we are prepared to exchange ruthlessness for merely being competitive. Competitive without much associated risk makes money, I guess that’s what Kroenke is after.