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Arsenal: Possible Takeover Bid Offers Test of Resolve for Stan Kroenke

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Arsenal: Possible Takeover Bid Offers Test of Resolve for Stan Kroenke
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Stan Kroenke is the majority shareholder at Arsenal.

Arsenal have been linked with a £1.5 billion takeover bid from a Middle East consortium, according to a report in the Sunday Telegraph.

The Gunners insist majority shareholder Stan Kroenke will not consider selling his 66.83 percent stake in the Emirates Stadium club, as ESPN reported.

But the prospect of such a windfall will have encouraged Arsenal supporters, who have endured a disappointing season in which the club's barren run without silverware is set to be extended beyond eight years.

The reported bid, which would see the consortium paying double what the club was valued at two years ago, does offer an intriguing question for Kroenke and shareholder Alisher Usmanov.

Usmanov criticised the lack of financial support Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was receiving in an interview with L'Equipe in January, which was reported by The Guardian.

The Uzbekistan businessman was openly unhappy with Arsenal's lack of key players and their inability to rival European clubs, and he offered his support to Wenger.

The question that has vexed Arsenal supporters in recent seasons has been whether Wenger won't spend money or can't spend money.

The prospect of such a huge takeover in the newspapers on Sunday morning must have been a shining light after a number of seasons in the trophy wilderness, with terrace heroes moving on to greater successes while Arsenal appeared to remain static.

Arsenal might have qualified for the Champions League for 16 consecutive seasons under Wenger, a fact around which the club can build its business model, but watching other clubs move onwards and upwards through financial muscle must be exceptionally galling.

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Arsene Wenger's contract with Arsenal ends next year.

While there have been calls from some supporters for Wenger to leave the club this season, his contract ends next year, and that will be a pivotal question for Kroenke and any other potential investors.

There have been no outward signs of Kroenke, who also owns NFL franchise St. Louis Rams, looking to sell up his stake in Arsenal, but an offer such as the one reported in the Telegraph offers an intriguing dilemma for the American.

Arsenal remain one of the most stable clubs in Europe in financial terms and must be considered one of the most attractive for any investor.

Kroenke must now do the sums on any proposed deal and consider what the future holds. His tenure at Arsenal has coincided with stability on the bank balance but without a trophy, and supporters have become increasingly restless this season. That situation will continue beyond now if the club continues to make money but miss out on silverware.

A new Premier League television deal worth over £3 billion (BBC News) will come into effect from next season, while sponsorship and shirt deals and naming rights for the Emirates Stadium also add to the money the club makes.

Julian Finney/Getty Images

Last week, Arsenal announced a half-yearly profit of £17.8 million, as reported by Sky Sports, but that figure has not translated to success on the field.

Traditionally, Arsenal supporters have played a part in the running of the club with a stake of their own in the club (Daily Telegraph) since 2010, but those shares are not enough to force change, and the status quo will remain until Kroenke decides otherwise.

But does the American want the hassle of running Arsenal and the associated problems that come with it when there is the possibility of such a lucrative takeover bid on the horizon?

Kroenke's resolve may be about to be tested, and the outcome could dictate whether Arsenal become one of the big guns again or merely remain an also-ran.

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