American Billionaire Stan Kroenke Set to Assume Full Control of Arsenal

Andrew JeromskiContributor IIIApril 10, 2011

Meet the new boss ...
Meet the new boss ...Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

According to the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, American investor Stan Kroenke stands poised to take full control of the Premier League club.

The AST told the Associated Press that an announcement is set to be made April 11 that Kroenke will raise his stake in the team from 30 percent to 62 percent, exceeding the 50 percent required to assume legal control over the North London club.

Kroenke will buy the shares of Danny Fiszman and Nina Bracewell-Smith, each of whom have 16 percent stakes, according to the AST.

Bracewell-Smith, who formerly sat on the Board of Directors, has family ties at the club dating back to 1938.

Neither Kroenke or Arsenal have agreed to comment on the story at this time, and representatives for Fiszman and Bracewell-Smith also refused comment according to Bloomberg News.

The AST seems to be welcoming the news with cautious optimism, as the trust released the following statement: 

“AST thinks it is really important that supporters remain involved in Arsenal's ownership structure.

"Stan Kroenke has a good relationship with the AST and recently supported our fanshare scheme.

"We are hopeful of having discussions with him to discuss how our members and Arsenal supporters can keep their shares in Arsenal Football Club."

The fanshare scheme is a program under which Arsenal supporters can buy shares in the club at a fraction of their market value.

While it is unclear what impact, if any, this will have on the day-to-day operations at the Emirates, Kroenke also owns several American sports franchises, such as the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, NBA’s Denver Nuggets, NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids.

The 63-year-old Columbia, Missouri native, known as “Silent Stan” for his reluctance to grant media interviews, Kroenke acquired his first stake in Arsenal FC in 2007, and has been steadily increasing his holdings ever since.

Kroenke’s takeover makes Arsenal the fifth Premier League team to be American-owned, joining Manchester United, Aston Villa, Sunderland and Liverpool. American businessman Thomas DiBenedetto also recently acquired Serie A club AS Roma.

Under Stock Exchange rules, a holding of 30 percent or more triggers an automatic takeover bid, Arsenal’s second largest shareholder is Russian Billionaire Alisher Usmanov, with a holding of 27 percent. Usmanov spokesman Rollo Head also declined to issue a comment.

Arsenal is the second-richest club in England and fifth in Europe, according to accountant Deloitte LLP.