As Stan Kroenke Ups Arsenal Share, Will Team be Americanized Before Arsenalized?

Mary O'SheaSenior Writer ISeptember 30, 2009

DENVER - NOVEMBER 4:  Denver Nuggets owner Stanley Kroenke is seen at the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Pepsi Center on November 4, 2004 in Denver, Colorado.  The Nuggets won 94-92 in overtime.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by: Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

During the summer, members of the Arsenal board and Arsene Wenger announced that the club's stadium, The Emirates, would go under a process of redecoration three years after its opening.

This process became known as "Arsenalisation" with many new features being added to the stadium.

One side of the ground had the club's famous cannon emblazoned on the seats.

Ongoing work is being undertaken on murals that will feature players and significant moments in the club's past and present, both inside and outside the ground.

When work is completed on the outside, a ring of 32 players will embrace the stadium. So far Liam Brady, Cliff Bastin, Tony Adams, and Thierry Henry have been added.

Meanwhile on the inner concourse, special moments along with quotes run along the walls. Included are the "Up for Grabs" victory over Liverpool in 1989, the Herbert Chapman era and the "Invincible" season.

All this work is being done to make The Emirates feel more like "home" for the Gunners' faithful with many lamenting the move from the much loved Highbury.

With this work ongoing over a period of time it well could be that Arsenal FC are Americanized before the process of Arsenalisation has been completed.

News has emerged today that majority shareholder Stanley Kroenke has upped his stake in the club to 28.7 percent after buying 80 shares at £8,500 each.

Should he increase his stake by a further 1.2 percent, it would take him to the magic 29.9 percent mark which would force the American to make an offer on the remaining shares.

His closest rival for the club is the Uzbek, Alisher Usmanov who has a 25 percent stake through his Red & White Holdings group.

Usmanov is widely detested around the clubboth by fans and the current board.

Last season, Arsenal's main supporter group RedAction marched against his involvement in the club while he has not been invited to join the club's Board of Directors despite his large stake.

On Sept. 19, 2008, Kroenke was invited and accepted his place as a director of Arsenal Holdings PLC as a non-Executive Director.

Part of him getting this role was his agreement in not increasing his stake beyond 29.9 percent within 12 months of this announcement.

The time limit on this agreement has now ceased.

Chairman Peter Hill-Wood has spoken of his desire to see Arsenal continue as they always have doneby sustaining themselves and not under the management of one man.

However, many of the Old Etonians who have a long family tradition with the club have recently departed with many selling their shares to Kroenke.

The most crucial of these is Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith who left the board over growing feuds but still retains her shares.

It is been said that she is willing to sell her shares to the highest bidder. With 15.9 percent being at stake, whoever does buy them will see their percentage rocket.

It is highly unlikely that it will be Danny Fiszman who has a 16.1 percent share, so it could well be that Usmanov and Kroenke will vie for the rights.

Rumors have been gathering apace that the winner in this race will be Kroenke as Lady Nina was known to opposing the involvement of Usmanov at the club. Furthermore, Kroenke was seen in the Directors Box at the recent home tie against Wigan. Some suggest it was to discuss a possible increase in his stake.

Another person lurking in the background in all this is former vice-chairman David Dein.

It was Dein who brought Arsene Wenger to the club and despite a falling out over club direction, the two men are said to have remained close friends.

During his 14 years with the club, Dein was instrumental into make it the force it is today.

He saw the managerial vision in the then little known French manager whilst he also gained Arsenal entry into the elite G14 group of major European football clubs.

Relations between Dein and the club soured as a move away from Highbury was mooted.

While it was agreed that a bigger capacity stadium was needed to move the club forward, the board wanted to keep the club's address in the N5 postcode. Dein wanted to obtain land in the much cheaper King's Cross area of London where property would cost less.

The board won out and since then the club have been restricted on the field by the need to pay off the loan for the stadium. This debt has been compounded by the difficulty in selling off the flats at Highbury Square.

With relations already strained over the site of the new ground, they became unfixable when Dein suggested that in order to make such a move, Arsenal needed to sell the club to a major tycoon or group so as to survive financially. This would be akin to Roman Ambramovich's buyout of Chelsea FC.

Dein suggested the American businessman Stanley Kroenke.

The board of directors claimed they didn't "need his [Kroenke] sort" and Dein quit his role and sold his shares of 14.58 percent to Red & White Holdings, owned by Alisher Usmanov, for £75million in 2007.

He would serve as Red & White Holdings chairman until September 2008 but stepped down in order to improve relations between the group and the Arsenal board.

Despite his falling out with the board, Dein is still Arsenal at heart and could well look for a way back into a role with the club. With his links to both Kroenke and Usmanov, this well could happen.

There is also the slightest chance that Dein could snap up Lady Nina's stake.

However, all things considered the smart money would be on Stan Kroenke.

He has been invited to the club's Board of Directors, has been seen talking with Hill-Wood at the Wigan game while the recent appointment of Ivan Gazidis as CEO had Kroenke's prints all over it.

Tomorrow marks Arsene Wenger's thirteen year in charge of the club.

When he joined, the aim was to progress into the modern era. This has been achieved with flowing football, Premier League titles, an unbeaten league season, constant European football and a superb new stadium.

However, Wenger is now under pressure to deliver on the pitch with his latest team.

Last week the club announced record profits for the year with over £100million coming from match days at the Emirates.

So the decision to move to a new ground looks like the right one. However, will David Dein be proved correct when he said that a money laden investor is needed to continue success on the pitch?

Arsenal and football fans could soon find out.

Americanization before Arsenalisation? Don't bet against it. 


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