Arsenal's majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has taken a big step towards taking full control of the Gunners after it was reported that his rival Alisher Usmanov has accepted an all-cash offer to buy him out of the club.
Kroenke currently owns 67% of Arsenal shares through his company Kroenke Sports Enterprises. That percentage will increase to 97% once Usmanov relinquishes his shares, with the other 3% to be taken from Arsenal fans.
The Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) released a statement condemning the takeover offer.
"This news marks a dreadful day for Arsenal Football Club.
"Stan Kroenke taking the club private will see the end of supporters owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values.
"The most dreadful part of this announcement is the news that Kroenke plans to forcibly purchase the shares held by Arsenal fans. Many of these fans are AST members and hold their shares not for value but as custodians who care for the future of the club.
"Kroenke's actions will neuter their voice and involvement. It is in effect legalised theft to remove a brake on how Arsenal is managed.
"The AST is wholly against this takeover which marks a very sad day for Arsenal Football Club."
Kroenke should really be focusing on transfer window now & investing in real quality in players not shares. Kroenke has no understanding of a great club. If has any sense, he’ll open proper dialogue asap with #afc fans - otherwise more protests incoming. 2/2— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) August 7, 2018
Arsenal fans have long resented Kroenke for his destruction of values inherent to the club, for pricing many supporters out of attending matches, for allowing the club to lose ground on their top six rivals with a lack of ambition in the transfer market, and for keeping Arsene Wenger at the club for too long.
With Wenger now gone, Arsenal fans were hoping for a fresh start, but the news of Kroenke's increasing influence at the club will come as a crushing disappointment just five days before they start their Premier League campaign.
Some Arsenal fans pointed to the timing of this announcement as further proof of Kroenke's disregard for footballing matters at the club.
Taking this action in the week the new season starts just shows how little regard Kroenke has for the club. It’s what you get when club falls into hands of someone who doesn’t support the club but merely sees it as money making. RIP Custodian Arsenal— tim payton (@timpayton) August 7, 2018
Poor old Arsenal fans.— Dean Jones (@DeanJonesBR) August 7, 2018
Just as they start to look forward to a season with more optimism and no Wenger, Stan Kroenke manages to annoy everyone by trying to buy the club outright
There was plenty of blame to go around - from David Dein, who introduced Kroenke to the board over a decade ago, to the former board members who sold shares to Kroenke, to the fans who didn't take a strong enough stance against the American.
Kroenke taking full control of the club will destroy us, thanks David Dein for introducing him to the club, thanks Lady Bracewell-Smith for selling him your shares, an thanks Wenger for being his puppet and letting him mug us off for years, how the f**k do we get him out now 😡— MR DT © (@MrDtAFC) August 7, 2018
Shame on those who refused to protest against Kroenke. Shame on those who actually defended his actions. And shame on ALL of those who sold shares to him; you know who you are, and you’re complicit in all of this.— Highbury Harold (@BlackScarfAFC) August 7, 2018
Above all, Arsenal fans feel that their club has lost its soul - and with Kroenke as the lone shareholder, things will only get worse. Fans speculated on the lengths to which Kroenke will go to commercialise the club.
Overpriced merchandise, Food, drink, programmes and season tickets: since the move from Highbury these things have made the club a commodity that attracts and puts money in the pockets of people like Kroenke especially as we are in the most gluttonous league in the world.— wellyousaythat© (@realarsenalism) August 7, 2018
There is, of course, a retail angle to everything. Stan Kroenke is married to Walmart heiress Ann Walton, Sam's niece. Expecting EDLP season tickets & greeters at the turnstiles next season.— Bryan Roberts (@BryanRoberts72) August 7, 2018
It could be a long few years ahead for one of England's great football clubs.