Kroenke makes his move in Arsenal boardroom war

American businessman Stan Kroenke has increased his share in Arsenal to just over 20 per cent after purchasing 5,000 shares from fellow director Danny Fiszman at a cost of US$60.7 million. The deal could prove pivotal in the Arsenal board's battle to stop Alisher Usmanov forcing a hostile takeover of the club.

American businessman Stan Kroenke has increased his share in Arsenal to just over 20 per cent after purchasing 5,000 shares from fellow director Danny Fiszman at a cost of US$60.7 million. The deal could prove pivotal in the Arsenal board's battle to stop Alisher Usmanov forcing a hostile takeover of the club.

Kroenke, who owns the Colorado Rapids MLS franchise, has become the preferred choice of the majority of an Arsenal boardroom that seems to be accepting the need, one way or another, for regime change at the club. Club chairman Peter Hill-Wood memorably said, "We don't need his money and don't need his sort," when Kroenke was originally linked with the club but, faced with Usmanov's interest, the club later offered the American a place on the board. Arsenal board members signed a lockdown agreement last year vowing not to sell to Usmanov’s investment company, Red & White Holdings Limited.

In February, Usmanov spent spent US$5.4 million to secure an extra one percent of shares. The Russian is now Arsenal's majority shareholder; Red & White Holdings has control of more than 25 per cent of the club's shares.

The 5,000 shares purchased by Kroenke represent a third of Fiszman's stake in the club. "I have no intention to sell any more of my shares," Fiszman said last night. "This sale to Stan was a one-off. I will remain a long-term major shareholder."

The Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST) has announced public backing for Kroenke's latest purchase, saying: "The AST has met with Stan Kroenke and visited his operations in Colorado. We were supportive of him joining the board and welcome the sporting and commercial expertise he brings to the club. If a sale had to take place we are reassured that it is to Stan. The fact that Stan Kroenke is already a member of the board at Arsenal should ensure that this change does not create any instability."