Arsenal’s ownership on shifting sand

Some bloggers, when glaring down the barrel of an international break, plough on manfully and regardless. I admire them very much for this.

For me, this time round I took it as an opportunity to dust down my blogging pipe and slippers. While there’s little of note going on, I told myself, then I won’t bother putting my digits to the keyboard to the WordPress.

Today though has been rammed with Arsenal news so I thought I’d check in.

There’s the news that Hull City have finally, if tardily, submitted their ‘Spitgate’ report to the FA, with ‘evidence’ coming from Brown, Horton and a third man named Rush. What will come of this? Hard to say really: no doubt their story corroborates, but I suspect Fabregas’s story will be backed up too. I can’t see how one person’s word against another’s can prove anything; only video or audio evidence will clear that up. Over to the FA.

On the footballing front, there’s the news that van Persie has joined Bendtner on the treatment table. This is so typical, something of a broken record. Off they go on an international jolly, and back they come crocked. At this stage, we don’t know the seriousness of either injury so let’s assume it’s not too bad, eh.

The biggest news though is that Stan Kroenke has upped his stake in the club to just over 20%. Not surprising in itself, you might think – but the fact he has bought those shares from Danny Fiszman really is.

I don’t pretend to know why this has happened. What is clear is that it’s the latest in a long line of small to medium transfers-of-power, going back to ITV selling their stake and Dein selling his. There’s a jostling for control, that much is clear, however slowly it is happening.

So why has Fiszman sold these shares to Kroenke? Well, he could be edging towards a takeover, with the board’s acceptance. It could be an opportunity to share the club ownership more equally in order to ensure no one man – read Usmanov – takes it over. Perhaps Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith is about to sell her shares to sell to someone else, and this is a tactical sale on Fiszman’s behalf to keep Kroenke on board. Or it could be that Fiszman himself wants out, bit by bit, though he claims this is not the case at all.

Kroenke himself has come out with all the comforting words you’d expect:

“After having been invited to join the Board last year I am delighted to be able to increase my shareholding in Arsenal. I will continue to work closely with my Board colleagues to maintain the stable environment in which the Club operates and to preserve the self-sustaining business model enjoyed by the Club.”

Admirable stuff, I think, assuming it’s true. The AST response has been cautious but positive. Time will tell but at this stage, there’s no evidence that Kroenke is nothing other than a decent investor.

As for me, well I approve of the club being owned by a selection of people rather than one. We’ve all seen how one overbearing owner can change the dynamic of a club, and with many owners, there are more safety catches than there are with one. Sadly though, what is indisputable is that the ownership of Arsenal, bit by bit, is going overseas, and to men who are not truly Arsenal fans. It’s now roughly 50:50 between the old school and the new guard. It seems certain it’s only a matter of time before that percentage is more in favour of the overseas owner than it is now.

It’s a sign of the times. Some welcome it, some do not.

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