Arsenal takeover: rumour of £1.5bn bid fuels fan unrest
Scepticism over reports of a Middle Eastern takeover bid, but pressure mounts for Kroenke
AS ARSENAL continue to struggle in the Premier League, there is intrigue off the pitch at the Emirates with rumours of a Middle Eastern takeover bid that's likely to prompt unrest among Gunners fans.
According to The Sun, a consortium including wealthy investors from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates is prepared to pay £1.5bn for the club. It has apparently requested a meeting with Arsenal's current owner, American Stan Kroenke, who stands to make a profit of around £350m if he sells his shares.
"The investment group from Qatar and the UAE are ready to make the Gunners the big beasts of European football," claims the Sun. It reports that the investors would slash ticket prices at the Emirates and stop the club from selling their star players.
However, there is plenty of scepticism about the bid, which eclipses the £800m the Glazer family paid for Manchester United eight years ago.
David Bick, a football finance expert, told The Independent that the valuation was "nonsensical". Another City insider told the paper that investors from the UAE and Qatar would never work together on a deal and would certainly not talk to the press about their plans.
"Qatar might buy something in England but when you have a single shareholder, you don't negotiate through the media," he added. "There are a few conspiracy theories going around about who put this out."
David Hytner of The Guardian is also doubtful. He noted that the rumoured takeover appeared to be backed by "Middle Eastern billionaires [with] a soft spot for the working man in north London".
"No populist stone appeared unturned in the story," he added, and suggested that the report was aimed directly at "the section of Arsenal supporters who have grown disgruntled at the lack of trophies and direction".
The Daily Telegraph agreed. The news has "tapped into fears that the club had been caught in a cycle of decline", it reported. But the paper added that neither Kroenke, who owns 66.83 per cent of Arsenal, nor Alisher Usmanov, who has a 29.96 per cent share, had any intention of selling their shares.
However, the stories add to the sense of unease around the club. Surfacing prior to Arsenal's defeat by Tottenham in yesterday's north London derby at White Hart Lane, they could increase the pressure on Kroenke and the club's hierarchy to assuage supporters' concerns about their future ambitions, claimed The Times. ·