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No change in Arsenal stock stalemate

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Matt Slater | 01:16 UK time, Tuesday, 13 April 2010

When news of Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith's decision to appoint a leading US investment firm to sell her stake in Arsenal reached BBC Towers on Monday afternoon, it prompted a chin-stroking debate amongst those hunched over the sports news benches: is this a twist or a development?

In the twist corner were those who claimed we were not expecting the news so it must be a bit twisty and that twists always sound more interesting than developments.

Arguing for development, on the other hand, were those who pointed out that these shares were already "for sale" and it is just how that sale is being advertised that has changed (she tried a postcard in the post office window and was now going for an advert in the local paper).

My view, a minority one, was that this is basically a development, with some twist-like attributes, that actually changes nothing. Probably. Let me explain my thinking (so even if I'm wrong, you'll give me some credit for the working-out).

Bracewell-Smith, who with 15.9% of Arsenal's 62,217 shares is the fourth largest shareholder, has been a seller ever since she was dumped from the board of directors in December 2008.

This ruthless example of corporate argy-bargy was orchestrated by the club's third largest shareholder, Danny Fiszman, and rubberstamped by its largest, Stan Kroenke. The logic being that Bracewell-Smith's shares were no longer needed as a bulwark against the unwelcome advances of Arsenal's second largest shareholder, Alisher Usmanov.

As Fiszman, Kroenke and the rest of the club's directors were now in cahoots, this was almost certainly true. It just wasn't very gentlemanly.

This left Bracewell-Smith, whose shares were basically a family heirloom given to her by her husband Sir Charles, in the position of holding a reasonably large stake in a company she knew little about and which wanted little to do with her.

Alisher UsmanovWhat will Alisher Usmanov's next move be? Photo: Getty

This tricky situation was compounded by the fact that there were only two realistic buyers for her shares, the American tycoon Kroenke and the Uzbek oligarch Usmanov, and neither was in a hurry to take them off her hands.

She could, of course, have tried selling them piecemeal on the semi-open market on which Arsenal's shares are traded but that would have meant breaking up what she believes is a strategically significant stake in a highly desirable concern.

Of the latter, she may well be right but it's the former that is no longer true, and that is why her latest move is unlikely to bring her any more joy than the last 15 months have.

Kroenke holds all the aces here. He has been steadily building his stake in the club since 2007 and is now just 10 shares short of the 30% mark that would oblige him to make an offer for the rest.

That offer may come but it will not come until next month when, under Takeover Panel rules, that offer price drops from £10,500 a share to £8,500, the typical price Kroenke has been paying for his pieces of Arsenal paper. The difference between these prices is £87m to Kroenke in potential savings and £20m to Bracewell-Smith in missed opportunities.

To make matters worse for Bracewell-Smith, Kroenke already, in effect, calls the shots at the Emirates. His relationship with Fiszman has deepened over the last year or so, to the point the Denver-based sports and property billionaire is clearly the diamond dealer's chosen successor as club custodian.

Kroenke does not need Bracewell-Smith's shares - not yet, anyway - because he has first refusal on Fiszman's 16.1% and could possibly scrape together another 4% if he felt he really had to be the majority shareholder.

Usmanov, the much-delayed second front in this assault on Arsenal's marble halls, is also unlikely to write Bracewell-Smith a big cheque anytime soon.

Having been blocked by the board's collective refusal to sell him stock - the infamous "lockdown agreement" - and stymied by the global recession, the metals mogul has got bogged down on 26% of the shares and is months away from being in a position to launch an aggressive move beyond 30% (or a position that makes financial sense, anyway).

There is, of course, a chance Bracewell-Smith's "remember me" appointment of Blackstone as her new sales team will do the trick with Usmanov and remind him that he could beat Kroenke to the prize of the last English footballing giant in old-fashioned ownership.

There is also a possibility Blackstone will pull a rabbit out of the hat in somewhere like, oh, I don't know, say China, and give Bracewell-Smith the £100m exit she craves without triggering a whole-club bid from one of the two front-runners.

But it is not a very likely outcome. Buying her stake on its own would be a bit like buying one wheel and a bit of the backseat of a Ferrari. You've got yourself a slice of a very nice car but it's no good without the other more important bits.

Which is why I believe Bracewell-Smith's frustration is set to continue. There are no new rabbits out there. The most likely buyer for her shares is still Kroenke or Usmanov. And she could make that sale without Blackstone, saving herself a considerable sum in bankers' fees.

So this isn't really a twist or a development. But it is something. Perhaps just a signpost that bigger twists and developments are coming.

The next of those will be Kroenke's decision on what he wants to do with his 40% stake in the NFL's St Louis Rams. The deadline for that was also Monday but there were no smoke signals from the Pepsi Center at the time of finishing this so I'll update later.

1100, 13 April:

It was predictable, really, wasn't it? The minute after I press return on the blog above "Silent Stanley" declares his hand in St Louis. And this time there is no debate whatsoever about it being a "twist" or not. Nobody saw this corkscrew coming.

Stan Kroenke

As I managed to tweet before nodding off last night, Kroenke has shocked US observers by deciding to match Shahid Khan's $750m bid for the NFL's St Louis Rams.

The Pakistan-born car-parts magnate had negotiated this price with the majority shareholders of the Rams, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez. But he had not reached agreement with local-boy Kroenke for his minority holding in the struggling franchise. That stake, 40%, would cost Khan $300m under the terms of his offer.

Kroenke, however, had three options. He could take Khan's money and walk away, he could do nothing and remain in the background at the Rams (quietly collecting the cheques that come the way of an NFL owner), or he could exercise his right to meet Khan's valuation and buy Rosenbloom and Rodriguez's shares himself.

I outlined these choices a couple of weeks ago and at the time (in fact right up until the moment he did otherwise) nobody thought Kroenke would opt to match Khan and buy the Rams outright.

The reason for this was that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had just restated the league's strict rules on cross-ownership of major sports franchises: you cannot hold a controlling stake in an NFL team if you already own a baseball, basketball or ice hockey team in a rival NFL market. Kroenke, as owner of the NBA's Denver Nuggets and NHL's Colorado Avalanche, fails this test spectacularly. He also owns indoor gridiron, lacrosse and "our" football teams in Denver.

So what's Stan playing at?

Well, it seems, and people far closer to this than me aren't sure yet either, he is going to challenge the NFL's cross-ownership rule. A better lawyer than me could probably point out that it does look like a fairly arbitrary restraint of trade. There is also the precedent set by former Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. He successfully got the restriction waived on owning NFL and Major League Soccer franchises in different markets. Is MLS really so different to the NHL these days?

The other option for Kroenke is to sell his NBA and NHL franchises in Denver. But this seems unlikely as they are a well-consolidated pair that help fill his Pepsi Center arena most nights of the year. He also owns the broadcasting and ticketing operations for these teams so they appear to be too good a fit to break up. A legal challenge of the NFL's rules appears to be the way to go.

What all this means for Kroenke's intentions towards Arsenal is anybody's guess. Is he rich enough to buy the Rams and the Gunners? Probably. Can he pull both deals off at the same time? Hmmm. Hard to say. Let's leave that for another blog.

1800:

One quick postscript before I head for the exits. London's PLUS market has just closed after a relatively lively day's trading for shares in Arsenal Holdings PLC - 40 shares swapped hands in all. Thirty-seven of those were bought by one man. At £10,500 a pop.
And it wasn't Kroenke.

Say what you like about Usmanov but he's no quitter. Only 1,900 shares short of 29.9999%, a snip at £20m.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at http://twitter.com/bbc_matt

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    The issue of club ownership has been pretty evident in modern football, with little success for the mega-rich entrepreneur coming in and lavishing cash on new players to chase all competitions.

    As a gooner, I would rather a balanced ownership of the club remained, as I feel there is too much temptation to pursue trophies at great cost (Manchester United and Liverpool take heed). The position of Wenger could also be under threat.

    Whoever decides to make an offer for the remaining shares better be in touch with the fans and be on the pulse of the club as it would be a devestating shame if we followed the fashion and bankrupt the club chasing honours were we well on the way to winning at the moment.

  • Comment number 2.

    great read Matt. Admittedly it is with very red glasses that i say the 'winner' will receive a very attractive prize here.

    I do not share the fears of bankruptcy as Rory, above, for Wenger has run the club so economically hitherto. A few more years and the debt will be gone also.
    The infrastructure is in place; young players, high match day turnover, ticket waiting list, excellent sales and marketing and 'sensible' wage-structure.

    having said all that... money talk still leaves a little sick in the mouth.

  • Comment number 3.

    I will give her a Tenner for her share!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    brilliant blog!!... absolutely briliant read - and i agree with your view... it's nice to read a blog on football ownership that focuses on facts rather than xenophobic arguments.

    not a bad hand me down that mind is it... hopefully i will just inherit £100m of shares in something that i know nothing about!!!... it's a good life for some isn't it....

  • Comment number 5.

    The coincidence of the two 'decision points' on both sides of the Atlantic is too strong not to be significant. Surely Lady Ninas move is timed to force Kroenke into making a decision that maybe he wanted to delay in some way. The fact remains that the sale of 40% of The Rams will bring him twice as much as he needs to buy her out so there's no danger of debt being involved. Making a bid for Usmanovs shares at the required £10500 plays into his hands because it will give him a reasonable profit and an exit from somewhere where it has clearly demonstrated that he's not welcome.
    Kroenke is the 'loser' only in regards to timing and some cost that he may feel that he has to get back in the future when the real prize (revenues due from his current 50% ownnership of Arsenal Broadband) start rolling in. In the meantime, the main problem continues to be avoided - no football related debt sits on the balance sheet and that relating to infrastructure falling by the day. Perhaps it was the leaking of the UEFA financial doping that was really the catalyst to these events.

  • Comment number 6.

    Kroenke is exercising his right to purchase 100% of the St Louis Rams, so I don' think he'll be looking to buy Arsenal outright anytime soon.

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d8177c7f3/comments/kroenke-exercises-matching-right-to-try-to-buy-100-percent-of-rams

  • Comment number 7.

    No twists at all. Kronke will become the main man and shareholder. The others are al frozen out, Red and White wont get them and cant afford them anyway. Nothing much will change until Fitzman and Kronke allow it. The shares being available arent big news. In fact its what people knew already.

  • Comment number 8.

    I really hope things stay the same, I would hate for us to become the plaything of some billionaire. The club is so well run and the foundations are there for the club to be self-sufficient and succesful in the future.

  • Comment number 9.

    Can someone at the BBC please state what they think the nature of these buyouts will be? Are we to expect a leveraged buy out a la ManU and Liverpool or a more agreeable wholesale buyout like at say Tottenham (not expecting any oil tycoon investment like at City or Chavski). No one has covered what we can expect in this area despite it being the most important point for the fans! What do I care wheather it's Usmanov or Kroenke, I wanna know whether our debt is gonna have doubled after a takeover. With this sort of thing in mind I think it's worth pointing out to some of the Xenophobic members of the press (this blog not included) that what has perhaps hurt clubs like 'Pool and ManU the most is their "good, English" previous owners selling them for maximum profit (understandable but hardly in the intrest of the club), all that debt 'Pool are in now is in the Moores pocket's, and Bracewell-Smith looks to be pulling a similar trick at Arsenal now. Seeing as these British owners seem only self-intrested on their way out of the club why are we led to believe they were any different when they were in charge?

  • Comment number 10.

    Kroenke exercises matching right to try to buy 100 percent of Rams

    Associated Press

    ST. LOUIS -- Missouri billionaire Stan Kroenke has decided to exercise his matching rights and will try to purchase the remaining 60 percent share of the St. Louis Rams.

    Kroenke made the announcement late Monday, the deadline for him to make a decision.

  • Comment number 11.

    Boomshakalak - It is indeed a good hand down, but I would imagine as with most inheritance its something that you never wanted to receive.

  • Comment number 12.

    I disagree with 2: yes, we are in a decent financial situation etc. etc, but on pitch we havent won a trophy for 5 years, and i have got fed up with wenger building decent teams and developing decent players than selling the players at their prime (Toure, Adebayor, Henry, Lehman....) I for one would not be displeased to see a manger, who cares more about finance than on field success, leave.

  • Comment number 13.

    +1 to the argument about the facts, nice to see it broken down easily without any anti-foreign sentiment. Personally couldn't give a fiddlers about her 100 million or 80 million or even 1 million worth of shares, she won't be inviting me around to her place anytime soon.
    But interesting stuff all the same. Now will Arsenal win the league and would that change anything?

  • Comment number 14.

    #12

    How on earth can you call yourself an Arsenal fan and then come out with tosh like that?

    You are in a small minority mate if you can't see how lucky we are to have Wenger in charge you are insane.

    Keep up the good work Arsene, trophies are beckoning!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Ben

    How can you say Wenger cares more about finance than onfield success? What a ridiculous statement. Further backed by saying we sold Henry and Lehmann in their prime! Are you serious?! We replaced Toure with Vermaelen who has proven he is a far better defender than Toure. Plus Adebaypr's departure has enabled Bendtner to develop. With 8 goals in his last 10 games he appears to be coming along nicely.

    We are in a great positon because, not inspite of, our manager. Be grateful.

  • Comment number 16.

    Well, Stan Kroenke has just exercised his matching right to buy 100% of the Rams. The purchase of the Rams will cost him upwards of $750 million. But NFL rules prohibit the cross ownership of sports teams so he'll have to sell his NBA and NHL teams which may mean he'll be consolidating his sports portfolio in to the two footballs.

  • Comment number 17.

    14

    If we lose on Wednesday, watch a few more 'No 12s' crawl out from under their stones. Just you see. There are a few more like him around fella sadly.

  • Comment number 18.

    The situation with Arsenal intrigues me. The business is one issue and I think the ownership is another.

    With regards to the ownership, it does seem as though things could well have been sorted out before now, if someone really wanted to. As #5 Thefinalsalute says, Kroenke will be in a position to buy the shares, but, what does he want them for and what if he doesn't buy them then?

    Football club ownership is something of a hot topic at the moment in terms of how the owners run them. Why do owners own them? For vanity? For money? There are different types.

    In terms of the business and how they are run, it seems that Arsenal need a little something to push them to silverware. Will Kroenke provide that? He may have the money to buy a controlling interest but has he got the money to buy all the shares and then clear the debts which would allow for investment in the squad? Wouldn't it take a change of ethos for Wenger to spend 'big' on the squad anyway?

    Interesting times ahead but, even as a Chelsea fan, I hope whatever happens does not result in the abuse of Arsenal FC. (Though I'm happy for them to be abused Wednesday night for purely selfish reasons!)

  • Comment number 19.

    #17

    I fear you are right i just try not to believe it!! even if we do not win anything again this year i for one will not be too disappointed it is clear we are on the right track with a young vibrant squad (and hopefully a fit RVP all season) we are not far away from winning things now and that is down to Arsene and his methods.

    I hope the "real" fans can drown out any negative soundings from a deluded few!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    @Rory Francis why did you single out Man United and Liverpool using excessive money in the chase of success? United's debt comes from money the Glazer's borrowed to buy the club and not from excessive spending by the club. Not that they haven't spent big, they also have a massive turnover and a lot of success in the last few years, three prems, 2 League Cups and Champion's League since Arsenal last won anything. Liverpool have spent a lot but also emptied out a lot players, though except for Torres haven't really bought anyone that good.

    I'm not a fan of any Premiership team but it's pretty obvious that Arsenal aren't really any better now than you were a few years ago. The only sense if which you're well on your way to winning trophies is that Chelsea and Man U are getting weaker. Fact is you need a new goalkeeper, new centre back, a defensive midfielder who can physically compete with teams lower down the league and centre forwards better than Eduardo and Bendtner to replace Van Persie when injured, who wasn't playing at centre forward last year anyway.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hmmm, guessing Ben would prefer a manager like 'Arry at Spuds, more intrested in on field success then finances and look what it did for Pompey. Bet Ben really wishes he was a Pompey fan so he could talk about the Fa cup they won two years ago and being the in the final again this year. I agree, sack Wenger, bring in 'Arry lets get spend big, grab a few titles and afterwards saviour a bit of Administration and League 1 Football (Leeds fans tell me they've been having a great time these last 10 years).

  • Comment number 22.

    Have I got my maths wrong? 62,217 shares at £10,500 = £653 million and the same shares at £8,500 = £529 million and a difference of £124 million and not the £20 million loss to Bracewell-Smith suggested.

  • Comment number 23.

    #22 Terry Glinwood

    Bracewell-Smith has a 15.9% holding.

    Thus £124m x 15.9% = £19.71m.

    Ok?

  • Comment number 24.

    #22

    Bracewell-Smith has only got 15.9% of the 62,217 shares

    So

    9,893 shares in total @ £10,500 = 100.04million
    9,893 shares in total @ £8,500 = 84.09million

  • Comment number 25.

    Arsenal is just not looking too good right now, how is Kroenke or Usmanov going to become sole-owner of the club? Neither seems likely to sell to each other and you've seen at Liverpool what happens with two owners at a similar level of ownership.

  • Comment number 26.

    ericstevens

    We are in a better position now, as the average age of our squad is in the low 20s, these players all have the best years ahead of them. If you compare this to Vhelsea and United, it is clear their squads need a big revamp over the next few seasons, as their players are mostly at or past their peak. United for example need to replace Neville, Scholes and Giggs. Plus Ferdinand is not as reliable as he once was. Chelsea's key men are all pushing 30. So i am happy with the position we are in.

    As for needing a defensive midfielder who is physical, well we have Song who has been our most improved player this season. Agree we need a keeper and centre half though. The forward line is fine and with the addition of Chamakh should enable us to deal with a spate of injuries which have cursed us this season.

  • Comment number 27.

    #22

    See post 23 he explained far better than me!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Great Blog Matt.

    I hope that the 'Wenger bashers' keep their thoughts to themselves, as real Arsenal fans have stated above they are in the minority...You can't argue with the fact that we haven't won a trophy for 5 years but does that make Wenger a bad Manager or the way the club is run a shambles? No, I definately think not. I'd rather be in our position and strengthen each year, continue to play Champions League football and watch a proper footballing side. It is frustrating that we have been trophyless but Wenger and Co don't do this on purpose. You can see his frustration and passion when things aren't going right.
    In my opinion we need a world class keeper and centre half to enhance the side.

  • Comment number 29.

    #24 LABSAB9

    Erm, 9,893 x £10,500 = £103,876,500.

    Back to school! :-)

  • Comment number 30.

    #29

    I meant £104million put decimal point in by mistake!!

    I refer you to post 27 where i stated your explantion to be far clearer than mine!!

    Maths is not a strong point of mine lol!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    David Dein anyone???

  • Comment number 32.

    Well as Stan Kroenke now has decided to take full ownership of the Rams this will make way for David Dein oh yes

  • Comment number 33.

    Can Bracewell-Smith not offer Usmanov her shares, at lower than their market value, but higher than the amount she will receive if and when Kroenke is obliged to complete his takeover? That would give her a better return than she is likely to get currently and shaft Kroenke and Fiszman, who have shafted her somewhat. Although Usmanov's financial position or strategic postion may make this a moot point.

  • Comment number 34.

    Another good Arsenal Blog Matt. Firstly - to the comment at No9 - how will it be financed - that is pretty much entirely up to the new owners. Once they (whomever "they" may be)own Arsenal they can approach the banks and try to finance the club as they see fit. Look at the Glazers, they have put some of their own money in but basically financed buying MU with an enormous debt burden. Look at CFC - Abramovich has finally converted all his loans to the club to equity - Chelsea are basically debt free - way ahead of AFC.

    The real worry for all these clubs is when the owners a)get bored b)they suddenly need the money for something else (West Ham?)

    Arsenals debt now is completely manageable (see Matts previous AFC post)but is largely due to the conservative nature of the current board. When i say conservative, in my view, i mean sensible!

    There are three options of exit for Lady Bracewell-Smith - the obvious two (Kroenke and Usmanov)and a third yet unknown. I have no insight on this - but I find it hard to believe that with so much money coming into a club (with respect) such as MC - how can investor X not be making enquiries for the classiest club in the Premiership?

    Hence, this may well be the start of a twist, Lady Bracewell-Smith sells to new investor X, so does Usmanov (insulted enough by the AFC board and UK media) and then so does Fiszman. suddenly its (approx)Kroenke with 30% new investor with 65%+. Indeed Kroenke may be happy with that split, along with the tie-up he has for internet earnings and the association with his USA Soccer team.

    Regards
    Ian
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 35.

    #34 Ian Kaye

    In your final paragraph, you mention 'tie-up he has for internet earnings and the association with his USA Soccer Team'.

    What do you mean by this? If by 'internet tie-up' you mean with regards to broadcasting rights, it has long been my opinion that it is the value of internet rights that has been the Glazers interest at Man U. I just can't see how they can make any money otherwise. However, as far as I know, there isn't and at this time isn't likely to be individual sales of live football rights for Premier league teams home or abroad.

    You mention earnings? Does this mean you think he is in it for profit? If so, can we assume that this will direct surpluses to him rather than to the football side of things?

    Finally, I would imagine that the association with his USA soccer team (who is that?) would only give marginal benefits.

  • Comment number 36.

    @Ben (post #12): "and i have got fed up with wenger building decent teams and developing decent players than selling the players at their prime (Toure, Adebayor, Henry, Lehman....)"

    Interesting four players you've identified there. Toure in his prime? Never, since contracting Malaria two years ago, he has ballooned and lost his most useful asset (his pace). Good business there. Adebayor is an overrated egotist who was never going to succeed (60k people waiting for him to fail every week one the catalyst for that, the other being the number of zeroes at the end of his bank balance). Henry, past his best - wasn't replaced but how do you replace the irreplaceable. Lehmann too was past his best - unfortunately should have been replaced by someone other than Almunia (which would have potentially handed us the title this season!).

    I don't have a problem with the club being self sufficient - Look at Leeds, Man U, Liverpool, Portsmouth etc for reasons. What happens to Chelsea or City if their financiers pull out, leaving them with white elephants tied to long term contracts for massive amounts of money. The worst thing that can happen is a new owner (Usmanov) comes in, mortgages the club ala Glazer, spends £100m or so to "please the fans" and get some silverware, but ultimately dump us with a massive amount of debt long term.

  • Comment number 37.

    First off, I'd like to say to Ben (writer of post #12) that, like the rest of the Anti-Wenger Arsenal "fans", you are one of a very small number of people who should be more patient than being like a magpie just wanting to see shiny silverware. The principle that we can be a sustainable club that will conform to UEFA's inevitable ruling on debt-free clubs which is set to be enforced in 2015 is more important, so please stop complaining.

    Aside from this, I would like to congratulate Matt on another brilliant blog on the whole Arsenal ownership saga - really enlightening stuff.

    Before today, I would have said that Kroenke would be the new owner of Arsenal by the beginning of next season (as dubious as I am about the whole idea). However, the fact that he's now the outright owner of the Rams is actually a very intelligent financial power play if he wants to own Arsenal. NFL rules, as previously mentioned, state that cross-ownership across the big four sports is not allowed, so that means that Kroenke's either going to have to re-consider on the Rams, which would mean that he'd have to concede his stake, or he's going to have to sell both the Nuggets and the Avalanche, with either one of these options making enough money for a complete takeover of Arsenal, and one that would still ensure the club's sustainability.

    So, essentially, he's just managed to put himself in pole-position as owner of Arsenal over Usmanov.

    Well played, Stan.

  • Comment number 38.

    These could be worrying times for Arsenal.
    We've seen to American parties taking advantage of Man Utd and Liverpool already.

    If legislation is not put in place to protect english clubs, these could be dangerous days for Arsenal.

  • Comment number 39.

    @ #31 #32

    David Dein? How is he going to afford a club worth £600m+? He currently owns zero shares (having sold his to Usmanov), and has no major source of income. He left red and white holdings over a year ago (meaning he now has no allegiance to ANY of Arsenal's investors). Give up on the idea of him coming back - it ain't happening.

  • Comment number 40.

    The elephant in the room here is the Financial Fair Play regulations that will come in later this decade. I think Arsenal are the only side in the top eight who would meet those regulations right now, and it's absolutely a given that once they come in transfer prices are going to slump.

    Wenger's brilliance has been in buying young players cheaply, building a team, then selling each player in turn as their powers are fading or they demand unsustainable wages. Can you name even one player Wenger has sold who has been value for money for the team that bought him? At a push, Adebayor, sporadically, and then only because of the club's particular position. Anelka? Sold at a £10m loss, and it was pure bad luck that after many years of underachievement he's thrived at one of Arsenal's fiercest rivals. Henry? Never the same again, though arguably sold a season too late (he'd have been worth >£40m the season before, but then Arsenal might not have been fourth, which would have cost a lot more than £25m). Hleb? Kolo Toure? Enough said.

    (And Fabregas will be an equally inspired sale - £40m or more to sit on the Barca bench behind Xavi and Iniesta, which will fund an almost equally good replacement and leave enough to pinch Sebastian Frey from under the noses of a debt-crippled Manchester United.)

    As long as Arsenal stay in the top four, they will be able to pick off the rest when - not if, when - they crumble under the weight of their own debts. The only threat to them is being run in the same way as the bubble clubs around them, and that is why this is the most important story in the club's recent history.

    The only question that needs to be asked about the potential owners is whether they will allow the club to be stripped in the manner of Liverpool and United.

  • Comment number 41.

    Arsenal at the moment is a shinning beacon of hope in English football. You can be at the top(or there abouts) without needing a multi billionaire to bankroll everything. you can be financially sensible and still win.

    Top four when everyone else at the same level has mountains of debt is not bad at all. I just can't wait for the rug to be pulled from ManU or Chelsea and watch them tumble down the table(or leagues). Liverpool is well on its way struggling to qualify for any European football and may need to sell one of there two good players. Arsenal should avoid getting in to similar issues

  • Comment number 42.

    Thing I find the funniest is when people talk of the "problems with the way football is run" as if all this craziness is solely the fault of football and its governing bodies. Granted the likes of Abramovitch and Sheickh Mansoor distort the markets and make things odd but not as much as outside markets twist towards the absur. For example Hicks and Gillet buy Liverpool at the Zenith of boom time 2007 less then 2 years after they win the CL and with them still firmly esconsed in the top 4 for aprox. £220M. 3 years later after a massive global recession, with Liverpool having won nothing in the interim years since the sale and now looking firmly out of the top 4 and therefore the lucrative Champions league and Barclays are apparantly willing to pay £300M for them, the Rhone group are willing to add £100M equity in return for a 40% share, valueing the club at closer to £150M and some insane reports claim that it may be worth about 0.5 billion. So what is it? How can it possibly worth more now then 3 years ago (new prem. TV contracts, really?)? And if valuations of it's worth are really varying by such a large degree then who's fault is that, football or the foolish financiers and their business analysts and bankers who don't know what they're doing?

  • Comment number 43.

    #41 Richard

    Arsenal will only have a chance to be the shining beacon of English football when they do more for English footballers, rather than buy cheap (but very good) foreign players.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hi guys.

    im in a quite unique position of not having followed arsenal for a lifetime (i started about 10 years ago, but i am only a teenager. ) All im saying is that we have been in this position many times in the last five years of having what looks like an up and coming team, only for wenger to sell the backbone. I was probably a bit rash in saying wenger is more intrested in money, but the players which have been sold would be happilyn welcomed into todays team? after all, how many current arsenal players would be picked for the man u or chelsea teans? im not saying that arsenal should go on a short term money spending craze, but sometimes our transfer market dealings are very bizzare.

    ps. vermalen was awful against barca.

  • Comment number 45.

    #39

    I was talking about Dein buying Bracewell Smiths shares not buying the club. They know each other and have a common enemy in Fiszman. If she really wanted to stick it to Fiszman, then Dein would be the perfect buyer.

  • Comment number 46.

    also, arsenal should not and do not have to go into debt to build a decent squad. thats not my point

  • Comment number 47.

    #40. ShinyDavidHowell
    'As long as Arsenal stay in the top four, they will be able to pick off the rest when - not if, when - they crumble under the weight of their own debts.'

    Chelsea - £701m in debt
    MUFC - £699m in debt
    Arsenal - £416m in debt - isn't that 'weight of their own debt'???

  • Comment number 48.

    Ben

    No i agree we need one or two more players to complete the squad, but of the players who have left, I would not take any of them back at present. Henry was past his peak, Hleb became Barceolna's bench warmer and Flamini is only now getting into the Milan team regularly, and I would not swap him for Song or Diaby.

    I have to disagree with your comment about our players not getting in the Chelsea or United teams, that is hard to call, as we play in a different way to both teams. Our aquad is full of 20-24 year olds, who have not reached their peak. Give them time to do so is my advice, look how close we are to the league this season. With one or two additions and continued improvement we will soon be winning trophies.

    Vermaelen has been outstanding, he is allowed the odd bad game to be fair. Plus I think anyone would have struggled against Messi in that form and missing his regualr defensive partner for the majority of the tie.

  • Comment number 49.

    46. No offense Ben but what is your point then, Wenger is more concerened with money but you think we should build a decent squad without going into debt? Seriously you make no sense. One or the other has to be a priority (winning the title next year or not increasing the debt) you can't have it both ways. We could all sit here a say Wengers rubbish for not picking up Messi on a free at 13 and Ronaldo for £12M, but if you're problem with Wenger is who he's bought in the transfer market and how he's operated then I'd love to here youre suggestion for a replacement.

  • Comment number 50.

    46. At 11:23am on 13 Apr 2010, Ben wrote:
    also, arsenal should not and do not have to go into debt to build a decent squad. thats not my point
    ----------------
    Ben, your club is already over £400m in debt...

  • Comment number 51.

    Diablo Rojo

    Agreed but the debt is linked to the stadium, pretty much like a mortgage so I gather. With the increased revenue, plus revenue for the apartments built on the Highbury site, the debt is more than manageable. We certainly do not have the reported interest payments that United are saddled with. Plus, their debt is all down to the owner's leveraged buyout, not the building of a stadium.

  • Comment number 52.

    im sorry #48 but i have heard 'give them time' and 'we will soon be winning trophys' far too many times over the past five years. as soon as these teams mature wenger seems desperate to sell them. he has rebuilt the team twice over the last five years, but i just think he lacks the knowledge in the transfer market. yes i know this will cause another wenger-sentimentality outburst.

  • Comment number 53.

    49, football clubs to not exist to simply not go 'into debt' it would be a boring sport if that was the objective!

  • Comment number 54.

    #52

    I was going to try and respond to you, but your comment "he lacks the knowledge in the transfer market" is laughable therefore i will pay it the attention it deserves.

    I hope others follow suit as you are clearly deluded.

  • Comment number 55.

    Ben

    Mate 5 years is not a long time. In that time we have played a champions league final, Carling cup final, a few semi finals and finsihed in the top 4 of the league. There are many clubs who would like that record.

    I fail to see who we have sold in their prime? Which players have left us and gone on to a lot of success? Henry may have won trophies but he is not really a key member of Barca's squad. As for lacking knowledge in the transfer market, well you have made yourself look a little silly there pal.

  • Comment number 56.

    gunpaul82 - £200m of your debt is linked to the building of the stadium and sales of properties on the Highbury development have hit the buffers due to the economic downturn and Arsenal have had to extend a £133m bank loan on the development. Not everything is as rosy as it seems at Arsenal.

  • Comment number 57.

  • Comment number 58.

    @ Diablo Rojo: Ben, your club is already over £400m in debt...

    Out of interest, where did you arrive at the £400m figure from? I thought it peaked at £400m when the construction of Emirates had completed, but had dropped to half of that with subsequent windfalls from property sales and the departure of £40m worth of lacklustre footballers last summer (thank you Man City).

    *A google search later*

    Debt was just below £300m last summer per Arsenal's last published financial results. There's another set due in a month.

    http://www.arsenal.com/assets/_files/documents/sep_09/gun__1254124328_PLUS_ANNOUNCEMENT_29-9-09.pdf (Page 21)

  • Comment number 59.

    53, Ben you do not seem to understand what I said. Football clubs do not exist "not to go into debt" of course, though I'm sure we all appreciated you pointing it out. This doesn't mean that not going further into debt shouldn't be the 1st priority, winning titles second, you still strive for the latter while not straying into the former. Would it be easier for you to understand if instead of going further into debt I said going into Administration, or dropping out of the top division after 70 years, because thats were continually expanding debt will take us and any year Arenal don't pay the intrest that is what happens.

  • Comment number 60.

    Diablo Rojo

    I am not sure the development of Highbury has hit the buffers, I am sure I read somewhere that the majority of the flats had been sold.

    I am not Arsenal's accountant so have no idea the exact figures etc. But it seems our debt is under control.

  • Comment number 61.

    According to the Guardian's article on "Russia's Richest Men", Feb 15, 2010...
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Alisher Usmanov Seventh. Usmanov's fortunes have also recovered dramatically, growing from $4.5bn to $12.4bn in a single year. Usmanov is now in a strong position to pursue his apparent long-term ambition to secure control over Arsenal FC. He currently owns around a quarter of the London club's shares.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Usmanov may still surprise Kroenke and Fiszman, particularly with Kroenke's distraction with the Rams.That would not necessarily be a bad thing

  • Comment number 62.

    Perhaps a simple analogy to make it easier for you Ben.

    A free-diver's aim is to dive as deep as he can go, but his first priority will be to stay alive. He doesn't free-dive to stay alive but if he doesn't manage it he's unlikely to care to much about how deep he got.

  • Comment number 63.

    Kroenke will find it very difficult to buy the Rams because of cross ownership rules and there is no chance that he will sell his beloved denver nuggets. However it is unlike him to enter into a business deal that will cause friction and that he may have to fight for so perhaps he has already made some kind of agreement with the NFL about cross ownership.

    The other question is where the money is coming from. It is against the rules to take out loans against american sports teams and is unlikely he has £400 million in cash lying around. So where is he getting the money from. I doubt that he has the money to buy the Rams and Arsenal at the same time and i think it is likely he has decided to build up his shareholding to 30% and then sit on it and see what happens for a while. However investment in arsenal isn't a particularly good one for making profit because they don't pay dividends so in the future he will want to become the majority owner but he will be patient. After all he has waited 15 years to become the owner of the Rams.

  • Comment number 64.

    Is this not just a case of Lady Nina thinking she could get more for her shares but now finding out that she is playing with two shrewder businessmen.
    Kronke is obviously not going to pay her more than £8,5k per share as this would affect his takeover bid. As he has got to just under 30% without these then he has no incentive now to offer her any more than he would do in a takeover & the longer he leaves it the more likely she is to accept the takeover offer just to get rid of these.
    Usmanov similarly can't buy her out without launching his own takeover bid. Whilst he seems prepared to pay much more per share for individual shares up to the 30% he is probably not keen on paying over the odds for the whole of the club which he would have to do if he paid more for her shares. With this logic he is also much further away from a takeover bid than Kronke as unless Kronke offers near £10,5k per share Usmanov would lose out massively by buying these shares and offering a competing bid.
    Seems to me one if not both have been stringing her along in the hope that her shares become useful later on but she has caught on too late. Unless she's prepared to sell these piecemeal, mainly to Usmanov with the rest going elsewhere, not sure who else would buy them unless under £8,5k, or waiting 12 months for Usmanov to buy the rest at a previously agreed offer price.
    Either way Kronke knows he has got 12 months from Usmanov's last share purchase to decide what to do & he is in it for the long term so is in no rush. Usmanov knows this & whilst it's not quite checkmate as it stands the standoff isn't hurting Kronke's position so he may as well get his house in order before making a considered offer.
    If the offer isn't accepted then he is still in a better position as the Arsenal board can decide to let him have another go, something Usmanov won't get.

  • Comment number 65.

    point taken 59. but come than guys, give me an example of wenger doing any decent deals since about ten years ago?

  • Comment number 66.

    I tend to agree with Ben that Wenger has been pretty awful in the transfer market in the recent past, and Henry and Vieira since laving us have won a lot more than arsenal have since they left.

    Wenger also left us without a striker for a lot of the season after failing to replace Adebayor and Van persie and I for one wished he would be a lot more agressive in trying to acheive success at arsenal like he used to be.

    And the invincibles didnt saddle us into debt and turn us into leeds, that is a poor example. No arsenal fan wants us to spend Real Madrid money. But to sensibly replace players who leave and to maybe buy a winger instead of playing eboue (defender) arshavin (second Striker) or bendtner (striker) or Nasri (centre midfielder)... there.

    Also wenger brought in silvestre, enough said.

    I dont want wenger to leave but he is far from perfect.

    AS a fan our first priority should be winning trophies not money. Arsenal have a fantastic stadium, a worldwide fanbase, a great youth setup and a good business model. Any owner coming in Usmanov included isnt going to destroy that by spending a few million on players.

  • Comment number 67.

    "It is against the rules to take out loans against american sports teams"
    Really they actually managed to make a rule like that? That this is possible and no one's done it in the premier league yet is atrocious. This is just further proof that owners and chairmen are purely self-intrested, such a move could lead to less profits in selling so they'd never bring it in. If such a rule is indeed posible UEFA need to apply it for entry into their competitions pronto! Forget financial doping this should be the number one priority.

  • Comment number 68.

    And this is a particularly stupid comment:


    "(And Fabregas will be an equally inspired sale - £40m or more to sit on the Barca bench behind Xavi and Iniesta, which will fund an almost equally good replacement and leave enough to pinch Sebastian Frey from under the noses of a debt-crippled Manchester United.)"

    Selling our captain and talisman inspired?

    alot of arsenal fans have well and trully had the wool pulled over their eyes.

  • Comment number 69.

    "give me an example of wenger doing any decent deals since about ten years ago?"

    Where to start
    Fabregas - Free
    RVP - £2.75M
    Toure out for £15M Vermalian in for £10M, player universally recognised this season as better and an extra £5M in cash.
    Adabayor bought for £3M sold for £25M, currently has about same goals per game ratio this season as Bendtner.


    Do I have to go on?

    Now why don't you do what I asked ages ago and give me your suggestion for Wenger's replacement?

  • Comment number 70.

    I think this is huge news purely from the point of view of what both Uzmanov and Kronke is going to do next. It doesn't matter what happens next in Kronke's American adventures from an Arsenal point of view. He can win the legal case, he can lose the legal case, he can sell the Denver NBA and NHL franchises, it doesn't really matter. The point is does Kronke look like he'll be interested, or have enough time on his hands, to be buying Arsenal in the next year? It's hardly something that can be sorted out in a few days, as whilst he's preoccupied with all this Arsenal will be the last thing on his mind.
    This means Fiszman has potentially made a catastrophic mistake by effectively snubbing Lady Nina last year. If Uzmanov was to make an offer for her shares, at the money she wants, tomorrow, she would accept it. This would take Uzmanov over the 30% barrier, surely leaving Kronke with a situation similar to America and probably ask him the question of where his sporting loyalties lie, the answer to which will be America.
    He might then sell up, leaving Fiszman powerless to resist Uzmanov's advances and leave Arsenal with a Manchester United fan in charge of the club...

  • Comment number 71.

    Congrats to Matt Slater for his well-researched blogs. As an Arsenal supporter I find them enlightening.

    Others have correctly identified the forthcoming UEFA financial fair play regulations (assuming the final version of them is properly written without too many loopholes and they're properly enforced) as a big factor in Arsenal's favour.

    Another blog on this issue at arsenalinsider.com:

    http://tinyurl.com/y4y9nbu

    Arsenal fans should also know about the Arsenal Supporters' Trust:

    http://www.arsenaltrust.org

    AST works to broaden supporter ownership and influence in the club. It's working on some exciting stuff at the moment which should be publicly revealed in the summer.

  • Comment number 72.

    gunnerslovver2007

    Don't bother mate. This guy is seriously deluded. But by his own admission he has supported the club for 10 years, so has been spoilt somewhat.

    Wenger ahs consistently worked miracles in the transfer market. Also, I would love to hear from the critics not only who should replace Wenger, but also who we should be buying.

  • Comment number 73.

    Diablo Rojo, I just want to clear a couple of things up:

    1) Arsenal's club debts are less than £200M, because after the publishing of that Guardian article provided by MrBlueBurns, apparently there was another £130M that got paid off by the club as a result of increased turnover and profit. All of this would not have been possible had it not been for...

    2) The vast majority of the 680 Highbury Square flats being sold, with only 57 units left.

    £400M of debt, my left foot!

  • Comment number 74.

    Oh yeah, and the £100M sponsorship deal from Emirates, as well as the increased Stadium revenue from the 20,000 extra tickets sold per game.

  • Comment number 75.

    " Where to start
    Fabregas - Free
    RVP - £2.75M
    Toure out for £15M Vermalian in for £10M, player universally recognised this season as better and an extra £5M in cash.
    Adabayor bought for £3M sold for £25M, currently has about same goals per game ratio this season as Bendtner."

    how about the football side.


    sells vieira, pires, henry, gilberto, ljungberg, cole - does not replace with experience, arsenal win nothing for 5 years.

    Loses flamini, hleb, rosicky - does not replace and next season arsenal struggle for 4th, arsenal spend 2 more seasons playing catch up.

  • Comment number 76.

    #57 MrBlueBurns

    My mistake I was looking at info from last June http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/jun/03/english-premier-league-debt
    but am still surprised that Arsenal can halve their debt in 6 months - thay should be completely debt-free by this time next year!

    As for Chelsea being 'debt-free' you mean the Club owes him £701m or he would expect to sell the Club for that amount to get his money back (highly unlikely for a club of Chelsea's size) plus your last figures showed you made yet another loss, this time £44.4m - and 68% of your turnover goes on player's wages - (MU is 47% and Arsenal is 45%)
    Not an ideal business model.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ kris #70

    Good points well made mate, esp about Danny Fiszman's defenestration of Lady Nina. It always struck me as unnecessarily ruthless.

    The last person I want anywhere near Arsenal in Alisher Usmanov. I accept that in the real world my football club has become the target of people whose principle interest is what they can get out of it rather than what they can put in. I'm not obliged to like it however, and I don't. Not one bit.

  • Comment number 78.

    #76 Diablo Rojo

    Arsenal won't be debt free next year because most of the cash injection came from Toure & Adebayor deals and flat sells
    However it proves it's a highly successful bussines model

  • Comment number 79.

    brunodante1

    If you remember rightly, we swapped cole for Gallas. Who adds experience. Vermaelen is the Belgian captain and has champions league experience. Arshavin is 27 and also has vast experience. We also have not lost Rosicky, he is still a fundamental part of the squad.

    I am not sure what your point is? We know Wenger has had to rely on youth and developing players. Are we not now seeing the fruits of his labour? We are in with a shout of winning the title. Looking at the squad, there is no reason why we wont win it next season if we fall short this year. Have faith in the players and our genius manager.

  • Comment number 80.

    Mando - not Arsenal's but Chelsea's 'successful business model'. I obviously envy your Club's situation and can't wait for the day when/if the Red Knights come up with the £1.3bn to buy back our Club.

  • Comment number 81.

    "sells vieira, pires, henry, gilberto, ljungberg, cole - does not replace with experience, arsenal win nothing for 5 years."

    Oh so brunodante1 would like to see a side which still has "vieira, pires, henry, gilberto, ljungberg, cole" the first 5 are all well past it and none have looked as good since leaving Arsenal, even Cole looked poor at first and has only improved to Arsenal levels previously, and Clichy's clearly an able replacement especially considering that we got a good CB as well.

    People say Wenger has money to spend on experienced replacements but even if he has £45M now thats not £45M a year every year, he spends it now he's gonna have very little come next summer. We may not have won anything for 5 years but at least we haven't gone into melt-down like 'pool and we'll probably finish above ManU. Anyone who thinks that competing directly for players with the likes of Chelsea and ManCity needs their head looking at. Anyway do you really need to bring in experience, SAF just won the league three times and his most influential players were all below 25, apparantly he dosn't want to invest above that age either now. Some will say that SAF has out-performed Wenger on that basis then and may be he has but there would hardly be any shame in that would there?

  • Comment number 82.

    anyway i just hope whoever eventually takes over puts a bit more pressure on our manager to deliver and we stop praising mediocrity and become a club of winners again.




  • Comment number 83.

    I admire Wenger's prudence with regards to spending, and our model based on self sustainability, but we should be careful not to moralise or assume the moral high-ground when comparing our model with other teams like Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea. Yes, I agree with the way we go about our business, but at the end of the day, the model we use is similar in structure to all other teams (it's not as if we have a model based on Barcelona or Athletico Bilbao, or any form of supporter owned/cooperative model)

    Ultimately, despite club rivalries, I would want all clubs to have a good, solid business model, and I would never want any club to suffer severe financial hardship, because ultimately it will be the fans who suffer. So I hope that we all ride the current uncertain period and come out of it stronger and more stable. Hoping that a true, local Arsenal supporter will buy the club is a pipe-dream and unlikely to happen admittedly, but if Kroenke does buy the club, and he runs it sensibly, then I won't complain. There are certain worries that I (and probably a lot of other fans have) about ticket prices, but I'm not naive enough to believe that a takeover will have any effect on that. Overall, as long as Kroenke is calm and does things in the right way (like Lerner at Villa) I'll be content, and realise this is the best we can hope for currently.

    With regards to Wenger, I am still a huge supporter of him, and the fact that we are still challenging for the league despite so many injuries is testament to his managerial abilities (although admittedly the inconsistent form of Man Utd and Chelsea has helped). Hopefully, the takeover doesn't affect his commitment to the club, and when he does leave, it will be because he feels he has taken the club as far it can go, and not because he feels the boardroom situation will constrain and affect how he works with the team.

  • Comment number 84.

    "I am not sure what your point is? We know Wenger has had to rely on youth and developing players. Are we not now seeing the fruits of his labour? We are in with a shout of winning the title. Looking at the squad, there is no reason why we wont win it next season if we fall short this year. Have faith in the players and our genius manager"

    i think we could have been a few points clear by now if wenger had spent some of the money he made last summer and some of the money the fans pump into the club every week replacing players where we were crying out for investment after the horrors of last season

  • Comment number 85.

    Firstly, excellent BLOG Matt, great to see someone who clearly does their research into the facts of a complex situation and presents a well balanced and interesting article.

    @42. At 11:16am on 13 Apr 2010, gunnerslovver2007 wrote:
    "Hicks and Gillet buy Liverpool at the Zenith of boom time 2007 less then 2 years after they win the CL and with them still firmly esconsed in the top 4 for aprox. £220M. 3 years later after a massive global recession, with Liverpool having won nothing in the interim years since the sale and now looking firmly out of the top 4 and therefore the lucrative Champions league and Barclays are apparantly willing to pay £300M for them, the Rhone group are willing to add £100M equity in return for a 40% share, valueing the club at closer to £150M and some insane reports claim that it may be worth about 0.5 billion. So what is it? How can it possibly worth more now then 3 years ago (new prem. TV contracts, really?)? And if valuations of it's worth are really varying by such a large degree then who's fault is that, football or the foolish financiers and their business analysts and bankers who don't know what they're doing?"
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Firstly, 100M for 40% values the club at 250M (not 150M). Secondly,the Rhone Group were low-balling their bid in an attempt to take advantage of a (possibly) desperate situation, which is why Hicks and Gillett didn't bite.

    Club valuation, or valuation of any business for that matter, is not an exact science. There are various models that can be applied as well as some degree of judgement. The main factors are profit performance, recent past, present and projected (future), assets, and industry or market growth potential (as well as possible investment required to leverage that potential....read new stadium in the case of Liverpool).

    Winning nothing since Hicks and Gillet took over means little in this equation if revenue and profits have been growing (funding debt is irrelavent here),and the projected growth is attractive.

    The Premiership as a "product" has undergone, and continues to undergo, significant growth due to world demand and increasing growth of TV and commercial revenues from 'emerging markets' that still have some way to go in terms of their potential. Liverpool have been reaping the benefits of this, as have the other top teams in the PL.

    Hence revenue, profit and potential growth all add value in the valuation model and therefore as a club they are worth more.

    Fundamentally, this is why the Americans invested....they foresaw this growth and have no interest in interim profits but merely to hold the club for a number of years and sell at a significant capital gain.

    The unforseen financial crisis has thrown a spanner in the works and that is why they have had to face some challenges in the past year.

    Based on the normal valuation factors and independent consultancy companies I've seen value Liverpool I'd suggest that they are worth somewhere in the region of 450M, which would represent a considerable profit for their owners. But doubt is now being cast on the outcome by their potential failure to qualify for the CL next year and the owners are in a tight situation regarding refinancing their loans.

    At the end of the day a valuable, growing business is an attractive investment and that's what Liverpool FC are. The owners just have to to be careful how they negotiate their way through a difficult period with a highly leveraged financing model.

    Worst case scenario they will sell at a lesser profit than they would have liked. Either way Liverpool as a club will survive and represent a very succesful business/football club.

    I'm a Man Utd fan by the way and all of the above (other than the estimated valuations) applies to Utd also.

    Oh, and I should add.....during this 'horrific' ownership Utd have won 3 PL titles, the CL, 2 CCs and the CWC.

    Would I rather the Arsenal model? What do you think?

  • Comment number 86.

    brunodante1

    You are not a true arsenal fan. go away.

  • Comment number 87.

    #73. Tree

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/constructionandproperty/6240911/Arsenal-accepts-lowball-offer-for-vacant-Highbury-Square-flats.html

    Desperation or good business? Selling off 146 apartments and 98 parking bays at a 20% discount, why couldn't they hold on to them for the market to improve?

  • Comment number 88.

    hey?

    not an arsenal fan because i want us to win things instead of being happy about a business model?

    surely looking at the failings of your own club and wanting to improve on them is healthier than blindly following.

    Arsene Wenger has become stubborn and its costing us trophies. It may also cost us more of our best players.

  • Comment number 89.

    brunodante1

    Horrors of last season? Finishing 4th, champions league and FA cup semi finals, yep a truely horrific season. Dreadful, we should sack the manager and get rid of the whole team for that disastrous showing.

    It is clear that the players Wenger wanted were unobtainable or else we would have got them. Vermaelen has been a great signing as has Sol Campbell (though obviosuly a short term measure). Apart from the goalkeeping position where else do we need to strengthen? Chamakh appears to be sorted for the summer (he was hardly going to leave in January with Bordeaux in CL: quarter finals and near the top of the French League), so that is the extra forward we have missed. I would love to hear who we should have bought in January.

  • Comment number 90.

    Diablo Rojo

    Could be waiting a long while for housing market to improve. In fact all signals point to another dip, so probably good business to accept the cash now.

  • Comment number 91.

    I think anyone who thinks we need to get rid of wenger is mad, yes we havent won a trophy in 5yrs, but... 1)we have built an amazing stadium to bring us upto a higher level 2) we have debt, but are self sustaining, the debt will be paid off and we will be able to spend the money we make, not rely on a sugar daddy.

    If it did come to the point where a take over did happen, i have had many a discussion with friends on the subject, and to be honest yeah id like it to stay as is, but if it did happen id have to go for Kroenke. he has multiple sports franchises therefore understands the indusrty. i couldnt see him spending money he didnt have and getting into debt it just wouldnt be good buisness.

    i for one am quiet pleased how we have performed this season, considering at the start of the season we were apparently going to struggle to make top 4, and with the injuries we've suffered, we have done brilliantly. bendtner has come on and has started to find the net, and vermaelen has got to be signing of the season.

  • Comment number 92.

    "Firstly, 100M for 40% values the club at 250M (not 150M)."
    I've heard this before wordsofWisdom but it don't add up, if the £100M you invest then becomes equity in the business and does not go to the previous owners of those shares (Hicks and Gillet were offered nothing) then that 40% represents a total of the final value, ie. the current value (£150M) plus the 40%(£100M), bit like a share issue surely.

    You'll notice as well wordsofWisdom that I did mention increased TV revenue in my original comment, people keep on mentioning it but it's not increasing exponentially and in fact you could say that Ofcoms wading in casts future revenue in doubt.

    brunodante1 you have a funny measure of mediocre. Guess you probably describe Fabregas as mediocre as he's prob. only in the top 8 players in Europe (bit like a team reaching the CL quarter finals), and one of the top two players in the country (bit like a team heading for second in the top division). Hmm, yeah the only player who isn't mediocre is Messi and the only club is Barca, why don't you go support them then, or do you dislike them as "there only above average", numbskull...

  • Comment number 93.

    brunodante1

    I agree it is better to want the club to improve. But senseless rambling from 'fans' is not helpful. You clearly cannot see the bigger picture of what is happening at Arsenal. Instead of over spending on quick fixes, looking for a trophy, we have built a sustainable model, which will hopefully produce players each season who will seamlessly move into the first team. This will mean we only need to add one or two players each year to mainatin a successful team. There is a host of young players behind the current team who could come through over the next few years. This team will be successful. We are so close now, but need the fans to remain behind the team. The improvement this season has been great, if we repeat that, plus add a couple of signings, why cant we win something next season?

  • Comment number 94.

    getting humiliated by united in the champions league was horific for me im sorry if you see that as success, in my opinion it was the end of an era.

    Wenger needed to act strongly last summer so we could move on and up as we were exposed as clearly not being good enough against the top teams.

    The damage has been clear this year in the maulings we have taken in the games against the top teams once again.

    we needed players but wenger thought best to sell two experienced players and only bring one in. Had he acted agressively maybe we wouldnt have seen denilsons abject performance against man u or arsenal playing man u and chelsea with no striker or silvestre lining up against Messi.

  • Comment number 95.

    I think Stan will buy the Rams and avoid the legal rules by giving the club to his son. There by not himself breaking the rules.

    But where does that put in ala Arsenal? I think it's all same for another year, buying the Rams will mean he won't have the liquid assets to buy Arsenal, and will want to recoup some money on the Rams deal before committing to the Arsenal deal. It sort of makes sense because really he is the only one that can make a move on the Arsenal deal. Red&white don't have enough friends in the board let alone from supporters, and buying Lady Nina's stake would mean a full offer, something that is bound to fail at this stage in my opinion.

    So... I think, Stan's stake will stay the same for another year, Red & White may add a little, but not over the 30% threshold, while Lady Nina will probably end up selling her shares in small amounts on the semi open market to a few buyers, who might get anywhere from 1% to 5% of Arsenal. Creating a few more "independent" shareholders but ultimately it will be all the same this time next year. Because IF Stan gets the Rams, that is the earliest I can see him getting some money together for a bid on Arsenal.

  • Comment number 96.

    20% discount on 20% of the flats sold to one company based on the principle of economies of scale? That's pretty standard business, I'd say.

    The only thing about waiting would be that we could end up waiting forever to get out of this economic downturn, even though the UK is "out of the recession" (which I completely disagree with - we're not). Therefore, why not get the money now in order to reinvest it back into the club, so that the club could get out of debt quicker?

    Of course, on the surface, it does sound desperate, but businesses sell using economies of scale all the time, due to the fact that the company has calculated that the money you get back per unit can still work out at a profit. Or, at least, that would be my way of viewing it.

  • Comment number 97.

    #96 was directed at Diablo Rojo, for the record.

  • Comment number 98.

    Just to add something to the debate (disagreement) between the Arsenal fans on here. I think Wenger is an exceptional manager but I agree to some extent with the views of Ben and brunodante1 (as a non Arsenal fan).

    I've said for a couple of seasons now that I believe that if Wenger dropped his (seeming) obsession with doing it just with kids and spent the rumoured 30m or so he had available (each season) to strengthen the defence and CM position,I'm talking squad strength as opposed to (necessarily) 1st team players, then he might just have developed this Arsenal team/squad into one of the best of this generation.

    I really think he missed a trick here, and so both sides of that particular debate have a point in my opinion.

  • Comment number 99.

    for those people questioning Wegner, "Oh, we have not won a trophy for five years". It was Wegner who brought you trophies in the first place.
    Look at our history. We didnt always win trophies. It was only under Wegner that we maintained an era of dominanace.
    So whenever so called fans, who recently started supportinf arsenal talks of Wegner leaving, it infuriates me. I would rather these so called fans left and started being a true glory hunter they are and started supporting the likes of Chelsea, Man ciy and Man united.
    We are a true team, run sensibly and still offering attractive football and coming close to winning trophies. Over the last five years we havent won anything, but nobody mentions we went to a champiosn league final. This year we were unlucky to be drawn against Barcelona, otherwise we would have gone all the way again.
    In Wegner we trust and even if he never wins any more trophies for the club, in my eyes the guy is a hero and deserves respect from each and every Arsenal fan for making our club what it is today.
    Shame on you!!

  • Comment number 100.

    Does not matter who takes ownership of Arsenal. Because currently Arsenal problem is Wenger's attitude to the game. Only 1 year contracts for men over 30 years of age? He is literally showing the finger to footballers when they develop experience. At an age when footballers really settle in and develop their tactical awareness, anticipation, efficiency etc.
    Is it no wonder Arsenal is full of immature kids who have no real character at the highest level?
    Until Arsenal learn to balance youth and experience, it does not matter how the club is being managed behind the scenes. On the pitch they wont achieve anything

 

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