Arsenal shareholders express anger at Stan Kroenke's total takeover
A number of Arsenal shareholders have expressed their frustration and anger at being forced to sell their shares to Stan Kroenke, after the American billionaire took his ownership stake in the club to nearly 99 percent.
Kroenke's total takeover of the club is close to complete after KSE announced that a majority of individual shareholders accepted his compulsory offer by Tuesday's deadline. The American now owns all but 733 of the 62,217 total Arsenal shares, and is set to acquire those as well through a forced takeover.
Some shareholders, including leading fan group Arsenal Supporters' Trust, said they would not accept the offer voluntarily as a symbolic act of defiance against Kroenke -- even though they can't prevent the American from getting their shares, only drag out the process a bit longer.
The forced takeover was triggered after Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov agreed to sell his 30-percent stake to Kroenke, which put him over the 90 percent threshold needed to buy out everyone else.
The AST published several written accounts from long-time shareholders who said the emotional pain of losing a piece of the club outweighs the money they will receive.
"It is a loss that paralysed me when I first read the news," Benjamin Morpurgo wrote. "Watching Arsenal play knowing, even if it is only nominal, that I belong to the club and it belongs to me was one of the greatest senses of pride in my life as well as one of the greatest senses of pride about our club."
Another shareholder, Mary Maude, wrote the she "could weep" at the thought of Arsenal falling into single ownership.
"This coveted share was, in my mind, never to be sold or given up and, indeed is earmarked in my Will, as a legacy for my son, who ideally would, in turn, then pass it on to his son," Maude wrote. "That we are now forced to sell our shares is the final act of what has, over recent years, been a gradual erosion of the pleasures that being both an Arsenal supporter and a shareholder gave me."
David Hunt, who owned 19 Arsenal shares, called for "political action" to prevent more English clubs from falling into foreign ownership.
"AFC is no longer my club but Kroenke's," Hunt wrote. "I am finding the whole UK football scene more and more uninteresting and am turning to other sports for my 'fix'."