Consortium set to bid £1.5bn for Arsenal
An Arab consortium is considering making a bid for Arsenal in the near future, according to reports in The Sun on Sunday and Sunday Telegraph, although Stan Kroenke is thought to be unwilling to sell.
Kroenke is currently the club's majority shareholder, while Alisher Usmanov also holds a significant stake, and the offer for Arsenal would reportedly see the potential investors bid around £20,000 per share, making Kroenke's holding worth £830 million.
The papers report that the offer for 100% ownership will come in at around £1.5 billion - twice the amount at which Arsenal were valued two years ago - and, if successful, would wipe out debts that stand at around £250 million.
A bid source told Telegraph Sport: "Arsenal is at a pivotal position at the moment. The fear is that the club is facing a cycle of decline like Liverpool. From our point of view it is the perfect moment to make this bid because at this moment in time you can still genuinely justify this extraordinary valuation on the club.
"We will not bid for Arsenal if they go into decline. Kroenke and Usmanov will not get this kind of valuation if Arsenal do not succeed and will not get this kind of valuation ever again.
"We think that bidding now is the key because it is going to give every shareholder maximum value. We are giving them peak valuation. The amount of capital required to pump into Arsenal to make it competitive within England, Europe and the world means that the valuation cannot go any higher."
While the lucrative deal would give Arsenal and its fans significant cause for optimism, it is believed senior figures in the bid will retract their offer if the Gunners fail to qualify for next season's Champions League.
"Kroenke needs to have a real think about the dangers of Arsenal missing out on the Champions League," a source told the Sun. "There are lots of financial implications to that whatever the manager Arsene Wenger or the board may claim about being able to survive it.
"While they still have a chance of getting into the Champions League again you can still notionally put a value on the club. But this bid might not be on the table if they miss out on the top four. Even if they do qualify, this valuation won't be increased.
"They could wait five years and they will never get a better deal. If the takeover goes through it would be one of the biggest in football history. The only club worth this sort of money is Manchester United because it is impossible to buy Real Madrid or Barcelona."
Arsenal's potential new owners have already outlined a number of strict operating conditions in an attempt to return a hierarchy to the club which they feel has allowed Wenger to emerge unscathed from dismal performances in recent years.
"No manager, not even Alex Ferguson, could survive eight years without winning a trophy at a big club," the Sun's source continued. "He is never questioned by the board at the moment.
"There is no face that he has to report to, nobody asking him what's going on with the playing side at the club and demanding answers. It all just seems to drift along. And in commercial terms, they are so far behind United."
However, the Mirror reports that Usmanov and Kroenke are unwilling to end their association with Arsenal as sources suggest the pair are "not interested in cash incentives".
The Press Association adds that there has been no contact with the club over a potential takeover and that Kroenke would have no interest in a sale. A source close to the Gunners board told the news agency that Kroenke remains "in it for the long term".
Information from the Press Association was used in this report