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By ESPN Staff
Apr 6, 2007

Kroenke thrilled to join 'Arsenal family'

Stan Kroenke is 'excited' about joining 'the Arsenal family' and had been impressed with the leadership of the Premiership club when setting up a marketing partnership earlier this year, according to a spokesman for the American's company.

The Gunners have become the latest English outfit to receive investment from the United States following the purchase of a 9.99% shareholding by Kroenke's KSE UK Inc group, which also secured a 50% stake in Arsenal Broadband Ltd for a combined total of £65million.

Kroenke Sports Enterprise already have an extensive sports portfolio, with interests in the likes of American football franchise St Louis Rams, NBA side Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche.

The 58-year-old is estimated to be worth around US dollars two billion (£1.02billion), having made his substantial fortune mainly through real estate and constructing shopping centres, retail, business and residential developments. His wife Anne Walton is part of the family which owns the Wal-Mart stores.

The KSE group had already developed an initial 'innovative strategic relationship' with the Premiership club, which was set up earlier this year through Major League Soccer team Colorado Rapids.

Kroenke Sports executive vice president and chief marketing officer Paul Andrews spoke of the 'tremendous amount of respect' the group had for Arsenal which led to yesterday's investment.

'Mr Kroenke is a 9.9% owner and is very excited about that,' Andrews told PA Sport.

'He is also very excited about the marketing alliance that we have.

'We are excited to be part of the Arsenal family.

'Arsenal is a great brand and we are excited to be part of that.'

A delegation from Arsenal are currently in the United States as part of the marketing relationship, and the trip was scheduled before the unrelated announcement of KSE's significant financial investment.

The MLS season is set to kick off this weekend, when the Rapids host DC United in the opening game at the new state-of-the-art Dick's Sporting Goods Park at Commerce City.

Andrews revealed it had been during the negotiations over establishing a marketing link that Kroenke had been impressed by the Gunners.

He said: 'It is fair to say that because we spent some time with the management and leadership of Arsenal over the course of the last year in getting our marketing partnership together, we became very fond of the brand and of the leadership.

'It is fair to say that made the investment decision even easier.

'We have a great relationship with them.'

Despite the inevitable links with moves at Manchester United, Liverpool and Aston Villa from American investors, talk of a full-blown takeover at Emirates Stadium seems somewhat premature.

Major shareholders - which include vice chairman David Dein and director Danny Fiszman - have no intention of selling up to any interested parties.

KSE would not be drawn into the rumour mill.

Andrews stressed: 'We do not ever speculate in relation to our investments, or future intentions.

'We do not do that across our business in the United States and we will not do that in the UK.'

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger believes no football club should be totally dependent on wealthy backers.

The French coach believes just throwing money at the squad is not necessarily the answer as Arsenal look to make the most of the transition to their 60,000 Emirates Stadium.

'In the longer term, it is always better that you produce your own resources and, for us with a new stadium, I feel in the near future - four, five or six years - the club will be capable to compete on its own resources,' said Wenger.

'I am not sure that the Americans will say every year to Liverpool: 'We have lost £50million, but you can have £30million more to spend on players.' They will want to manage the club with its own resources.

'Only [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich up until now has done differently - and it looks as if even he wants to calm down as well.'

The Gunners boss insists his main worry is moulding the current squad into champions rather than how much cash he may or may not have to spend.

'The temptation [of huge investment in the team] is always there, but at the moment I am more concerned about developing the young players,' said Wenger.

'Next year will be a decisive year for us to fight for the championship.

'That is the main target next year and if that does not work then it needs to be invested with much more money - at the moment I do not think the club needs a big investment.

'I believe it will work. This team has shown they can beat everybody and that it is part of their growing process.

'There is a huge potential there. I do not feel at the moment the needed solution is more money.'