American billionaire Stan Kroenke made an offer to buy the whole of Arsenal Tuesday, in a deal that values the English Premier League club at around £1.8 billion pounds ($2.3 billion).
This comes after Russian rival and minority shareholder Alisher Usmanov agreed to sell his stake. Kroenke, who also owns two U.S. sport franchises, the Denver Nuggets basketball team and the Los Angeles Rams football team, said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange that he wanted to take Arsenal private to be better able to pursue its strategy.
The north London soccer club is currently embarking on life without long-time manager Arsene Wenger who stood down in April after 22 years in charge.
"We at KSE (Kroenke Sports & Entertainment) are moving forward with this offer leading to 100 percent ownership of the club," Kroenke said in a statement.
"We appreciate Mr Usmanov's dedication to the Arsenal Football Club and the storied ethos and history the club represents." Kroenke, who already owns 67 percent of Arsenal, said. He received an "irrevocable undertaking" from Usmanov to sell his 30 percent stake and will also buy out the remaining independent shareholders.
The club is now under new manager Unai Emery, who won three Europa League titles with Sevilla and more recently was in charge of Paris Saint-Germain. He takes over a side that again won't be playing in the top Champions League soccer tournament, having failed to qualify for a second consecutive season. But Kroenke wants this buyout to change that.
"KSE's ambitions for the club are to see it competing consistently to win the Premier League and the Champions League, as well as the major trophies in the women's senior game and at youth level." The statement went on to add.
Arsenal has spent £70 million on new players as it shows intent on getting back among Europe's elite. But some close to the club aren't so convinced by the announcement. The Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST) was quick to react to the news, calling it "a dreadful day."
The AST went on to list its reservations suggesting "Stan Kroenke taking the club private will see the end of supporters owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values."
It is also unhappy about the idea of Arsenal being wholly owned by one person and concerned about the club potentially being pushed into debt in order to fund Kroenke's other interests. As for matters on the soccer field, Arsenal has a tough looking opening to its new season, with a first match against defending Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday, followed by a trip to Chelsea a week later.