Tuesday 28th August 2018
Responses from AST members and Arsenal shareholders to the compulsory purchase of their shares by Stan Kroenke
I was given a share in Arsenal some twenty years ago and since then have referred to it as the best present I have ever received. I was already a season ticket holder, but a share in my much-loved Club gave me a whole new level of interest. I was invited to join the AST (in those days, it was run for and by shareholders) and in doing so met many people with a huge knowledge of Arsenal and understanding of its finances. This information was shared and I listened, read and learned.
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. So many times people have said to me, especially in recent years, 'do you know what your Arsenal share is worth, you should sell it' and I have replied, with absolute certainty, 'it is worth much more than that to me'.
Over the past week I have tried to think of something positive that can come from sole ownership of Arsenal by a person who has zero interest in football and who, apart from a few PR platitudes, never speaks for the Club. I have tried and I have failed.
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. I could weep when I realise that this proud Club, with its long history that is so often held up as an example of how a football club should be managed, has been relegated to a small, insignificant, private US company registered in Delaware.
Myself and my brother have been shareholders for over 50 years. I had no intention that the shares should be sold in my lifetime. I left specific instructions in my will that the shares were not to be sold to Kronke.
I feel disenfranchised, as if I am no longer part of this club. I have little enthusiasm for this club. Kroenke is only interested in making money, not in winning trophies. I am not interested in supporting a club with no ambition.
I do not know if I am bothered to go to the City game. Maybe if everyone was to boycott attending a match for at least one game he would have some idea how we felt.
This is a very sad day for the club and me. Given that I have a number of shares I will receive a lot of money. However I just want my shares and a chance to speak at the AGM.
My father, David Bernstein, bought a small handful of shares in the mid-1960s. An Arsenal fan all his life, he began going to Highbury with his Dad in the early 30s. I joined him in the early 70s; his grandchildren - fourth generation Arsenal fans - by the 2000s. He felt it was the role of the independent shareholders to keep the directors honest and the values of the club in tact. He was a regular at the AGM and his, albeit tiny, share holding cemented his bond with the club. He died last year, aged 89, and wanted us to inherit that bond, too. Alas, that is unlikely to happen now.
Jon Bernstein (Block 99)
I am against this, personally and for the sake of the Club. I have 19 shares and must be one of the biggest independent shareholders. For some years, I was selling one share a year to Arsenal Fanshare, but that disappeared because of costs from a not very wise agency agreement. So I was told. I will now be faced with a large CGT bill and large influx of cash that I do not need, in times of low interest rates.
This takeover was inevitable from the day that we shareholders and fans were betrayed by Hill-Wood and others. I wrote to him (cc AST) in those terms and, of course, did not even receive an acknowledgement yet alone a reply.
For some years, I have been saying that we should have no foreign ownership of English and Welsh football clubs and a cap on the number of foreign playesr. However the ruling bodies will do nothing because they are totally influenced by the clubs or owners.
It will need political action to make such a change. I did suggest that some years ago to AST, but it was not taken up.
AFC is no longer my club but Kroenke's. I am finding the whole UK football scene more and more uninteresting and am turning to other sports for my 'fix'. Thanks for all your monitoring work and excellent communications
Being an Arsenal supporter is not just about watching football, it's a way of life. It is caring about the beautiful game and the values that we cherish. These are the words uttered by the greatest manager the club will ever see.
This means upholding the values of the club and not just simply believing in them but living by them. As the wheels of the proposed takeover turn faster and faster I find myself becoming distanced from the club and these values every passing day.
'Remember who you are, what you are, and whom you represent'
This saying is synonymous with the club in more than one way. I have always felt that Arsenal has such stronger traditions than any other club, even in today's multi million pound game. The proposed takeover of Stan Kroenke will seek to remove all of these great values from the club. Many of us have shares in the club that mean more than just money. They are treasured memories of family members who also loved the club. I will personally fight tooth and nail to stop the takeover from removing the values of this great club and I hope that the AST and its members will fight their corner too.
As an Arsenal supporter, for the last 50 years, I'm writing to express my immense disappointment with the news that Stan Kroenke is now buying out MY club.
These last years indicate that Mr Kroenke has no real engagement with us fans & in truth without the fans the club is nothing. When Mr Kroenke acquired a controlling interest in MY club he advised he would engage with the fans - he hasn't. If the registration of our club is now transferred to the US I'm concerned there will be NO accountability. It appears there will no longer be an AGM to hold board to account. There is the opportunity to pay dividends & management fee's & dividends with no checks or balance. Alarmingly the loan to finance this takeover could/is placed as a debt on the club.The most disappointing issue though is the scant disregard Mr Kroenke places on us fans, in general, with the lack of engagement as to why he's doing this & what benefit MY club & us, as fans can expect from it. Mr Kroenke, in closing I have one simple question, 'What do you want from & for MY club?' It would be lovely to have an answer?
Last year I became a life member of the AST because I believe in the fans having a voice and a part ownership in the club they love. The takeover by Stan Kroenke is everything that the AST isn't. He has no passion for the sport or the club, he has no interest in anything to do with the club it seems apart from the profits. Fans who own shares in the club will lose them and there is nothing that they can do about it, it's devastating for them and all AST members as we will have no say anymore in how the club is run. We will have to just sit back and take it. I was extremely optimistic for the new season - new manager, backroom staff and signings. Now there is a dark cloud over the club. I don't believe a single word that Kroenke says when he says he wants us to win the Champions League and the Premier League - we've heard that for years and years. Look at how he runs his teams in the USA, they don't win things - they're profit generators. #Kroenkeout
Arsenal Football Club is an institution with a great history and although not always as open with shareholders and supporters as one would like, nevertheless through being a shareholder and a member of AST, stakeholders views have been heard by the Board either at annual general meetings or at AST meetings with individual directors. It is a pity that there does not seem to be any mechanism whereby Kroenke can be stopped in his ambitions to fully take over the club. It is a pity that the FA or the Premier League do not express their views on this matter. Looking at websites on how to present a petition to Parliament for a debate, if 100,000 signatures can be obtained a debate will be considered. This might be possible if stakeholders in other clubs are prepared to join Arsenal stakeholders and the petition could be presented by Mr Corbyn being the MP for North Islington in which the Club is located.
Personally I think this is an absolute disgrace and a tragedy for Arsenal Football Club. Stan Kroenke has demonstrated that he isn't interested in the football club or the dedicated supporters to whom it means so much. For him it is about extracting value and making a profit. It took me years to both find and be able to afford a share in Arsenal and I wanted to be a shareholder to feel I owned a small part of the club and ensure genuine supporters had a say in how it is run. I didn't invest to make money, I had no intention of selling at any price and have left my share in my will for my youngest son to ensure it stays in the family. What is happening now is legalised theft and I feel shareholders need to stand up against it and at least try to get the court to review it. I know we have little chance of beating the corporate machine but we mustn't go down without a fight.
I'm not interested in Kroenke's money, but how the hell can he legally rob me of any future appreciation in my investment value and take it for himself? How can he force me to sell a share (that I had no intention of ever selling) and do so at a time that forces me to pay capital gains tax at the maximum level? If I were to ever sell it would be at a time that made the most financial sense and for this reason alone I will be referring this to the courts. Kroenke is robbing me of a big part of my association with the club and while I will continue to support them and be a season ticket holder I will never spend another penny on merchandise or anything that lines that mans pockets.
I can but agree that this is probably a complete disaster. It is true that the Glazers appear to have made it work at MU but ours was always a great 'family' club albeit (since the Dein major upset)
governed by a weak and ineffectual board. Despite the idiocy of Bracewell Smith (and Hill Wood) in blocking Usmanov - whom I believe had the best interests of the club at heart - I believed that the AST and others would eventually prevail. How wrong was ! To the point that I am even contemplating not renewing my ticket from the end of the season - if not sooner. From what I understand the AST will be forced to sell its share which will be even worse.
I shall continue to support the AST as best I can (from an armchair) and wish you/us well for the future on the basis that there is one. All your correspondence is most welcome.
As a Shareholder with my brother the family association goes back to the 1930's with my late father Frank living in Highbury and signed by George Allison on amateur forms as a goalkeeper on 31 May 1939 unfortunately there was no career war broke out three months later, my father played for the Arsenal Colts so George Allison saw some professionalism in him. The family association carried on ever since by supplying clothing coupons during the war so the Club could obtain the shirts/shorts/socks. Also one of a group of four that brought over Maccabi Tel Aviv played Arsenal in a Tour match friendly on 26 October 1954 at Highbury to a full house Arsenal won 4-1. a normal full match programme was printed. Also Maccabi went on to play three other matches including Football League Champions at the time Wolves but Maccabi were well beaten 10-1. that's the family involvement.
This is not good for Arsenal or it's supporters, there will be many changes when the takeover is completed. Josh Kroenke could be CEO, Ivan Gazidis could be leaving, David Miles approaching retirement. My guess for season 2019-2020 season tickets/tickets will rise substantially, no individual can stop them doing what they want, all supporters will be in the dark over what goes on.......if results on the pitch do not go correctly, what happens, a plan 'B' there isn't one.........Josh Kroenke is in the UK at Arsenal for a reason, plans are no doubt advanced as what KSE are going to do with our Club. No AGM's to address the Board now.......or what collateral has been used to fund against the loan.
KSE has had no dialogue with supporters groups or it's directors.......Arsenal will be operated from the USA......... The Club will not be the same will have no idea what is going on.....Supporters groups will complain but to no avail now........KSE will not respond........Stan Kroenke never spoke at the AGM's he was asked to by shareholders but the chair said he did not have to.
Supporters should be wearing black arm bands, I shall be, Arsenal could go down hill with KSE in control........only after the money.
My family has been actively supporting the club since 1935 over three generations.My late farther and I bought northbank bonds back in the day. The only Benefit was to own the right to buy a seat at Highbury for a significant number of years. The amount, in our case £1500 was not insignificant in the time. We decided that we needed to support the club in its quest to construct a new stadium and also to form a closer connection. After the sale closed only 2/3 of the bonds were sold. However at that time the club was being run by custodians who cared about the supporters. So we were subsequently rewarded with retrospective benefits including substantial discounts on our season tickets etc.
Why is this relevant to the current situation concerning the takeover you may ask ? Well after I joined the AST after discussions with Nigel Phillips. My farther and I decided to extend our commitment to our beloved club by further expending our then limited resources, and we purchased a share each. I would like to empathise that neither of us expected to make a gain from our share. Nor was it our intention to do so and indeed if it lost money, then so be it. Our philosophy was exactly the same as when we bought our bonds . We did so to support our club and extend our family's relationship with the club we had supported all our lives and held in such high regard . So as far as Kroenke's take over is concerned. If I had my way he would have to meet me and my son Daniel who has taken over my late fathers share and listen to precisely what the ownership of these precious articles mean to those of us who really care about our beloved Arsenal and not want to rape us of a precious opportunity to demonstrate and maximise a connection with the club.
So we support the trusts efforts in resisting this ultimately hostile action.
We love you Arsenal.
John & Daniel Ramsay
I am deeply concerned about the Kroenke takeover as I believe his only interest is profits. Success of the club, the fans, are secondary concerns. I also believe it will make him even less accountable and transparent. The loan arrangement is an unmitigated disaster and I fear Kroenke will draw money out of the club. I felt an immense sense of belonging as a shareholder of AFC. That has now been ripped away by a gluttonous billionaire who invests none of his own money into the club. I believe we must oppose this takeover and Kroenke's ownership of Arsenal, while giving full support to the new manager and the team.
My first visit to Highbury was Tommy Lawton's debut in 1953. I still have the programme, and remember asking my dad who were the directors, whose names were so prominently displayed on page 2. Just shysters son. As you say in your newsletter, owning a share (mine acquired on the fanshare collapse) is an emotional experience, not a financial one. A lifetime aspiration to be an Arsenal shareholder realised, but now gone. Sad. I suspect last years shenanigans over Wenger, and the collateral damage to moustachioed Stan finally pushed Kroenke over the line. We shouldn't either overlook that future lack of oversight gives greater freedom for "dodgy deals" with players and agents, as well as the owner. The best route forward now is probably via parliament - plainly some kind of regulation for clubs finances is needed. Given Brexit, good luck with that, in the short term anyway.
Though described in an FT article in 1971 as being "worthless" one share bought at that time and still held (together with the bonus issue) would today be worth almost £1/4 million! I don't think any purchaser at that time was in it for financial gain (I think I still have the dividend cheques somewhere, which I never cashed!) but ownership of shares provided our most direct link to the club. Thought we never ever had any say in its running, we could have our day at the AGM. In the old days this was often a healthy exchange between the board and the shareholders. At one time there were even some shareholder privileges and I still have my onyx table lighter. Sadly the writing has been in the wall for some time and now we come to the end. "Our club" is not to be ours anymore. Sad, sad, sad.
I am very sad and dismayed at the plight of Arsenal FC under a man whose number interest is to make money first and last. This is the ugly face of capitalism when the big fish eat the small and there is nothing we supporters can do except boycotting the emirates and stop buying merchandise which may force silent Stan of a drastic action but I am not optimistic this will happen at all. Stan will remortgage the club to fund his other business ventures especially in America. None of his sporting teams he owned won the super Bowl or the world series and all are mid or above average in performances. I doubt Stan can name more than one of the invincible and I say Arsenal FC , R.I.P.
I am a second generation Gooner, supporting the club was a reward/inheritance from my Uncle who was a decorated pilot and air gunner in the RAF during the Battle of Britain, it was he who first took me to Highbury, and it was in his memory I joined the AST many years ago, after his death, to ensure that part of my family's shared history with this club not be lost.
I waited to write about the share buy-out for a couple of reasons, the first was how much it truly hurt, how deeply this cuts, it is a loss that paralyzed me when I first read the news. I didn't know what to write, I also wanted to see what it felt like to watch our first game after this news broke, I wanted to know if it really felt like I had lost something, that I wasn't just reacting out of anger. I am not.
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. The fact that in this modern world of corporate money continuing to stretch the gap between the super rich and everyone else, the idea that our club would allow fan ownership, would open books to the AST, would conduct the GSM are all things that made Arsenal the most ethical club in England. This ends now.
I am not going to bash Kroenke for being a money grubbing foreign investor, I don't know him, it's not fair to apply these concepts to a man I do not know. I do know, however, that he can have a controlling stake, he can even buy out Ousmanov, and honestly I don't care. It's the destruction of fan ownership, something so many fans who don't own stock took pride in, something that made us special, this is a loss to global football, to English football, to any fan anywhere that really wants a say or even a clear window into his club. We call them clubs for a reason, we the fans belong to the club even if we could never play for the team. That won't change, but our relationship to this club is changing, and it tears at me like a knife in my gut.
I felt it on Sunday, it no longer felt like my team, but my favorite team. It felt empty and sad.
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