Ownership Representation Influence
Sharing in the future of Arsenal Football Club


AST letter to Stan Kroenke, following visit to Denver

Posted Wednesday 18th June 2008

Dear Stan,

The Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) would like to thank you for facilitating our visit to Denver earlier this month.
We have been encouraged that we have developed a good relationship with Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE), including meetings with you and Paul in London in the 14 months since KSE first invested in Arsenal Holdings plc (Arsenal). 
We very much welcome your statement that you understand and appreciate the role of the Arsenal Supporters' Trust and the independent perspective which you provide to the shareholders, board and management.
Our visit was an important part of the process of obtaining a much better understanding of both KSE and the Colorado Rapids and the potential ways your investment in Arsenal can be of benefit to our club.
We are particularly grateful to Paul Andrews and Jeff Plush who gave us a thorough introduction to the work of KSE, and who hosted us at the Colorado game with the added bonus that we were able to support the Rapids to a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas.
The AST seeks to maintain a good dialogue with all of Arsenals major shareholders. We want to see all shareholders in the club, large and small, work together in the best interests of Arsenal. It is proven in football that stability off the pitch creates an environment for success on the pitch.
We are pleased that just recently you were able to conclude arrangements for the purchase of a 50% share of Arsenal Broadband Ltd (ABL) and finally signed the commercial marketing partnership agreement with Arsenal. Seeing first hand the Cannon corner at Dicks Sporting Goods Park and the extensive youth football facilities you have built where an Arsenal Academy, overseen by a coach who was previously at Arsenal, demonstrates to us how committed KSE is to the partnership.
KSE are of course the only overseas investor into English football who have also invested in football in their home market, a notable issue for us that hopefully points to serious intent for a long-term partnership.
Our visit also allowed us to get a better understanding of the extent of your investment in the sports television station Altitude. The development of sports rights is the current main economic driver in football. Arsenal has to continue to innovate and be at the forefront of making its content available to new fans. The expertise and know-how that Paul, Jeff and their colleagues at Altitude will bring to the Board of Arsenal Broadband Ltd should be of strategic advantage to the club. 
The AST is aware that you are in the process of developing your own personal relationships with members of the Arsenal Board of Directors and are considering what active involvement you might have.
The AST are supportive of the work of the current Board at Arsenal and the business model they operate based on ensuring long-term stability by living within their means paying their own way. The AST would welcome you joining the Board of Arsenal Football Club to complement their work. Your experience in property development, sports marketing and tv rights will undoubtedly add value to the Board.
As mentioned, football clubs benefit from stability and to have more than 60% of the clubs equity represented at the Board table is a further advantage.
In February 2008, the AST Society Board wrote to all members inviting them to vote on a resolution that the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) will not sell or otherwise dispose of any shares it holds in Arsenal Holdings plc (Arsenal) during the period covered by the Directors lockdown agreement announced at the Annual General meeting of Arsenal on 18th October 2007 (Directors Lockdown). 
638 ballots were distributed with 267 returned. None were spoiled. The results were as follows:For: 263, Against: 2, Abstain: 2.
This overwhelming majority, more than 99%, reflects the importance we place on the Board of Arsenal acting as custodians of our club and support for the current plural ownership model which also allows many individuals to own a share in the club. We encourage you to sign the lockdown agreement.
Arsenal has existed since 1886. It is far more than an economic entity or sporting franchise, but a key part of North London community and the lives of millions of fans, all of whom collectively make the club what it is.
When you bought into Arsenal you told us how much you respected the history and tradition of Arsenal. In subsequent conversations you have stated how you decided to invest in the club due to how impressed you were with how the club operates; the emphasis on quality and excellence; and the importance the club places on its links to supporters and the local community.
The AST endorses these views. As a critical friend of the club, and in our role as owners and supporters, we will look to work with you and others to uphold these values. We will not shirk from challenging actions that we think threaten them.
We learnt from many people in Denver that you like to keep a low profile and let your sports teams do the talking. This is also the Arsenal approach, quite rightly. Arsene Wengers job to pick the players he wants and then manage them. You will see that other owners in English football, both British and overseas, do not operate like this, usually to the detriment of their teams and dismay of their supporters.
Once again, thank you for ensuring we were well received in Denver. We look forward to seeing you at a future game at the Emirates.
Yours sincerely
Arsenal Supporters Trust