Stan Kroenke flies to UK – but not to speak with concerned supporters and fan groups. Six years ago, he promised in his takeover offer to engage with fans but hasn’t yet fulfilled it.
Was the promise a lie from the beginning?
After all, his promise to the fans wasn’t included in his takeover announcement in April 2011.
A few weeks ago, after another dreadful start in Premier League, Henry Winter, Chief Football Writer in The Times, wrote an article¹ where he questioned why Enos Stanley Kroenke don’t engage with fans as several other club owners do. As Winter pointed out there are many positive effects of interacting with fans. For Arsenal supporters it’s an old subject, but still highly topical as Stan Kroenke now flies to London to attend the Arsenal Annual General Meeting which will be held on Thursday 26 October.
Despite the fact that Ivan Gazidis admitted in June² that the club need a better connection with the fanbase and despite the fact that huge parts of the fanbase are upset with the lack of progress, direction and vision on and outside the pitch Kroenke will not meet prominent fan groups during his visit.
Those with good memory might remember that Kroenke promised to engage with fans in his takeover offer that the Arsenal board and Kroenke sent to Arsenal shareholders in 2011. For those that want to refresh their memories it’s not that easy to find the takeover offer today. The links listed in the offer, to Kroenke Sports Enterprises website and Arsenal’s website where fans should find a copy, don’t work anymore. But by using the right tools they can still get the Betfred promo code.
On page 7 in the takeover offer 2011 the Arsenal shareholders were reassured that it was a priority from Kroenke to engage with fans. The full text was:
” Mr Kroenke has made it a priority to meet with supporters and fan groups in formal and informal settings. He recognises that fans are at the heart of the Club. Their opinions and involvement are important to him. Mr Kroenke fully expects himself, the Arsenal Directors and Club executives to continue to engage with supporters for the long-term good of the Club.”
Six years later Kroenke still hasn’t met any known fan group. It’s hard not to judge the promise as a lie or false statement for the sole purpose to calm worried shareholders who hesitated if they were going to sell to Kroenke 2011. It’s also hard not to ask the question if the American and the rest of the Arsenal board knew in April 2011 that Kroenke wouldn’t keep his promise to the fans.
7:00 AM on April 11, 2011, the PLUS Markets – where Arsenal shares were traded until 2012 – published an announcement with the title ‘DJ KSE, UK, Inc. Offer for Arsenal Holdings PLC’ (which according to a reliable source means that the announcement came from KSE, Kroenke Sports Enterprises). The main parts from the takeover offer was included in the announcement on PLUS Markets. One part of the offer named ‘Information relating to Mr Kroenke and KSE’ describes his achievements in business and also contains insignificant information like the number of subscribers at the network Altitude Sports & Entertainment. This insignificant information is also included in the announcement on April 11. In fact, almost everything from this part of the offer are included in the announcement on PLUS Markets except the piece where Kroenke promise to engage with fans.
If Kroenke has made it a priority to meet fans it seems strange to omit the promise in the announcement but include insignificant information about subscribers on a sports and entertainment network. Was the promise a lie from the beginning? After all, it’s not the only time Kroenke has been accused of lies and broken promises. In US, local authorities in St. Louis have sued Kroenke as they allege that he violated Missouri law by lying to authorities and media about his desire to keep the NFL team in St. Louis.
Stan Kroenke made some more promises in the takeover offer 2011. In the part named ‘Intention for the club, management and employees’ Kroenke explains how he will fund the offer:
“the Offer is not being funded by way of any debt finance (bank loans, payment in kind loans or other debt or quasi-debt interest bearing obligations) for which the payment of interest on, repayment of, or security for any liability (contingent or otherwise) will depend on the business of Arsenal.”
In other words, Kroenke promised to not use Arsenal’s money to cover the acquisition costs, but when the club announced the Annual Report 2011/12 there was a post named ‘Costs of takeover transaction’ in the section ‘Operation Expenses’. The cost was explained in the report:
“In the prior year, the costs of the takeover transaction related to professional advice to the Company in connection with the offer and share acquisition whereby KSE UK Inc. acquired a controlling interest in the shares of the Company.”
The Arsenal board (where Kroenke was the biggest shareholder) decided to use over £3m of Arsenal’s money on advice in the takeover offer where the board members sold their personal shares to another board member. Indirectly it’s fair to say his takeover affected Arsenal’s finances and there is no guarantee that he won’t touch the club’s finances in future. What we know for sure is that Kroenke will not meet the fans if he doesn’t need to. It’s up to Arsenal fans to remind him of his promises when he visits London for AGM.
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