So, after days of speculation, Stan Kroenke has been made a member of the board at Arsenal FC.
The arrival of Kroenke may have been met with trepidation a year or more ago, but thesedays, he is seen as a knight capable of helping bolster the club’s finances and marketing and, perhaps more importantly, keeping out majority shareholder Alisher Usmanov.
Kroenke owns 12% of Arsenal and making him a non-executive director at Arsenal should be a short-term safeguard – because he did not agree to join the boardroom ‘lockdown’ agreement, which expires anyway in April 2009.
That may well be when the takeover fireworks begin, although each director has to offer their shares to the rest of the board before selling them to anyone else until 2012.
I think his arrival in a formal capacity is a great thing for the club. We now have someone who has knowledge of how to market sport in a completely different way to the current Arsenal regime.
If you Google him, you see that Kroenke has great links with Pepsi and has in his stable a range of sports teams from the NFL, hockey, basketball and US Soccer. Sport, and particularly the Premiership, is a global business thesedays and having someone with his wealth, contacts and experience can only benefit the club.
There will come a time, I’d hope, when Usmanov will realise that his stake is worthless because he can’t do anything with it – and selling to the board would provide some streamlining of ownership as well as removing his shadow.
What irony, though, that David Dein’s departure from Arsenal came soon after he first got involved with Kroenke, and yet now his association with Red and White Holdings is also over. Dein must regret how things have played out.
Unsurprisingly, the profits are up yet again to £36.7m – but so are the debts. Given that Thierry Henry left the club last year,
I’ll be interested to see what the wage bill will be like next year – it increased significantly this tax year to £101.3 million from £89.7 million in 2007.
The property downturn has cost Arsenal dear and there may be more tricky times ahead as the club continues to sell the Highbury Square flats in a market where new build is struggling.
Peter Hill-Wood seems to be confident though, and underlined the fact that the loans for Highbury are not linked to the club directly, so hopefully, any property slump will have no adverse effect.
Arsenal run a very prudent ship and it can be no more than speculation whether Arsène Wenger simply refuses to spend his transfer kitty or whether he simply does not have one to spend.
There’s certainly cash left over each season after the Emirates payments of £20m are made – so it would be interesting to know where it goes.
Hill-Wood, always the businessman and understandably delighted with the £36.7m profit, said: “We are committed to operating the Club as a business which is financially self-sustaining
"Over the last two seasons Emirates Stadium has taken our football revenues to a new level, but we cannot be complacent," he added.
“Funds will always be made available to Arsène to improve the quality of the squad and we have consistently stated that adequate funds are available to him if needed.
“We maintain a constant dialogue with Arsène and whilst there is not a set figure in place we are always able to buy additional players should he choose to buy. We have every confidence in Arsène and trust in his judgment, so he decideswhether he needs to strengthen his squad.
“We have every confidence in Arsène and trust his judgment. It is not about spending a specific amount of money, it is about investing in the right people. It’s about having the right players with the right quality and the right spirit. People easily forget that we were not too far off winning some silverware last season. The margins are so small.”
Let’s hope those margins, big or small, work in our favour rather than against us come May next year.
What do you think? Is Stan Kroenke's arrival going to make a difference at Arsenal?