American billionaire Stan Kroenke has struck a deal to take full control of Arsenal by buying out Russian rival Alisher Usmanov, valuing the English Premier League club at around $2.3 billion (1.8 billion pounds) but enraging some fans of the north London team.
Kroenke has reportedly had a £600 million (US$778 million) bid for Usmanov's 30 percent stake in the London club accepted, boosting the U.S. businessman's current 67 percent share ownership.
The deal, announced by Kroenke's KSE UK on Tuesday, ends a long-running battle for control of the 132-year-old club that has often seen Usmanov accuse the Arsenal board of not doing enough to stay competitive in domestic and European competitions.
Kroenke, owner of the Los Angeles Rams in the National Football League, has been a part-owner of Arsenal since 2007, gradually increasing his stake in the club. The company is offering £29,419.64 ($38,116.50) in cash for each share, valuing the entire club at £1.8 billion.
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Stan Kroenke's move to take complete control of Arsenal "marks a terrible day" for the Gunners, according to the Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST).
The KSE, which also owns the NFL's Los Angeles Rams, said it has received an "irrevocable undertaking" from Red and White Securities to accept the offer for its 18,695 Arsenal shares as soon as possible. "Kroenke's actions will neuter their voice and involvement", the Trust said in a statement.
The Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST) said it was "a awful day" for the club, and expressed concern that part of the funding for the purchase would be made through a loan - despite Kroenke stating this would not be held against the club.
Stanley Kroenke is an American entrepreneur and businessman who owns Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE).
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While Kroenke has promised a "new chapter" in the history of Arsenal, the news of the takeover offer has not gone down well with the club's supporters.
"Stan Kroenke taking the club private will see the end of supporters owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values". "We appreciate Mr. Usmanov's dedication to the Arsenal Football Club and the storied ethos and history the club represents".
The move takes shares away from fans and Arsenal Supporters Trust published a telling statement on the matter.
While some Arsenal fans will hope having one single owner will make key decisions easier, the majority will be concerned at the club effectively being run from the United States with less transparency. The AST is wholly against this takeover.
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Arsenal last year parted ways with Arsene Wenger, who had managed the club for over 20 years after they finished the season 6th in the Permier League, their worst position since 1992.