Sunday, April 08, 2007

More Premiership Clubs To Fall Into Foreign Ownership?

Two months ago Arsenal Football Club entered into a strategic partnership with the Colorado Rapids (owned by Kroenke Sports Enterprises). It was stressed at the time that such an arrangement would not lead to a takeover of Arsenal.

A few weeks ago activity in Arsenal's shares and a big rise in their share price prompted much media speculation. Again a denial was issued, when Kroenke Sports Enterprises said that they were not about to acquire ITV's 9.9% stake in Arsenal. Arsenal Supporters Trust were also involved in giving a statement on their views surrounding the speculation.

Arsenal, like Manchester City, is quoted on Plus Markets. After the market had closed last Thursday, Kroenke Sports Enterprises confirmed what the media had been speculating about, that they had acquired ITV's stake! Arsenal Supporters Trust then issued this statement "The trust is not automatically opposed to a takeover; we will judge it on its merits and the long-term benefit it brings to Arsenal. However we are opposed to a takeover based purely on the extraction of profits from the club. The AST hopes Kroenke learns from the Glazers' takeover of United and enters into early and full dialogue with the Trust on his plans."

According to reports today, Danny Fiszman a major shareholder in Arsenal has now indicated that he may sell his 24% stake and if this is the case, perhaps this may lead to a takeover of Arsenal after all.

If Arsenal was to be taken over by Kroenke it would mean that all four of the biggest Clubs in the Premiership had succumbed to foreign ownership in the last few years with three of them under American control/ ownership.

For those of you who attended our Open Meeting just over a month ago, you would have heard Sean Hamil talk about his views on the Premiership becoming a target for American investors with plans to possibly turn it into a "franchise" system.

Going back to the takeover speculation that continues apace. Manchester City is not the only club rumoured to be on the verge of foreign ownership. In recent weeks rumours have circulated that Blackburn Rovers are already in talks. John Madjeski, the owner of Reading, has already confirmed in the last few days that he is open to offers. Sheffield United also confirmed recently that they had been approached by foreign investors.

It has been widely reported that our Club continue to talk to American investors however, our Club has never confirmed or denied this. The last statement issued on the subject was back on 21 February 2007 "The Board of Manchester City notes the recent press speculation regarding the possibility of an offer being made for the Company. Further to the Company's announcement on 7 December 2006, the Board of Manchester City confirms that it remains in preliminary discussions with third parties that may or may not lead to an offer being made for the Company. A further announcement will be made in due course as appropriate."

Not many know when our Club will make another statement with reference to these discussions, which we presume are ongoing. Until an update is given or the full details of any potential transaction is known, we (very much like the Arsenal Supporters Trust) we will not be able to accurately assess any proposal.


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