Nothing much today on Stan Kroenke’s impending takeover of Arsenal, but some fallout from yesterday.
Following an emergency meeting, The Arsenal Supporters Trust announced a statement declaring that they will refuse to surrender their (miniature) shareholding to Stan Kroenke.
Despite this declaration, the fact of the matter is, the AST are pretty powerless in the face of whatever Kroenke’s future designs on the club are. Should Kroenke snap up Usmanov’s remaining 27% stake it would enable him to breach the 90% threshold, allowing him to force any remaining shareholders to sell up.
Kroenke could even delist the shares and take the company into full private ownership should he wish.
So, in reality the AST has very little clout as a shareholder, and it’s arguable as to whether they ever had or have any genuine clout in their dealings with the club in the first place.
This time last week, Chairman Peter Hill-Wood went as far as to suggest that Arsenal would close dialogue with the AST if they continued to voice an opinion that did not support the board’s backing of Arsene Wenger.
How’s that for democracy?
Arsenal.com subsequently tried to quash that statement, but that doesn't mean it's not what the club really thinks.
The AST is evidently treated as a nodding dog that should be grateful to be in receipt of any sort of shareholding in Arsenal Football Club or the ability to have any sort of say. If the organisation was at all valued, why would the club recommend they sell their shareholding to Kroenke?
Whatever Arsenal espouse, supporter organisations such as the AST are allowed a voice for purely political reasons – so the club can appear be seen as a community club that actually cares about what the supporter thinks.
Of course, Arsenal does care about what the supporters think to an extent – for example, what colour to paint the hand rails on the stadium or whether the hot dogs are becoming overpriced might be worthy of consultation with the AST, but when it comes to any major decisions, you’re unlikely to find them all sitting round a big round table chewing the fat.
The fact is that the board does not listen to the supporters, but only offers lip service to give the illusion that they are listening. Over the past season or two, the avenues of communication between club and supporter have been slowly soldered up and the more antagonism there is towards Arsene Wenger, the more you can expect that to continue.
At last year’s Arsenal shareholders Q&A, the shareholders were not allowed to speak, only have their questions read out – with Wenger bleating rubbish and the shareholders having to sit there and grimace.
Besides that, how can you trust a club with a Chairman that said only a few years ago: “If you have a benefactor and he gets run over by a bus you are gone. We have got to have 50,000 people run over by a bus before we have a problem.”
The same chairman that sold his shares to Kroenke this week, part-ensuring the complete abandonment of those principles.
Personally, I am in full support of the AST and organisations such as AISA, but the events of this week demonstrate how easily marginalised they can be.
However, if genuine Arsenal supporters do have a grievance at least there are organisations available that can act on our behalf and offer a collective voice – and that’s important. You should bookmark their websites, as you might want to communicate with them over the coming months and years.
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