May 11, 2021

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Takeover questions after Thierry talks


This week sees the biggest game of the season on Thursday, but we are in that twilight zone between winning against Newcastle and preparing for the second leg against Villarreal which is starting in earnest.

As such, attention will once again turn to the interest reported by Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek in making an offer for the club. Thierry Henry, whose name has been attached to it almost from the start, spoke to Sky Sports about the approach taken to him, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira. He said:

“He approached us, we listened to him. And we knew first and foremost that he wanted to involve the fans. He wants to re-inject Arsenal’s DNA, the identity that I think is long gone.

“He’s already – I’ll give you something – has reached out [to the Kroenkes] and already told himself that he had raised the funds to make sure he could make a good offer.

“They now need to listen. Lots of people shouted that they wanted the owner to come out. We are trying to come up with a solution involving the supporters and to recover the DNA of the club.

I must say that makes me a little uncomfortable. There’s a lot of emotional language used around Arsenal DNA, fan engagement, loving fans, to bring back the glory. It’ll all resonate with people because… well… look where we’re at. Why not?

But what exactly is Arsenal’s DNA? Is it the old-school Atonian presidents of the Bank of England club, or is it when sugar and diamond traders buy stocks? Is it the courage of the title winners of George Graham or is it the Gallic flair of the Invincibles of Wenger? An intoxicating combination of the two? Guess that’s just a shortcut to saying you want to build a competitive team that gives 110% with a never say die attitude that plays great football all the time and wins trophies after signing / developing the best players and never disappoints anyone. It’s easy to say and very difficult to deliver.

Fans feel disenfranchised, as the protests before our last home game showed. The protests at Old Trafford last weekend demonstrated that we are not alone, but it was quite interesting to hear Gary Neville admit on Sky that while everything that was to follow could be worse, the Glazers should just put Man Utd on sale. I’m not sure this is how billionaires like this operate, or how situations like this are resolved.

I’m a little worried about the presence of old greats like Thierry, Vieira and Bergkamp. Not because I have doubts about their love for Arsenal, their knowledge of the game, or their desire to bring back the good times, but I’m not sure what their roles are in this area. What are their qualifications to lead a Premier League football club? Where is their expertise in rebuilding something that is in decline?

Dennis has been employed since his retirement. Initially Frank de Boer’s assistant at Ajax, he was later transferred to work with young players and was fired in 2017. Patrick spent time in the City Group, left New York City FC to manage Nice but was fired in 2020. Thierry did some training at Arsenal, spent years as a Sky Sports expert, only lasted 20 games as Monaco manager, and just a few days after supporting the rebranding of the Montreal Impact – where he coached for a little over a year – he left for England.

I stress that’s not critical, but to illustrate that even for the best players – and these guys were some of the best we’ve ever had – “regular” post-game careers are tough. The administration of the football clubs and the business side of the game are a whole different thing, and maybe that will be where they excel, but I can’t help but worry about them and what might happen. pass if expectations are not met.

Ek’s announced / upcoming offer of £ 1.8bn appears to be based on the club’s valuation achieved when Alisher Usmanov sold to Kroenke in 2018. Again, I wonder if the right way to go this when dealing with someone like KSE has to be. public, but maybe being so public is part of the PR battle. Is £ 1.8bn enough? Has Arsenal’s value increased or decreased since? What it could be valued at in the “ free market ” is one thing (even if it’s not very open), but in the end, it will only cost what Kroenke is willing to sell – s’ he is even ready to sell.

Henry mentioned a meeting with AST, they responded with a statement on their website, continuing to push for “ The Prime Minister’s Fan-Led Football Ownership Review, chaired by MP Tracey Crouch, who will look at options such as different ownership models like the German 50 + 1 model, the right for fans of football ” buy shares, a golden share (veto) on key decisions, supporters and independent directors of club boards and stricter independent football regulations, including strict penalties for owners and clubs that do not comply. ”

I’m not sure how it might be possible for the government to implement new regulations on private companies and have them only apply to football clubs, but I guess time will tell. The other big concern I have is how this takeover will be funded. Again, I’m going to be corrected, but the only way I see this happening is VC funded loans using the club as collateral (like the Glazers at United and… well… nobody wants that. , is not it?). Spotify shares fell last week, would they be enough for this level of funding, and is Daniel Ek willing to stake his own fortune on a football club he might like but never bring him back the kind of money it would take to buy it in the first place?

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m pissing on everyone’s chips here, and it’s not to support the Kroenkes or anything like that, but this is all too vague to get excited about. Is the answer to our billionaire owner problem really to sell to the first billionaire who comes along and beats our eyelids via a CNBC interview in which the primary focus is on the struggles of another company?

The only thing I agree with Ek and Thierry on is that whatever happens, it will be a long process. Whether the change comes from a new owner, government intervention, football itself, or elsewhere, I don’t see anything happening anytime soon. We are where we are as a result of everything football has allowed itself to become in the Premier League era, and it will take a lot to undo that. For all the talk about fan involvement, remember this: it was a board made up almost entirely of Arsenal fans who sold to Kroenke and Usmanov in the first place.

Okay, football, football, football of tomorrow, and we’ll have all the latest team news etc. on Arseblog News during the day. Until then, have a voucher.