The ownership of football clubs has become a contentious issue in recent years. The arrival of Roman Abramovich at Chelsea altered the landscape considerably. They were about to go bust, the Russian oligarchy billions saved the day.
Since then the Glazers have plunged Man United into enormous debt but crucially have enjoyed a run of success which meant objections have been relatively muted. The two Americans at Liverpool have made a total pig’s bollocks of things and whatever your rivalries it’s not healthy for the game to see two of the biggest clubs in England in such a precarious position.
Then along came the Abu-Dhabi billions at Man City and their spending is illogical and obscene. At Arsenal we’ve somehow managed to keep a balance despite attempts at a takeover. When David Dein sold his shares to Alisher Usmanov he didn’t do it maintain the plurality of ownership, he did it make himself a massive profit and to be installed as Chief Exec when Usmanov took over.
That Stan Kroenke is now on the side of the board, having originally been identified by Dein as the man to finance his coup, shows how strong the objections to Usmanov were. This blog, and others, were hit with legal missives to prevent any serious discussion of his past. I’m still of the opinion that …
There are still issues. Usmanov, despite being the second largest shareholder, has no place on the board. Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith has been actively trying to sell her 16% share in the club for some time. An uneasy truce exists at this moment in time and while it’s probably not ideal it’s far preferable to the kind of leveraged buy-out that has seen Liverpool go from confidently declaring they’d be building a new stadium to almost being served winding-up orders.
The current board has espoused the self-sustainable model and regardless of how much you wish we might buy a goalkeeper or a defender it’s the right way for the club to be run. Especially as long as Arsene Wenger is in charge. He famously said he’d give back £100m if it were handed to him by a wealthy owner.
For years envious glances were cast at clubs in Spain. Real Madrid and Barcelona are owned by the fans. That doesn’t necessarily mean things will be run properly. The state of Barcelona’s finances has been cause for plenty of finger pointing and laughing, especially from Arsenal fans this summer, but there’s a lot to be said for the people who care about the club most having a say in how it’s run.
Arsenal Fanshare has just launched and it aims to do just that. Fans will be asked to pay £100 for 1/100th of a share which entitles them to full shareholders rights, attendence of AGMs, voting etc. Tim Payton of the AST, which has put together the sceme, says:
It is hugely significant that all the major Arsenal shareholders have given their support and that suggests talk of a takeover can be put to one side. Arsenal supporters are fortunate that our club structure allows this opportunity to exist. No doubt supporters at many other Premier League clubs would love a similar opportunity to play a part in their ownership structure.
We urge all Arsenal fans to take this opportunity and get involved. By working together we can make Arsenal even stronger.
It’s obviously going to take a lot of participation for it to build any significant stake, there are 62000 Arsenal shares in existence, but anything which helps maintain the plurality of ownership and which gives fans a voice, which can grow louder as time goes by and more people get involved, can only be a good thing.
Full info and faq at Arsenal Fanshare.
Meanwhile back at the football ranch there’s not a great deal going on. The only bit of definitely maybe transfer news is that Armand Traore could be off to Benfica. There’s talk of a loan with a possible permanent move. It makes sense on couple of levels. Firstly, Kieran Gibbs has emerged as the real competitor for the left back position and secondly, Traore really isn’t very good at all. I know all young defenders need to learn the game but he has no defensive awareness whatsoever. This is pretty bad for a defender. Good luck to him if he does and if they’re offering us £1.5m we should bite their hands off.
As Man City continue their ludicrous shopping spree (why would anyone pay £18m for James Milner and throw in Stephen Ireland as part of the deal? Ireland is just as good a player as Milner although probably a bit more mental) Shay Given has been told he can leave if he wants. I still think it’s most likely that we’ll sign Schwarzer but Arsene would be a bit Stephen Ireland if he didn’t at least consider Given.
Meanwhile Lukasz Fabianksi says he’s going to do everything in his power so that Arsenal fans will sing his name. Poor bloke, I actually feel sorry for him now. Maybe we could all chip in, a la fanshare, and buy him a new window to lick.
Also interesting – Wenger on the new quota system. He reckons it could lead to court cases as a player who plays in less than 10% of the games in any season can buy his contract out. I didn’t know that. I think the one thing the quota system will do is ensure that the final days of the transfer window are frenetic as clubs try to move players on to avoid situations like the one above or just having really cheesed off players around the place.
So, Wednesday. Still no signings. It’s a disgrace. They’re too busy quaffing quail eggs and drinking the finest mead from diamond encrusted goblets.
I love the word goblets.
Have at it.