Stan Kroenke

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Arsenal director Kroenke responds to supporter group letter

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A unified group of 16 supporter groups sent Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke a letter urging the head man to show “better leadership” in helping rebuild the squad and return the Gunners to the Champions League in what will be a third successive season outside Europe’s top competition.

His son Josh, currently serving as a member of the Arsenal board, responded to the letter by saying he “respects” the fans’ passion but also noting that it “hurts” to have his own called into question.

“As Arsenal fans, we have watched with frustration as the team’s football performances have declined over the past decade,” the letter from the fans read. “When Stan Kroenke began buying Arsenal shares, the club had just ­competed in a first Champions League final. Twelve years on, Arsenal are about to play in the Europa League for the third year running.”

The letter also hit out at the “soulless atmosphere” at the Emirates and attacked the “lack of strategy” when it came to player recruitment and investment into the squad, noting that money spent is not the issue, but instead the execution of the team build.

The younger Kroenke responded to the coordinated message, saying he takes his position with the club seriously because he can feel the emotion behind the decisions made.

“Is it hard to take? Absolutely,” Josh Kroenke said of the letter. “But I’m not in this business to make friends, I’m in it to win. If anyone is ever going to question anything about our ownership – which I view as a custodianship, the supporters trust us to be a custodian of the values — that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to win whilst also respecting the values and traditions of the club.”

“I was there in Baku [for the Europa League final] on behalf of KSE [Kroenke Sports & Entertainment], my father and family. I was down there on the sidelines, on the medal podium handing out second-place medals. I saw the look on our coach’s face, our players and all our staff. I felt and I saw what they felt. I felt the same way. The most important thing about being down on the pitch is understanding that there is a resolve there. There are some people who are also pretty pissed off that we had dropped that last match. That resolve should serve us well.”

Finally, Kroenke addressed the money available this summer, and highlighted the difficulties presented by the Europa League loss, which left Arsenal yet again on the outside looking in as Chelsea qualified for the Champions League. It wasn’t exactly an encouraging message for fans.

“If we’re going into the finer points I’d have to defer to these guys [managing director Vinai Venkatesham and head of football Raul Sanllehi]. I’ve always told them we need to be as aggressive as possible. It’s no secret that we have a Champions League wage bill on a Europa League budget right now. That’s a fact. And one that we’re figuring out how to face internally at the moment.”

Stan Kroenke to gain full control of Arsenal

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The direction of Arsenal could take another turn, after news came out on Tuesday suggesting majority owner and American billionaire Stan Kroenke is set to purchase a full stake in the club.

Kroenke, who currently owns a controlling 67 percent of the Gunners, will buy the remaining 30 percent owned by Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov for over $700 million to complete full control.

“I have decided to sell my shares in Arsenal, which could be the best football club in the world,” Usmanov said.

By virtue of taking over Usmanov’s stake in the team, Kroenke will legally claim the remainder of Arsenal’s shareholders’ stake.

Additionally, Kroenke will take the club private, which will no longer allow supporters to purchase stake in Arsenal.

Kroenke bids for total control, values Arsenal at $2.3 billion

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Arsenal’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has offered Alisher Usmanov $777 million for his 30 percent stake in the club with the American businessman aiming for total control of the north London team.

And Usmanov has agreed to sell his shares, with Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE) making an announcement to the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday about the buy-out of the club.

In what seemed like a parting shot, Usmanov said: “I have decided to sell my shares in Arsenal Football Club which could be the best football club in the world.”

WATCH LIVE: Transfer Deadline Day show, August 9 at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com

With the offer for Usmanov’s 30 percent, KSE value Arsenal at $2.3 billion. In the statement to the LSE, they revealed that $721 million will be borrowed to complete the deal but that debt will not be placed against the club.

Kroenke currently owns 67 percent of the club through his company KSE and the American billionaire has made it clear to Russian billionaire Usmanov, a long-time critic of Kroenke, that he will not sell him any of his shares.

That has led to Usmanov offering $1.3 billion to buy the club outright as recently as last year, but any advances were rejected by Kronke and he is now set for total control of Arsenal.

Fans of the Gunners have long protested for Kronke to sell his shares in Arsenal and leave, but that isn’t happening any time soon.

With Arsene Wenger out as manager after 22 years in charge, new boss Unai Emery is at least sprucing things up on the pitch at the Emirates Stadium.

It appears the business off the pitch at Arsenal will remain the same for many years to come.

Still, at least Kroenke can’t move the team to LA or St. Louis, right?

Kroenke’s statement on Wenger

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Stan Kroenke has been a mostly hands-off owner for Arsenal over the past 10 years, preferring to put his trust in Arsene Wenger.

But today, with Wenger’s public announcement that he will step away at the end of the season, Kroenke released a poignant statement, calling on the club’s fans around the globe to back the side as it looks to hold on to a place in next season’s Europa League.

[MORE: Reaction to Arsene Wenger’s decision]

“This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” Kroenke said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched.

“Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.

“We have high ambitions to build on Arsène’s remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game.

“We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal’s history and one of the greats of the game.”

Kroenke has drawn the ire of many Arsenal fans who had been calling for Wenger to be sacked for years, as the Arsenal board year after year continued to offer Wenger a new contract. It appeared that as long as the club was stable financially, with UEFA Champions League television revenues coming in and the team competing for a top-four Premier League position, the board was content.

However, the last two seasons have seen Arsenal slip, with a record amount of defeats during Wenger’s tenure and a second-consecutive season outside of the Champions League, leading to more lost revenue.

Arsenal’s AGM fails to force change as Kroenke’s power remains

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Arsenal’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) was once again a formality but protest votes made sure the fans were heard.

[ MORE: Kroenke aims to buy more shares ]

The same board, chairman and owner remain in place and fans were left feeling angry as they demanded changes at the top which will not arrive.

Despite the small shareholders of the north London club voting against resolutions to reappoint Sir Chips Keswick as the chairman and Josh Kroenke (son of majority shareholder, Stan) onto the board of directors, their votes make up just three percent of the votes needed as both were reelected to the board anyway with Stan Kroenke already making the decision by proxy.

This was about more than an AGM.

During the AGM at the Emirates Stadium over 200 fans and shareholders became angry and jeered Keswick when he refused to answer questions and Stan Kroenke’s failure to turn up to the AGM was once again criticized as Arsenal’s Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis did his best to settle the crowd down.

Arsene Wenger also spoke at the heated AGM, as he usually does, and urged supporters to back the team on the pitch after they failed to finish in the top four of the Premier League last season for the first time in 21 years.

“Be behind the team. We accept the verdict at the end of the season but we want you to be behind us. My hunger and commitment is bigger than ever. Whatever happens [in the future] I will absolutely love this club,” Wenger said, before adding. “I dedicate 99 percent of my lifetime to try to make you happy. Looking at what happened today, it is not easy.”

Despite all of the unrest in recent years, Arsenal’s small shareholders have never voted against Sir Chips being reinstated as chairman. This stance that change was now needed was strong albeit unsuccessful, but in truth it was more of a token gesture. Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) issued a statement ahead of the AGM as they preempted the outcome.

“Whatever the outcome of the AGM, we call upon the directors at Arsenal to address these significant corporate governance failings. All of the non-executive directors have been in office for far too long and are not regarded as independent under the corporate governance code.”

This proxy vote proves just how little regard the Gunners hierarchy currently has for the opinions of AST and those fans who want change at the top of the club after failing to win any trophy, apart from the FA Cup, in the past 13 years.

With Stan Kroenke stating that he has no intention to sell Arsenal and plans to pass the club onto future generations of his family, the Gunners will be owned by the American businessman for the foreseeable future. Any plans Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov had to try and buy Kroenke’s controlling share now seem to be pointless and it’s a case of status quo at the Emirates Stadium.