American tycoon Stan Kroenke has today announced that he has joined the Arsenal board. We put him head-to-head with David Dein-backed Alisher Usmanov to find out who has the best prospects as they vie for control of the club.
The Arsenal fans have warmed to Stan Kroenke, at least relatively speaking. Usmanov is viewed with suspicion and, perhaps even more importantly, a takeover by a Russian billionaire would mean the Gunners would have to surrender the moral high-ground they have taken over Chelsea.
Alisher Usmanov has more money than Kroenke. It may only be half a billion pounds – small change, we know – but he does have the edge over his American rival in the financial stakes. It just goes to show, there is still money in mining if you are in the right country.
But Kroenke’s wife, Anne Walton, is one of the heirs to the Wal-Mart supermarket empire. Now, we don’t want to meddle in a married couple’s finances, but considering the Wal-Mart group had revenue of $387.69 billion last year, it is safe to say that even a small cut of the inheritance would boost Kroenke’s spending power.
There is a big danger that Alisher might be too busy performing the new James Bond theme with Jack White and furthering his music career to take his commitments to Arsenal seriously enough.
Kroenke is an established sports tycoon. He is – you will not be surprised to read – the head of the Kroenke Sports Enterprise organisation, which means he has the experience of owning NFL’s St Louis Rams, NBA’s Denver Nuggets and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche among others. While Liverpool fans will testify that this does not necessarily make for a good football club owner, Aston Villa and Manchester United fans will say that it helps.
There are few billionaires from the former Soviet Union who do not come without a pretty murky past attached to them. Usmanov is no exception – he has spent time in a labour camp for crimes including bribery, extortion and (according to some sources) rape. He was later pardoned, but it goes to show that not everybody is his friend.
Kroenke is on the Arsenal board. The American may only have 12.4 per cent of the club’s shares, compared to Usmanov’s 24.2 per cent, but the invitation extended to Kroenke to join the board shows that the other directors remain committed to thwarting any attempted takeover by Usmanov.
Kroenke wins 4-1