Friday, 20 April 2007

An American takeover of football?

What has been going on in the Arsenal boardroom?

There seems to be much talk that a takeover is now inevitable but i would think that if the board remain opposed to Kronke taking over the club then it will be next to impossible for him to succeed. I'm not sure what the rules are on the Exchange which Arsenal Holdings trade on but usually the board is quite within its powers to reject takeover attempts. Given that the board members own 45% of the company they aren't going to be easily bullied into submission.

I'd like to know what's happened between Kronke and the board for all this to come about. Did he think he could just turn up and they'd gratefully hand the club over to him as seems to have happened at Liverpool?

On the wider issue, I think it is a concern that so many Americans, who have no history in football, are buying up Premier League clubs. I also wonder if they are even aware that we run a relegation system and that their valuable assets could become next to worthless after one bad season. I can see a time when they decide that they haven't spent the best part of a billion dollars on a football team to see it relegated and try to get the system scrapped. These people haven't come into football to blow their fortunes like Abramovich. I'm also very suspicious that the people circling our football clubs are all part of the closed shop that is American sporting franchises and I don't think they are doing it for our benefit or the good of the game.

I'd also like to say that I don't think having people like Abramovich blowing their fortunes on football is good for the game either. It completely distorts it, raises players wages at the expense of fans across the country - and increasingly across the globe - and reduces the competitiveness of the league. The Arsenal/Man U duopoly for a decade had become stale, although they both played great football, and Chelsea were initially a breath of fresh air. Now, it has got somewhat stale with their dull, forceful game a complete turn off and their hundreds of millions used to block other clubs making key purchases by forcing up player prices.

For the long term good of the game, clubs need to be run on a sound financial footing and this has always been one of Arsenal's great strengths. Moving to the Emirates stadium was supposed to take us to the next level enabling us to compete with the likes of Man U, Real Madrid and Barcelona on a sound footing. This, to my mind, is the basis for long term success. There will always be periods when we are slightly off the pace, like much of the 80's, but it only takes a good manager to get us to the point of winning things again. The same is true of Man U and Liverpool. The danger of the drive for short term success is that you mortgage your future and if it goes wrong, as happened at Leeds Utd, you face extinction. If Abramovich left Chelsea, what would happen? I doubt the club's finances can support the wage structure, so there would be a fire sale of players and a paying off of contracts that might well bankrupt the club. I don't want that at Arsenal. I want a sound financial footing which will see us being successful throughout the 21st Century. Keep the Sugerdaddies out.

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