In 2007, American businessman and billionaire, Stan Kroenke, bought a significant number of shares in Arsenal Holdings plc, as did Alisher Usmanov, a Russian businessman. In 2018, Kroenke then bought out Usmanov’s shares to become the majority shareholder and owner of Arsenal FC. He later bought out the remainder of the shares to own 100% of the club.
Although the exact figure of how much Kroenke paid for Arsenal is unknown it is thought he paid in the region of £550 million to buy Usmanov out of his shares. Kroenke then spent a similar amount to buy the rest of the shares from the other shareholders, in total spending around one billion pounds for the club.
Before Kroenke and Usmanov were the main shareholders of the club, the club was owned by Samuel Hill-Wood and Sir Bracewell Smith. They had owned these shares since before World War Two and after their deaths, their shares were passed down to their children and then grandchildren. Eventually, many of these shares were sold to numerous different parties and people, and the club had far more owners than it ever previously had.
Both Stanley Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov were interested in purchasing shares in Arsenal at the same time in 2007 and both managed to acquire significant shareholdings in the club. As mentioned, Kroenke later bought out the remainder of the club’s shares to become the sole owner of the club. As it states on the Arsenal website:
The Arsenal Football Club plc is a 100% owned subsidiary of Arsenal Holdings Limited. Arsenal Holdings Limited is 100% owned by KSE UK INC. KSE UK INC is 100% owned by E. Stanley Kroenke.
What Arsenal Fans Think
The Arsenal fans have varying opinions of the current owner, and the prevailing views constantly change (as they do with the fans of most clubs in relation to their owners). American owners in the Premier League are never really sought after by fans and are generally disliked as they do not see the club as a football club and usually don’t share the passion for the club as the fans do. They often see a football club as a business and a way of making money and gaining status in the business world which frustrates and upsets many football fans.
When Kroenke bought out Arsenal and became the sole owner many supporters were unsure of what to expect from him. On one hand, he was committed enough to buy out the entirety of the shares of the club and spend big money in doing so, and on the other, he was a businessman who is clearly interested in making money and may not want to invest money into Arsenal to get them where fans want them to be.
In the first few years of sole ownership, Kroenke did not invest the money that Arsenal fans wanted into buying the highest quality of players, something that the managers also wanted. This resulted in irritation from many supporters as they saw their club struggling and failing to secure spots to play European football and even struggling to stay in the top 10 in some seasons (the Gunners finished in eighth position in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons).
Many fans were calling for him to move on and sell the club as he clearly was not interested in spending the money needed to get them back on top. However, recently, Arsenal have been spending more money on players and behind the scenes at the club resulting in better performances in recent years, and at the time of writing, Arsenal is challenging for the title, something that hasn’t happened for many years – they were second in 2015/16, but finished 10 points behind champions Leicester.
Even though it is hard to give an exact figure, Arsenal Holdings Limited (it is no longer a plc) is estimated to be valued at between one and two billion pounds… so quite a lot of money! If Arsenal is ever sold, then the price will be determined by Kroenke as he is the individual shareholder of the club. This means he can sell it for whatever he feels the value is and what he feels it is worth to him. There have been reports that offers have been made to buy the club since Kroenke took full ownership however none have been accepted.
Where Arsenal Lands in the ‘Big Six’
Compared to the other big clubs in the premier league, Arsenal are around the middle mark in terms of value. Many factors come into a club’s value, such as historical value, broadcasting, match-day income, commercial potential, and so on. Currently, the Premier League club with the highest estimated value is Manchester United followed by Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, and then Chelsea, with Tottenham Hotspur completing the ‘Big Six’.
Obviously, the exact order of this list is debated and not fully known as ultimately it would come down to what people are willing to pay (and what current owners are willing to accept). But this is the estimated order based on predicted values with the top clubs having an approximate value of around five billion pounds down to around two billion pounds. So, Arsenal sits comfortably in the middle of the pile and is worth more than a few quid.
Future of Arsenal
It is impossible to predict the future of any football club, but it is clear to see that Arsenal will only get more valuable as the years go by. That is, assuming they don’t completely collapse on the pitch and get relegated to the second tier. But that’s not a realistic prospect as things stand. Kroenke has been investing money into the club to get them back towards the top and fighting for titles and trophies.
The Gunners have also continued to produce special talents and purchase top players, so we feel it is only a matter of time before a new suitor will be looking to purchase the club. It is up to Stan Kroenke whether he sells of course, and only if/when he does will the true value of Arsenal football club be revealed.