Search This Blog

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Takeover at Arsenal? Pure summer bollocks !!

Herbert Chapman says don't sell
It's incredible - the magical creation of mystic worlds and suspension of disbelief almost makes it beleivable ... almost. No - I'm not talking about the latest Harry Potter book - but the daily Arsenal takeover saga in the papers.

I know it's summertime - so we know that journos will make plenty of stuff up - but the daily rumour mill surrounding possbile takeovers at Arsenal are getting weirder and weirder.

Today it's eccentric F1 owner Bernie Ecclestone who is quoted as saying "he interested in anything as long as its CHEAP enough" and "I do go to Chelsea when there is nothing else to do".

There you go - a casual newbie Chelsea fan who'll buy anything cheap - that obviously proof positive that he's on the inside track to buying Arsenal eh? NOT!

Elsewhere we read that the reclusive American Stan Kroenke has been accumulating shares to add to his 12%-14% holding - oh except for the facts being that only about 24 Arsenal shares have been bought/sold on the PLUS exchange in total during JULY !!

TWENTY FOUR !! There are 62,219 total shares on offer (making Arsenal a £450m company) and my calculations show that if ALL 24 were sold to Kroenke then it will take the American a further 77 years to reach a 50% shareholding at that rate.

Throw in the fact that you have a report that Arsenal board not keen to sell because they beleive that an overseas invester will want to take more money out than they put in - financial investors are likely to be treating the club as a business.

Of course the prime mover, motivator and PR spinner in all this is former vice-chairman David Dein who simply could not take the boards decision last March and resigned in a fit of pique - and has been desperately aggitating ever since.

But, Arsenal don't need the money. The club is financially stronger now than at any stage in their history. There are other clubs with more cash of course - Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool, Barcelona - but that's always been the case.

But with the new 60,000 seat stadium functioning, and a major property development in London coming on stream, the Arsenal Football Club is in sound health and is not "cash strapped" - it's soundly managed to spend within it's operating budget.

The current board are running things for AFC's benefit - not to line their own pockets (they have not taken a dividend on their shares for over TWENTY years) - and they've carefully plotted and manouvered Arsenal to take best advantage of the current financial climate - upgrading the ground while not risking the clubs future.

The Emirates Stadium - GBP 360m of kit.

IF Arsenal can find an investor who wants to be part of creating positive conditions for the continuation of the football club - ahead of returning profits back to their own pockets - then I'm sure that he/she will be welcomed with open arms.

But it NOT be a hostile takeover because the shares are tightly held, and so Arsenal Football Club is not a pretty bauble to be plucked or a financial opportunity to be exploited. Rather it is a football club whose main purpose is to play football at the highest levels - not to chase profits for American, Russian or English fatcat (and suntanned) pockets.

With Arsenal taking a prudent financial approach that protects them if and when the TV rights bubble bursts - you can be sure that the club that was created in 1888 in a pub across the road from the Royal Arsenal factory will be around for many more years to come.

To write anything else is journolistic bollocks - a cheap headline because the transfer market is not moving - and simply published in order to sell a few more papers or get a few more hits for their website.