Arsenal fans are fearful for the future of the club after Stan Kroenke increased his stakeholding to 29.6 per cent — just short of the threshold for an obligatory takeover of 29.9 per cent, reports the Times.
Kroenke yesterday purchased another 427 shares in the parent company of the North London club from the estate of Ernest Harrison, a British industrialist, at a cost of £3.6 million.
Yet while it is thought unlikely that Kroenke will launch a full takeover, not least because of the prohibitive cost to him of about £460 millionmillion, the respected Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) has warned him against further share investment.
The Independent reckons Kroenke’s long-term ambition is to own Arsenal, or a majority of it, but he will not go above the trigger stake until at least May 2010, and quite possibly a lot later. The trigger holding would be 18,666 shares, so Kroenke can buy a further 271 shares before having to make a mandatory bid. Yesterday’s purchase values the club at £528.8m.
On the pitch, Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal’s loss can be England’s gain after losing Gael Clichy for up to two months with a stress fracture of his back.
The Daily Mail reports that Clichy’s injury means Kieran Gibbs will be handed an extended run in the side, starting against against AZ Alkmaar tonight, and Wenger feels the extra action could see the 20-year-old full-back stake a claim for a place in Fabio Capello’s England squad.
‘Capello and England will be happy,’ said Wenger. ‘They want him to play. I spoke with Stuart Pearce when he was with the Under 21s and they were always very happy with him. I have no doubt about the quality of Gibbs.’
Meanwhile, the Sun says Abou Diaby claims Arsenal will go all out to seal their passage to the Champions League group stage tonight. The Gunners currently sit top of Group H, with a win over AZ Alkmaar at the Emirates tonight guaranteeing they progress.
And midfield ace Diaby has warned the Dutch side that his team-mates are in bouyant mood going into the game.
He said: “It is always good to win every game and stay in first place. We need to work on our defence and make sure we stay focused until the last minute.
“We are confident of qualifying for the knockout stages. There is nothing for us to worry about and we are a good team.
“We want to show that we can get through this competition. We have still got two home games left and I think it will be very good for us.”