Storm over Silent Stan's Hill-wood shares deal

Silent Stan Kroenke’s actions certainly speak louder than his words and, again, this morning’s papers reflect on the Yank minted moustachioed one’s latest purchases of Arsenal shares as he inches ever closer to a takeover.
Kroenke yesterday took his stake in the Arsenal to 29.9 per cent but has refused to divulge whether he intends a takeover.
The Daily Mail’s Charlie Sale column says there was bemusement yesterday in the camp of Arsenal’s Russian oligarch and shareholder Alisher Usmanov at club chairman Peter Hill-Wood’s decision to sell shares to Kroenke. This takes the American tycoon just 71 shares away from the 29.99 percentage threshold, above which he must bid for the whole club.
Hill-Wood sold 100 of his shares to Kroenke at £8,500 each, while the other 100 shares bought by the owner-in-waiting are also believed to have been sold by Hill-Wood family members, adds the paper.
The sale comes just a fortnight after chairman Hill-Wood told the Arsenal annual meeting it was important for the Gunners to remain independent of one owner. Certainly Usmanov’s people will not be alone in seeing the transaction as wholly inappropriate, it says
AW has his say in the Sun. He said: “Certainly it’s significant that the chairman has sold him 100 shares. But basically I don’t make a lot of that because the situation remains as it was before.
“Without any doubt he is interested in football and Arsenal. As to what his ambitions and goals are, I do not know. A takeover can have both a positive and a negative influence, that is the same with every owner.
“It is certainly not inevitable. He is at 29.9 per cent, so he is not yet in a position where he has to make a bid, so the situation at the club does not change.
“I take care of what is under my responsibility – that means the team, the way we play, the results and our next game. All the rest is a little bit above my head.”
Meanwhile, today’s Mirror claims Arsene Wenger has accused Atletico Madrid of “tapping up“ Fran Merida.
It claims AW has warned that Merida will not have a future at Arsenal unless he signs a new deal and the club fear they may lose him when his contract expires at the end of the season.
He said: “Some clubs are doing work behind our back to destabilise him and we cannot stop that, but it is a fact.
“I can’t say I’m annoyed by other clubs going after our players because we do it as well. But we do it legally. The difference is that we do not do what is not allowed by the law. We try to get the best player everywhere when it is allowed by the rules.
“For example, in this case, Fran Merida is at the end of his contract at the end of the season, but we know as well that means he could be contacted on January 1, 2010.
“We are not naive enough to believe that will happen at midnight on January 1 – that he gets the first phone call.”
Check back later for a little look at the trip to Wolves tomorrow…up the Gunners!

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