Arsenal’s club owners have been Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) since 2018 when US investor Stan Kroenke took full control. He won a long-running battle with Alisher Usmanov.
The American sports conglomerate and Russian oligarch had fought to secure full ownership of Arsenal. But Usmanov agreed to sell his 30% stake in the Emirates Stadium club in August 2018. Kroenke then exercised the legal right to force all remaining small shareholders to sell.
Kroenke’s buyout of the remaining shares in Arsenal caused criticism from supporters. Many of the club’s minority shareholders he forced to sell were fans of the north London side. KSE also took the Gunners off the Stock Exchange and recognised the club as a private company.
When did KSE become the owners of Arsenal?
Kroenke’s KSE parent company became the sole owners of Arsenal in August 2018 after the Denver-based conglomerate bought Usmanov’s 30% stake. The Russian accepted £550m to sell his shares to the American after accepting defeat in his own attempts to secure control.
KSE’s buyout of Usmanov’s shares took Kroenke’s stake in Arsenal’s ownership to 90%. This gave KSE the legal right to force the club’s minority shareholders to sell their stakes. While KSE also took the Gunners off the Stock Exchange to make Arsenal its own private company.
Usmanov gave up on his own takeover interests after Kroenke had amassed 67% of the total shares in Arsenal. KSE first bought into the north London club in April 2007 when it bought a 9.9% stake from ITV for £65m. It would hold 20.5% by March 2009 and 28.3% by May 2009.
Kroenke steadily increased KSE’s ownership of Arsenal
Kroenke increased his ownership in Arsenal to 20.5% after purchasing a third of ex-director Daniel Fiszman’s stake for £42.5m. KSE later bought the shares controlled by the long-term members of the Arsenal board, the Carr family, in 2009 to reach 28.3% control for £46m.
Fiszman would later sell his remaining 17% to Kroenke in April 2011 when KSE also secured Nina Bracewell-Smith’s 16% stake. Kroenke securing the shares forced the American to bid for Usmanov’s stake. But he would also later finance a majority of the total buyout in 2018.
Kroenke only put forward £45m of his own money to purchase Usmanov’s 30% for £550m. Instead, KSE borrowed £557m from Deutsche Bank to finance the takeover and any costs. It would only add to the tensions emerging between KSE and the club’s fanbase at the time.
Arsenal Supporter’s Trust issued a statement in response to the takeover, declaring it to be a ‘dreadful day for Arsenal’. Fans also later gathered in numbers outside Emirates Stadium in April 2021 urging KSE to sell in response to its plans to enter the European Super League.
What have Arsenal won since KSE became their owners?
The Gunners have seldom added to Arsenal’s trophy cabinet since KSE became the exclusive owners of the football club. Since 2018, they have won just one major trophy in the 2019/20 FA Cup. But the club also reached the 2018/19 Europa League final before losing to Chelsea.
What other sports franchises does KSE own?
Along with being the owners of Arsenal, KSE has a raft of sports franchises in its portfolio. It also owns the National Football League (NFL) team LA Rams, the Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Colorado Rapids and the National Basketball Association (NBA) team Denver Nuggets.
Further, KSE owns the National Hockey League (NHL) side Colorado Avalanche, the National Lacrosse League (NLL) outfit Colorado Mammoth and the esports organisation The Guard.
How much is KSE worth?
According to Forbes, KSE is the world’s second-most valuable sports empire in 2023 with its net worth $12.75bn (£10.25bn). This is in part due to the multiple sports franchises it owns, plus regional sports cable and satellite television channel Altitude Sports and Entertainment.
Also according to Forbes, the LA Rams were the world’s third-most valuable sports team for 2022. It valued the NFL franchise at $6.2bn (£5bn) after the Inglewood natives won the 2021 Super Bowl. Forbes listed Arsenal as the 11th-most valuable football team at $2bn (£1.6bn).