Who Should Own Arsenal?

Those excellent people at the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust have recently released the results of a major opinion survey of their members about the ownership of Arsenal.
Nearly all the respondents (getting on for half the AST membership) feel that the conduct and business reputation of significant shareholders is important – 93% in fact. Six percent feel it’s slightly important. One out of a hundred feels it’s not at all important. I find even one out of a hundred Gooners holding this opinion bizarre but there you are.
One of this small minority unburdened themselves of the following gem in response to this question, “If this means another five years without a trophy, I’ll happily accept a corrupt sugar-daddy”. As few as hold this opinion, I find it depressing that any do.
Nearly two out of three (63%) expressed their first ownership preference as being, “Plural ownership, including supporter shareholders, with club’s income reliant on revenues the club generates”. Just over two in ten (21%) had “Mutual ownership where the club is owned and controlled by a Supporters’ Trust” as their first choice.
Lack of understanding of how “mutual” ownership might work and a feeling that mutual ownership was unrealistic given the sums involved appeared to be the main reasons why this option scored so relatively low. I beg to differ. Some of the biggest companies in Britain are mutually owned by their members. The Nationwide Building Society, the Co-op retail and banking/finance group are just two examples. It’s no coincidence that the Nationwide and the Co-operative Bank are two of the few that didn’t have put out the begging bowl to the government for our cash to bail them out after the recent financial crash.
Only three in a hundred wanted the club privately owned by a so-called “sugar-daddy”. Quite right too.  One Arsenal Red member summed it up perfectly for me, “The essence of a football club is that it should be owned by its supporters. I don’t see any attraction in being a supporter of a corporation. I believe there is too much apathy among supporters on the ownership issue.” I couldn’t agree more mate.
A massive majority of 93% wanted the current major shareholders to provide more information and be far more transparent about their intentions for our club. It’s only fair to point out that the market rules associated with Arsenal’s shares being publically listed on the PLUS share market inhibit major shareholders in what they can say. One of the many reasons that I believe that the openly traded public limited company (plc) model isn’t the right one for Arsenal or any professional football club. We are where we are however, not where many of us might like us to be. The point is how do we steer the club in the right direction, starting from where we are now?
The survey shows very little support for a full takeover by Stan Kroenke, Alisher Usmanov or any other person or company. Only thirteen percent want Silent Stan, four percent want Alisher Usmanov fully in charge. Likewise four percent want somebody else to launch a full takeover. Just fewer than two in ten respondents therefore want a full takeover by somebody. The four out a hundred who want Alisher Usmanov’s Red & White Holdings to take over must be on powerful psychotropic drugs in my humble opinion. I’m with the vast majority who don’t want anybody staging a full takeover.
I’m with the Arsenal Gold member who said, “Kroenke may seem more acceptable than Usmanov but his silence is disrespectful to supporters. We are completely in the dark about his vision for the emerging, competitive landscape the club faces.” 
Four in ten feel that Alisher Usmanov should be invited to join the Arsenal board. Reasons for this vary from those who feel that his large holding entitles him to a seat on principle to those who appear to subscribe to the “keep your friends close but your enemies closer” school. Personally I wouldn’t give the man the steam off my wee.
Almost as many who want Usmanov on the board want him kept out – over one in three (35%). I’m with them.
Respondents were also asked to rate the board’s performance in a number of areas. The board did well in financial management; over nine out of ten scored them as either “excellent” or “good” in this field. Not so much in “Accountability and openness to shareholders and supporters” though. Nearly two in ten (18%) rate the board “poor” and nearly half (47%) “average” in this area. Only four percent think the board is “excellent” in this field, just under one in three (31%) score the board “good”.
That’s all I’ve got time for today. I’ll cover the rest of the results in my Friday blog.
Keep the faith!

LOGIN to Comment
LOGIN to Comment