Kroenke cools on pressing ahead with Arsenal bid

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The Independent Football

Stan Kroenke is to reassure the Arsenal board that he has no intention of mounting a takeover bid at present and, instead, is keen to push ahead with his original plans for the club to help improve Major League Soccer in the United States.

The billionaire will tell the club's directors, hopefully in a meeting next month, that his priority is to raise the standards at the Colorado Rapids, the football team he has sunk millions into, and in the MLS.

It was his desire to create a more professional league in the US that led to his involvement with Arsenal in the first place. Sources accept that Kroenke also saw acquiring the 12.2 per cent stake in Arsenal as an opportunity to explore whether or not he should buy the club but that, now, he feels it would be too complicated and drawn out.

The situation may change but Kroenke will reiterate his claim that he wants to take a "long view" on his investment. When he acquired his Arsenal shares it is thought the businessman was led to believe other key shareholders, most noticeably Danny Fiszman, may also have been prepared to sell. Kroenke now accepts that is not the case although he remains extremely keen to meet Fiszman who he regards as having done an impressive job at Arsenal.

He is taking a sanguine view of the involvement of Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who last week bought David Dein's 14.58 per cent stake in Arsenal, but has no intention of meeting him. Kroenke also does not want to get involved in the company, Red & White Holdings, that has been created with Dein as chairman.

That is partly because he is unsure about Usmanov but also because his relationship with Dein, who first got him involved in Arsenal, has cooled. Kroenke wants to put some distance between himself and the former vice-chairman.

Kroenke's message is further good news for Arsenal who will today confirm that manager Arsène Wenger has signed a contract extension. Wenger, who turns 58 in October, has been in charge since September 1996 and talks have been ongoing over a new two-to-three year deal.

Confirmation of the deal – and its length, with Wenger believed to have agreed a three-year contract to 2011 – will be made public on Arsenal's official website this morning. The manager is currently in Geneva, attending a Uefa elite coaches conference.

Wenger's future has become one of the battlegrounds over the ownership of Arsenal. It is clear, also, that going into the final year of his present contract he accepts the sensitivity of the issue.

Usually Wenger does not sign a new deal until the October or November but he has acted early to quash speculation which reached its height with the departure of his close ally and friend Dein last spring.

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