Wenger calm over Kroenke investment

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger has no problem with Stan Kroenke's continued investment in Arsenal - so long as it never impacts on the way he runs the team.

The American tycoon has edged closer towards the takeover threshold following the announcement of the purchase of another 427 shares in Arsenal's parent holding company, at a cost of some £3.6million.

The Denver-based sports magnate is now the largest individual shareholder in the Gunners, with a stake of some 29.6% after acquiring more stock from the estate of the late British industrialist Ernest Harrison.

Should Kroenke, or indeed anyone else such as second-largest shareholder Alisher Usmanov, reach a figure of 29.9%, they would, under the City's financial regulations, be obliged to launch a formal takeover bid.

Wenger, though, insists it remains very much business as usual at London Colney, where he was preparing the squad for tomorrow night's Champions League clash with AZ Alkmaar at the Emirates Stadium.

"Inside the club, on a daily basis, it does not change anything," the Arsenal boss said.

"As long as I am not told I have to change the way I see the vision for the club on the technical side, as long as nobody interferes with that, then I do not see what kind of impact it could have on me."

Wenger added: "I believe I have shown I can manage a club on the technical side - and I have that guarantee at the club, no matter who the owner will be."

As yet, Kroenke - nicknamed 'Silent Stan' for his choice to keep away from the media spotlight - has made no public statement on his long-term intentions for the Barclays Premier League club.

Indeed, when Kroenke, now on the Arsenal board, was directly questioned during the recent Annual General Meeting, the American chose not to take the opportunity to address the gathered shareholders, with chairman Peter Hill-Wood intervening.

While Hill-Wood insisted major changes behind the scenes were not on the agenda, the Arsenal chairman has also suggested he was "very relaxed" about a proposed takeover by the American.

The Arsenal Supporters Trust, meanwhile, believe the latest moves do not mean a takeover from Kroenke is imminent, rather more a "consolidation" of the American's position, perhaps even to fend off potential further moves by Usmanov's Red & White Holdings group.

"While the AST welcome Stan Kroenke's involvement, we agree with the sentiment of Peter Hill-Wood's statement at the most recent AGM that there is no need for any shareholder to launch a takeover of the club," the statement said.

"The AST believes in plurality of ownership.

"If a takeover is launched by any party, we would seek urgent discussions with those involved."

However, the AST also warned against problems which can be associated with individual ownership based on significant debt.

The statement added: "The AST has a good relationship with both Stan Kroenke and members of his team at Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE).

"We have stressed to them the importance of custodianship and that the club will be stronger if it has supporters directly involved in its ownership model.

"While we cannot vouch for their future actions, we are encouraged that they have said they see the AST having an important role to play at Arsenal.

"The AST has repeatedly stated that we are generally opposed to a takeover and would fight any plans that require the club to incur debt to pay for a takeover, as has happened at Manchester United and Liverpool.

"Two red lines that cannot be crossed are the use of debt secured on the club's assets to fund a takeover and an ownership structure which excludes small shareholders. Arsenal is too important to be owned by any one person.

"The AST's own assessment of today's development is that a takeover is not imminent and that today's purchase is the consolidation of an existing position."