Arsenal takeover: Spotify owner Daniel Ek ‘very serious’ about buying club

Ek says he has secured funds to put a ‘compelling offer’ to the Kroenke family, who have proved increasingly unpopular since taking majority charge of the club in 2011

Lawrence Ostlere
Wednesday 28 April 2021 17:17
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<p>Daniel Ek claims to have supported Arsenal since he was eight</p>

Daniel Ek claims to have supported Arsenal since he was eight

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is “very serious” about buying Arsenal Football Club from Stan Kroenke and says he has secured funds ahead of a “compelling offer”.

The Kroenke family have proved increasingly unpopular since taking majority charge of the club in 2011, and their tenure reached a nadir last week with Arsenal’s prominent involvement in the Super League fiasco.

Last Friday thousands of fans gathered outside the Emirates Stadium to protest against the Kroenke’s ownership, and at the same time Ek tweeted his intention to buy the club.

Ek, who has a net-worth of around £3bn, has been working with Arsenal greats Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira to prepare a bid, and now he has reiterated his desire to follow through on the plan.

“I’m very serious, I have secured the funds for it and I want to bring a very compelling offer to the owners and I hope they hear me out,” Ek told CNBC in an interview on Wednesday. “I certainly didn’t expect this will happen overnight and I prepared for this to be a long journey.”

Ek claims to be a passionate lifelong Arsenal supporter who watches matches during board meetings, although the media in his native Sweden has reported some surprise at his interest in the club.

“I’ve been an Arsenal fan since I was eight,” he told CNBC. “Arsenal is my team. I love the history, the players and of course I love the fans. So as I look at that I see a tremendous opportunity to bring it back to glory. I want to establish trust with fans, and I want to engage the fans again.

“I’ve been a fan for 30 years of this club. And I certainly didn’t expect that this would happen overnight. And I’m prepared that this could be a long journey. But you know, all I can do is prepare what I think is a very thoughtful offer, and bring it to them and hope they hear me out.”

His decision to team up with Henry, Bergkamp and Vieira – three of Arsenal’s most successful and popular players whose names evoke memories of glory in the early 2000s – is a savvy move at a time when the Kroenkes’ relationship with supporters is so strained.

However the Kroenkes remain insistent that the club is not for sale, while reports have suggested they would want at least £2bn before considering any offer.

Josh Kroenke, the club director and son of Stan Kroenke, continued to push this message at a fans’ forum last week, insisting that his family have “no intention” of selling. “I still believe we’re fit to carry on in our positions as custodians of Arsenal,” he said.

In a statement on Tuesday amid mounting speculation, their company – Kroenke, Sports & Entertainment – said: “In recent days we have noted media speculation regarding a potential takeover bid for Arsenal Football Club. We remain 100% committed to Arsenal and are not selling any stake in the Club. We have not received any offer and we will not entertain any offer.

“Our ambition for Arsenal remains to compete to win the biggest trophies in the game and our focus remains on improving our competitiveness on the pitch to achieve this.”

Last week the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, backed any potential takeover, saying in a statement: “[We] will support any potential purchaser who will allow fans to own a real equity stake and give fans a meaningful say in how our club is run”.

Ek is the co-founder and CEO of Spotify, which he established in 2006. He owns around 8 per cent of the music streaming service, which is currently valued at $50bn (£36bn).

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