Probably Not Since Dennis Bergkamp Got an Eighth-Floor Hotel Room Has There Been This Much Drama at Arsenal
by Brian Phillips · March 30, 2009
The contemptible lot of cads, bounders, and tiger-stabbers (and diamond-dealing tax exiles, and disenfranchised hotelier’s heiresses, and reclusive American sports magnates) who currently own Arsenal have contrived another bit of boardroom pantomime to fill the news void caused by the international break and the lack of clarity over whether Coleen Rooney is completely 100% pregnant, this time by transferring some shares from one major stakeholder to another. You do not want to miss this. All the salacious percentage signs…after the jump.
What’s happened, basically, is that American Sports Magnate A (known around the Arsenal campus as Stan Kroenke, or informally as “Who cares, he speaks English”) purchased a third of the shares held by Diamond Dealer B (known to the staff of his secret Swiss bungalow as Danny Fiszman) for around £42 million, bringing his total stake to 20.5%. This is seen as significant because it could possibly, no one knows, be an appallingly coded back-channel hieroglyphic intended for Alisher Usmanov (known in various Uzbek prisons as “what happens when a family reunion of Pillsbury Doughboys meets a corporate retreat of rolling pins”), the menacing Uzbek billionaire who owns 25.1% percent of the club (giving him veto power over any proposed changes to various aspects of the club’s organization) and would like to own 100.0% (giving him veto power over evvvvvrything).
What the hieroglyphic would say is probably that Kroenke (known around the Arsenal campus as “that boy is our last hope”) intends to draw a Walter Sobchak-style line in the sand if Usmanov makes a move for the 15.9% holding of the recently broken-up-with Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, just 59% of whose shares would give Usmanov the 30% total holding that would force an automatic bid for the 70% of the club owned by other people. Kroenke is now, crucially, or perhaps not, also just one Bracewell-Smith luncheon and a couple of expensive pens away from a power play, and while he says he has no intention of further increasing his stake, his Uzbek rival is apparently supposed to consider himself warned soundly and told to back away. Why that matters, I’m not sure, as the Arsenal stakeholders have collectively lost exactly £999999999999999 million during the little recent goings-on in world finance (Peter Wood-Hogg or whatever his name is is now down to one pair of mother-of-pearl dueling pistols and a nephew who says he can sell the hyphen on Ebay) and the rumor is that Usmanov is closer to cannibalizing his own limousine fleet for the chrome resale than he is to dropping another brass tiyin on Arsenal. But then, it didn’t stop Kroenke, so who knows.
Of course, it’s possible that all this means something completely different, or that Fiszman just wanted to buy another roll of Picasso wrapping paper and Kroenke did him a solid. No one really knows. What we do know, and it’s interesting, is that the lockdown agreement the board entered into to stop Usmanov can also be lifted for the purpose of stopping Usmanov (the other board members had to consent to the sale, which they did, the ducks). We’ll see what happens next, but there’s at least a 57.2% chance that this magnum-force earthquake of drama won’t stop flinging us against the walls anytime soon.
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