Arabs tighten grip on British football as Middle-Eastern consortium launches world record £1.5 billion bid to takeover Arsenal

March 3, 2013 5:52 pm 2 comments Views: 91

A consortium from the Middle East has launched the biggest ever takeover bid for a football club with an offer of £1.5bn for Premier League side Arsenal.

The group, made up of investors from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, hope to tempt American owner Stan Kroenke with the world record sum, reports the Sunday Telegraph.

The mystery consortium members, who are apparently being backed by funds from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, are to bid for every share in the club and have promised the money will be invested in the faltering team, who face a battle to qualify for next season’s lucrative Champions League competition.

Stan Kroenke looks on before the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Arsenal and Bayern Muenchen at Emirates Stadium in London, England.
Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov
 Money men: Arsenal majority owner Stan Kroenke (left) and major shareholder Alisher Usmanov

It blows out of the water the world’s previous highest bid for a football team the £800m was made by the American Glazer family for Manchester United and reinforces the growing power wielded by the Middle East in the European game.

Qataris already own another leading Premier League side, Manchester City, who are bankrolled by billionaire Sheik Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, while French club Paris St Germain, who recently signed David Beckham, are backed by the Qatar Investment Authority.

American Kroenke is the club’s majority shareholder, while Uzbek Alisher Usmanov also holds a significant stake.

The cash offer for Arsenal would reportedly see the potential investors bid around £20,000 per share, making Kroenke’s holding worth £830m, and wipe out the club’s £250m debts.

A meeting has already been reportedly been requested with the American to discuss the proposed offer.

Another Qatari, Sheik Mansour (middle), is in charge at Arsenal’s rivals, Manchester City

David Beckham's new club, Paris St Germain, are also bankrolled by QatarisDavid Beckham’s new club, Paris St Germain, are also bankrolled by Qataris

It is unlikely Usmanov will want to sell his shareholding, given his ‘dream’ of taking control of Arsenal himself, but the Middle East consortium believes it will be able to work with the billionaire, who does not currently have a seat on the board.

Any takeover would inevitably raise questions over the future of manager Arsene Wenger but the Frenchman is understood to be highly-regarded by the consortium.

A bid source was quoted as saying: ‘Arsenal is at a pivotal position at the moment. The fear is that the club is facing a cycle of decline like Liverpool. From our point of view it is the perfect moment to make this bid because at this moment in time you can still genuinely justify this extraordinary valuation on the club.

Big fans: The consortium want Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to stay onBig fans: The consortium want Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to stay on

‘We will not bid for Arsenal if they go into decline. Kroenke and Usmanov will not get this kind of valuation if Arsenal do not succeed and will not get this kind of valuation ever again.

‘The amount of capital required to pump into Arsenal to make it competitive within England, Europe and the world means that the valuation cannot go any higher.’

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