Sources: Arsenal staff told club will not be sold

Arsenal director Josh Kroenke has told club staff that Kroenke Sports Enterprises will not entertain any offers to sell the Gunners as Spotify owner Daniel Ek prepares a takeover bid, sources have told ESPN.

Ek is heading a consortium including three former Arsenal players, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, and Dennis Bergkamp, with plans to test KSE’s resolve amid fan protests reignited by the collapsed European Super League proposal.

Stan Kroenke’s son, Josh, appeared at an online fans’ forum event last Thursday where he stated KSE had “no intention of selling” and sources have told ESPN that message was reiterated on an internal call with around 350 staff held via Microsoft Teams on Tuesday afternoon.

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During the 50-minute call, which also included Gunners chief executive Vinai Venkatesham, Kroenke spelled out their unwillingness to even consider an approach from any interested parties, that they are committed to the club and want to help the team compete for major trophies again.

He also underlined their intent to help provide fresh funds this summer to help manager Mikel Arteta rebuild the first team squad.

KSE funded the £45 million deal to sign Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid last summer and Kroenke indicated they are willing to inject further money to pursue new signings, despite expecting to lose in excess of £100m in the 2020-21 season as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In March, the Gunners declared a loss of £47.8m for the 2019-20 season, which was affected by COVID-19, and last year made 55 non-playing staff redundant in addition to cutting back on the club’s scouting network.

There is also £220m worth of debt on the Emirates Stadium which is covered by KSE but they told staff that the wider economic climate will not prevent further investment.

KSE released a statement later on Tuesday reiterating their stance on maintaining control of Arsenal. “In recent days we have noted media speculation regarding a potential takeover bid for Arsenal Football Club,” it read. “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.”

Sources have told ESPN that Ek’s consortium could make an offer within the next two weeks with Forbes valuing the Gunners at just over £2 billion.

Kroenke took full control of Arsenal in August 2018 after buying out rival shareholder Alisher Usmanov in a £550m deal which valued the club at £1.8bn.

Around 2,000 supporters gathered at Emirates Stadium last Friday prior to their game against Everton to protest at KSE’s ownership. Kroenke repeated an apology to staff on Tuesday’s call for what they now believe was a mistake in signing up to the Super League.

Ek, who is estimated to be worth £3.4bn, is due to speak publicly about his interest in Arsenal in a television interview on Wednesday afternoon, having spent the past few days exploring a proposal after tweeting on Friday evening: “As a kid growing up, I’ve cheered for @Arsenal as long as I can remember. If KSE would like to sell Arsenal I’d be happy to throw my hat in the ring.”

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