TOPLINE Swedish billionaire and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is launching a bid to take over the English soccer club Arsenal with support from three major former stars of the London-based team, the Telegraph reported, just days after Ek expressed interest on Twitter in buying the club from its increasingly unpopular American owners.
- According to the Telegraph, Ek is teaming up with Arsenal legends Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira—who were part of the famous ‘Invincible’ team that won the Premier League title in 2004—to make the bid.
- If Ek’s bid is successful the three former Arsenal stars could return to the club and be part of a new administrative setup, leveraging their knowledge of the club and its fan base, the report adds.
- The reported bid comes at a time when the club’s American owner—billionaire Stanley Kroenke—has faced anger from fans for his apparent involvement in the failed attempt to set up the breakaway European Super League.
- While Kroenke’s son Josh insisted last week that the club wasn’t for sale, the report suggests that the involvement of three popular club legends in the bid would put pressure on him to at least listen to Ek’s offer.
- Forbes has reached out to Ek and Spotify for a comment.
“As a kid growing up, I’ve cheered for Arsenal as long as I can remember,” Ek tweeted last week while fans were protesting against Kroenke outside the club’s stadium. “If KSE [Kroenke Sports & Entertainment] would like to sell Arsenal I’d be happy to throw my hat in the ring.”
$2.8 billion. That’s the amount the London-based soccer club was valued at by Forbes earlier this month, and it ranked eighth on the list of the world’s most valuable soccer clubs for 2021. Ek, whose fortune comes from his 9% stake in music streaming giant Spotify—which he co-founded in 2006—has a net worth of $4.7 billion, according to Forbes’ calculations.
Josh Kroenke, a director at the club, spoke at an Arsenal fans’ forum last week where he apologized to angry supporters for Arsenal’s involvement in the breakaway European Soccer League—which the club has since withdrawn from. But despite demands for them to do so, Kroenke insisted that his family was not looking to sell the club. “When are we going to sell? I am not willing to answer that question because we have no intention of selling,” he said.
Last week, a group of Europe’s twelve biggest soccer clubs announced their plans to start a breakaway European Super League. Soccer fans across Europe—including fans of the clubs involved in the planned competition—rose up in revolt against the plan. The most vocal opposition came from fans of the six English clubs who had signed up for the league, including Arsenal. The planned league unraveled just 48 hours after it was announced as the six founding English clubs announced their exit following the fan revolt and legislative threats from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Fans have continued to denounce the team owners for their involvement in formulating this competition with most of the wrath being directed at American owners of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool. #KroenkeOut was trending on Twitter last week as fans demanded Kroenke divest his ownership of Arsenal. In an interview with the Telegraph last week, Theirry Henry—Arsenal’s all-time top goalscorer—criticized Stan Kroenke and the KSE and said he doesn’t recognize his club anymore after their involvement in the Super League fiasco. Henry, however, made no mention of his involvement in Ek’s bid at the time.
Arsenal owner Stanley Kroenke built a fortune in real estate—much of it from shopping plazas near Walmart stores—and is worth $8.2 billion, according to Forbes. Kroenke runs a global sports empire that also includes the NFL team Los Angeles Rams and the NBA team Denver Nuggets.