Orji Uzor Kalu, a member of the Senate of Nigeria and business mogul recently expressed his desire to buy a 35 percent stake in Arsenal. The Nigerian businessman revealed his desire in his to turn around the fortunes of the Premier League club and hoping to help them win more trophies
Stan Kroenke has achieved the long term status of panto villain at Arsenal for numerous reasons, from his lack of appearances to his handling of the club and probably even the choice of kit designs. The least welcome owner of any Premier League club continues to ignore the criticism with a ‘carry on regardless’ mantra, but he’s no slouch when it comes to repelling his competitors or quashing any emerging threats to his sports empire.
Kroenke managed to dispatch Alisher Usmanov after an 11-year tussle for power that ended with the Uzbek billionaire conceding for the not insignificant sum of £550 million for his 30 percent stake.
Aliko Dangote was the next billionaire to declare his interest in the club by stating his intention to buy it in 2021 when his latest business venture was complete. This may have been nothing more than a publicity stunt because Dangote tends to surface now and then to announce his intentions but to date, he has never placed a bid.
Now, it appears there is another rooster about to enter the hen house in the form of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu. As is the modern way, the intentions of the former Abia State Governor were announced in a tweet:
“Our success with Enyimba FC between 2000-2007 has continuously increased my passion for football.”
“As the pillar of sports in Africa, I am considering an investment in football & I will buy 35 percent stake in Arsenal FC”
Who knows if he’s serious but Orji Uzor Kalu, who according to Forbes, has a net worth of $1.1 billion certainly has the funds, more than Dangote who clocks up a mere $8 billion. The big question is would Stan Kroenke sell the jewel in his sports crown or allow significant investment from an outside party?
It’s incredibly unlikely, the sum would have to be astronomical and the American would have to have significant reasons to step aside or loosen his grip on the Premier League side. It’s not known how big the financial impact of Covid-19 has been on KSE’s sports holdings, but it’s doubtful that it’s enough to encourage him to sell up or invite others on board.
Arsenal is an asset that allows Kroenke considerable latitude with his other sports acquisitions. It guarantees any loans that the American needs to further his business aspirations, even if they are at odds with those of the supporters.
In all honesty, Stan Kroenke has never admitted to being a football or sports fan. He is a businessman who is driven by the mighty buck and his detached approach to Arsenal football club may irritate fans but it’s unlikely to change. His sports ventures aren’t generally successful where it counts, on the field of play, but it shows healthy returns on the accounts.
Kroenke enjoys the fact that he has a historic Premier League club on his books and he isn’t particularly bothered by the lack of success. A Champions League slot and a Premier League top-four finish are enough reward to allow the revenue streams and commercial endorsements to continue, other than that, trophies serve no purpose.
There has been a lack of ambition up until now and it’s only recently that the owner has woken up to the fact that to reap the financial rewards from the North London club, he has to remodel the asset. The supporters and owner have never been further apart in terms of what each sees as the priority. Kroenke sees it as a business and that hasn’t changed, he is rarely seen in N5 and tends to appear at FA Cup finals like the Queen. The American glibly said in 2016:
“If you want to win championships then you would never get involved. I think the best owners in sports are the guys that sort of watch both sides a bit. If you don’t have a good business then you can’t really afford to go out and get the best players unless you just want to rely on other sources of income.”
Yet, fans may feel excited and drawn to the statement of Kroenke’s new challenger Orji Uzor Kalu who said:
“Our target is to lift the Champions League and Premier League back to back as we did with Enyimba.”
That’s the type of thing fans want to hear, not this bean-counting nonsense!