Arsenal's Alisher Usmanov bid $1.3bn to buy out Stan Kroenke - source
Arsenal minority owner Alisher Usmanov has made a bid of $1.3 billion to buy out majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, a source confirmed to ESPN FC on Friday.
The bid, first reported by the Financial Times, values Arsenal at $2bn, and comes at a time when Kroenke is facing pressure from fans to leave the club amid widespread displeasure with the team's results this season.
Kroenke, who controls Arsenal with a 67 percent stake, has yet to formally respond to the approach, did not dismiss it out of hand, a source with knowledge of the offer told ESPN FC. The Associated Press reported that Kroenke rejected the bid, though his American sports operation declined comment.
The takeover bid adds to the sense of uncertainty surrounding the club, with Arsene Wenger's future beyond this season still up in the air. The offer was made last month and may have played a part in Wenger postponing his decision about whether to stay on as manager for two more years. Wenger said in March that he would announce his decision "very soon" but has since pushed it back until the end of the season.
Wenger said on Friday that his future will be discussed at a board meeting after next weekend's FA Cup final, when Usmanov's bid will likely be a big topic as well.
Usmanov, a Russian steel magnate, owns 30 percent of Arsenal and has often been critical of Kroenke, an American who also owns the Colorado Rapids of MLS as well as the NFL's Los Angeles Rams, NBA's Denver Nuggets and NHL's Colorado Avalanche.
Last month, Usmanov said Kroenke is to blame for the club's recent troubles. Arsenal are in danger of finishing outside the top four in the Premier League and failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in over 20 years.
"All the responsibility for the fate of the club rests with the main shareholder," Usmanov told Bloomberg.
Forbes recently estimated Usmanov as the 66th richest man in the world with a net worth at $15.2bn, while listing Kroenke at 182nd with $7.5 billion.
Usmanov's wealth is a source of frustration for many Arsenal fans, as the club has refused to tap into the tycoon's vast resources to boost their purchasing power on the transfer market.
Usmanov has not been given a seat on the board and is being kept at arms length by the club. Kroenke, meanwhile, has drawn the ire of a large portion of the fan base for charging the club a £3 million consulting fee in past years while not using his own wealth to fund transfer spending in the same way Roman Abramovich has done at Chelsea. Kroenke did not charge a consulting fee last year.
Unlike rivals like Chelsea and Manchester City, Arsenal have insisted on running a self-sustaining financial model where they don't spend more money than the club makes. But Arsenal's struggles to compete both on the transfer market and on the pitch have led to increasing calls from fans to give Usmanov more influence over the club's finances.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.