Sunday, July 22, 2007

If a takeover occurs, it's going to be hostile.

Another week and another positive statement from the Arsenal hierarchy. Over a lengthy two-part interview, Keith Edelman covers a range of areas, from the match-day hospitality to Arsene's contract (again, stating that the board are confident he'll stay) to the intertwined issues of stadium financing and a potential takeover.

When asked about Kroenke, Edelman made a statement which not only sums up why I inherently oppose the takeover, but why I'm proud to support the club:

There isn’t much in this issue. Stan Kroenke is now a 12.2 per cent shareholder and we welcome him as a shareholder to Arsenal Football Club. But really that is the beginning and the end of the story at this juncture.

I think the current shareholders have committed themselves to the Club and believe in the Club. Again, I think it’s quite interesting to pick apart some of the press comments that are made on these issues because I think they are very wide of the mark. You see talk about Arsenal needing a billionaire owner to put more money into the Club but Arsène has always said, and the board also believe, that a football club can only really be run from the revenues that it generates itself over the long term. If you look at some of the other clubs with billionaire owners, their debts are mounting up. Anybody who invests in a club, particularly from overseas, who maybe doesn’t love the club the way our shareholders do - and they do buy in to Arsenal more out of the love than financial return - will be looking for financial returns in the short, medium or long term. And if someone is looking for financial returns they will in the long term take more money out of the club than they put in.

The only exception we have seen is Roman Abramovich at Chelsea who has invested significant funds in the club over a number of years. But even they are - if you read what the Chelsea executives and Abramovich are saying - looking to balance their books over the long term. Our current shareholders have been incredibly generous with the Club and haven’t taken a dividend for very many years. I just want to make sure that fans really do understand that if a billionaire buys any club in the country it doesn’t automatically mean that they’re going to have success or be able to invest further sums in the squads.

It's all there. We have shareholders and a board who run the club because they love it and they want it to be, not just for financial reasons, a success. They are not pocketing huge sums from doing this; their eyes aren't always on the bottom line for themselves.

Moreover, and it's a point I've continually made on here, takeovers do not mean more money for the squad. I very much imagine that the reason we haven't spent really big in the last few years is because of the vision Arsene has for the club and how he wants to run the team, not because funds aren't potentially available to him. As long as he's manager, we have to trust him on this one. It's worked well so far.

And as for this chump, well, Goonerboy is a family blogger so can't resort to the language Arseblogger used today, but I share his opinion.

Do we want some nearly dead playboy to come along because, to all intent and purposes, he's a bit bored and he wants to splash some cash? No thank you. It almost makes the Kroenke takeover look appealing.

It's looking more and more likely therefore that if a takeover attempt does occur this year, it's going to be hostile, which, again, just shows how little of the club's interests Kroenke has at heart. A hostile takeover is not Kroenke courageously forcing himself into the club for our benefit - it's him violently trying to appropriate our club for his financial gain. Remember that.


Anonymous said...

Well said. Let's give the new new stadium and developments time to show their financial worth to the club. Supporting a takeover now is like selling your lottery ticket for a fiver just before your numbers come up.
We have people who care for the club in charge. They aren't looking to sell us out (The Dein family take note) or even make a personal gain (the Deins again). They are not pimping us around to every billionaire they can suck up to (yeah - you know who)
Relax people - Arsene and the Board know.

Ben said...

Some interesting points there, but some things have been forgotten.

Do please remember that without David Dein Arsenal probably would not have had anything like the success it's had for the past decade or so. Compare us to Spurs (an unpleasant thought I know but bare with me). Similar locations, similar size supporter base, similar revenues...what was the difference that caused success in favour of Arsenal? The answer is very simple, good management (and I don't just mean of the team).
The club was well run and it was run by Dein, do not think otherwise.
By removing Dein not only does the Arsenal board lack the media's essential "man of football" but it more importantly lacks any sort of driving force. Danny has half a brain but he doesn't apply it to Arsenal and Nina Bracewell-Smith couldn't give a toss at heart, her strings are pulled by the Hooray-Henry friend of her husband's Peter Hill-Wood. I know this may be an unpopular comment but I shall say it anyway, Hill-Wood is not a smart or astute man. He has proved this on many occasions. An Arsenal left in his hands now will resemble Leeds Utd in 5 or 6 years. I believe Edelman will prevent this but he will certainly not push Arsenal on, he is a book keeper not a captain.

I don't necessarily believe the club requires a takeover, nor do I believe it necessarily requires Dein at the helm...I do believe it requires management different from what it has now or it will end up down the crapper, regardless of Arsene's efforts (and that's IF he stays the course).

Anonymous said...

"Hill-Wood is not a smart or astute man". How the hell did he get to be Chairman and Vice Chairman of a major banks investment division? Ben, this shouldn't be about class as your post implies.
Dein did do a lot for the club but he also tried to sell it out. Edelman, Hill-Wood and Fizsman have been involved for a long time too, they are part of the success we've had. Lets not forget that Dein was against the new stadium but it happened, on budget and on time. Not all of the credit should go purely to Dein.

Goonerboy said...

Yes - I think it's bearing in mind that if Dein had had his way, we'd be renting out Wembley Stadium to play our games.

Valentin said...

I work in the finance industry, and I have seen a lot of old Eton duffer reached level that bears no resemblance to their intelligence.
If you dad was already rich and you started working at a Bank 30 years ago, unless you or your dad pissed off some important people, there is all possibilities that you would have reached the upper management.
Why do you think that he is the chairman of Arsenal and not a an executive director when he has very few shares of Arsenal. He has been given an honorary role because of the history with his family, but he has no real power. He is just a figure head.

Valentin said...

To rent Wembley for 5 years would have mean a better ability to judge the level of interest.
Also instead of committing financially to a 60,000 stadium, Arsenal would have been able to get the financial return without the risk.
After 5 years of renting, Arsenal would then have been able to purchase a bigger stadium (Looking at the waiting list and the number of match sold out 90,000 is the number that would have been sustainable) with a bigger upfront money and a smaller debt burden. 60,000 is already too small especially compared to the future 80,000 than Old Trafford and Saint James will soon let in.
Even Liverpool are already eying a 80,000 stadium, 60,00 as a first stage with a possible extension to 80,000.
That does not sound like a bad plan to me.

Anonymous said...

El Cid

Anonymous said...

let's try that again (something which highlights Man U's vulnerability in the wake of its takeover):

Valentin said...

In the Finance industry, it has been well known for some time that the level of leverage used to buy Man United was not sustainable. The debt was initially cheap, but the cost of the lending increase way too quickly and to unrealistic level. Those term were unrealistic, because it gave the time to find better alternative and still purchasing the company. The same way some people finance their initial morgage deposit with a credit card debt.
The only way to resolve that issue was to refinance/restructure the debt. That meant changing the term of the debt to better term, the same way people switch morgage. However because of the Prime Morgage issue, the credit risk market is tightening. That means that for a company without solid backing no better term can be found on the market.
Unfortunately the problem is unlikely to go away, at some point in the future, Man Utd will have to repay that debt. The question is with what:

either cash (that the owner do not have),

or cash generated by currently owned assets (such as the selling and leasing of Old Trafford)

or other collaterals (the way Leeds players were owned by a third party),

or stock (either via capital increase or by the conversion of the debt into stock).

The last choice is least painful for the company itself, but the more painful for the owner. Remember NTL when NTL shareholders lost 98% of the value of the company to the debtor. That could well happen to them, obviously not to that level but enough to make the all operation unprofitable. A gamble too far.

Their hopes are clearly pinned on Man United being so successful, they will be able flog it back pretty quickly with a profit.
Either by relisting it or by having somebody kind buying Man United for other purpose than a pure financial transaction (Egomaniac Russian/Arabic/Asian billionaitre's pet project, money laundering, ...).

The reason of that likely failure is the incomprehension by the American of the way Sport is run in Europe. In USA it is completely different. Surprisingly sports in the USA are run as cartel and on a semi communist basis. There is only one league in their country and it does not have any local competitor except other sports. That league (NBA, NFL, NHL, MBL, MLS, ...) share the TV and merchandising revenue via a Franchise system.
Franchises compete on the sport field, but on a financial field they cooperate. It is not choice, but is enforced by the league itself. In the EPL, teams compete against each other not only footballistically but also financially. Only the winner gets the spoilt: winner of the league gets much more than the last one, the winner ofthe Champion league revenue dwarf the one making only the quarter final, ... .

The Chicago Bull have not been successfull for many years (no play off, they do not even win their conference), but they still make money because the NBA is making money. Man United could not survive if it was never near competing for 10 years in a row (no Champion league money, EPL reward based on the low final position, ...). As the number of Champion league place is limited, they have to be in that bracket.

Also because of financial restriction put in place, overall players salaries cannot run the system to the ground for the simple reason that people in charge can pull the plug and those the most affected are the players (see the strike of the NHL players).

It does not mean that a football club cannot be viewed as a financial investment, but it means that bar some exception a club of medium prestige with low expenditure is more likely to have a high return than a club aspiring to be top dog.

Goonerboy said...

Thank you Valentin, that was really interesting. I think the point of the semi-cartel nature of American sports should be made. It's a lot riskier to invest in the Premiership, unless you pick a guaranteed top four team, which very few are.

The Man U debt had ridiculously high interest, and,as you say, due to problems in the sub-prime mortgage sector, the inclination of many is not to go for anything remotely risky in the credit sector.

The bottom line is that the club can sustain itself very well as it is. We don't need a takeover, and shouldn't get sucked into having one just because others have.

Anonymous said...

good lord.

are any blogs written by english ppl?

the sub prime sector is tiny in UK. it is problem for the US. Not here.

the premiership is a monopoly. its actually worse than the US because the premiership shares out TV money unevenly, so teams like arsenal benefit much more than an avg US franchise. english clubs are a far more attractive investment because they are not bound by the limitations placed by the US leagues. where unpopular clubs get a slice of the cake. exactly the opposite of what is stated. thats why VCs from Asia to US are after perm clubs. its not because of imaginary money laundering.

and when talking of IPOs what makes you think that the present lot who are worth 400m can afford a debt of 350m (the present debt) compared to kroenkes/bernies 3bn quid with a debt of 650m?

arsene doesn't have the money to buy anelka. he has to sell freddy and reyesto do anything.

wake up.

Goonerboy said...

The collapse of the US sub-prime sector is having a massive knock-on effect all over the global credit economy. It's the effect of globalised markets.

And this blog is English, written in London.

Ben said...

Just to clarify on the response to my earlier comment...I did not say the club required a takeover, I said it required better management.

I stand by my statement that Peter Hill-Wood is not a smart or astute man. It does not require a great level of intelligence or awareness to be at a senior level in a bank or even an investment bank. 30 years ago it required contacts, today it requires greed above and beyond anything else. I know because I'm in that world :o)

Please, I went to school and University with hundreds upon hundreds of Hill-Wood clones and if I had to make a one line description it would be "Tim nice but dim".

Also if you read my comment I said that Arsenal did not necessarily need Dein, it's needs a business man (not a Hooray-Henry bosh-head or a real estate gunza mucher).

I also agree that the new stadium may have been a mistake. 80000 may have been more appropriate and the level of debt is an issue. Dein's plan would have made more sense without additional investment.

Ton said...

Perhaps, but in some statements they indicated that 60k was the number they felt would sell out consistently - probably considering the possibility of lean years in terms of silverware.

And consider that Ashburton Grove was completed on time and within budget - as opposed to the new Wembley. The debt would have been higher, and we'd have just delayed the pain by a few years. Realistically, they probably would not have found real estate to build such a large stadium upon, without moving outside London - it was extremely difficult with AG as it was. Further we'd have "had" to play at Highbury whilst the stadium was developing, delaying the Highbury Flats project and paying down of the debt.

My biggest complaint is they made such an incredibly stupid deal bundling the shirt and stadium sponshorship, particularly having the shirt sponsorship for such a long term - I suppose it's "guaranteed" money, but rates are sure to go up.

They do need smarter management, but not Dein.