Spotify’s Daniel Ek joins forces with Arsenal legends in bid to buy club
The Spotify owner Daniel Ek is preparing a bid to buy Arsenal with assistance from the club’s former players Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira.
The Guardian understands Ek began making inquiries about a potential purchase over the weekend and that an announcement about an official approach could be made as soon as next week. Ek has asked the club legends Henry, Bergkamp and Vieira for help in assembling a package that could persuade the Kroenke family, who are under mounting pressure after Arsenal’s attempt to join the doomed Super League last week, to sell up.
Ek, a 38-year-old Swedish billionaire, had used Twitter to express interest in a deal on Friday evening, writing: “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 into the ring.” While at a very early stage, that process has begun.
Although Ek has never entered the football market before, he is understood to have shown speculative interest in other Premier League clubs in the past. That did not go further than very early-stage talks but, with Arsenal in a state of deep unrest, he perceives an opportunity to take things much further with his boyhood club.
Stan Kroenke, who owns Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, is thought to want at least £2bn if he is to consider selling the club he has run since April 2011 and some sources place that figure considerably higher. Ek’s personal fortune is estimated to be around £3.4bn although figures close to the nascent consortium say he would have little problem amassing the sum necessary to tempt Kroenke into selling.
Any deal may nonetheless be extremely difficult to do given Josh Kroenke, the club director and Stan Kroenke’s son, reinforced at a fans’ forum last Thursday that his family have “no intention” of walking away. “I still believe we’re fit to carry on in our positions as custodians of Arsenal,” he said, pledging to build trust between the ownership and support.
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However, the involvement of three revered former players may ramp up pressure for an agreement to be made with Ek. Around 3,000 Arsenal supporters protested against the Kroenkes’ ownership outside the Emirates Stadium before Friday’s defeat by Everton, a result that in effect meant Mikel Arteta’s side – who are currently 10th, 12 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea – must win the Europa League if they are to play European football next season.
There was better news for the embattled Arteta when, as expected, the club confirmed Folarin Balogun has signed a new long-term contract. The 19-year-old striker had been sought by a number of European clubs, who could have signed him on a free this summer. Balogun is yet to make his Premier League debut but has scored twice in the Europa League this season and Arteta has given him assurances of greater first-team involvement from 2021-22.