We'll bid record £1.5bn for Arsenal (twice as much as the Glazers paid for United)... but they MUST finish top four, say Arab consortium
Arsenal's eagerly-anticipated north London derby with Tottenham on Sunday was given an added edge with reports that a Middle East consortium will launch a £1.5billion takeover bid for the club in the next few weeks.
The group, made up of investors from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, hope to tempt owner Stan Kroenke with the world record sum, reports the Sunday Telegraph.
But the group warned that Arsenal, currently fifth in the Premier League and three points behind fourth-placed Spurs, must act quickly amid fears that the club miss out on a Champions League place and fall into a cycle of decline like Liverpool.
Money talks: World record takeover would put Arsenal in the same financial league as Manchester City and PSG
Prize asset: Arsenal's Jack Wilshere
American Kroenke is the club's majority shareholder, while Uzbek Alisher Usmanov also holds a significant stake.
The offer for Arsenal would reportedly see the potential investors bid around £20,000 per share, making Kroenke's holding worth £830m.
It would be the world’s biggest ever bid for a football club, dwarfing the £800m paid by the Glazers for Manchester United.
A meeting has already been reportedly been requested with the American to discuss the proposed offer. The seriousness of the bid is reinforced by the recent successful takeovers of Manchester City and Paris St-Germain by Middle East backers.
It is unlikely Usmanov will want to sell his shareholding, given his 'dream' of taking control of Arsenal himself, but the Middle East consortium believes it will be able to work with the billionaire, who does not currently have a seat on the board.
Any takeover would inevitably raise questions over the future of manager Arsene Wenger but the Frenchman is understood to be highly-regarded by the consortium.
Money men: Owner Stan Kroenk (left) and majority shareholder Alisher Usmanov (right)
Big fans: The consortium want Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to stay on
A bid source was quoted as saying: 'Arsenal is at a pivotal position at the moment. The fear is that the club is facing a cycle of decline like Liverpool. From our point of view it is the perfect moment to make this bid because at this moment in time you can still genuinely justify this extraordinary valuation on the club.
'We will not bid for Arsenal if they go into decline. Kroenke and Usmanov will not get this kind of valuation if Arsenal do not succeed and will not get this kind of valuation ever again.
'The amount of capital required to pump into Arsenal to make it competitive
within England, Europe and the world means that the valuation cannot go any
Arsenal on Sunday insisted they had not had any contact from the consortium.
'Stan Kroenke is committed to Arsenal for the long term and has no intention of selling his stake,' said Arsenal communications director Mark Gonnella.
'There has been no contact from any potential investors.'
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