Arsenal Supporters’ Trust: ‘Action planned for Sunday’

AST calls for day of protest on final day of the season.

Join our campaign for change at Arsenal 

#KroenkeOut #FansIn

Arsenal Supporters’ Trust

The recent decision by Stan Kroenke for Arsenal to join the proposed Super League was a disgraceful betrayal of the principles the club should, and used to, stand for.

Anyone who advocates Arsenal undermining our domestic football structure and joining a closed franchise model does not understand the values of our club, our fanbase or football in this country.

This is far from the only demonstration of a lack of custodianship at Arsenal, but for the AST and many Arsenal fans it has been the tipping point. We have always campaigned for supporter ownership and better governance, but now we believe there must be fundamental change to the way English football clubs are owned and run.

But we do not believe that simply campaigning for Stan Kroenke to sell Arsenal is the answer. If the ownership model doesn’t change, any new owner is not necessarily an improvement. That’s why our message is #KroenkeOut #FansIn

What we want

We want to see four simple changes:

1.  An ownership structure for Arsenal that allows supporters to acquire shares in the club, reverting to the custodian position that held for 132 years

2.  A greater say for supporters in how the club is run, with either a ‘50+1’ voting rights model (as in the Bundesliga) or a ‘golden share’ vote for supporters on major structural decisions, such as the decision to join the proposed Super League

3.  A strong, experienced board of directors that:

  • includes supporter representation
  • includes at least two truly independent and experienced non-executive directors
  • is prepared to provide scrutiny and act as a check and balance on the actions of the owners

4.  Direct engagement between supporters and the owners and board, with meaningful discussion, openness, honesty and transparency

If Stan Kroenke is not prepared to embrace these changes then we do not believe he is the right owner for Arsenal.

What’s changed under KSE

When Stan Kroenke became the first majority owner of Arsenal in 2011 he made a commitment to the Takeover Panel to meet with Arsenal fan groups and Arsenal fans. Not one meeting has taken place since.

In 2018 Stan Kroenke compulsorily purchased the shares of Arsenal supporters who had in some cases held them for generations. There was no recognition of these shareholders’ role in the club’s history.

As majority owner and now sole owner of Arsenal, Stan Kroenke has ignored repeated calls to strengthen Arsenal’s board to give it more independence and more expertise, to help make Arsenal a stronger club. 

The current board is simply not fit for purpose. It has no members who are independent of the owners, no one with any previous football industry experience, and no one who has any specific role that links them to Arsenal supporters.

Leadership comes from the top, and we believe there is a direct correlation between these governance failings and Arsenal’s footballing decline.

Football needs to change

The AST believes that Arsenal needs to change, but the model for football ownership and governance in England also needs to change.

Fans must be given a greater role in ownership and governance matters. A positive future for Arsenal means getting #FansIn

Change at Arsenal must include the opportunity for supporters to own part of their club, as Arsenal fans had from the club’s formation in 1886 right up to 2018. We want to see a new generation of supporter shareholders.

Fans are the true custodians and should have the chance to be part-owners in their clubs. For Arsenal this is also an exciting opportunity to build an international fan-funded model that not only broadens ownership but with the issue of new equity raises funds that can be directly invested into the club.

Fans should have a greater say in how clubs are run. The successful German model shows that this is possible even in today’s football world. There should always be the opportunity for direct engagement between supporters and those running the club, including the owner, the board and senior executives. It means accountability through events such as an Annual General Meeting (AGM), the publication of key financial information and full transparency and honesty.

It also means fans having some form of voting rights that cover key custodian subjects such as the club entering new competitions and in Arsenal’s’ case continuing to play all home games in Islington.

How can change be achieved?

Given the significant monetary value of the biggest English clubs, including Arsenal, and the indifference of the current ownership to supporters, our view remains that the most realistic opportunity for meaningful change comes from Government action.

That’s why we welcome the Prime Minister’s fan-led review of football ownership, to be chaired by Tracey Crouch MP, that will examine options such as:

  • different ownership models
  • the right for fans to buy shares
  • a golden share or veto over key decisions
  • supporters and independent directors on club boards
  • stronger independent regulation of football, including strict sanctions for owners and clubs failing to comply.

We would of course be delighted if Arsenal’s present owner or any potential purchaser were to embrace these initiatives without the need for outside intervention. So far there is no indication KSE are willing to make meaningful change.

The AST believes we must continue to send a message to the politicians who run the country and the football bodies who run our game that these changes must happen now.

This is why on Sunday 23 May, the last day of the current season, we are calling for all Arsenal Fans to send this message:

#KroenkeOut #FansIn

Please join with us and amplify this message as best you can.

If you are attending the game please relay this message outside and inside the stadium. AST members will be wearing this message on specially designed t-shirts and we will have small banners to distribute that people can take to their seats with them.

We know others are also planning to protest on the same day and add their voices to the calls for change.

Please remember if you are planning to attend a protest to do so peacefully and in a Covid-compliant way. Always show respect for the stewards and police who are there to keep us safe. That is the Arsenal way.

We also know that after such a long absence that fans will be looking forward to cheering on the team and giving the players their full support and we urge everyone to get fully behind the team during the match.

If you can’t attend the match or be at the stadium in person, then please spread the message on social media and in other ways: Take a selfie and post it online, use the hashtags #KroenkeOut #FansIn, contact media outlets to express your views, join in with podcasts and blogs, or contact Arsenal at ask@arsenal.com. Every fan matters and every voice calling for change helps to make a difference.

Victory Through Harmony

Arsenal Supporters’ Trust

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