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Arsenal Supporters’ Trust make representation to the Inquiry into Football Governance

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Victory Through Harmony

By Phil Gregory

The Arsenal Supporters Trust has been busy recently. They gave evidence to the Commons Inquiry into Football Governance; indeed they were invited to give their evidence in person given how widely respected they are in this regard (unlike yours truly, slumming it with a written submission!).

Their submission was paired with a presentation given in tandem with both Arsène Wenger and Ivan Gazidis at the Emirates on Wednesday. Best of all, they’ve said that we should  “keep an eye on the Mirror”, who are picking up on the noise coming out of Catalonia and starting a bit of a campaign against Barca.  Not a moment too soon, and can’t say I will miss the words “Barca DNA” if I never read them again in my life.

Earlier this year, the AST started Arsenal Fanshare, a scheme which gives fans an opportunity to purchase a “fanshare”, which is in effect a small part of a normal share in Arsenal FC. With Arsenal shares being individually very expensive, the idea is to spread the cost of buying each one between a hundred of ordinary Arsenal fans, so that the club can become increasingly fan-owned. There are numerous benefits from purchasing, such as voting rights and an opportunity to attend the AGM but ultimately the biggest benefit is giving the AST more power to increase its shareholding.

The AST itself numbers around 750 members, who together account for 3% of Arsenal shares in existence. They estimate that around 10% of Arsenal’s shares are held by club supporters, a big stake that is spread amongst perhaps hundreds of different individuals. Given the backdrop of takeover uncertainty (thanks to one Alisher Usmanov) this 10%, which is scattered amongst various Gooners is becoming more and more important. Nothing seems to be happening with the Bracewell-Smith holding despite the Lady’s desire to sell, so anyone looking to increase their stake at the club will be sniffing around at this “floating” 10%.

The best situation for the club in my view is one not far from where we are at now. Our board members hold a significant percentage of the club, and have shown themselves to be fairly dab hands at running the club in recent times, all while taking no dividends. They’ve guided the club fabulously through the Emirates stadium move and subsequent years, and I’m sure I speak for many people when I say long do I hope they continue to do this.

The spanner in the works is the takeover situation: both Kroenke and Usmanov hold large stakes. As I mentioned earlier, the problem for Usmanov and his desire to buy up more shares is that Kroenke is now a board member, and there are a lot of unwilling sellers holding large percentages amongst the directors. This is great, as these large holdings are blocking Usmanov from going any further: he can’t buy what doesn’t want to be sold.

The unknown in the situation is that “floating” holding, the 10% owned by various supporters. In my eyes, what would be best is a situation where this floating shareholding comes increasing under the umbrella of the AST. It doesn’t particularly matter whether this is done via these Gooners joining the AST or the recently launched Arsenal Fanshare scheme, but every share owned by the AST is one less share available for purchase by a 3rd party.

I can only praise the actions and work of the AST, and I plan on joining up as soon as I’m back in country and able to make the meetings. Such organisations, along with those running our club, truly have the best long-term interests of Arsenal FC at heart, and supporters should get involved and support them. Even if you don’t have the time to be active in the AST, do your bit and chip in with £2 a month.

How Untold Arsenal uniquely revealed how bent the Premier League is

11 comments to Arsenal Supporters’ Trust make representation to the Inquiry into Football Governance

  • Armin

    OK I have question, is it possible for foreign Arsenal Supporters Club as registered organization to buy share this way. It is more Symbolical value for us, to make bond between us and club stronger. And also bond between rest of Gooners?

  • Phil

    Armin, I presume you mean the foreign supporters club purchase a fanshare? I can’t see why not but I’m not the AST so I’d get in touch with them and ask. You’ll find all their contact details on their easy to use website.

  • Armin

    Yes Phil that what I was asking for, sorry for going off topic, but its very interesting to me (us). Just its mater of legal issues thats why I asked and sometime it can be confusing :).

  • Phil

    Don’t worry about it. Just drop them an email, I’m sure they’ll be happy to have you on board, I think it’s a great idea. Good luck!

  • FinnGooner

    I don’t know if they have changed it yet but when fanshares came you had to own English (or British) bank account to buy one. Someone told me that they are thinking of changing it so that foreign fans could buy them too. I was checking them as I wanted to buy one personaly not as supporters club (haven’t joined in my country’s one yet).

  • Siddhant

    Like FinnGooner, even I was wondering when they’ll let foreign fans having non-british bank accounts purchase Fanshares. Maybe they have their reservations about shares going international to people who might not fully understand what it means to own a share of a football club or something along those lines.

    PS – I’m from India.

  • IndianGooner

    Foreign nationals cannot buy Arsenal Fanshare as of now.. The current scenario is for UK residents to buy a fanshare. I’d applied for the fanshare program but they rejected my application stating this. I’m an Indian citizen but have a bank account in the UK but couldn’t register for the fanshare program which is a fantastic initiative.

    I hope they include the foreign nationals too as Arsenal is a global brand now and many gooners like me and others here wish to be part of this club with initiatives like this.

  • IndianGooner

    From Arsenal Fanshare website FAQ’s.

    Can I join if I am an overseas resident?(http://www.arsenalfanshare.com/faqs#question-434)

    You can join if you live overseas as long as you have a UK bank account from which Direct Debit payments can be taken.

    We would very much like to accept overseas persons into the Arsenal Fanshare Scheme but we are advised there are legal restrictions preventing us from doing this. Unfortunately this Scheme is therefore presently only available to people who have a British address and a UK bank account. This is because there are complex legal restrictions for products like Arsenal Fanshare that are based on making a financial investment into shares. These include rules that many overseas countries place upon their citizens investing in other countries financial services and money laundering arrangements. We are working with our lawyers to see if we may be able to open up this Scheme to residents in other countries but it is an area of complex regulation and may prove to be an issue that cannot be overcome. So if you are an overseas resident please check back from time to time to see if we have any update to this position.

    You might wish to consider joining the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (www.arsenaltrust.org). The AST itself holds some shares in Arsenal and all members have a collective say over those shares and can also contribute to the campaigning work the Trust does.

    My rejection reason was no British address.

  • Gooner Gal

    Phil are you saying that the Mirror is going to print something positive and pro-Arsenal in the next few days? If this is the case then I hope they have’nt got Steve Stammers or John Cross on the case. Darren Lewis is the only one that writes half decent intelligent stuff.
    .
    Moving on to the Arsenal Fanshare stuff, I think its a brillant and innovative idea that is affordable (starting around £10.00) and I found it quite easy to sort out. I too would strongly encourage people who can, to get involved and do it. Also Arsenal are listed on AIM which means anyone can buy shares if they have around £10,000 going spare.
    .
    Phil can I also ask if it was you or Tony that did a piece on that pub landlady that took her case to the EU last year? I am sure I read something on Untold a while a go. The papers are playing it down, but this could have real repurcussions for the the Murdoch empire.

  • Phil

    Goonergal – Im saying the AST have something going on with the mirror and barca, im not sure what, they didnt give too many details in their email.

    on the pub landlady, I’ve got a piece half written on it. I wss hoping to get it published a little sooner, ie around the time the news broke but the match build up and analysis meant that wasnt possible. No matter, I’ve been able to put a bit more thought into it. Hangover permitting I’ll send it to tony tomorrow, which means it’ll be up sometime sunday after the ref review adn other post match articles.

  • jrr

    There can be no legal reason why overseas fans cannot participate.

    AST just need to get their act together.