The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust are demanding majority shareholder Stan Kroenke address the club’s Annual General Meeting this week after accusing him of reneging on an earlier agreement.
The fans group have also revealed they will vote against re-election to the board of chairman Sir Chips Keswick and Kroenke’s son, Josh.
The group, which includes some individual shareholders, have written directly to Kroenke Snr urging him to lay out his vision for the club at Thursday’s meeting.
They say it is needed to provide ‘a much needed sense of leadership and purpose’ and address concerns at the club.
It comes after years of unrest among fans and a perceived lack of achievement. The club are without a Premier League title since 2004, although they have won the FA Cup three times in the last four seasons.
In the letter sent to Kroenke, AST point out that the American promised to make it ‘a priority to meet with supporters and fan groups’ when he took over the club. They say he hasn’t fulfilled that commitment ‘even once’.
AST letter to Stan Kroenke
Dear Mr Kroenke
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust is writing to you ahead of the next Arsenal Holdings PLC Annual General Meeting (AGM) which takes place on Thursday 26 October.
Our purpose in writing is to request that you personally address the AGM, to: (1) explain to supporters and shareholders your vision for the Club; (2) address concerns about the current governance arrangements.
In our recent membership survey 96% of our members supported this request for you to speak at the AGM.
As the majority shareholder and sole equity-holding Board member we believe that good governance practice requires you personally to address the meeting.
By doing so you can provide everyone at the Club with a much needed sense of leadership and purpose. You can also address the concerns that have been raised by our members on a range of governance and ownership issues including a need to refresh the Boardroom and ensure the appointment of truly Independent Directors who represent all shareholders. We attach the full findings of our recent survey for your information.
We also remind you that at the time of taking over Arsenal in 2011 you made the following commitment in the formal Takeover document:
“Mr Kroenke has made it a priority to meet with supporters and fan groups in formal and informal settings. He recognises that fans are at the heart of the Club. Their opinions and involvement are important to him. Mr Kroenke fully expects himself, the Arsenal Directors and Club executives to continue to engage with supporters for the long-term good of the Club”.
Sadly it is a commitment that has not been effectively fulfilled even once. Addressing shareholders at the meeting, many of whom are custodian supporters, would be a positive step. Should you decide to not address the meeting then we would request as a priority a meeting after the AGM where you can convey your current approach and priorities for the Club.
This would be well received by supporters and we believe assist the Club to understand your priorities. It is by working together that Arsenal will become a stronger footballing institution.
Arsenal Supporters’ Trust
The vote against re-election to the board of chairman Keswick and Josh Kroenke is little more than symbolic with Kroenke Snr holding a 67% stake in the club.
AST say their plan is to ‘demonstrate dissatisfaction at the current ownership and governance arrangements.’
In full: AST statement on AGM voting plans
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust will vote against the resolutions at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday to re-appoint Sir Chips Keswick and Josh Kroenke to the Board of Directors.
The AST urges all of its members who are individual shareholders, and other shareholders, to do the same.
The reason for this course of action is to demonstrate dissatisfaction at the current ownership and governance arrangements at the Arsenal Football Club.
In particular we feel that the present directors are not acting with sufficient independence, nor representing the interests of the small shareholders, or the future custodianship of the Club.
In 2013 the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust commissioned an independent review of corporate governance at Arsenal. This report, and the failings it identified, have been well-publicised.
In particular it identified an ageing board lacking in diversity without the breadth of skills required to run a modern professional football club. All of the non-executive directors have been in office for far too long and are not regarded as independent under the corporate governance code. There is therefore no independence from the controlling shareholder, no one free of conflict of interest, and not enough diversity on the board or people with relevant professional skills, such as football expertise.
Our action and vote is a statement that we believe significant corporate governance change is needed. Whatever the outcome of Thursday’s AGM we call upon the directors at Arsenal to address these significant corporate governance failings.
Arsenal’s AGM takes place on Thursday with Arsene Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis scheduled to talk. At previous meetings Kroenke has also spoken, but offered little more than expressing his support for Wenger.