Arsenal are preparing to receive a £1.5bn takeover bid from a consortium of Arab businessmen, provided the Gunners finish the season in the top four. The Daily Mail reports the bid will value each Arsenal share at approximately £20,000 and majority owner Stan Kroenke's stake at £830m.
Should the bid be accepted, it will be, by a very considerable margin, the largest valuation of a football club in the history of the sport; the Glazer family's purchase of Premier League leaders Manchester United was valued at £800m.
However, the potential investors group, comprising businessmen from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, want Arsenal to qualify for Champions League football next season, amid fears the north London club has entered a prolonged period of decline. The Arab consortium has reportedly scheduled a meeting with Kroenke at the end of the season. Russian Alisher Usmanov, who also owns a large stake in the club, will likely also be involved in any negotiations.
The report contains information from a source close to the investors, who warns the Gunners board they are unlikely to ever receive so high a valuation ever again and that the sum is indicative of the measure of work needed to return the club to winning ways.
"Arsenal [are] at a pivotal position... The fear is that the club is facing a cycle of decline like Liverpool... it is the perfect moment to make this bid... we will not bid for Arsenal if they go into decline," the source explained.
"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... means that the valuation cannot go any higher," (s)he continued.
Money in the Bank
The news is likely to please some of the club's fans - those who have long been pressing for the signing of big-name players in particular. The recent acquisitions of Manchester City and Chelsea and the amount of money pumped into the club has resulted in trophies, the signing of big-name players and improved global visibility.
It should be stressed Arsenal are not in dire financial straits. Quite the opposite, in fact; the club's recent reports show over £120m in the bank, they have announced a five-year £150m sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines and Arsene Wenger is expected to have £70m available for summer transfers.
However, it is the apparent unwillingness to use available funds, in a manner similar to Chelsea or City, which irks some fans. And it is likely to be that characteristic of the Gunners which will change, if this takeover is successful.
The flipside to owners with deep pockets and willingness to spend is that it could go very wrong. Malaga, in Spain's La Liga, for example, was purchased by Qatari investors but financial problems at La Rosaleda meant UEFA have banned the club from competing in the Champions League between the 2013/14 and 2017/18 seasons.