The club has been forced to trot out a statement rejecting claims that a takeover is on the horizon this afternoon, after rumours circulated at the weekend that Qatari investors are considering making a £1.5bn offer.
In a statement, a spokesman from the club said that it had not heard anything from any potential buyers, and that the club’s majority owner Stan Kroenke remains fully committed for the long term.
Some are concerned that the promise could be an empty one, given that apparently sources nearer to the ‘consortium’ insist that a bid is being concocted, and that at such a valuation Kroenke would be in for a massive payout of around £830m for his stake.
It’s not clear exactly what the club’s next move should be, regardless. Fans have become disillusioned since the sale of the club’s top-scoring striker Robin van Persie to Manchester United, as well as a series of bad results this season.
There is also concern that management is not spending sufficient cash on getting top players through the door to compete with billionaire-owned clubs such as Man U and Chelsea.
There are a few hurdles for the so-called consortium to get over however: the most significant of which is that metals billionaire Alisher Usmanov owns almost 30% of the club and is apparently not remotely interested in selling his stake. Still, this wouldn’t be the first time that a takeover bid amounted to nothing more than a rumour, so we’ll see.
Meanwhile, while we’re on the beautiful game, research released today revealed that three out of five premiership footballers is near-bankrupt within five years of their career ending.
The research was conducted by XPro, a charity for former pro-footballers in the UK and Ireland, and found that even though the average wage in the league is around £30,000 per week, most do not get good advice on what to do with the cash and end up blowing the lot inside of a decade.
The chief executive of XPro, Geoff Scott, said: ‘Often they are advised by the wrong people and, before they know it, their assets have disappeared. Even if they manage careers in the media or on the after-dinner circuit, some aren’t aware they need to put money away for the tax man.’
Old footballers never die, as the old gag goes, they just keep on dribbling…