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Arsenal's majority shareholder Stan Kroenke tells supporters 'I am here for the long-term' at AGM

Thu 27th Oct 2011 | Clubs Ownership

The American billionaire first joined the Arsenal board in 2008, but living up to his nickname 'Silent Stan' had made few public statements over his vision for the club amid the stringent rules of the Takeover Panel.

However, after taking a controlling stake of more than 60% in the Gunners' parent holding company earlier this year following the purchase of shares from the late Danny Fiszman, the Denver-based sports magnate revealed he was relishing his involvement at Emirates Stadium.

"What a wonderful club," Kroenke said.

"We are involved extensively in sports in the United States and had lots of opportunities to involve ourselves in lots of clubs around Europe and in the [English] Premier League.

"We did not have an interest, but as we became involved with Arsenal in a commercial undertaking in Denver, I became more interested.

"Arsenal has all the elements that you need to have success in this kind of business.

"[The club] has tremendous management at the top, a wonderful manager on the pitch who makes great decisions in regard to personnel, and a tremendous following with the supporters.

"With all those things in place, it was an easy decision for us to get more involved."

Kroenke added: "We are glad to be here, are happy with the direction of the club and are here for the long term - we love London, you had better get used to seeing us, because we will be around."

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis had delivered the opening address to the Annual General Meeting at the Emirates, and maintained "being a force" both in the Premier League and Europe would always continue to be the Gunners' "main objectives".

Gazidis also updated the AGM on the club's "sound financial platform", with all bank loans paid off and the only outstanding debt now related to the stadium move, which are set at affordable long-term rates.

The Arsenal chief executive revealed there would soon be more commercial income from new sponsorship agreements.

He added: "We have a sound foundation to move forwards. Standing still has never been an option."

On the pitch, Arsenal have recovered form after a terrible start to the new season, and booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup earlier this week with a seventh win in their last eight matches.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger celebrated 15 years in charge of the club earlier this season, but he has endured one of the most testing spells of his tenure over the past few months.

However, the French coach insists the supporters must not lose their faith.

Wenger told the AGM: "I believe the values we defend are highly defendable.

"We want to do things with class and be very brave. Courage is a quality I admire, because it is highly needed in the modern world.

"I can see a lot of fear and discontent among you - and I can understand that because we live in a world where we fight with people who have extremely high resources.

"We can compete by trying to be intelligent and to be united, because football is very difficult to be consistent and we have been more consistent than anybody in the world in the last 15 years."

The Arsenal manager added: "To stay at the top, top level we have to stay united.

"That does not mean not I am not to be criticised, or the board - we accept that, but we have to show to the outside we are united. If you are not, then you have no chance."

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