Arsenal’s pioneering Fanshare scheme set to dissolve

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Four years after it was launched by the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST), Arsenal’s pioneering Fanshare scheme looks set to dissolve.

Praised both in football and political circles as an important step towards empowering Gunners supporters, Fanshare allowed individuals to part buy shares in the club at a time when billionaire owners were snapping up rival clubs left, right and centre. The scheme also giving members a voice at the club’s annual meetings.

A statement from the Fanshare board to its more than 1,800 members explains that Arsenal have withdrawn the funding that they initially put forward to help incubate the scheme and that appeals to Stan Kroenke to reinstate the cash to help with running costs have proved unsuccessful.

Kroenke completed his takeover of Arsenal in April 2011, 8 months after the scheme launched, and the subsequent lack of movement in the share market and paucity of available shares has proved detrimental to its long-term health. Initially Fanshare was heavily promoted by the club, but that support has since waned.

Fanshare remains the third biggest holder of shares in Arsenal, although its 116 are mostly symbolic compared to the 41,596 (66.85% majority holding) held by Kroenke’s KSE UK Inc and the 18.695 (30.04%) owned by Alisher Usmanov’s Red & White Holdings Limited.

Part of the Fanshare statement (full statement here) takes the time to thank the late Danny Fiszman and all those who took the time to invest their cash:

“We are grateful to the previous Board of Arsenal, especially the late Danny Fiszman, for the support given at the Scheme’s inception and it is a shame that we have not been able to take forward this support.

“Whatever happens, I would like to thank you for being part of the Scheme, which received plaudits all around the world for its innovation, and support from the UK Government and the football governing bodies including UEFA, the Premier League and the Football Association.

“We are proud to have created the Scheme and believe that supporter ownership in football clubs has much merit, but obviously, given the significant alteration in the shareholding base of our football club, we have been fighting an increasingly difficult battle.”

There remain a couple of other options for Fanshare which are being explored before a final decision is taken on whether it will dissolve.

One involves freezing the scheme’s assets which could result in members losing part, or even all, of their investment, while another would allow members to donate their existing holdings to the AST so that some shares remain in supporter ownership, albeit outside the control of individuals.

Speaking to the Guardian, Kevin Rye of Supporters Direct, the body that advises supporter groups on setting up trusts, noted:

“As has happened before, the potential positive effects of supporter involvement in the ownership of a football club have been sacrificed because of the particular circumstances at the club in question.

“The type of positive role that fans have played at clubs like Swansea City is something that we believe must become the norm, and we are convinced that this can only happen through proper rules enforced by a proper regulator.”

As an investor myself, it’s very sad that a scheme that puts the supporters at the heart of the club looks likely to fold. We’ll keep you updated on any further developments.

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Block 98

No to Jenkinson sale.

tomchou

my plan to take over Arsenal will have to be delayed

Hardcore Hleber

Mourinho is the big fat cunt that runs a team of little fat cunts. What a bunch of cunts, especially that Terry bloke.

Edu's Braces

Hopefully Usmanov will step in, he’s been trying to prove he loves the club and its fans etc. If he injected some funds to the Scheme then maybe we could start taking him on his word and stop seeing him as a Bond villain.

(Im not pro Usmanov just think this is a real opportunity for him and it would be great for the club)

Miranda

Are you sure Usmanov would be allowed to inject funds into the club? He has no seat on the board and no say whatsoever in its running. I can’t see Kroenke welcoming any intervention, financial or otherwise, by his frozen-out co-owner, however beneficial keeping fanshare alive would be to the club’s image. If Kroenke were prepared to work cooperatively with Usmanov, I think we’d have seen some sign of it before now.

Edu's Braces

Not in to the club, injecting funds in to the Trust as a gift. I know fuck all about business but it would do wonders for his PR and I’m sure he could spare a bit. Although it seems its day to day funds they need.

Very shit that its ending, always fancied a bit of a share. Hopefully the lads will get a bit of a return on their investment at the very least when the two barons come sniffing.

Miranda

Yes, that might still be a possibility for Usmanov, though it would obviously have been an even bigger possibility for the majority owner who after all holds 67 percent. Unfortunately, with Kroenke, fanshare has already come up against a brick wall. According to the Guardian: ‘But, as explained in a letter to members who have bought a total of 116 shares, it has struck two insurmountable issues that the majority owner, Stan Kroenke, has been unwilling to explore solutions to.“The scheme has faced two major problems: a lack of liquidity in the share market and a shortfall in funding,” it… Read more »

Joeos

The document states that they also approached Red & White who were not interested. I was a member of fanshare but the demise was inevitable once Red & White hoovered up most of the small shareholdings at premium prices leaving virtually no free shares to enable the scheme to expand and grow. Kronke acquired around 66% of the issued capital leaving 33% freely available on the market. The fact is that most small shareholders took the Red & White shilling and sold their shares. How can it be the fault of Kronke that R&W bought all the shares they could… Read more »

wat

Usmanov is a friend of Putin and these people can sod off.

katiya

If Usmanov becomes any more involved I can’t ethically support Arsenal anymore. I already feel shitty that he’s involved at all. I’m Ukrainian and these people can fuck right off.

Eric Blair

Let’s keep politics out of it, eh? We finally seem to be united as a fanbase again, this is a football club not a political organisation.

Arsenal stands for everyone being welcome to become a part of our fine club regardless of where they are from, what their ethnicity is, or their political outlook.

mickyOnTheWeb

Pretty annoyed about this. I’ve only got a few hundred quid involved but still.
Also I didn’t realise that the scheme cost £75,000 a year to run, some ones been getting some nice holidays I’m sure.
As I’m on a moan we also have to pay £50 each for the privilege of the scheme winding up.

Bah humbug.

Miranda

Sad and shocking, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Our majority shareholder has never shown much enthusiasm for the scheme or indeed for any kind of fan involvement in the running of the club. Poor Gazidis. All that passion and hardwork he put into it gone to waste. Still, it’s up to us to protest if we care enough. But as someone said on twitter, the long-term fate of the club is of less interest to many people than a new signing or a kit launch. Personally I’d give back Sanchez, Debuchy and Khedira as well, if he comes, if… Read more »

Rob'67

I am surprised all the usual suspects haven’t come squealing out of the woodwork to thumb you down on that and tell you to go and support – whoever.

Because that’s pretty much right on the money. The only time they squeal is when the prices go up – again – at the end of each season. And even then only if they actually go to the games.

Dr Baptiste

So you’d give back players that can help Arsenal compete, against money-backed clubs, for trophies every season, just to keep a fan share scheme alive? Having supported Arsenal since about 1990 (can’t go much further back as I’m not old enough), my first choice would always be the success of the club rather than the success of a scheme. I mean, I thought the scheme was a great idea but I think you are definitely in the minority with this thinking. We had success when Wenger first joined and didn’t have the scheme then, so I don’t think the actual… Read more »

Animal

The fan share scheme was always going to dissolve after the American cunt took over the majority of the club.

Simon

A shame. A great idea unfortunately ruined by egoistical fans who instead of working with the club thought it was their right to tell them how to run it.

Miranda

Who are these egotistical fans who thought it their right to have a say in the running of the club? You mean those who bought into fanshare? Arseblogger included? How exactly did they and their egotism ruin the scheme? Could you give us some examples of what you’re talking about because that’s not the impression I get from reading the Guardian article.

arseblog

Not me – please see the byline on this story.

Miranda

I’m baffled by your belief that influencing the club’s decisions is something that fans shouldn’t do. According to the club’s own statement, far from being egotistical and destructive, participation in decision-making was precisely what fanshare was set up to promote. The statement, still to be found on arsenal dot com, reads: ‘Arsenal Fanshare gives you a chance to build shared influence, shared ownership and shared values with other fans by buying affordable new ‘Fanshares’ in the Club. An Arsenal Fanshare is equal to one hundredth of one share in Arsenal Holdings PLC and with current shares in Arsenal Holdings at… Read more »

Rob'67

You are totally wrong on that observation. If you purchase a share in something, that gives you a perfect right to express and opinion and vote at shareholders meetings as to how that organisation is run and managed. Because you have stake in it by virtue of purchasing that share – or shares. That applies to M&S ; BP ; or Arsenal. There’s nothing egotistical about it. That’s how the rules are. Needless to say brother Kronke wants it all his way and does not appreciate this irritant. I spite of the fact that he came to ownership, promising all… Read more »

indiano

Poo

Naija Gunner

Blogs how’s the poo-ometer gonna be on this…?

Peter Lee

Gutted, I joined the scheme to invest and be a part if the club. Do they think ordinary folk can just wave this money goodbye? I’m in for at least a grand. I’ll never trust a club backed initiative again!

Joeos

If the shares increased in value after you made your contributions then you could get back more than you invested. However if the shares dropped in value after you made your contribution then you would get back less than you invested.

Ryan D

I’m out several hundred pound here, I love Arsenal and don’t want to say bad about them, but this is a lot of money. Not good to see the fans treated like this, as though our money means nothing to them.

ryan

I’m an Arsenal fan through and through. I wanted to own a part of the club and thought this would be a good way to do it. Then I realised how brilliant the scheme is, for personal profit. If Arsenal aren’t offering it anymore, I will look to see if other clubs are offering it and give them my money instead. Just a shame it’s not arsenal that I can do it through.

Simon

As I said Miranda, a great idea and of course fans should try to influence the running of the club, however the people running the AST decided it was more important to further their own agenda and media exposure instead of sensibly trying to influence. The club does give the fans a voice but it’s not their remit to write open letters telling the club not to offer contracts to members of staff. Tim Payton may well be an Arsenal supporter but he certainly does not speak for the vast majority of fans I talk to. So to answer your… Read more »

Joeos

It was that conduct that infuriated me to the extent that I cashed in my fanshare investment. Self aggrandising people who claimed to speak for me and all the small shareholders.

Simon

And is no other Arsenal fan embarrassed when the AGM, an opportunity to bring the club to account, is hijacked by Tim Payton throwing his toys out of his pram like a hissy 5 year old who’s had their favourite toy taken away, to such an extent that they had to change the format where the forum is now a pre planned debacle. Well done AST.

hubie

I have to admit I was always sceptical of the scheme. It seemed like more of a PR exercise than a genuine effort to give fans a say in the running of the club. I mean, in this scheme, each person only owned a small share of one share, is that right? So, what kind of a ‘say’ would you really get for your small proportion of a share? It was just tokenism unfortunately.

Satnam Singh

Spend some fucking money Wenger .
I love u Arsene . The greatest manager in history .

Bendtner's ego

I think that our fat, bloodsucking leech (Usmanov) has far more issues to worry about right now with the new energy sanctions.

Big Boy

I blame John Terry for this. The Berkley Hunt.

not a comedian

Wow..cant believe there’s more thumbs up than thumbs down for the racist,trogladyte statements of “wat” and “katiya”..smh