LONDON (REUTERS) - Daniel Ek, the chief executive officer and founder of music streaming service Spotify, said on Friday (April 23) that he would be interested in buying Premier League club Arsenal if under-fire American owner Stan Kroenke wanted to sell the north London outfit.
Thousands of Arsenal fans gathered outside Emirates Stadium ahead of the Premier League game against Everton to protest against Kroenke following the north London club's part in the failed attempt to form a breakaway European Super League.
Proposals for a partially closed competition involving 12 of Europe's top clubs in England, Spain and Italy collapsed on Wednesday when most of the founders pulled out amidst stinging criticism from fans, governing bodies and the government.
"As a kid growing up, I've cheered for Arsenal as long as I can remember. If KSE (Kroenke Sports & Entertainment) would like to sell Arsenal I'd be happy to throw my hat in the ring," Ek wrote on Twitter.
While Ek's offer might be music to Arsenal fans' ears, Kroenke's son Josh, a director at the club, said on Thursday that Stan Kroenke's holding company KSE does not plan to sell despite the intense backlash.
Arsenal are valued at US$2.8 billion (S$3.7 billion) according to Forbes.
'We want Kroenke out'
Premier League games continue to be held behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic but Arsenal supporters were out in force around the stadium on Friday, lighting flares and chanting "We want Kroenke out" and "Get out of our club".
"#KroenkeOut" was trending on Twitter with former Arsenal great Ian Wright also chipping in with a tweet.
"I stand with them," Wright told DAZN.
"The fans have every right to be out there... KSE is not fit to run the club, not fit to own the club.
"Josh Kroenke said they're not selling the club and I wouldn't expect them to, it's a massive cash cow for them. But if they are going to stay and run the club, it has to be done under different terms."
Supporters' protests have been key to the U-turn from the English clubs who had signed up for the Super League with Chelsea fans also protesting outside Stamford Bridge on Tuesday before their game against Brighton & Hove Albion.
"I'm just fed up of the way that football fans are treated by so-called billionaires," Arsenal supporter Dave Daniels, who was at Friday's protest, said.
"I just want our voice heard and the fans' representation on the board. I've had a season ticket for 35 years and the club just don't care about us anymore."
Another Arsenal fan, Mark Hamblin, added: "It's important that we come up here for a peaceful protest to show that we are against that (Super) league and we are against owners like Stan Kroenke..."
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said Kroenke, CEO Vinai Venkatesham and other figures at the club involved in the Super League plan had apologised to the players and himself.