Spotify CEO Daniel Ek revealed on Saturday that he had made an offer this week to buy Arsenal, the English Premier League football club, but was turned down by the club’s American owners.
The offer from Ek, the billionaire founder of the music streaming service, came less than a month after he went public with his interest in buying the club in North London, where fan resentment against its owners has been boiling for years.
In an image shared on his Twitter account, Ek wrote that he had made an offer for the club, which is owned by US billionaire sports mogul Stan Kroenke, in response to “false reports” that he had not made an offer.
Ek said it was created by Kroenke’s son Josh, who is a director at the club and vice president of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE), and also shared with the owners’ bankers.
“They replied that they didn’t need the money,” Ek wrote. “I respect their decision, but will remain interested and available should that ever change.”
Arsenal, which last won the Premier League in 2004, pointed to an earlier statement from KSE, in which the group made it clear that it was not selling or making offers to the club.
Stan Kroenke became a shareholder in Arsenal in 2007 and took the majority four years later. In 2018, he acquired a remaining 30 percent stake in Russian metal magnate Alisher Usmanov for £ 550 million in cash, ending a high-profile battle for control between the pair.
Arsenal fans have accused the Kroenkes for years of lacking the commitment to develop the club to compete at the highest levels of English and European football.
That anger was rekindled last month when Arsenal were one of 12 European clubs to sign up for an escaping European Super League, a plan that collapsed after just two days after backlash from fans and politicians.
Arsenal were one of six English clubs, including Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, to quickly withdraw from the Super League following criticism from their supporters.
The breakout league was criticized for being basically a closed competition with fixed positions for the founders, making it more difficult for rivals to break into their ranks. Within days of the announcement on April 18, Ek showed his affection for the club and his interest in buying the club from the Kroenkes.
The British government beat the breakaway and then launched a review of the football board to see if an independent regulator is needed for the sport. Ek said his offer included “fan ownership, board representation, and a gold share for the supporters.”
Tim Payton, a board member with the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, called on Josh Kroenke to explain why the offer was rejected.
“The direction English football is taking, with a greater desire for involvement from government fans to the Premier League to supporters, is not compatible with the KSE model,” he said. “If they can’t adapt to this, it would be best if they leave English football.”