Agencies line up for role in possible Arsenal bid

Smithfield is leading the pack of agencies hunting for an advisory role on the possible takeover of Arsenal Football Club.

Smithfield is PR adviser to Rothschild, which is Arse­nal's financial adviser, and tipped to work for the board should any bid come in.

Stan Kroenke, the American sporting tycoon, is reportedly plotting a £650m takeover and has already called in JP Morgan for ­advice. Kroenke currently uses no financial PR support, but a move into the UK market could change that.

Agencies involved in this year's Liverpool FC take­over (FD, Brunswick and ­Vero Communications), last year's Aston Villa takeover (Holborn PR) and Manchester United's 2005 takeover (Finsbury) could all look to grab a share in the brief.

But one City PRO, Holborn chairman David Bick, has already ruled himself out of working for Arsenal itself and suggested others may do the same, after chairman ­Peter Hill-Wood publicly baulked at the suggestion that Kroenke could launch a takeover bid.

‘Call me old-fashioned, but we don't want his money and we don't want his sort,' Hill-Wood said.

Bick said the remarks were ‘embarrassing as a football club chairman and embarrassing as an Englishman' and would dissuade many from working with the club.

‘The Arsenal board is standing in the face of a hurri­cane - a bid will come in for Arsenal,' said Bick. ‘By setting itself against an ­approach and attacking poten­tial foreign interest, it is attracting criticism. That is bad PR.'

Last week a boardroom split prompted the exit of vice-chairman David Dein, the man credited with much of the club's success over the past decade, and increased speculation that Arsenal would soon be approached. 

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