Dennis Bergkamp has warned Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke that Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and a group of legendary former players “are here to stay” in their bid to buy the club.
Swedish billionaire Ek declared an interest in buying Arsenal, whom he has supported since he was eight, in the wake of the European Super League collapse last month.
The 38-year-old has the full backing of Gunners icons Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, but he revealed last week that his initial offer to purchase the club was rejected.
Ek is not giving up hope of persuading Kroenke to sell, however, and Bergkamp – echoing previous comments made by Henry – accepts it will be a long process.
“We can’t force anyone to sell. I understand that,” Bergkamp told Voetbal International. “In addition to that offer, Daniel has now reached out twice to Josh Kroenke and his bankers.
“Whatever Kroenke’s intentions are, it would be good if we at least have a conversation with each other, in the interest of the club.
“Regardless, Daniel is not a quitter and neither are we football boys. We are here to stay. The crazy thing is that we cannot imagine how the current players feel.
“We have always played for the championship ourselves. We know how the fans feel. We have already had a meeting with a supporter delegation.
“We sense more and more enthusiasm on their side. That is very stimulating.”
Since the Kroenkes secured majority ownership of Arsenal in April 2011, the club’s only major trophy successes have been four FA Cup triumphs.
Their best league finish was second in 2015-16, but they have not placed in the top four since and could be without European football next season for the first time in 26 years.
With Arsenal fans expected to protest against the current regime ahead of Sunday’s home match with Brighton and Hove Albion, Bergkamp can understand their frustration.
“I played an important part of my career at Arsenal and had a testimonial there,” said the Dutchman, who won three Premier League titles with the Gunners, including the famous ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003-04.
“The club is in my heart. I have become a fan of players, just like Patrick and Thierry. I recognise the Arsenal from our own time less and less.
“The ambition to win top prizes is in Arsenal’s DNA. Never accepting loss. That mentality has slowly disappeared.
“I sense resignation about the current situation. That is serious. As if, given the financial situation, it is normal for Arsenal to end in the middle bracket.
“That does not belong to this club. Arsenal’s DNA must be restored.”
Ek’s personal fortunate is believed to be worth around £3.4billion, making a takeover viable should Kroenke be talked into walking away.
“Daniel has been an Arsenal fan all his life and has been worried about the downturn at the club for some time,” Bergkamp said. “When the Super League dominated the news for days, Daniel just about exploded.
“That was when he wanted to continue and contact us. During a Zoom meeting with Thierry, Patrick and I, he shared his concerns and plans with us. That made an impression from the first moment.
“It immediately became clear to me how deep Daniel supports the club. I think that’s important: Daniel doesn’t see a takeover as buying a nice toy. On the contrary.
“He understands the passion of a football fan because he is one himself. He also wants to significantly increase the influence of the fans. Among other things by giving them a place in the club management. We think that is very important.
“We want to get close to the supporters. Daniel likes transparency anyway. Just look at how he communicates about this, via Twitter, clear to everyone.
“Another important point is that Daniel understands that Arsenal’s problems cannot be solved just like that. Pumping in some extra money and firing the manager, for example, will not get you there.
“Structural changes must take place. This is the backbone of Arsenal. This is a far-reaching, long-term project.
“No matter how much money is involved in English football, Arsenal is and will remain a football club, which must also be managed as such, at all levels.”