Arsenal have moved to ward off any takeover bid by extending a lockdown agreement that prevents board members selling shares to outside investors.
At the club’s AGM on Thursday chairman Peter Hill-Wood said directors had agreed to sell their stake only to “permitted persons”, such as family members, before April 2009 and had to give fellow board members first option until October 2012.
The lockdown deal was initiated as a means of preventing a hostile takeover by the likes of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and American tycoon Stanley Kroenke, both of whom have acquired significant stakes in the club in recent months.
In a statement Hill-Wood said: “Members of the Board are committed long-term shareholders and to strengthen the current position they have entered into a new agreement which replaces the existing lock-down agreement which expires next April.
“Under the new agreement, the Board members have agreed not to dispose of any of their interests in the club before April 18 2009, other than to certain permitted persons such as close family.
“After that date, for the remainder of the term of the agreement, they can only sell their shares to another person if the other parties to the agreement do not wish to buy them.
“We had a very successful financial performance over the past year. Together with our very promising start to the season, in which Arsene Wenger’s team has won 12 of our first 13 matches, we are all very encouraged with the current performances of our club on and off the field,” Hill-Wood said.