Are Gunners set to join ranks of the 'elite'?
As the last remaining English football superpower not to fall into the hands of a foreign oligarch, Arsenal appear like the independent shopkeeper who refuses to sell out to the all-powerful supermarkets.
The team might be more cosmopolitan than a series of A Place In The Sun but Arsenal the institution retains its aristocratic heritage, reflected in the club's lengthy associations with the Hill-Wood and Bracewell-Smith dynasties.
Yet there is the unmistakable whiff of change in the air.
The relocation to Ashburton Grove might not be the only dramatic change to the club's 21st-Century landscape, as speculation that a takeover bid is imminent refuses to die down.
American sports tycoon Stan Kroenke, who is estimated by Forbes magazine to be worth more than £1billion, is believed to have been in talks with ITV about buying the broadcaster's 9.9 per cent stake in Arsenal, worth around £40m. Indeed, whispers coming from the City is that the ITV sell-off is all but a "done deal".
Informed sources are convinced that Kroenke, who owns the Colorado Rapids football team, the Denver Nuggets basketball team and the Colorado Avalanche ice hockey squad, is preparing to launch a full bid, even though his company Kroenke Sports Enterprise insisted last night it had "no interest or intention" of buying Arsenal shares.
"If ITV is a done deal then it changes everything and a takeover is coming," said analyst Stan Lock, of brokers Brewin Dolphin.
"Arsenal are a massively attractive club - but at the right price. They have a great history, a new stadium is in place which has already considerably increased turnover and they are a well run club on and off the field.
"Put that lot together and it's very attractive to a potential buyer. If you look at the top four English clubs, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool have all been sold to foreign investors and only Arsenal are left. One day they will be taken over. It's a matter of when." Shares in the club have soared over the past fortnight amid talk of a takeover, fuelled by news that majority shareholder Danny Fiszman offloaded one per cent of his 25 per cent stake 11 days ago for £4m. He sold 659 shares at £5,975 each to an unnamed investor. Arsenal shares, which are listed on the alternative Plus market, formerly Ofex, were changing hands yesterday at £6,800, making the club worth £423m.
Unlike at Liverpool, where Americans George Gillett and Tom Hicks had to buy out David Moores' 51.6 per cent controlling interest to complete their takeover today, Arsenal are owned by a collection of individuals who usually prefer to keep their own counsel.
It is understood that vice-chairman David Dein was not even aware Fiszman had sold his one per cent of his shareholding two days afterwards.
Any potential buyer would need a 30 per cent stake to launch a takeover bid and would need to buy the stake of one or more of the four principal shareholders - ITV, Fiszman, Dein or Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith.
It is common knowledge in City circles that ITV has been trying to sell its stake for 18 months but the broadcast company is said to want about £8,000 a share, regarded by analysts as 'pie in the sky'.
Dein has shown no desire to dilute his 14.6 per cent stake but the motives of Lady Nina and Fiszman are less clear.
Lady Nina, of Indian origin and in her 50s, is the daughter-in-law of former Arsenal director Sir George Bracewell-Smith, who was the son of Sir Bracewell Smith, Arsenal chairman for 14 years after the Second World War.
Her 15.9 per cent stake has entitled her to a place on the board since 2005 (she is the only female director of a Premiership club) but she attends matches infrequently and is not believed to be a great fan.
It is unknown whether she would welcome an approach for her stake.
The most speculation surrounds lifelong supporter Fiszman.
Although he was a key figure in the relocation to Emirates Stadium and has said that he does not want to sell, he has lived as a tax exile in Geneva for 15 months and might have tired of being so closely involved with the club.
Some Arsenal sources with close links to the board are convinced that Fiszman has decided to sell his holding to Kroenke and that the deal could be completed imminently. Lock is not totally satisfied by that argument.
"Danny Fiszman is a very shrewd man," said the analyst. "If he thought there was an inkling of a takeover he would not have sold any shares. He would want maximum value.
"Just because he sold one per cent doesn't mean he is looking to sell his shares. He held 15,659 before and reduced it to 15,000. It is quite common to round up a holding in this way. Or maybe he was looking to raise a bit of capital or just test the water."
All the rumours are contributing to a significant degree of unrest among supporters.
The Arsenal Supporters' Trust rarely makes public pronouncements but were concerned enough yesterday to say that, while not against a buyout per se, they opposed a 'Malcolm Glazer-style' takeover of their team whose "principle objective is taking profits out of the club".
Any potential buyer would need significant funds. Arsenal are £260m in debt following the construction of Emirates Stadium and therefore have an enterprise value of nearly £700m, even though the Highbury Square development is set to clear £75m of the stadium debt when the project is completed in 2009.
The views of manager Arsene Wenger are also crucial. He has frequently spoken of the importance of maintaining the club's English ownership and their traditional values of good housekeeping and conviviality.
Arsenal's ability to fill their 60,000-seater stadium and sell £25,000-a-season executive boxes relies heavily on Wenger and the faith fans have he can continue producing teams that play the most enchanting football in the Premiership.
Wenger is out of contract in 14 months and, while there is no indication he will not extend the deal, there will be angst among Gooners until he does so.
The prospect of a potential takeover could do more than disrupt that old village spirit in N5.