Alisher Usmanov is the second biggest shareholder in Arsenal Football club. He first joined the club by buying the almost 15 percent stake of David Dein in 2007. Six months later his company, Red and White holdings had 29 percent of the club, one percent more would have meant he had to make a formal offer to take over. Peter Hill-Wood then blocked any takeover and made it a rule that shareholders needed to give board members first refusal before they sold. This led to the takeover by Kroenke, which was allowed, but is now seen as having done nothing for the progression of the club.
Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith sold her shares to Kroenke as part of the takeover but has recently criticised the way he is running the club, and probably wishes she hadn’t. It is becoming clear that Kroenke is purely a businessman with no passion for football. There are some scary stories about the way his American sports franchises have declined since he took over, and it seems apparent that only Arsene Wenger has stopped Arsenal from slipping further and further down the league and out of European competition.
Usmanov has told L’Equipe that he speaks regularly with the former Arsenal striker, Thierry Henry, who has been urging him to launch an attempt to buy the Gunners outright. With a personal fortune estimated at around $17 billion, he could certainly afford it, but has been put off by a lot of negative press and the treatment he has received from the current Arsenal board.
“He’s pushing me to buy all of Arsenal’s shares, but I cannot predict the future.”
The fact that he has been talking about it again, after publishing an open letter last year condemning the policy of the club, suggests that he is certainly considering it. This would be great news for many Arsenal fans, but for those who want to see the back of Wenger, his words may be disappointing.
“For me, he’s one of the best coaches in the world, but it’s not easy for him. I think he deserves that players are brought in at Arsenal when they are needed.
“The best players, and not being satisfied with selling our best players to our rivals. If that happens, we can ask everything of him. But today he’s sacrificed. Because of the policy, and we’re all to blame. Everything’s in Mr. Kroenke’s hands and I hope he succeeds, even if he doesn’t go along with my ideas.
“I would like to be useful for the club, and I can be. I understand football well and can prove it, but I’ll never force myself on anyone. For the moment, Arsenal don’t seem to need me, but I remain convinced that Arsenal should have only one aim in every competition, first place and winning.
“All other theories are hypocrisy, and aimed at covering up weakness. I’m a strong man. If someone needs my help, my money, my know-how, anything I possess, I’m always ready.”
This could be the start of something very interesting, Gooners.