Remember Aliko Dangote? The Nigerian billionaire recently was in the news for declaring his interest in buying Arsenal. He reveals that buying the club will help raise the profile of his home country Nigeria.
He was criticized for not investing in the domestic league and just looking for greener pastures abroad. But, the 58-year-old business tycoon believes that if he is successful in buying a high profile club, then it would help Nigeria. Arsenal fits the bill perfectly for him.
Dangote went on to add that post the takeover of Chelsea by Roman Abramovich, everyone took the name of his homeland Russia whenever the club was mentioned. Not a sound logic but definitely an excuse for someone looking to invest in a successful club.
His business empire also extends to oil and he is also well known for building a private refinery in one of the country’s jungle swamps. This is due for completion in 2018 and Dangote believes that taking over a football club will lead him to instant recognition that will help his business too.
This will not be the first time that the Nigeria businessman planned to buy stakes in Arsenal. Five years ago he tried to buy a small stake but was rebuffed in his attempt. He tried to take over the 15 percent of the club stakes which were owned by Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith.
There was huge outcry on the ulterior motives of the businessman when he tried doing that. There were question marks on what his real intentions were and most of the supporters heaved a sigh of relief when he was unsuccessful.
Dangote is adamant that if he buys a local club the Nigerian flags will continue to remain here while buying a club like Arsenal will help him raise the national profile on the world stage.
At the moment, Arsenal’s largest shareholders are American billionaire Stan Kroenke who owns 66.6% and Russian steel tycoon Alisher Usmanov who owns 30% of the club. Unconfirmed reports put them as not interested in selling their stakes to Dangote or for any one.
There is no doubt that buying Arsenal will boost Dangote and his company profile. It may help put Nigeria on the world map too. But, is it good for the club? Should the club be looking at investment that may help boost the squad but shorn the club of its identity? It is highly unlikely that majority of supporters will agree with Dangote but would it be any worse for the club to be run by a Nigerian than an American and Russian investor?