FT exclusive: Alisher Usmanov makes $1.3bn bid to take control of Arsenal FC

FTAlisher Usmanov makes $1.3bn bid to take control of Arsenal FC

Arash Massoudi, Patrick Jenkins and Caroline Binham

Alisher Usmanov, the Russian billionaire who owns a minority stake in Arsenal football club, has in recent weeks made a $1.3bn bid to buy out his rival shareholder in the English Premier League team, according to three people close to the situation. Mr Usmanov, a metals magnate who owns 30 per cent of Arsenal, conveyed the offer in a letter to Stan Kroenke, the US sports mogul, who controls a 67 per cent stake. The approach, made last month, valued the club at $2bn. Mr Kroenke has yet to formally respond.

He is understood not to have dismissed the idea out of hand at first. However, he has since informally indicated he is not interested in selling to Mr Usmanov or anyone else. “Two weeks ago, I thought something could realistically happen. Now I am not so sure,” a person close to the situation said. The approach reignites the bitter feud between the two men over the direction of the club. A call seeking comment to the Kroenke Group was not returned. Arsenal did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Red & White, Mr Usmanov’s investment vehicle, declined to comment.

The steel magnate has become increasingly concerned about a lack of investment by Mr Kroenke. In an interview with Bloomberg last month, he said the blame for the club’s performance should not rest solely with Arsène Wenger, the manager, but also with Mr Kroenke and the board, from which Mr Usmanov is excluded. Arsenal are sitting in fifth place in the Premier League and face the prospect of failing to qualify for the Uefa Champions League for the first time in two decades as the season comes to an end on Sunday.

Arsenal stands to lose out on about £50m in revenue if it misses out on the European tournament. Arsenal’s poor performance has generated frustration among supporters and increased the tensions between fans and Mr Wenger. Many, disenchanted with the club’s form in recent seasons, have accused Mr Kroenke of being an absentee owner.

Two people following the process closely said that other bidders were circling. Mr Usmanov is not planning on disposing of his stake and the offer to buy out Mr Kroenke came from a desire to work co-operatively and strengthen the team, one of these people said. Mr Usmanov, who hails from what is now Uzbekistan, first acquired shares in Arsenal in 2007, when he teamed up with Farhad Moshiri to purchase a 14.6 per cent stake for £75m.

Last year, Mr Usmanov increased his stake to 30 per cent, buying out Mr Moshiri, who went on to buy rival club Everton. Mr Kroenke also bought into Arsenal in 2007 and became majority shareholder four years later. Arsenal Holdings made a pre-tax profit of £2.9m in 2016, on revenue of £353.5m.

Tags Arsenal Usmanov


  1. ArseOverTit says:

    Sell you sceptic tank! (no offence to Americans in general but this is just a very suitable name for him and what he is doing to our club) phew…

  2. mcgunner says:

    FracK off kroenke your services are no longer required. ..

  3. mcgunner says:

    For our last games of the season every arsenal fan who is in the crowd should spend the whole 90 mins screaming kroenke out ..

  4. John0711 says:

    I would get down on my knees and beg him to sell

    1. Robert Newton says:

      Usmanov our god

  5. Robert Newton says:

    We need Usmanov, new manager and DOF plus megastar signings.

  6. Ozzy AFC says:

    Kroenke will NEVER sell to Usmanov he uses the club and it’s assets as leverage on other things
    Kroenke is a top shelf gold plated c@nt and so are the board who brought him in

    1. ArseOverTit says:

      I hear ya!

    2. Juhi McLovin says:

      So I guess our only hope is that Usmanov’s Russian goons start pressuring that plank yank!

    3. SynthiagoCazorla_Hvman_Machine says:

      A military man will tell you that unless the situation is ripe for it -meaning circumstances make it easier to do so- he wouldn’t attempt a coup d’état. A seasoned and astute business man like Usmanov wouldn’t come in with a serious bid of this nature if he doesn’t atleast think that current circumstances would work in his favor.

      Think about it for a minute… look around the club.

      * Greater discontent among the fanbase
      * Huge uncertainty over the future of our most important players (Ozil and Sanchez) and the manager (Wenger)
      * Potential drop out of top 4 -for the first time in 20 years.
      * Stories of inner ramblings within the board.
      * Ivan Gazidis
      * Empty seats
      Isn’t this club ripe for a takeover?

      Some of the above -if they continue for longer- are bad for business in the long run. As a business man I may be thinking of cashing out if an irresistibly good offer comes in.

      My thinking is that Kroenke might be more willing to cash in now.

      Earlier in the week, a story broke that Kroenke was coming into town to have talks with Wenger. Maybe He is coming in for something else!

      I’m just putting 2 and 2 together here. Hopefully the result turns out to be 4.

      1. Fatboy Gooney, Too Fat to track back. says:

        Nice one mate and your maths isn’t too bad either ?
        Don’t forget that there’s also an FA cup final coming up, which the Yank normally attendeds to.?
        I also read that Stan stands to lose millions due to delays regarding the new stadium being built in LA.
        So yes, the timing is spot on for a takeover bid, hopefully Usmanov will up his bid slightly and get the Deal done.

      2. RSH says:

        praying you are right my friend. Kronke out is one huge problem solved for Arsenal. A bigger victory than change in management in my opinion. Even if Usmanov does take over, I’d expect at most 1 more year of Wenger to be offered, just out of respect. Usmanov isn’t necessarily Wenger out, but he defintely knows big changes need to be made, including the amount of power Wenger has. Whether Wenger will accept a reduced role if this were to happen is a different discussion.

      3. Ozziegunner@Newcastle upon Hunter says:

        Can someone please explain to me how, under British Corporations Law, a shareholder with a 30 percent stake in Arsenal can be denied a seat on the board?

    4. gmv8 says:

      The leverage isn’t so good, if it’s value is dropping like a stone. Better to sell and lock in your profit.

  7. GB says:

    Interesting that Usmanov really rates Wenger and would keep him on. Not sure how that would sit with some of our fan base. I think Wenger needs to go and his fate will be decided at the board meeting after the cup final. I can’t see Stan selling out but do you want Stan and no Wenger or Usmanov and Wenger?

    1. Break-on-through says:

      I’d take Usmanov still as Kroenke is a cancer. Usmanov would make other changes in coaching maybe, and he has Dein already raring to go, and there would be no sitting on finance/resources.

    2. gmv8 says:

      If you read, Usmanov has said some pretty negative things about AW recently, he won’t stand for mediocrity. If he was to take over, I think he would offer David Dein to come back, and if that still didn’t work, the best AW could hope for is helping to choose his successor.

    3. RSH says:

      I think Usmanov would reduce Wenger’s power. And that is not something Wenger is willing to let go of. If Usmanov is in, chances are Wenger will not like it, and would leave shortly after.

  8. #Tiredofthis says:

    Those who don’t hear…….must feel!!

  9. Break-on-through says:

    Nice article, very informative. Hope he goes so we can get someone in who wants success on the field. It doesn’t feel right having someone there with no interest in football, it feels greedy and disrespectful.

  10. twig says:

    Arsenal team with Usmanov

    Sanchez Ozil Mbappe
    Xhaka Rabiot
    SK Koscielny Holding Bellerin

    True story

    1. Most importantly….ALLEGRI coaching this team

  11. Fatboy Gooney, Too Fat to track back. says:

    Wow??Fair play to the Fat Guy, at least he tried.

    Apparently this offer was made a month ago and the yank must have stewed on it for a while before rejecting it, which could also Indicate that a higher bid would be accepted. Either way, this news is the most exciting we’ve had in a very long time.
    Come on Dat Fat Guy, throw another billion at that yank & get this deal done,already. ??

  12. Tony says:

    I just hope that amount and other incentives will be enough to make Kroenke sell his shares to Usmanov

  13. bran99 says:

    This will be good news, but the cancer of a human being won’t let this happen, Arsenal is his cow, how can he give her away while he still needs the milk?

    1. ArseOverTit says:

      Milk turns sour if not stirred!

    2. gmv8 says:

      He’s killing the golden goose at the moment, may he should sell it while someone is willing to invest in bringing it back to life.

  14. MPDwn says:

    Thank you usmanov! If he gets rid of kroenke he is my fracking hero!!!

  15. Get that skanky yank out!!!

  16. Invincibles49 says:

    Not gonna happen.

    1. ArseOverTit says:

      Yeh they said that about sol joining AFC

  17. John says:

    Kroenke is not going to sell the best item in his pack……..Arsenal is the biggest sporting team he owns………if Walmart loses lots of money….he may be compelled to sell………Arsenal is his cash cow………we want Wenger gone or retired……Allegri should be given the job………

    1. gmv8 says:

      Haven’t looked at the share price recently, but it will be dropping. 1 billion seems like a fair offer, and Kroenke may decide that locking in his profit, which is all he care,s about may be a wise move, as he will need to spend a lot of money rebuilding, now the club has been run into the ground.

  18. citrenoogeht says:

    I have mixed feelings about Usmanov’s unsuccessful bid to take over Arsenal FC. On the one hand I want Kroenke (and Wenger out) but I would prefer that it is done quietly i.e. behind the scenes with as little publicity as possible. I have a bad feeling that publicity of the news that Usmanov is interested in a transfer take over will, at a volatile time, exacerbate bad feelings about how the club is run. I expect many embarrassing public protests in which our problems are laid bare for all to gawp over. The main casualty of which will be our club.

  19. Baba Boo says:

    @bran99 & @break on thro.
    I don’t care what else you refer to Kroenke as but please do not use the word cancer. It not only shows a total lack of respect for cancer sufferers (like my wife) but also a lack of knowledge when it come to vocabulary.

    1. ArseOverTit says:

      Sorry to hear your wife has cancer, but it is a perfect description of him.

      Something that eats away at its system to the detriment of the system is in fact a perfect description for SK and his dealings.

  20. Ronny says:

    Please let this happen!!
    What are the risks however of one person having say 98% shares.
    Would he wisely sell them but remain the majority shareholder?

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