It is being widely reported, even in respected papers like the Financial Times, that Alisher Usmanov has decided to offload his 30% share of Arsenal Football club, and this is definitely bad news for Arsenal fans everywhere.
The Moscow times reported today: Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov is exploring a sale of his 30 percent stake in English football club Arsenal, the Financial Times reported.
The Russian billionaire has grown frustrated that the club’s majority owner, Stan Kroenke, is unwilling to engage in takeover talks and has given up all hope of acquiring the club outright, the report cited the sources as saying.
Usmanov had previously made a $1.3 billion offer to buy out Kroenke, but Kroenke’s KSE (Kroenke Sports & Entertainment) UK Inc said its shares in the Premier League club were not for sale.
Their have been many reasons given for his motives and the oldest one is that he is going to take the money to invest in Everton, who are controlled by his friend Farhad Moshiri and are looking extremely ambitious this summer. That is one possibility….
Another reason, as touted by Moscow again, is that Russia’s so-called oligarchs who have relocated to London (like Abramovich and Usmanov) could be under threat as there have been calls to deny them access to their London lifestyles following the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain. If this is true then he could take the money out of the country completely…
But I think there is another worrying reason for Usmanov pulling out…
Back in 2012 when Arsenal sold Robin Van Persie to Man United, it was reported that Kroenke had offered to buy out Usmanov but the Russian responded in very strong terms. “In our view it is clear you are trying to distract attention from the more fundamental issues facing the club,” Usmanov wrote in an open letter. “These are the financial model, the lack of investment and club’s future strategic direction.
“Mr Kroenke was sold a vision by the board at a time when the club could be successful without further investment,”
“As a consequence of this policy, which is dressed up as prudent financial planning, it is down to our manager and not the shareholders, to have to deal with the club’s tight finances, carry the burden of repaying the stadium debt by selling his best players and having to continue to find cheaper replacements.
“This policy is leading to the loss of our best players, often to main competitors, and even causes the players themselves to question their future at the club and the club’s ambitions.”
He also finished that letter by saying he was going to keep his shares as a long term investment for his family’s future.
But now what has happened? The shares have increased fivefold since Kroenke took over, but he has had no personal investment and the fact is that without Champions League football for a second year, the clubs profit margins have dropped, and Usmanov may feel that there is little room left for any more growth without real investment in the squad and should cash in while the shares are at a high, and invest in a club with more growth potential. And whoever buys them will still be a the mercy of Kroenke’s decisions as the majority shareholder.
Or even worse, Kroenke himself could get hold of the shares. The Mirror reckons that Usmanov will not sell to Kroenke under any circumstances, but it has not been unknown for billionaires to persuade their friends to be used as middle men to acquire total control of businesses. If that happens then Arsenal fans will be subject to a man in total control of the club and the prospect of no further investment for the forseeable future.
We are on a downward spiral now, but will Kroenke invest to make us great again?
We all know the answer to that one…..