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Arsenal, Usmanov and some perspective

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For the next 15 minutes, let’s set aside club bias and look at this objectively.

Arsenal FC, in footballing and in financial terms, are a healthy football club. Arsene Wenger is committed to the club and the new stadium has helped increase revenues significantly. Arsenal have not shown a desire to compete for 20m+ signings, so in terms of financial investment and transfer fund requirements, Arsenal look safe.

In fact, it’s safe to say that despite the debt, Arsenal are doing fine. They don’t need to be bailed out by a rich billionaire, nor do they need the big bucks to bring in big-name players. We’ll know more when we see the financial statements (out on Monday, methinks), but there is NO crisis.

With all this in mind, how would you evaluate Alisher Usmanov’s move to raise Red and White Holding’s stake in Arsenal to 21%?

It’s an ugly move in itself, tantamount to an invasion. If you add to this the legal threats Usmanov’s lawyers have sent to bloggers for discussing Usmanov’s “history” (Arseblog and Craig Murray being two examples), it’s more menacing and aggressive than what we had when Manchester United were being taken over.

At the moment, there is opposition to Arsenal being taken over but nothing of the kind that the Glazers received when they revealed their plans to drown United in debt. This is very much the first move towards a hostile takeover and as thing as progressing, R & W are poisoning their own well.

Stan Kroenke was always going to be an important figure in this, and my guess is that David Dein is trying his best to secure Kroenke’s agreement to selling the shares to Usmanov. Stan is a businessman first and will look after his own interest (especially if Usmanov is paying extra), but with Arsenal doing well on and off the pitch it wouldn’t make sense to sell now, would it? Stan could hold on for as long as possible and eek as much money out of it as he can.

I don’t think Stan will ‘side’ with the board to help them avoid a takeover, but he could try to increase his shares in Arsenal in the future in an effort to cash out in the future. The board’s not going to sell till April next year and the way things are going, pushing them harder (which Usmanov will do) will cause them to resist even more and be more entrenched into not selling.

I don’t oppose takeovers on principle – some can be good for a club and in many cases they do end up revitalising the club. However, if people are getting into football for business first then no matter how much they sweet talk their way into the hearts of the fans (Liverpool takeover, for example), you’ve got to be wary. Liverpool and Chelsea have benefited massively – I’m not sure Manchester United have, and if Usmanov takes over, I don’t think Arsenal will.

It’s clear that Dein wants control of Arsenal, and he’s doing everything he can to make it happen. Pissing off the Arsenal fans is the one thing they don’t want to do, and pissing off prominent Arsenal fans online is even worse.

The irony is that it’s not as if Usmanov will tear down Emirates and sell off the spare parts, or sell all the players one by one and laugh all the way to the mental hospital – if someone else takes over, they will do their best to keep Wenger on board and do whatever they can to improve the club. I don’t see Usmanov aiming to put the club under any heavy debt (in fact he’ll help wipe their debt out – if I’m wrong about this please let me know), so financially it’s not negative in any direct way.

It’s more of a stigma attached to dealing with someone with Usmanov’s past, and a reaction against unnecessary change. And at the end of the day, for a takeover to be successful it has to be fans first, business later – and while David Dein may be a fan first, Usmanov is clearly in it for the money.

Comments (31)

  1. You forgot one little fact. That cuntfaced criminal(yes I’m talking about Usmanov) is a proven Man u fan which makes us like him even less………………

  2. We really don’t need the money at arsenal like dein and usmanov are saying were playing great football and we’re making more money then ever as monday’s report will prove. Even if we had his money and he was willing to splash out on new players Arsene wouldn’t just buy someone cause they’re available he’s always found stars from his scouting system. David Dein says we need investment to progrees he’s absolutly full of it, he’s only thinking of himself not the club (he’s bitter that he was kicked off the board). Usmanov is a very dodgy charachter and he will ruin us if he takes over the club, he dosen’t care about arsenal if he did he would of gone around taking over the club in a more appropriate way not in a hostile way!

  3. Even though you are a Man U fan, it was a honest assessment and I love it.

  4. What hurts the most is that this is an “inside job”, the man inside being David Dein who’s sparing no tricks in the book to ensure that he becomes chairman of Arsenal. This too when the club’s doing well.

  5. “Pissing off the Arsenal fans is the one thing they don’t want to do, and pissing off prominent Arsenal fans online is even worse.”

    lol :)

    Is this because of large Arsenal blog culture or?

  6. It’s because of the large online culture, yes. Piss Arseblogger off and you’ve got a horde of Arsenal fans rabidly chasing you off the edge of the planet :)

  7. nice article, thanks for the summary.
    my gut feeling is that dein wants to be the boss at arsenal, at any cost, and when stan didnt join him, or back him, he went looking for another route to the front office and found a partner who is looking at the bottom line. so for me, the question is did dien make a deal with a devil he didnt know? could usmanov be using dein and his arsenal history for cover while he builds his stake, then boots dein when/if he gets the majority holding? his business history is that of one who wins, period, and it seems to me that this is just the beginning, and dein may not be part of the final chapters in usmanovs book…

  8. i can,t believe this
    Arsene has always done this done that he bought the best he could when he could until Chelsea,s new money and the new stadium .I buy a new 35000 Holden Commodore every 3 years win lottery ill never look at a Commodore again 150000 Porsche.The current talk is Wenger is interested in Diego Capel of Sevilla at 8m with Usmanov,s money he would be buying Samir Nasri 4 15-20m

  9. Ahmed –

    I don’t understand how you can predict Usmanov’s behaviour vis a vis keeping Wenger at the club. Looking at what’s happened to Mourinho recently you might have to revise that. Why is it that people seem to think Russian billionaires operate on the same set of logical principles as the rest of Western Europe (ok, except maybe the hierarchy at Real Madrid!)? I’m not saying they’re ‘absolutely evil’ but they have a different way of looking at things that might/might not not be the best way for the club.

    Do you honestly think that Wenger would have wanted to keep his job at Arsenal if he went 2 years without a trophy under the ownership of Usmanov? Usmanov would not have let him forget it & would have piled on the pressure to the breaking point where Wenger would not have wanted to renew his contract. That is my read of the man & his actions so far. Plus he’s getting advice from the likes of David Dein which are bascially coloured with the prime objective of making DD head honcho at Emirates.

    You were right at the beginning of the article. Arsenal ARE NOT in crisis (& i’ve been sick of hearing that all summer!). HENCE they do not need to change the current dynamic at all (except maybe get a new football director, AND FAST!).

    People should give the current board its due. They’ve done magnificently by the club & i know they want to do more & see more successes. I just hope the sundry minority shareholders know this & take it to heart & DO NOT sell out to the oligarch!

  10. Spiral – after hearing what happened with Steaua Bucharest and seeing what’s happening at Chelsea, I’m changing my mind about non footballing owners…money does strange things to people :)

  11. does the chelsea development lead to a solidarity of arsenal owners against further increase in usmanov’s stake? i would bet it will make it more expensive for him to attempt, if not impossible…for the short term…if chelsea find success with the next regime, not the interim staff of this week, but the real next coach, then dont be surprised to see dein use that as ‘proof’ of the need for a rich primary owner…

  12. erikkd – i would certainly expect to see some comments very soon from members of the Arsenal board & they’ll just point to the Chelski situation & just go ‘see what happens when you trust filthy – insert name here – ?’

    Even if they don’t comment its very useful ammunition in the coming months to convince the other shareholders who care deeply about the club that a takeover isn’t necessary for further success.

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  14. i’ll spend some time at end of work there, thanks spiral and tom, how interesting that usmanov plans on getting to 25% right now, and have a ‘blocking’ share…just shy of takeover level…
    now for another thought, would stan look at usmanov and say, you other board members should sell to me to block him? this could get into a very ugly 3way at arsenal soon… right now this can only help man utd and liverpool as they avoid the off-field drama of chelski and arsenal…

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