By ’Tayo Amosu,
August 7th, 2014
Arsenal’s second largest shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, who was known to publicly criticize the Arsenal board for their inability to inject funds, has come out to say that Arsenal’s nine-year trophy drought could have been averted had he been allowed to inject funds.
In an exclusive interview, he also expressed his belief that Arsenal may have ended the nine-year trophy drought but the new era whereby Arsenal would win trophies may have just started.
In his words, he said ‘‘the club is very well placed to succeed; I think we begin a new era for Arsenal where we win trophies.
That is most important for football. In my opinion, in line with the existing rules, the club has the correct decision-making process in place, including their selection policy, especially now, when they have the means to buy the best players’’.
One would easily tag Usmanov hypocritical and speaking with two sides of his mouth by virtue of the open criticisms he has made of the way Arsenal conducted their business.
In 2012, Usmanov and his business partner Farhad Moshiri laid bare an open letter to the Arsenal board and outlined their deep reservations about the club’s direction, just as Arsenal sold their captain Robin Van Persie to rivals Manchester United.
They even warned that Wenger’s minimum target of Champions’ League qualification was in danger.
That year, he spoke critically of the Arsenal board and the way the shareholders conduct business at the North London club.
Usmanov, who owns Red and White Securities Limited, a 30% shareholder at the club made their point in the open letter and stated thus: ‘‘The previous decision by the board to fund the building of the Emirates Stadium with long term debt was , we believe, certainly not about self-financing’’.
They held a position which seemed to be concerned about the fans and how the policy of paying up debts using instruments like tickets sales would affect them.
They said: ‘‘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.
All of that, naturally, comes at the expense of performance on the pitch’’.
As sound as the argument of Red and White Securities Limited seem, Alisher Usmanov appears to be speaking with the two sides of his mouth, except he would come out to say that the open letter that was written on his company’s behalf does not represent his views.
Another way to look at this is that Usmanov is stylishly admitting that he was wrong about the Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis model for development.
His admittance of the fact that the club has the correct decision-making process in place in 2014, after saying the policy is dressed up by prudent financial planning to deceive fans, in 2012, is really an image laundering move.
It is really funny how many and success changes situation. Even critics and detractors would lay claim to a share of the spoils!