Arsenal: The Usmanov Takeover

Almost every day on twitter and on blogs there are voices ranging from the humble and benign to the good and great criticizing the ownership of Stan Kroenke, not only for his refusal to spend the entire £200 million cash reserves on buying players in the fashion of United and City, but for failing to bring on board a manager who would be so inclined. One leading Arsenal blogger lamented:

“Where is the knowledge of, and passion for, Arsenal Football Club? Who is there that knows the modern game, the way it’s developing, the talent that exists throughout the world that might make this club better and more competitive? Not just on the pitch, but in every aspect. Sir Chips is simply a figurehead. The gruesome twosome of Stan and Josh Kroenke? Yeah, right.”

Make no mistake, Stan and Josh are just a convenient foil for this fairly typical type of ridicule by the blogger, but this entire screed had Arsene Wenger as the prime target.  It was already argued in the piece that AW’s dominance of the club football-wise is the greatest obstacle to Arsenal adapting to the modern game, i.e. pursuing the not so new idea that football clubs should spend beyond their organically generated resources to achieve success.  

To lay bare the poverty of the wisdom of the sage of Dublin, I decided to do some scenario planning and imagine what the club would be like if there had been an alternate takeover. Given the widespread nature of “cognitive fluency” (hat tip to d_c for spotting this piece on the BBC’s website Why are people so incredibly gullible), I doubt any of this will cause the majority of readers of this blog to stop believing the myths they are being fed daily. But at least they may be willing to consider for one moment, if the boot was on the other foot, would Usmanov be really different from Kroenke?



So Danny Fiszman is on his deathbed, agonizingly aware that his days on earth are numbered, but fully cognizant that he must decide on the disposition of his shareholdings in Arsenal Football Club to not only prevent a fratricidal war between existing and potential owners but even more importantly to guarantee the strategic direction of the club which he had helped to define at great cost, not the least being at the expense of former friends and allies.

A life-long Arsenal fan, Fiszman bought his first tranche of shares in the club from its then vice-chairman David Dein in 1991, to acquire a seat on the board. By 1999 he owned as much as 33 per cent of the club. In his first years he took a back seat and tended to be seen only in the directors’ box at games.

But in the late 1990s he emerged to head up Arsenal’s search for a new stadium to replace Highbury, the club’s home for 86 years. Though it was Dein who brought Fiszman on to the board, the two men clashed repeatedly over the stadium project. Dein favoured a move to King’s Cross or to the restored Wembley. But in 1999 Fiszman identified a suitable plot on an Islington council rubbish dump at Ashburton Grove, about half a mile from Highbury, and it was his view that prevailed. The new stadium opened in 2006.

Fiszman subsequently became involved in the battle for control of the club between the Uzbek metal billionaire, Alisher Usmanov, and the American sports investor, Stan Kroenke. In April 2007 Fiszman was instrumental in ousting Dein from the board after differences arose over funding for the new stadium. Dein argued that external investment would be needed to control debt and remain competitive, and proposed to bring in Stan Kroenke. When he encouraged the American to buy ITV’s 9.9 per cent stake in Arsenal for £65 million, Dein was summarily drummed out as a director. By the way, the sacking of Dein by the Board is an inconvenient truth for the perpetuators of the Dein-myth, i.e. the man who would do any and everything for the best of the club. In fact the Telegraph reports it was Fiszman, who was the board member who took away Dein’s mobile phone and marched him off the premises.

Dein David

When he was cast aside, Dein decided he was free to sell to the highest bidder and in August he sold his remaining 14.5 per cent stake for £75 million to Red & White Holdings, an investment vehicle of Usmanov and his business partner Farhad Moshiri.

The Takeover

So let us stop the clock of history. Let us assume that with this move Dein gained the upper hand. Fiszman on his deathbed has long known that the game is up. His leadership in getting a one-year lockdown of directors selling their shares, his engineering of the removal from the board of Lady Bracewell-Smith, Keith Edelman and Richard Carr, was valiant but ultimately an act of futility.  So in March 2009 he would have sold 5,000 ordinary shares at a total cost of £42.5 million to an “anonymous buyer”, later revealed as Usmanov, in a deal which increased the Uzbek’s stake in Arsenal to 20.5 per cent. Despite subsequent assurances that he had no intention of selling any more shares in the club, three days before his death, on 10 April 2011, Fiszman would have sold his remaining shares to the business magnate, helping Usmanov to take control of the club with a 62.89 per cent holding.

Usmanov fencing

As the sage of Dublin and others now advocate, wouldn’t such a turn of events have led to Arsenal falling into the hands of modern football men, those with the ambition “to speculate to accumulate.” Surely a man of such enormous wealth, reputedly in excess of his countryman and fellow Premier League owner, Roman Abramovich (Net Worth:  £11 billion vs £5 billion).

I would suggest we can only judge the Uzbek on the public statements he has made about his policies for the club. On 5 July 2012 Usmanov and his investment vehicle, Red & White Holding’s PLC., issued the following as their vision for the Club?

“ A debt free Club, with a big enough war chest to buy top talent players who can hit the ground running and who can complement the Club’s long tradition of developing young players and homegrown talent.”

Is this any different from Stan Kroenke’s current policies? War chest? £200 million?

In fact R & W concluded their 2012 letter by stating:

“…in order to formalize our long-term involvement with the Club and put an end to any speculation over our position, we, as the co-owners of Red&White, will proudly retain our holding in the Club as a long-term investment for ourselves and our family members to benefit for generations to come.”

So Usmanov is just another long term investor like Stan Kroenke. Hmmm.

Is it any surprise, after seeing the steady regular growth of the value of his investment, only this week Usmanov was reported by leading Russian publication, Rossiya24 as saying:

“Arsenal’s results are stable,

 “They are always among the leaders of the English Premier League. This is a good and large sports business project, and I am pleased with it.

“The only thing is that today such situation occurred, like in any sport, there are ups and downs. The club must retain its major symbol and main asset – manager Arsene Wenger.

“I believe that Arsene Wenger is a great coach, and Arsenal have to give him the opportunity to plan the succession process and leave his legacy when he deems it necessary.

“It is very important for the football club to maintain the principles that were established by those people who created its victories. Arsenal need Arsene Wenger.”

My heavens. Not even Kroenke has given Arsene such an overwhelming endorsement.


So despite the naive, infantile caterwauling by bloggers and podcasters, Usmanov, who is currently the only real alternative to Kroenke as owner of our club, far from throwing Arsene under the bus, not only wants him to stay but is urging that he be able to choose his own successor. Maybe those of us with nothing at stake, except our season tickets and bragging rights (including traffic to our blog-sites), should take stock and simmer down.

150 comments on “Arsenal: The Usmanov Takeover

  1. what is truly outrageous is that any Arsenal fan would think that Wenger getting offered a new deal is truly outrageous.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hope Piers is correct. But even if true, think Wenger will wait and see how he does this, and next season before signing anything….but anything that pisses off Morgan is ok by me. Strange……just been watching him go very lightly on Trump.
    As for Granit, fair points.seems we will be losing MF players this summer, and if Wenger really is after him, who would I be to argue. But we have been linked with players like that for years, and never seems to come of anything. On that note, the papers are saying Schneiderlin will be part of a Utd clear out, for what that’s worth. But, as has been posted , GX would be a risk. Untold did an article about the number of fouls per card our players are allowed, think ours get a card every four fouls according to this research, the lowest in the league, whereas the more physical teams, palace, Stoke ,west brom etc were allowed something like eleven fouls per card….if memory serves me correctly. This suggests either their research is wrong, our players are not good at committing fouls …..or as the article I believe suggested, our players get a pretty raw deal. But, do believe GX would have to tread very carefully in this league. That said, after some of our losses this season, anything that makes the team more solid is a good thing……would possibly sign him for his name , and potential for a song alone.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. it seems lighting can strike twice in boxing, 25 years after Chris Eubank v Michael Watson ended with Watson in a coma, Chris Eubank Jr v Nick Blackwell, has ended with Blackwell in a coma, due to a bleed to the brain.
    Many at the fight had felt the ref had let the fight go on too long, with Blackwell taking a lot of big hits.


  4. Mandy the reason Piers went lightly on Trump, is cos they are close friends, you know the old saying, “it takes one to know one”, well you could not get two bigger bastards than Morgan and Trump.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Very true Eduardo. Morgan seemed to be implying trump wasn’t quite as he is portrayed…a pretty hard sell. The scary thing, in some ways, he is more liberal than one or two of his republican nominee opponents. Frightening state of affairs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Seems quite a bit about this three year contract out there.
    Three years….time to get Arteta ready? Some of those Barca boys make good managers….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    I call it the Usmanov effect. So hard for the WOBs and AAA to understand that owners think a lot different from fans. Its there money, not ours.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t know if you have seen the short film of Eubank senior talking to his son in the corner last night Eddy, and telling him that he cant understand why the referee has not stopped the contest and his son should concentrate on body rather than head shots to Blackwell.

    He is regarded as a prat but Eubank may just have saved Blackwell from the same fate as Watson.


  9. Hope Blackwell recovers….stating the obvious. But I thought Eubank Jr was at a world champ level…..surprised he was fighting at British champ level…..don’t know much about boxing, Blackwell sounds brave, but was that a bit of a mismatch?
    Have also heard tell that they are considering pros fighting amongst the amateurs in the Olympics…..sounds like a recipe for tragedy.


  10. I am not a boxing fan in the least but I am sorry for the Blackwell guy. Used to support boxing avidly, years ago plonking down for big pay-per-view fighted until I became convinced how irredeemably corrupt and fixed the sport is. Why should I give the Don Kings of this world my money? Like Mandy observed above, news is the International Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) now wants pros to fight in the Olympics. Gambling, fixing and all other nefarious practises are synonymous with professional boxing. Do I need a genius to tell me what could go wrong?

    The Olympics are already blighted by evidence of widespread doping and certain countries politicizing the issue. This last refuge of clean, honest sporting competitiveness is simply writing the ticket to its eventual demise.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This just struck me and I tweeted:
    “Why do we think of football clubs as any different from #MyJob or #MyApartment? You may be attached to either but it is not yours.”
    I think this is an interesting idea for a blog.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Good piece there Shotta.
    To me I’d say Usmanov’s just being smart with his investment. Seeing how badly bruised blue Roman’s fortune’s been done in by the West’s beef with Russia, peace & positivity’s the smarter position to keep the flowers blooming.
    Why align with the lemmings of doomtown @ a time when the price of a barrel of black gold is less than an away ticket @ Blackpool?
    A real businessman knows these things.

    I do admit a tall commanding thuggish DM could be the missing accessory in our squad but Granit Xhaka @ 30-40m is most def over-priced (re: William Carvalho). AW only plonks >20m down for world beaters, so his asking price had better come down or he’ll have to settle for one of the petro-narcos.

    I’d go for Bavaria Inc’s Sebastian Rode for <10m instead, though he's more of an "N'golo-Schweini" type. Pep's cut him out this season and he's got just 2 years left on his contract. Ancelloti'll probably want to keep him as Vidal's backup though, especially with the age, wear & tear on Xabi Alonso & Javi Martinez.

    Anyhoo..AW knows best.
    All I do is support.


  13. Oh, another plus for Rode is he also plays RB quite well.
    We might need greater quality to back up Hector than a recovering Jenks.


  14. It is a great idea for a blog Shotta(4.55pm post), when we start to really look is there anything we can actually own or call ours? If anything its just for us to look after for a while.
    If we were taught this at a young age instead of the crap excreted at school, how might our world look? Or even our daily lives?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t know why people are doubting the info from Piers Morgan re the new contract for Wenger, surely they know how he gets his info, you can’t get more reliable than from the horses mouth, and if any one has a history of listening in on private phone calls its Piers phone tapper Morgan.

    Liked by 4 people

  16. Arsenal U17’s beat Ajax U17’s 2-1 today, both progress to the semi finals, AFC play Barcelona.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. the AFC U17 team today was
    Arsenal: Virginia; Tella, Olowu, McGuinness, Thompson; Burton, Olayinka; Tormey, Coyle, Smith-Rowe; Amaechi.


  18. Mills @ 5:03pm: Are you old enough to remember our parents, uncles, aunts or even we ourselves speaking of “my company”? All those juicy benefits and promotional items from the marketing and PR budget which was used to seductively to buy our loyalty. Now most of those companies have been closed or transported (lock, stock and barrel) to a new low-cost location in the name of globalization.

    While most young adults today have no illusions about the transient nature their private sector employment, and that ultimately it is the boss who makes the key decisions, these same adults who support AFC think of it as “my club” and thus have a right to decide on the tenure of the manager. As much as we support the club and feel attached, similar to our employers, it is the owners who decide on management not those who pay for a ticket to the stadium or for a tv subscription to see the club play.

    It is already evident that the owners of AFC have decided not to overpay for a title and see Arsene as the best manager available to maximize value from the players they are willing to pay to represent the club. If it wasn’t for injuries to key players at key moments their judgment was spot on. Unlike the delusions of many supporters, fomented by the media and bloggers like the sage of Dublin, the owners are quite satisfied with Wenger’s performance and have no intention of sacking him. Usmanov was the ultimate confirmation.


  19. re anicol 3.50, I’ve just seen a clip of Chris Eubank senior telling his son to hit to the body and not to the head, and also express his amazement that the ref had not stopped the fight. It does seem questions need to be asked as to why the ref had not stepped in and saved the lad from the beating he was taking. I’m sure Eubank senior’s own fighting history (Watson), prompted his advice to his son. Sometimes the cost of victory has to be taken into consideration, something the AAA/WOB need to remember.


  20. Shotta,good points as always, and do recall people using those terms- do people no longer imply the possessive element? It is amazing to see the changes via social media and our opinions, and the way they are being applied-as Ive said before, I wished that sometimes they could be put to better use.
    An old friend at Untold was always posting that despite all our opinions, and the stars that come and go AFC will keep rolling on we can never take it for ourselves but only be fellow travellers.
    People have a deep love affair with the Arsenal and all of us love it in different ways.Some seem a bit bizarre to me!


  21. Millsy – As interesting as my ideas are to you, I suspect they gain very little traction because they go against the grain of perceived wisdom. Not that I expected otherwise. For example the mythology of “my club” is very deeply engrained in the psyche of supporters up and down England just like the mythology of English manufacturers once was. False consciousness as Marx, that great philosopher, would describe.

    For example, like any Jamaican child of the 60s and 70s I swear by my English-made Clarks footwear (rude bwoy and ting). But in recent years I have been up and down several Clark’s outlets in the US and almost every shoe has the imprimatur “Made in China.” A quick google search had a piece from the BBC in 2002 which reported:

    “A wide range of British industries – including textiles, electronics, toys and cars – have all moved their manufacturing bases outside of the UK.

    “Marks & Spencer, for example, was one of the last British clothing companies to shift the bulk of its manufacturing abroad.

    “And Hornby – the maker of model trains and Scalextric, completes its first year of making its toys exclusively in China at the end of March.”

    My company my ass. My club. Bollocks.

    I mostly only wear Clarks footwear as in general they retain the quality and unique styling which was so venerated. Similarly I support Arsenal FC with all my heart but, unlike the sage of Dublin, I have no illusion that it is my club and that as a supporter, I have much say in what the owners decide they should spend to win a title or who to make directors or ultimately make manager of the club.

    Anicoll facetiously remarked recently that Kroenke could avoid all the anti Stan nonsense by holding the Arsenal AGM at KSE headquarters in Denver, CO. I doubt there is anything in the by-laws to prevent him. That is the reality boys and girls.


  22. Facetiously Shotts ? Not at all – a UK plc is required to hold an annual general meeting once a year at a time, date and venue to be determined by the shareholders.

    As one shareholder holds 67% of the shares in the company then it is entirely a matter for that shareholder where, when that AGM occurs.

    There is no requirement for any shareholder to attend any meeting, nor to send and appointee to act on their behalf, or answer any questions that might be raised on their behalf.

    My ‘advice’ for those who consider it important to interact with Stan is to play nicely.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. as I said recently, although I’d be opposed to Usmanov being on the board, it might be worth it if he and Stan, with their combined 97% shareholding, forced the sale to them of the other 3% of shares, just so the entitled few, like Morgan and Payton, to name but two, no longer could use the fact they are shareholders to stroke their egos, and of course there would be no attendance at an AGM for the self important to try and get a few minutes of fame.
    Go on Stan, you know it makes sense, bring in the fat Uzbek and pull the rug from out under the agitators feet.


  24. quote Anicol
    My ‘advice’ for those who consider it important to interact with Stan is to play nicely.

    spot on, I do find it laughable that paytons mob whinge about stan not talking to them, and falsely claiming he has broken the terms of his takeover as they say he has refused to meet and speak to the shareholders. When in fact he has attended all AGM’s since he bought into the club, and he has spoken at the AGM, not a lot, but no where in the takeover agreement did it say how much he had to speak, or how many he had to meet. But anyway, its a totally spurious soundbite by AST etc, when Arsenal fans, and Shareholders, have more direct access to officials of the club and board members, than any other club in the BPL that I can think of. Gazidis has had many Q&A sessions with all these groups that whinge that Stan won’t speak to them, Gazidis is the CEO, he is the man who actually runs the business that is AFC. Its time these clowns copped themselves on and realized just how lucky they are to have as much access to the club as they do.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. reports that Jack Butland is out for 3 months with a fractured ankle.


  26. There is a message on Twitter from Jack Butlsnd that he has a broken ankle – an absolutely stunning injury in so far as last night it appeared to have been caused by him standing on the line of the 6 yards box

    How on earth can a white line break a keeper’s ankle ?

    Admittedly a fortnight ago Hart suffered a serious muscular injury clearing what looked to me a fairly routine crap back pass from DiMichelis – he cleared the ball then was carried off !

    Are keepers made of glass?


  27. Stan and Ivan have engaged more with the fans than certain other owners of big clubs I can think of. For instance…..has anyone heard Roman speak? Can he speak?

    Liked by 2 people

  28. It may just be me being suspicious about the recent (entirely pointless) abuse of Stan but I wonder whether it isn’t more to do with the Scarfists throwing their cards in on Wenger.

    Season after season, blog after blog after blog, marching here, demonstrating there, waving banners left right and centre the Scarfists have achieved absolutely nothing, zero, Bugger all, zilch in their increasingly desperate efforts to force Arsene out.

    Impotence, week after week, month after month, season after season.

    Even people that stupid must look for another and hopefully less tricky target eventually.

    And for reasons discussed above Stan is untouchable – a most convenient situation for the posturing Scarfists

    Liked by 3 people

  29. the Usmanov comments have thrown a spanner in the works for many of them, he was the great white hope, the man who would not stand for Wenger and who would never dare to dream that Arsenal is a business, let a lone big business.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Eduardo @ 11:05 pm – Agree totally. Usmanov’s statement must have been the biggest body blow to the WOBs and the slimy, squirmy, jelly-fish middle-of-the-roaders since 2014 when we ended our trophy drought. You know those who believe that changing managers and overspending like Chelsea and City is the route to success. I for one was thinking in my head how to refute the anti-Stan nonsense which, as Anicoll quite rightly discerned, is really anti-Wenger in its essence. What got my ire in particular was that duplicitous piece of anti-Stan, anti-Josh nonsense by the sage followed up by much of the same in his podcast. Fresh after outplaying Everton and showing the green shoots of a return to form, this pandering to the usual malcontents struck me as either being deliberately provocative or of someone completely naive to the reality in which Wenger operates. Usmanov’s endorsement of Wenger’s management, despite being marginalized by Kroenke, just blew a ginormous hole in the mountain of fiction the sage and others had created for their gullible followers. It made writing this blog a cake walk.

    Thank you Alisher. You proved to me you are not some stupid comic figure some of us tried to cast you. You own 30% plus of the club I love. All I can hope is you will be a wise steward with or without Stan.

    Liked by 4 people

  31. Shotts-I really liked your 9.06pm post-there is defiantly an article in this (your next one?).I think I was not quite understanding or only an aspect of what you wrote-I kept waking up in the night thinking about it all last night.No matter if it doesnt seem as if theres much traction, Ive personally really enjoyed your article and everyones posts on this subject,it takes an avalanche of ideas to be started by a snowball, so I personally think your thoughts and observations well worth the read,and you never know whose looking in.
    Im pretty ignorant about some elements of the clubs goings on so its been very interesting to read everyones views.Many thanks to you all.


  32. VoetbalGids Live ‏@voetbalformat 2h2 hours ago
    Arsenal wins penalty shoot (4-3) after game ended Arsenal 0-0 Barcelona
    Final 15:00 Arsenal – Anderlecht

    Liked by 1 person

  33. from jeorge bird


    Arsenal U17s have won the ABN AMRO Future Cup after prevailing past both Anderlecht and Barcelona on penalties.

    The young Gunners progressed through the group stages with victories over Red Bull Salzburg, Right to Dream and hosts Ajax, which set up a semi-final showdown with Barcelona.

    Edward Nketiah had a goal disallowed against the Spanish side, with the game going to penalties and Arsenal eventually prevailing 4-2 on spot kicks.

    Josh Benson missed with his effort, but Nketiah, Vlad Dragomir, Joe Willock and Nathan Tormey all scored and goalkeeper Joao Virginia saved two penalties to send Arsenal through to the Final.

    The game against Anderlecht was a hard-fought encounter and also went down to a shootout after neither side was able to find the net. Virginia, who enjoyed an excellent tournament, was the hero again as he saved three penalties before Emile Smith-Rowe converted the decisive spot kick to give Arsenal glory.

    Arsenal Future Cup squad: Virginia, Benson, Tella, Omole, Dragomir, Nketiah, J. Willock, Tormey, Amaechi, McGuinness, Olayinka, Burton, Olowu, Smith-Rowe, Coyle, Barden, Thompson, Beckford.


  34. John Williamson ‏@willow1886 3h3 hours ago
    Our U17’s today won the Future Cup in Amsterdam today beating Ajax, Barca and Anderlecht. We used 4 U17s, 9 U16s & 5 U15s #TheFuturesBright


  35. Ed, watch who your quoting although John is a really nice bloke and follows ARSENAL, in all its forms, to the ends of the earth. unfortunately he has been Arsene out since 2006 although to his credit he cares more about ARSENAL than the politics.
    I’ve met him at hale end before and he knowledge about the lads is amazing hes already booked his trip to America for the pre-season friendlies.


  36. be he WOB or AKB, has no bearing when its his info about our U17 squad that is the topic of his tweet. I don’t like to put up other peoples info and not credit them for it.


  37. we will be hearing a lot of bullshit from the AST crew for the next few weeks, their AGM is in a couple of weeks, so they have to scream and scream till they pass out.


  38. pedantic george at 11:39 am Its your playground George and you decided long ago not to allow the juveniles to vandalize your place, given that it is a WOB-free zone. Let them take your infantilism and spineless middle-of-the-roadism elsewhere. There are scores of blogs peddling conventional myths and blatant lies for the lemmings to mindlessly engage.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Positivistas:
    Maybe our little fable on the “Usmanov Takeover” has hit a nerve in the upper echelons of the Arsenal blogsphere. Is it any coincidence that showing up on my twitter TL is this little gem:


    Liked by 1 person

  40. Snowballs that start avalanches!

    Liked by 1 person

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