by ‘Ifreke Inyang
One of Arsenal’s major shareholders, Alisher Usmanov, has followed up his open letter to the club, with yet another interview, laced with scathing remarks.
The Russian owns 30% of the club’s – the second highest – but has questioned the Gunners’ ambition yet again.
“Disregarding the series of trophyless seasons, you have to accept that a few of the current board of directors were at the helm during the greatest moments of the Arsene Wenger era,” Usmanov told Forbes Magazine Russia. “But the footballing landscape has changed. Our point of view on which direction the club is going today, and our disagreement with this direction, have been laid out in our open letter to the board.”
“We do not consider just qualifying for the Champions League to be the chief ambition of the club, and with all our hearts we support the team and wish them well for the new season.
“Victory is absolutely not ruled out, but the current politics of the club’s management will leave Arsene Wenger and his team with fewer and fewer opportunities in the long run.”
Usmanov, who claims he is a big fan of the London club, also lambasted the members of the board, on how they have run the club since he first bought shares.
“Arsenal was one of the first teams I saw on television, and since that time I started supporting them,” he added. “I was introduced to David Dein by a mutual friend. At that time I was looking at a number of possibilities to invest in Premier League clubs, but the chance to buy a small shareholding in Arsenal outranked all other considerations.
“When I bought shares off David Dein I was happy with the opportunity to get to know the footballing legend which Arsenal represent. I was absolutely satisfied with this purchase and wanted to buy more shares in the club.
“At that time I never imagined the depth of conflict between the shareholders.
“I was also disappointed, and very much regretted, that Danny Fiszman, who at that time ran Arsenal, dealt with me on the basis of totally unobjective opinions and assertions of a few individuals.”
Despite all the turmoil, the 58-year-old insists that is not ready to sell off his shares.
“We plan to continue to buy shares in the club,” Usmanov confirmed. “From the point of view of investment, this has already been a successful policy: the value of the club has risen from £300-400 million to £700-800m.”
“But this is not the point. I am a fan and I am not going to sell these shares at any time, since this is the club that I consider the best in the world,” the Russian concluded.