Wednesday, 6 August 2014

REVEALED: Why Arsenal Couldn't Spend Big in Recent Years.

Alisher Usmanov is confident Arsenal are now in a position to win laurels following their FA Cup triumph last season. He believes there is a bright future ahead for the North-London side despite the tough times they had been through in the last nine years.

The Russian billionaire however declared his dissatisfaction with the way the club was being run by its previous owners who instead of making use of shareholders’ funds went for debts from external bodies for the construction of the Emirates Stadium. According to him, such a move was what made Arsenal financially unstable leading to their inability to challenge for trophies as they could not sign top players and also keep the ones they had.

"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”, he told the Telegraph.

"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."

Usmanov added: "I think that Arsenal's planning was based on acquiring the new stadium, a decision taken by the previous owners. The acquisition was financed with debt, which would be repaid through match-day revenues among other sources.

"There is another way of doing it: when shareholders buy all of the assets and contribute them to the club. As a result, these debt-free assets may generate income for the club. It is always up to the shareholders to choose which model to adopt.

"The board and main shareholders chose the debt option at the time, which led to Arsenal going almost 10 years without winning a domestic title or the Champions League. The first trophy only arrived in the 10th year.

"As a result of this choice, they were selling players and were unable to buy top players. These difficulties have now been overcome and the team is in a good state; the club’s finances are in order and I believe that Arsene Wenger and the club's CEO [Ivan Gazidis] will manage them correctly."

Usmanov, the second highest shareholder at Arsenal with a 30% stake went on to state he is still in good relationships with a number of shareholders but admitted he has not had any direct contact with Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke since the last seven years when they both started the fight for control.

“I have not had any contact with Mr. Kroenke. Those who control the club run the club. Mr Kroenke’s group controls the club and they control the day-to-day management”, he said.

“I hold a 30% stake at Arsenal and therefore, the board’s success is shareholders’ success.”

Quizzed on the level of his commitment as an Arsenal investor Alisher said:

“Yes, I have no plans to exit. I wish Arsenal success and hope that they win trophies.”

Arsene Wenger had received too many insults from fans who take him as a manager who does not like to spend. Whenever I was around a fleet of fans and they threw such criticisms at him, I stood in his defense trying to let them know it was not all his fault. People talk as if he had the money at his disposal and did not want to spend. Since I knew what was going on all along, I tried convincing them to no avail. That made them call me “Wenger’s son” because they thought I was just taking sides with the Frenchman. This same information Usmanov dropped in his interview was the same one I used to give such fans who did not accept it. You might want to ask ‘Why then didn’t he [Wenger] speak out?’ Well, he was just being loyal and did not want anything that would cause internal conflicts.

One other thing you guys should know is that had it been the board had been supplying him the needed funds all these years and he refused to spend, making Arsenal go trophyless for years, do you think the club owners would keep looking at him to send the club to the drain? The board’s silence showed they were aware of such actions. They were trying to balance the club’s financial books during that period and now that we have almost paid off our stadium debt, you can all see what is happening at the club in the transfer front. Arsenal can now spend big on players without facing the wrath of FIFA and UEFA.

Usmanov who is Russia’s richest man according to Forbes had come out on several occasions to tell of his intention to pump money into the club so Arsenal could freely buy any top player they wanted. He always got disappointed whenever he made such offers because the board did not want to rely on the riches of any individual. What they were interested in was to run the club with the revenue being raised from ticket sales and other merchandise. They can now smile and say ‘We did it!’

Just watch out for more transfers after those of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona for £32million, Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle United for £10million, David Ospina from Nice for £3million and Calum Chambers from Southampton for £16million. This is just the beginning of good things to come for Arsenal. He who laughs last, laughs best. Good morning!!!
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