There’s talk of football and talk of not football today. Let’s start with the not football so we can leave the good stuff till last.
There was movement of Arsenal shares yesterday which saw Alisher Usmanov’s Red & White investment group increase their stake in the club to 21% after purchasing a number of shares, including those held by the Lansdowne Partners hedge fund. Usmanov is believed to have paid over Â£10,000 per share to Lansdowne. Current market price is around Â£8,500.
However, with regards to Stan Kroenke’s shareholding there is no truth the Sunday newspaper stories. Perhaps there might have been another reason for those stories, who knows? What is known at this moment in time though is that no deal has been done between Kroenke and Red & White. It has been suggested to me that contact between Kroenke and Dein would be very unlikely at this moment in time.
The next few days are going to be interesting. We’ll get some kind of announcement today from Red & White saying that they were merely ‘increasing their stake’ as outlined in their intitial press release when Usmanov paid David Dein Â£75m for his shares. What happens to Stan Kroenke’s shares is the key to this battle. Can the board bring Kroenke on board as someone friendly to them, or convince him to sell to them if they can find the money? If they go to Red & White then it gives them a massive chunk of the club and they’re the sort of people who will just make life more and more difficult for the rest of the shareholders. I suppose the big worry is that with Usmanov prepared to way over the odds for the shares then Kroenke the Businessman will find it very hard to turn down suchaÂ big return on his investment.
I have to say this feels very wrong to me. It’s like we’re being invaded and once again the focus is being taken away from the football. Let’s be clear, Red & White have no intentions of working alongside the current board and I’m sure the current board have no intention of working alongside Dein and Usmanov. This is a serious battle now and the future of our club is what they’re fighting over. To those who still feel we need outside investment – do you not think there’s a good reason why Dein and Usmanov want control so badly? It’s because they know how well run Arsenal is, how much potential there is to make money. It’s not because they’re some kind of knights in shining armour to come and make all our problems go away.
Let’s not also forget that the Red & White group, via Usmanov’s lawyers, have, within a week of buying Arsenal shares, shown their contempt for fans by threatening legal action against sites like Arseblog and a number of other popular Arsenal sites (I won’t mention their names because it’s not my place to do so). Nice PR and a nice way to treat people who support the club and who have legitimate concerns about the people getting involved in our football club, don’t you think?
I’m hoping the board has the will and the resources to fight this off but I expect this is going to get dirty and it’s going to drag on for some considerable time. Hopefully the off-field business won’t affect what happens on the pitch. And let’s move there.
More reaction from the Sp*rs game. Arsene Wenger reckons Emanuel Adebayor gives us ‘real presence‘ while the Togonator himself says it’s too early to start talking about the title. The boss also reckons his side are ahead of schedule because of the number of games they’ve played at such a young age.
With the Champions League game against Sevilla up next Jens Lehmann has, according to the Times, declared himself fit. With Almunia looking in equal parts shaky and inspired against Sp*rs could this be a way back in for the German? The manager has more or less backed Almunia and I expect him to start tomorrow night.
Armand Traore was arrested outside White Hart Lane on Saturday for carrying a ‘knuckle duster’. He has since apologised, claiming he didn’t know it was illegal to carry one.
There’ll be the usual UEFA mandated press conference today so we should have plenty to talk about, with regards football, in the morning. For now though the tanks are parked on our lawn and they’re firing Â£50 notes at shareholders. It’s all rather unsavoury.