Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, has disclosed that he plans to buy English Premier League team, Arsenal, within the next four years – a bid that could make him the first African owner of a Premier League club if successful.
The 59-year-old Nigerian is worth £9.8 billion and is ranked the 67th richest person in the world by Forbes and is a self-professed Gunners fan.
Dangote is the great-grandson of a wealthy kola nut trader from Kano, Nigeria. In 1977, he used a small loan from his uncle to trade in rice, sugar and cement, reinvested the profits until he could venture into full-scale manufacturing.
In 1981, the Dangote Group was established as a conglomerate with focus on cement, also with interests in sugar, flour milling, salt processing, textiles, real estate, oil and gas. By the early 1990s, the Dangote Group had grown into a trading conglomerate in the country with the largest cement plant in sub-Saharan Africa.
American tycoon Stan Kroenke currently owns 67.05 per cent of the club while Russian Alisher Usmanov holds 30.04 per cent of the shares.
When asked about his plans to buy the club while giving an interview to Bloomberg, he said:
Maybe three to four years.
The issue is that we have more challenging headwinds. I need to get those out the way first and start having tailwinds.
Then I’ll focus on this.
Dangote previously claimed boss Arsene Wenger needed to “change his style a bit" with the club “needing a new direction", despite back-to-back FA Cup triumphs. Dangote believes he can turn the club into a trophy-winning machine. Dangote also said at the time that he would sack boss Arsene Wenger if he owned the Gunners. He then again reiterated his ambitions for the club where he said:
It’s not about buying Arsenal and just continuing with business as usual,
It’s about buying Arsenal and turning it around. I’ve run a very successful business and I think I can also run a very successful team.
Last year when Dangote reiterated his interest in acquiring a stake in Arsenal, he attracted widespread criticism from a wide section of Nigerians, many of whom insisted that his money would be better spent by acquiring a local Nigerian football team and promoting the Nigerian Premier League rather than spending on a foreign club.
With his value decreasing every year, it’ll be hard for him to buy a club like Arsenal in the coming years.
Would you like to see a change in the ownership of the club ?