If current rumours are true and let’s hope they’re not, Stan Kroenke, the absent owner of Arsenal football club, has offered to buy Alisher Usmanov’s shares. The American is desperate to take full control and cut out the other major shareholder in the club, removing the possibility of another counter bid from the Iranian.
Usmanov has denied that any such offer has been made but has added to concerns by admitting that if he were to sell, it would have to be to someone who shares his vision of the future for the club.
That at least rules out Kroenke. At best, Kroenke’s only interest appears to make as much profit as possible. He has displayed little desire to create a club that can win things on a regular basis nor has he shown any form of leadership to take the club forward. Stan seems comfortable with an ethos of being there or thereabouts in all competitions but one that doesn’t deliver silverware. He has surrounded himself with like-minded men who prefer a model of underachievement and mediocrity.
As for Usmanov, it’s fair to say that the wealthy Iranian is understandably peeved at not being allowed a say in how the club is run and is not even given the respect of taking a place on the board. This lack of respect has developed a fractious relationship between the pair and their followers, which has all the hallmarks of a good old-fashioned power struggle which ultimately impacts the club and the team’s performance.
This infighting may explain the mixed messages coming from the board and management and their inability to act in a timely fashion, especially in the transfer window. Many fans are still irked by the late flurry for Monaco’s Thomas Lemar, which left Arsenal looking distinctly amateurish.
Wenger himself carries on regardless of the distractions, which one has to commended but when next season is over and Wenger ends his reign, it may prove to be a poison chalice for the next incoming manager.
Usmanov seems almost to be touting his shares publicly in the hope of a sale and this is of major concern to Arsenal fans. Do they really want to see another dogfight with an unknown investor who is powerless to change anything? At least when Usmanov speaks, he sounds like a supporter and has a degree of passion.
Kroenke however, expresses neither. He is hardly seen and seldom heard, preferring to leave it all to others including his son and the deplorable Gazidis. One can only hope that Usmanov bides his time and waits for Kroenke to pack up his popcorn tent and scamper back to the states to buy shares in an American football team or burger chain.
It’s thought that there would be a number of interested parties in a purchase of part shares or the entirety but there’s no guarantee that any such buyer would share the vision of the fans. Truth is that Arsenal are now competing to finish in the top four and are in real danger of becoming a top-six outfit.
Liverpool, once a giant on the football stage is living off a wealth of past glories in the hope that they may return but realistically, they are no more than a party pooper that appears to be a threat without actually being able to deliver the goods. Arsenal are now in that class, playing attractive football which wins nothing but FA cups and one that will finish behind the elite.
Spurs, it has to be said, have made major inroads over the last few seasons and have fashioned a decent team. It hurts to say it but it’s true and the days of Arsenal lording it over their North London rivals seems to be at an end. Arsenal fans have the right to demand answers and maintain the right to have an owner that cares about the club.
The sad passing of Sir Freddie Shepherd underlines the value of having a majority shareholder who has an affinity with the club. He was a true Geordie, passionate about his football and someone who craved so much more and it is immensely sad that his commitment didn’t end in a trophy.
It may be a case that Usamov will make a fresh offer next year, the last-ditch attempt to secure the club but if he is unsuccessful, it may be time for him to sell up and move on with Everton seemingly his next destination. It’s a shame that the people that used to own and run clubs and were ardent supporters have fallen by the wayside.
The promise of huge profits have attracted a new breed of owner, more concerned with balance sheets than building successful teams. Messer’s Gold and Sullivan are typical of that new breed. Only teams such as Man City, Barcelona, Real Madrid and PSG seem to be going for broke to deliver what the fans yearn for.
It’s not all about spending money but in 10 years from now, when the inevitable super league is realized, only those types of clubs will be able to compete. Arsenal and its current structure may find themselves too far behind to be in that company and may have to settle for memories of past glory and the promise of a brighter future, which will be a long time coming.