There’s plenty of Arsenal news this morning with more speculation about the possible arrival of Demba Ba, the fight for Stoppila Sunzu and the latest twists in Theo Walcott’s contract saga but this biggest story might just be this one which has been highlighted by the always superb Angry Of Islington.
The blogger reports that Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has been buying more shares in the club and may soon be in a position to challenge the majority shareholder Stan Kroenke for ownership. This has been confirmed by The Guardian, which quotes a CNBC interview that says that he already has 30% of Arsenal’s shares.
Arsenal.com yesterday updated the published share position for the two major shareholders to show that Alisher Usmanov’s Red & White Holdings now have a total of 18,637 shares. This is ten more than they had last time the figure was updated on 5 December, and leaves them exactly 29 short of the 18,666 needed for 30 per cent of Arsenal.
So it seems that Usmanov has been quietly buying shares in a bid to continue his takeover of the club.
The implications of this are potentially huge for Arsenal. At most clubs 30% ownership would trigger a compulsory full takeover bid which it did for Stan Kroenke with Arsenal in 2011. However as Angry points out this would not be the case at Arsenal.
The buying of shares would largely be symbolic and Kroenke’s position unaffected, but they would mean concerted pressure would be put on the existing board, and by dint of his association with them, the manager Arsene Wenger.
Usmanov has been very active around Arsenal of late, building relationships with Thierry Henry while criticising Wenger for selling Van Persie. He also told CNBC that he dreams of owning the club. If Arsenal’s poor form continues and they don’t make any significant purchases in the winter (and Wenger told the BBC yesterday that this was a possibility) Usmanov could attempt a coup at the club, even though Kroenke could in theory easily ignore it.
What might change everything is if the fans get behind Usmanov, who also has a strong relationship with former supporters favourite David Dein, and we start to see ‘Kroenke out’ and ‘sack the board’ banners at The Emirates.
You get the feeling that this one is going to run and run.
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