Date:Wednesday May 13 2009
To read some reports over the last couple of days you might imagine that Uzbek shareholder Alisher Usmanov is contemplating giving money to the club to buy players. A generous thought but not quite as saintly an act as he would hope it is portrayed.
A spokesman for Usmanov told the Telegraph "The debt at the club appears to be an impediment to that [player investment] and we are ready to help address that if the board asks."
But that could only be of value if it were a gift. Providing another Abramovich style loan to replace an existing one doesn`t change anything - it`s still a loan. If he genuinely intends to make a gift then he doesn`t need an invitation to do so - just send a donation. If that were too uncomfortable then he could buy the property companies. They are nicely separated from the companies that own the stadium and football club so that about £100m+ of debt associated with the Highbury Square and Queensland Road developments could be removed from the books leaving the stadium and its bond funded 'mortgage` in the hands of the club. He doesn`t need the board to invite him to buy the property businesses he can put in a bid at anytime.
Usmanov`s irrelevant declaration that "Raising ticket prices is not the answer" at a time when the club has already announced that it will freeze ticket prices betrays his real motive which is to try to enhance his standing amongst Arsenal fans opposed to any extension of his influence. In much the same way as MP`s believe that writing cheques to repay the fiddled expenses the greedy, grasping freeloaders have stolen from their citizens is supposed to restore their standing. Fat chance.
This latest bit of public relations is more about helping Usmanov than the club. There is no gift available. Whatever he puts in he would want something in return. His 25% 'blocking` stake has, in turn, found itself blocked. He doesn`t have a seat on the board and is an outsider looking on while Kroenke`s relationship with Fiszman pays dividends. His acquisition of the Carr family shares makes Stan the largest shareholder. His inside track means that even the destiny of Lady Nina`s shares would probably not prevent him exercising effective control which is pretty much the case now.
In any event the club is not really in desperate need of more funds. Not that anyone would complain if more were genuinely generated. Though the property market remains unstable, the first 6 months of this year showed profit before tax at £24.5m up from £20m in the same period of the previous year. The fact that Kroenke has been encouraged to invest now, whatever impact the property market might have on the balance sheet for the second half of the financial year, suggests he is happy with what the figures tell him about the club`s current financial health and it`s long term prospects. There should still be enough in the kitty for Arsene to invest wisely, as he is wont to do anyway, and strengthen the areas of the team that have held us back this season.
While Usmanov is trying to make the right noises to appeal to supporters another report claims that Stephen Perry a wealthy owner of an Anglo-Chinese trading company had tried to buy the Carr shares. A 'source` said on Perry`s behalf "Perry is not anti-Kroenke, he just believes that four central shareholders and a rights issue is the right route for the club. He thinks control by one shareholder is a bad model for control of a football club."
Now that`s a sentiment I would endorse. Multiple ownership has served the club well in the past. Hopefully someone has given him Lady Nina`s number.
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Date:Wednesday May 13 2009
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