Do You Agree With Alisher Usmanov?

Here is his letter to the Arsenal board:


To: The Board of Directors of Arsenal Holdings Plc: Peter Hill-Wood, Ivan Gazidis, Ken Friar, Sir Chips Keswick, Lord Harris of Peckham, Stanley Kroenke

With copy to: David Miles, Mark Gonnella

5th July 2012

Re: Open Letter to the Board of Directors of Arsenal Holdings Plc (the “Club”)

Dear Sirs,

In recent weeks a couple of separate actions have occurred, which have caused us, as a near 30% shareholder in the Club, to have serious concerns about the approach of the Board and the management team:

• Firstly, there were some very deliberate and public comments by Ivan Gazidis which were intended to leave the Club’s supporters with an impression that Red & White is in some bitter stand-off with the Board over its desire for a Board seat and that our involvement on the Club’s Board might cause conflict and “destabilize” the Club; and

• Secondly, OJSC MegaFon (Russia) received a cold call letter from Mr Gazidis requesting a meeting to discuss a possible international partnership deal including shirt sponsorship. MegaFon is one of the three largest mobile phone companies in Russia and also happens to be over 50% owned by Alisher Usmanov. Is this really the level of professionalism that is being applied to securing long-term commercial contracts?

Let us not forget that we have invested circa £200 million of cash in the equity of the Club. We are part of this Club and naturally want the best for it, but our investment is less important than the fact that we are loyal supporters and will never do anything that would destabilize or “create conflict” at the Club.

We do however believe that you, the Board, and the executive management team should focus your energies on the most efficient operation of the Club and desist from seeking to create a false enemy in Red & White. In our view it is clear that you are trying to distract attention from the more fundamental issues facing the Club, and which indeed many of the supporters discuss through social media sites and other forums on a regular basis. These are the financial model, the lack of investment and the Club’s future strategic direction.

However, before addressing these points, it is important to deal with the issues surrounding a Board seat for Red & White once and for all. As you all know well, Mr Usmanov has never sought for himself a Board seat at the Club. Indeed Mr Usmanov does not hold any board seat in any of the companies where he is an investor. Since the purchase of our first share in the Club, we have not only steadfastly adhered to a policy of non-interference in the running of the Club, but have consistently supported the management and given no reason whatsoever to be accused of subversion or sabotage. The history of our voting in support of the Board at the annual general meetings is proof of this.

Indeed, in any conversation about conflict, it is clear from a look at the history of the Club in recent years that the Board has achieved conflict without the help of any outside parties, notably the acrimonious departures of David Dein, Keith Edelman, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and Richard Carr, who then reappeared on the Football Club Board. You also instituted a lock-down agreement originally to prevent Mr Kroenke from gaining control and then, later, to exclude our involvement even though there were no grounds or need to do so.

The real conflict seems to be between the supporters’ expectations and your vision for the Club and at the heart of this is the policy of so-called self-financing. The self-financing model was created to suit the major shareholders at the time, all of whom subsequently sold their shares.

The previous decision by the Board to fund the building of the Emirates Stadium with long-term debt was, we believe, certainly not about self-financing. If it had been, it would have been funded through a mixture of debt and non-dividend equity. Instead it allowed, in our view, the major shareholders of the time, who happened to all be Board directors, to load the Club with a liability, to benefit from increased future revenue streams and consequent increase in the value of their holdings, whilst avoiding dilution of their equity.

The Board of the time then appeared to pursue a policy of increasing ticket prices and squeezing the fans to cover the short term cost increases which allowed them to bridge until all of these shareholders and Board directors sold 100% of their holdings and cashed out at vast profits.

This policy does not seem to have changed. We have sought and been refused any meetings with Mr Kroenke despite the fact that we own almost 30% of the Club or to put another way almost 1 in every 3 seats in the stadium. It is clear that our stated policy for the major shareholders, namely Mr Kroenke and ourselves, to inject non-dividend paying equity into the Club by way of a rights issue to reduce the debt and invest in the future is of no interest to the Board. Mr Kroenke was sold a vision by the Board at the time that the Club could be successful without further investment, so he is pursuing a similar policy which is to run the Club without any investment and to avoid any dilution of his equity, a good part of which was funded by a loan from Deutsche Bank AG to KSE, UK, Inc. at the time of the mandatory offer. The status of that loan and whether it is still outstanding has not been clarified by Mr Kroenke.

As a consequence of this policy, which is dressed up as prudent financial planning, it is down to our manager, and not the shareholders, to have to deal with the Club’s tight finances, carry the burden of repaying the stadium debt by selling his best players and having to continue to find cheaper replacements. All of that, naturally, comes at the expense of performance on the pitch.

This policy is leading to the loss of our best players, often to our main competitors, and even causes the players themselves to question their future at the Club and the Club’s ambitions. The situation with our captain and outstanding performer from last season Robin van Persie sums this up. Yet again we are faced with losing our true marquee player at the Club because we cannot assure him of the future direction and give confidence that we can win trophies. Where are the safeguards to ensure that this doesn’t happen again and again in the future? As a top Club we should, at the very least, match if not beat the offers that other clubs make to try and lure our very best players away, and also provide a more compelling vision of the future. You can try and put a good face on a bad game for as long as you want, pontificating about the merits of this model, but it will not hide the obvious fact that it just does not allow our great manager to fully realize his managerial talent and deliver success for the fans who are paying the highest prices in the land. It appears that a place in the Champions League will be the pinnacle of our ambition again next season. Unfortunately, in the future we may see this ambition lowered further. It doesn’t help to turn a blind eye to the reality of the situation and keep thinking of ourselves as being in the same league as Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City and Barcelona. To have a fighting chance of success, which means winning trophies, we need to match them in every aspect, including, if not first and foremost, financial.

So what is Red & White’s vision for the Club? It is simple. A debt free Club, with a big enough war chest to buy top talent players who can hit the ground running and who can complement the Club’s long tradition of developing young players and homegrown talent.

Together they can help the Club win the most prestigious trophies – because it is the trophies which are the crowning achievement for everybody at the Club. The trophies are also key to the commercial success of the Club – they increase the value of the players, the value of the brand, attract the best sponsors and maximize the value of our commercial contracts which should in turn mean that the Club does not have to squeeze any more income from hard pressed fans. We also believe in the transparency that a stock market listing brings so are committed to the Club remaining listed on the stock exchange and to greater fan involvement both through share ownership and also Board representation for the fans.

Today we wish the majority shareholder Mr Kroenke every success in running the Club, even though we have deep reservations about the viability of the policies being pursued by his management team and sanctioned by the Board.

Finally and reflecting our long-term commitment to the Club, we will continue to purchase more shares in the Club from anyone who wants to sell them to us. Also in order to formalize our long-term involvement with the Club and put an end to any speculation over our position, we, as the co-owners of Red &White, will proudly retain our holding in the Club as a long-term investment for ourselves and our family members to benefit for generations to come. We want the absolute best for the Club and will do what is necessary to ensure the success of the Club that we all love.

Yours sincerely,

Alisher Usmanov

Farhad Moshiri


51 thoughts on “Do You Agree With Alisher Usmanov?

  1. Yes, absolutely. Ownership has to want a winner and that is no longer the case. Wenger will be the next to go.

  2. I’d like Usmanov as owner / majority shareholder as long as fans can retain a percentage of the club. Kronke has done NOTHING for the club, so time to try something else. This guy is the world’s 28th richest man, he could write off our debt with the change in his back pocket. Ideally it wouldn’t be like this, and everyone would spend within their means, but I think we have to get with the times and footballs current successful financial model… the sugar daddy.

  3. I absolutely agree with the two gentlemen. Most of what they said has been in my mind for the past three years. How can a man of the 20th century, like Peter Dead Wood, lead a board of management for Arsenal in the 21st century. If there is any thing the fans can do, I doubt there is any, it is high time that we demand the ouster of this board, totally.

  4. Get rid of silent stan send him back to the USA. I don’t want to be arsenal spartac but at least the Russian billionaire wants to build a team that can win as well as let wenger build his youth development

  5. You cant sell your best player and expect to challenge.Robin is by far Arsenals best attacker so far ahead of the rest it is quite remarkable.Podolski and Giroud are prospects but they cant be expected to take over straight away and as we all know Wenger dont do any new tricks in training so basically we are the same team with questions marks hanging over Giroud and Podolski they have massive boots to fill and our midfield wont do goals so it could be a seriously difficult start to the season,once again may i add.

  6. I absolutely agree with Usmanov it’s time we all (arsenal fans) get behind red and white and make ourselves count

  7. Ofcourse Usmanov is 100% right. He is speaking for the fans and well done to Van Persie-its about time the fraud at Arsenal is exposed. No more lies now. Its up to the fans to finish the job now because this board will not go on its own. They have proved to be arrogant for 7 years. The time has come for the fans to push them out like they do at Liverpool, Newcastle etc

  8. The fans who give Wenger grief need to wise up. This letter brilliantly clarifies the real problem at the club……the current board including Stan Kreonke. ‘Silent’ Stan needs to respond to this or we will take this letter as the gospel truth.

  9. To be effective, it all has to start by demanding Peter Dead Wood’s ouster. He is the source of lameness, passivity and inaction at Arsenal. If you look at his story dating back to the 80s, it is his approach that is dominating, and it is difficult to get rid off his ideas at the club, without dispensing with him. My only reservation is, do Arsenal’s fans have the guts like Manchester’s, New Castle’s and Liverpool to demand the ouster of the board. We have the best manager you can get, but we need a dynamic board that can give directions to Wenger.

  10. I am no Stan or Wenger apologist or supporter. I follow Arsenal and no one is bigger than the club.

    The letter above doesn’t say much. It is playing on the current hate towards the Arsenal Board.

    Firstly, where is the £200m equity he is talking about? Is the shares he bought from Dein? In that case, it is in Dein’s, not Arsenal’s pocket.

    Secondly, there is no elaboration of “debt free”. Will he inject equity in the club to help pay off the debt? Even so, is he willing to waive any dividends from profits made by the club and reinvest back into the club? I doubt it as the first thing he mentioned when he bought into the Arsenal shares were whether the club should start paying dividends.

    Opportunistic at best. If he is really serious, spell out in detail how he can make the club debt free.

  11. I agree 100% with Usmanov, the current board don’t seem to think of anyone else but their big fat pockets, hiding under the shadow of “Self-financing”. Self-Financing my ass.

  12. It’s a seriously transparent attempt to garner support from the fans for Usmanov to pressure the board, there’s a reason why so many people agree with him, like any good con man he is saying what the mark wants to hear. I don’t want us to spend ridiculously and leave the club in a precarious position, I want us to spend more ofc as we need to but I don’t trust any sugar daddies, and that is without considering the relationship between Usmanov’s business partner, David Dein and the agent who has been taking these players away to give Usmanov the ammunition to say things like this…Darren Dein.

  13. I am 100% behind Usmanov, Kronke has done nothing since coming in he should sell up and piss off back to his other teams in the states.
    I really think Usmanov would invest and start taking us forward and if Wenger did not start buying quality instead of kids and has beens then he needs to walk aswell.

  14. Usmanov is saying what the fans want to hear
    But he is absolutely right
    People support clubs to win trophies
    Players join to win trophies
    These owners dont care about trophies, just money in their pockets
    Lose the best players and watch everyone else win the trophies, thats not what supporters want.
    Get your heads out of the sand
    Back RVP with a desire to win

  15. Why dont you guys in England go outside the stadium and protest against the board and make them splash the money or get USMANOV in the board, he has said he want to give Wenger money to splash. We will never win big trophys if we sell our best players, maybe have a chance on FA and League cup

  16. Absolutely agree with Usmanov. Sod off Stan. Take your profit and go back to the world of US Sports franchises.

  17. Why hasn’t Stan ever come out and said anything? The owners of United, City, Blackburn, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real, Sp*rs, etc. whether you love them or hate them, have at least signalled their intentions.

    It’s ridiculous, it really is.

  18. Agree with Usmanov. It’s easy to sit begins your computer Nd talk about getting rid of Kronke and his cronies. It’s a totally different story in reality to actually get rid of him. He does not and has never pretended to support Arsenal. We are a money making opportunity pure and simple. The only way we as fans can do anything is to boycott matches and merchandise. It’s something I know we have to do but the thought of giving up going to games is killing me. I am sure most feel the same. As some fans agree with the board and some just don’t want Usmanov and some don’t care and some (like me) cant give up going, I’m afraid there is not enough power to action this change. Sorry but as long as there is enough of us to sell out our their games and line their pockets they could not give a damn. They are just laughing at us and taking our money. They are just legal dealers selling their drugs to us junkies. God how I wish I could just walk away to another team. Fair weather supported are so much more happy than us.

  19. In the short-term Usmanov is perhaps right. However, he needs to present his long term vision of the club and ensure Arsenal fans that the club won’t be in long-term debts due to overspending. I myself am running out of patience with the current board and personally have very little confidence in Stan Kroenke taking the club forward – he is more like a landlord that occasionally inspects his property/investment. Usmanov would be more pro-active in that respect. However, do we really want to end up like City or Chelsea – these clubs have no history and their success will always be linked to the investment made by their billionaire owners.

  20. Get rid of this greedy board bring in usmonov i want red and white to own arsenal can’t believe they have got away with it for so long we all ,we should riot first home game .might renew my ticket just to rip my seat out and throw it on the pitch!

  21. Interesting how everyone agrees. More interesting that Red & White have chosen today to public state how lovely and supportive they are. It’s all very easy to wax lyrically in public about how wonderful you are and how we should spend on the same basis as City or Chelski but where is the information about where this money has come from?

    Fans should beware. I’m not saying it would be wrong to go with Usmanov but anyone who thinks he got to be a multimillionaire by being Mr Nice Guy should think again and not just be prepared to leap in with both feet. Don’t forget, he cc’d Myles Palmer into this letter who is one of the most negative fans I’ve ever come across. I wonder why?

  22. i totally agree wit wat alish-high wrote….this is exactly what is going on in d financial statues of our belove club..the so-called the SATAN kroenke is not d type of holder arsenal need,who turn arsenal fc to arsenal business company…. i support the red & white security ltd……alisher is d perfect man…………

  23. The true custodians of Arsenal Football Club are us – the fans. We put money into the club and don’t cash in our shares for a massive profit. I’m in favour of Red & White holdings taking over and would like more shares to be owned by the fans. Get David Dein back in. Otherwise it will get worse and worse. Losing two captains in two years is no accident. Who will be next to leave? Vermaelen?

  24. I’m sorry but this is BS. If Usmanov really wants to put his money where his mouth is why does he not make an offer to Kronke to buy the club outright. If Silent Stan is as uninvolved as he seems he would probably take a tidy profit and go back to his other interests. Usmanov has the money to buy the entire club without loading it with debt just from the profit he made out of his investment in Facebook alone.

    Talk is cheap Alisher. Either buy the bloody club or shut up. You haven’t put a dime in to the club since you started as all of your money has gone to shareholders and does not go to Arsenal PLC. At the moment you seem like you are happy to just sit on the sidelines and stoke supporter resentment by saying things like “debt free but with money to compete” without ever saying how.

    Are you a politician or a businessman? Do a deal or piss off. Stop trying to run the asset down so you can get it for a few bucks less.

  25. I totally agree with that guy, all Arsenal fans from Tanzania they thinking about (Arsenal Board) their polices b’se for 7 years without trophies and they not fil bad, may be they think about Emirayes cup.

  26. For those cynics who questioned the timing of Alish’s letter. What a perfect moment than this exact time to mobilize the fans into making some change? Otherwise, this stupid board will sit on their ears and pretend everything is normal, which I am afraid, they are doing even right now. This board, and the chairman Peter Dead-Wood are just dump ass stonewallers to any of fans’ demands, and we need a particular moment like this to push for a real change. They have been ignoring the red and white all along, as if they don’t exist, despite they owning 30% share. It is just to reap their money, because the board know that some wealthy guy like Alisher who does not care for these little money as 700 millions or so would not cooperate with them into milking the club and the fans. Don’t just sit on your hands. Take the moment, put the heat on, and campaign for the ouster of this lazy and selfish board.

  27. Usmanov, really? Do we want to sink to the lows of Chelski and Mansour City? Do you love trophies more than the club?

    Good luck to you lot, but if Usmanov ever took over I’d give up my silver membership because I couldn’t be supporting a club that isn’t Arsenal.

  28. The only way to get the board and Kronke to react is to hit them where it hurts… in the pocket. The fans need to unite and start boycotting games. If they start being hit financially by the fans boycotting games and reducing matchday income then they will have no choice but to react. It would also cause the sponsors to start asking questions of the board, especially if the fans also boycotting the sponsors too. We need to unite to push them to action. They may take our livelihoods, but they’ll never take our freeeeeedom (of speech). BOYCOTT NOW, dont buy the new shirt, dont buy the new merchandise, dont attend the games. REAL ACTION IS REQUIRED FROM THE FANS TO BACK UP USMANOV

  29. El Beto – Why do people who work all week and just want to go to a bloody football game on a Saturday/Sunday have to “back up” a billionaire with his agenda? Usmanov can buy the whole club if he wants to, just offer Stan enough money. The fact that he doesn’t and continues to play these sideline games shows his real intent. Destablize the club.


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