Alisher Usmanov is set to up his offer to take the majority controlling stake in Arsenal to a monstrous £2bn as a battle of wills erupts at boardroom level.
The Russian oligarch, who was rebuffed in his advances to become the club’s majority shareholder on Friday after he saw a £1bn bid rejected by current owner Stan Kroenke, is not ready to give up on his attempts to usher in a new dawn in north London.
Reports in Usmanov’s homeland (via the Sun) claim that he is set to double his offer to buy out the man dubbed ‘Silent Stan’ after becoming concerned over the manner in which the Gunners are currently being run by the American.
Counter claims from the BBC, however, have suggested that Kroenke, who has become a target for Arsenal’s fanbase who are fed up at his running of the club, will resist any bid from Usmanov to take up the reins as he eyes domestic and European dominance for Arsene Wenger’s side.
Usmanov currently holds a 30.2% stake in Arsenal and reportedly values the Premier League giants at around £1.6bn. The 63-year-old is said to have known that his initial offer would be rejected by Kroenke and hoped that public acknowledgement of his rival doing so would increase pressure on Kroenke by bringing Arsenal fans’ support to Usmanov’s side.
A source at the Financial Times, though, stated their belief that Usmanov’s offer, which was rejected by Kroenke back in April, is now not likely to succeed in spite of an expectation that he may eventually manage to drive Kroenke out.
Re Usmanov bid, Kroenke has reiterated long-term commitment to Arsenal, says aim is to win PL & make #AFC a force in Europe, not about money
— David Ornstein (@bbcsport_david) May 20, 2017
The source said: “Two weeks ago, I thought something could realistically happen. Now I am not so sure.”
One intriguing sideshow to the internal battle is Usmanov’s backing of under-fire boss Wenger. The Frenchman has seen continuous calls from Arsenal fans to leave his managerial post with the club in danger of missing out on the riches of the Champions League for the first time in his 21-year career at the club, but last month received praise from Usmanov for his tenure – quotes that may not help his cause to get Arsenal fans on side.
Usmanov had said: “I do not think that the coach alone is to be blamed for what is happening.
Despite the Usmanov bid, there’s absolutely no chance that Stan Kroenke will sell Arsenal. Fully committed to the club for the long term.
— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) May 19, 2017
“Some continuity is needed. This includes the need to prepare a successor for Wenger, but in a very respectful way. I can suggest that Wenger himself can prepare a successor.”
US entrepeneur Kroenke, 69, has been in charge at the Emirates since 2011 but, like Wenger, has seen protests from Arsenal’s fanbase increase exponentially throughout the season over his running of the club.
Fans have become frustrated over rising ticket prices, a lack of big-name signings and a dearth of silverware over the past few seasons, with Arsenal managing to just land two FA Cups during his tenure in the capital.
@bbcsport_david If his aim was to win the PL and to make Arsenal a force again, he’d sell to Usmanov. Simple as that
— Mark Linnett (@mark_linnett) May 20, 2017
The £5.8bn-rated businessman has a 67% controlling stake in the Gunners and also holds numerous shares in sporting franchises across the pond such as National Football Conference team LA Rams and MLS side Colorado Rapids.
Arsenal must beat Everton in their final Premier League fixture of the season, and hope that either Liverpool or Manchester City lose in their own matches, to stand any chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
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