Arsenal’s second largest shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, claims that Thierry Henry is urging him to force a takeover of the club by buying up ‘all’ of Arsenal’s shares.
Speaking to L’Equipe, the Uzbeki billionaire said, “I like many footballers, and I’m in contact with some of them. Perhaps my favourite of the last ten, 15 years is Thierry Henry. He’s pushing me to buy all of Arsenal’s shares, but I cannot predict the future.”
Nor, indeed, can he buy all the shares unless Stan Kroenke decides to sell them. Arseblog News loves Thierry Henry for what he did on the pitch but this kind of behind the scenes political manouvering seems a bit grotty to us. But then you remember Henry’s best friend is Darren Dein, whose father is David Dein, the ex-vice chairman who sold his shares to Usmanov for £75m in 2007.
There were reports last month of meetings between Henry and Usmanov in Moscow after the pair attended a charity dinner together.
Usmanov continued, “When I had the chance to buy some shares and become one of the main shareholders in the club, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I was even ready to take total control. That wasn’t possible because certain people preferred to make a profit and create, using me, an outside enemy. I remain portrayed as a pirate, an enemy. They have won that game.”
He also gave his backing to manager Arsene Wenger, of whom he is a big supporter and, given his association with Dein, if he did somehow take over the club, it’s unthinkable that he would make any change there.
“For me, he’s one of the best coaches in the world, but it’s not easy for him,” Usmanov said. “I think he deserves that players are brought in at Arsenal when they’re needed.”
Which ignores the fact that there is money at Arsenal, it’s just that Arsene Wenger seems reluctant spend it. Usmanov’s latest broadside really contains nothing new, it’s the same populist mantra we’ve heard from him in the past and will, no doubt, hear again.
We can’t help but feel sad that Arsenal Football Club is in the hands of a man who appears to see it as little more than an investment vehicle, showing precious little ambition to make the club as good as it can be, and the only other option is one which makes many people uneasy because of the man in question.
Can we, one one hand, bemoan the effect that sugar-daddy owners have on football, wages, ticket prices, and so on, and then court the advances of a bottomless billionaire on the other?
Especially when many of our current problems could be solved by just using what we have.