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In My Opinion: Alisher the Not So Great

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Prior to the involement of Stan Kroneke on the Arsenal board and the hiring of Ivan Gazidis as the club’s CEO, it looked like Alisher Usmanov’s Red and White Holdings was primed to be a big player with the club. Additionally, with David Dien running Red and White, Alisher’s motives seemed crystal clear – gain control of the majority of the shares, force a hostile takeover of the club, and then treat it like a play toy similar to what Roman has done at Chelsea.

I am not sure if Alisher was aware that Stan was going to be involved in the board but it is clearly evident that Scertain promises were made by the American to preserve the integrity of the club and insure it is run as it has always run – as an independent organization with a stable financial background.

True, the £400 million debt from the stadium is huge and I have no doubt that it in some way hampers what Arsene would probably really like to do in the trasfer market. But the board is not stupid. Usmanov’s rights issue ploy to pay down the debt and freeing up money for transfers was clearly seen by the board for what it really was, a back door entry into gaining control of the team.

Assume that the board had signed off on the right’s issue. Further let’s assume that rights issue had not fully subscribed, well any disolution of assets of existing equity holders would’ve given him the ability to grow his share. Plan and simple Alisher is trying to be the next oligarch to run a EPL club. His feeble attempts at “supporting” the club are clearly evident and I belive the board will hold true to its resolve and stay the course.

Now with the rejection of his plan Usmanov through Red and White holdings, is publicly stating he believes Arsenal doesn’t have the funding to compete in the big name transfer market. And some papers are now saying that it is what will prevent us from signing Melo. I am not so sure that this is what is going to stop us from signing Melo. Frankly for a player with 1 year Serie A experience and 1 year first team national experience, €20-22 is a steep price.  He may be worth it in the long run but I think Arsene, Ivan and Co. think that this is a high valuation. But it does seem they are willing to throw in a player or possibly two to make the difference (Eboue and Senderos). Any way I digress.

It now seems to me that what Alisher could not do through money he is attempting to do through the court of public opinion. His statements are directed at all the fans who hope with all their might, Arsenal will go after the top tier players like Ribery, Kaka, Inler, etc. He hopes that if they perceive the club is prohibiting itself to participate in the transfer market in a big way, maybe a groundswell of fan anger will force the team to do something.

Here is what I think overall. I would love for us to go after the tier 1 players – however in 10 years when debts are due, I don’t want us to suffer and wind up moving down in our status. Make no mistake about, any club carrying huge debt is destined for a come to Jesus moment sometime in the not so distant future. Don’t believe me – use the current credit crisis as your model. With so much credit and debt being extended when it came time to call it in – and there wasn’t money there because of overextension – crumble.  I don’t think clubs will fail (though Southampton, I’m just saying) but when the debt is due they will be hard pressed to find funding their big wage bills. Sooner or later taking out a loan to pay a loan is going to catch up to clubs. I DO NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN TO ARSENAL.

I would prefer us to identify and grow talent, supplementing all the way to fill in the gaps and provide club leadership than have a Galacticos Era ala Real Madrid. The bank funds Real and much like it did after the first Galactico era, they called in their markers and Real couldn’t afford shite and have been shite since.

I am glad this blatant attempt by Alisher was seen for what it was. I don’t think it will be his last and if it does get nasty, I expect that Super Stan is who the board will turn to to help them out.

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