SBD/July 6, 2012/Franchises

EPL Club Arsenal Shareholders Blast Majority Owner Kroenke In Open Letter

Investors are upset Kroenke allowed the team to part ways with F Robin van Persie
EPL club Arsenal's second largest shareholders have "expressed their 'deep reservations' over the direction of the club" under majority Owner Stan Kroenke following the team parting ways with F Robin van Persie, according to Andy Hunter of the GUARDIAN. In an open letter to the Arsenal board, Red & White Securities Limited investors Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri "claim the continued exodus of star players is a result of policies that prioritise their riches above 'squeezed' supporters." Usmanov and Moshiri "own almost 30% of shares in Arsenal's parent company but do not have a seat on the board." They "insist they will continue to increase their shareholding," and that they "will 'do what is necessary' to end Arsenal's seven-year trophy drought and keep its finest talent at the club" (GUARDIAN, 7/5). In London, Jeremy Wilson writes Usmanov and Moshiri have "long called for a rights issue that would release share equity to pay off a debt that peaked at" US$493M in '08 but now "costs the club around" US$21.7M a year. Usmanov said, "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 [Arsene Wenger] to fully realise his managerial talent and deliver success for the fans who are paying the highest prices in the land" (London TELEGRAPH, 7/6).

SELF-SUFFICIENT? The GUARDIAN's David Conn writes, "The 'self-financing model' has been so sung by Arsenal in praise of their approach that it was presented as a beacon of good practice to the parliamentary select committee examining football's unholy relationship with money last year." Arsenal have "for years prescribed that the club must live from its income, and no director or owner must put a penny into the club" (GUARDIAN, 7/6). The FINANCIAL TIMES' Christopher Thompson reports Usmanov in the letter also "lambasted management for allegedly giving the impression to Arsenal supporters that his investment company, Red & White, was in 'some bitter stand-off' with the board" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/6).
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