The FINANCIAL TIMES' Ahmed, Massoudi & Jenkins reported Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov is "actively exploring a sale" of his 30% stake in EPL club Arsenal after accepting that club Owner Stan Kroenke "will never sell control to him." Usmanov's decision "marks the beginning of the end of a long-running battle for control over Arsenal," with the club's two biggest shareholders "locked in a bitter feud having repeatedly clashed over the direction of the club." Usmanov last October "turned down" a $613.7M offer from Kroenke to acquire his stake (FT.com, 7/24).
DEEP POCKETS: In Boston, Alex Speier writes the Red Sox' "biggest asset in trying to make a deal" before next week's trade deadline may be the team's "ability to spend more money." That "seems like a surprising notion given the assumption that the team would want to stay below" $237M in payroll, the "third and highest tier of MLB's luxury tax threshold." Team President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski last month said that he had a "preference to avoid spending beyond" $237M, but that the figure "wouldn't be a deterrent." If the Red Sox "want to upgrade their roster with trades this month" or in August, they "almost can't help but spend to such levels" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/25).
STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: THE ATHLETIC's Ken Rosenthal wrote the Orioles "certainly seem to be operating with a clue" in their rebuild. With trades of SS Manny Machado to the Dodgers and P Zach Britton to the Yankees, the Orioles "took a major step" in acquiring "three top-15 prospects from two of the game's deepest farm systems in a week's time." Orioles Chair & CEO Peter Angelos is "less involved than in the past" and his sons, Exec VP John Angelos and Ownership Representative Lou Angelos, are "assuming greater responsibility" (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/24). MLB Network's Jon Morosi said Orioles Exec VP/Baseball Operations Dan Duquette is doing a "very nice job under some pressure" at the trade deadline ("MLB Whiparound," FS1, 7/24).