Shareholders Are Angry With Arsenal FC Management
Arsenal's second-biggest shareholder attacked the EPL football club's management following the decision by its star player not to renew his contract when it runs out at the end of the '12-13 season, according to Christopher Thompson of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Alisher Usmanov, the Russian billionaire steel magnate who owns just less than 30% of Arsenal, "accused the company's board" in an open letter of "trying to distract attention from fundamental issues" facing the club, loading it up with long-term debt and squeezing the fans with some of the highest ticket prices in the league. The letter comes after Robin van Persie, the Dutch forward who was the club's top scorer last season, announced that "he would not be renewing his contract" after disagreeing with the club about its direction (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/5). The AP's Rob Harris reported that Arsenal shareholders Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri complained in the letter that American owner Stan Kroenke is running Arsenal "without any investments" and with little sign that a trophy drought stretching back to '05 will end soon. Usmanov and Moshiri wrote, "It is down to our manager and not the shareholders to have to deal with the club's tight finances, carry the burden of repaying the stadium debt by selling his best players and having to continue to find cheaper replacements" (AP, 7/5). In London, Jim van Wijk reported that Red & White Securities Ltd., fronted by Usmanov and Moshiri, "invested circa £200M ($314M) of cash" and set out a "vision" for Arsenal. In the letter, Red & White added, "It is simple. A debt free club, with a big enough war chest to buy top talent players who can hit the ground running and who can complement the club's long tradition of developing young players and homegrown talent" (INDEPENDENT, 7/5).