Thursday 19 October 2017

Alisher Usmanov denies he is planning to sell Arsenal stake to Stan Kroenke

Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov has no intentions of selling up to Stan Kroenke
Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov has no intentions of selling up to Stan Kroenke

Alisher Usmanov has denied he is in discussions to sell his 30 per cent stake in Arsenal to majority shareholder Stan Kroenke.

Reports had claimed Kroenke Sports Enterprise UK was set to offer £525million to buy the 18,695 shares held by Usmanov's Red and White Securities Limited.

Despite being the second largest individual shareholder in the Premier League club, Usmanov has not been given a seat on the board, leading to suggestions the Russian businessmen may be considering his long-term options.

However, in a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, Usmanov moved to allay fears he was set to sell up to the American.

"In recent days there has been speculation relating to a possible offer for my 30 per cent stake in Arsenal. As part of that I can understand the anxiety that these rumours are causing to the fans as reflected by the Arsenal Supporters' Trust," Usmanov said.

"In light of this, I would like to be clear that I am not holding any talks with Mr Kroenke about a sale."

Usmanov has previously made a formal £1billion bid to buy out Kroenke as the battle for control at Arsenal rumbled on.

In May 2017, Kroenke's corporate vehicle re-affirmed its position that the "shares are not, and never have been, for sale", adding that the organisation was "a committed, long-term investor in Arsenal and will remain so".

The Arsenal Supporters' Trust has said it would oppose any moves to take the club into single ownership as a private company .

Usmanov's latest statement appeared to pour cold water on any notion he may be about to end his association with the Gunners.

Indeed, Usmanov suggested he would be open to dialogue with Kroenke over the direction of the club in an attempt to forge "a constructive partnership".

"My interest in Arsenal from the beginning was long term and my intention has always been to buy additional shares should they become available," Usmanov added on Wednesday.

"This I did with the purchase of the stake of my business partner Farhad Moshiri with which I increased my shareholding from 15 per cent to 30 per cent, and also with my proposed offer for the stake of the majority shareholder which valued the club at some £2bn. That offer remains valid today.

"I have always been and will continue to be an ardent supporter of Arsenal and I see my 30 per cent stake as an important aspect in protecting the best interests of the fans in the club.

"It has been well documented that I have no say in the running of the club, that my views differ from those of the majority shareholder and that I would take a different approach to delivering footballing success.

"I would like to assure supporters that I am open to various future scenarios - a constructive partnership with the majority shareholder, the purchase of his stake either alone or in a consortium, or if a party appears who shares my and undoubtedly the majority of fans' vision for the club, I could consider the question of selling my stake."

Usmanov's statement was widely welcomed by Arsenal fans.

Former striker Ian Wright had earlier claimed the club "must be protected from Kroenke", before adding a subsequent post on his official Twitter account linking to the news of the announcement from the Russian with the comment "Now we just need to get Kroenke out. #Kroenkeout".

On the pitch, Arsene Wenger's side have recovered from two successive Premier League defeats with a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

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