Alisher Usmanov – CNBC Arsenal Q&A transcript


Alisher Usmanov has given a rare interview to CNBC (they call it a global exclusive) in which he’s touched on everything from his stake in Facebook to the recent Megafon IPO. Naturally he also took the chance to talk about the 30% shareholding in Arsenal and how it is his ‘dream’ to take full control of the club one day.

Below is a transcript of the interview [it can be watched here in full]. Where possible I’ve transcribed it word-for-word, but you’ll notice that with English not his first language there are plenty of idiosyncratic turns of phrase.

You can make your own mind up about the line of questioning and the manner in which they’ve been phrased…


Interview doesn’t begin with a lead question…

I not hear that Arsene Wenger [is] against me [being] on the board. Directly, I not hear about this and I am surprised if it is like this. Second, always I tell Mr Wenger is one of the best coach in the world and football manager.

I openly want to tell he have many, many difficulties. Of course today less [so], but before in the last five years he not have enough support to provide his conceptions of his game in Arsenal from board; his resources for transfer and for keeping players etc. This is my view.

Question: He has let some great players go, it’s a tragedy when you let someone of Robin van Persie’s skill walk out of the door.

This decision [by] Mr Wenger also a mistake. If I’m in his place I [make him] stay to the finish. But he explains this [by saying] Robin wants to go to win trophies.

Question: What about the other players that Arsenal could have signed like Hazard, who has gone to Chelsea? That’s another mistake isn’t it?

I never interfere with activity which I’m not responsible. This question [is] to Wenger.

Question: Imagine that you have the controlling stake and are able to help finance the club in a more fulsome way. What would Arsenal be like if you ran it?

In this case I need to demonstrate that I am asleep. It is my dream. In my dream I never, never ever give instruction to Chief Executive of my plans. I only ask; you need my help or not? Second, if I had a big stake in Arsenal of course I have my opinion about what must do to our team. For example, on the commercial side; I think there are many questions about effectivity [think he means effectiveness] of today commercial management at Arsenal. We will see and we will wait, maybe when I wake up some day I have this Arsenal club.

Question: Would you compete with the Manchester clubs to outbid them for players? Could we see players like Messi come to Arsenal? Would you pay £100 million for a player?

For Messi? I think any club would pay any money for Lionel Messi, now particularly today. But you cannot pay enormous price and not realistic price. You need to give this to hand of professional people, like Wenger, or his successors.

Question: But you would be prepared to use some of your £18 billion wealth?

This is strength of this business…the strength of this business, like we speak about super-cycle before [when talking about other business interests]. Now there’s a cycle of big money, tomorrow maybe this destination changes in football.

Question: So you think transfer fees are going to come down, that football is going to become less lucrative?

Everything has limits and after it comes down. Everything has this cycle, for development and trade.


    • and he says ‘wenger explained this by saying Van Persie went to win trophies’.
      So what the fuck are we trying to do at arsenal?

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    • It seems to me he could kick the bucket anyday. And I’m not trying to be mean but in my opinion the sooner he gets to run the club, the better. We can’t afford to loose this lad.

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    • I am none the wiser and he puzzles me on several different levels. Maybe because I see an unhealthy looking man, who conjurers up images of American cinema tycoon with a cigar.

      When and where did Arsene say RVP left to gain trophies? £24m for a player who undermined management…. footballing reasons me think.

      Anyhow.. all this is not relevant as the World will end tomorrow, and Mr Usmanov will not be able to carry his mighty wealth through the pearly gates of Heaven or any other gate. He will be naked….. Oh Dear maybe I should stop right now.

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  1. I’m undecided about whether I prefer Kroenke never saying anything, or Usmanov saying things that nobody can understand. But I guess this is strength of this business, like we speak about super-cycle before. Maybe this destination changes in football.

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  2. Waiting for the champions league draw.. Uhm expecting and half hoping we get barcelona and united and real madrid..? Sounds fun.. Just want a chance to set things straight against the old enemy..

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    • I want Malaga instead.

      the prospect of fighting Barca is nice but I don’t want this new team being put under so much pressure so soon in the second half of the season. We need some momentum before coming into such a big fight.

      And, if we go far, we will have big chance meeting them.

      Anyway, at the moment, we just have to build confidence in the league and maybe FA cup. Then, any draw will be enjoyable, considering the potential opponents.

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  3. All I know is that having a £18 billion fortune and owning 30% of a club you can’t do jack sh*t about is probably like being married to a chastity belt wearing Kate Upton.

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  4. Glad he cleared that up. Shame no one asked him if the rumours were true that he and his gangster mate boiled their enemies alive. Mind you that could come in handy when dealing with Daniel Levy.

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  5. If anyone was an forward thinker, it was David Dein. He brought in Wenger when NO ONE knew him. He knew that English football was changing and that Arsenal needed a brand and vision coupled with a fresh approach. Dein knew we needed a bigger stadium. He knew that Arsenal could only complete by evolving. When Dein, AW was left without his closest ally. Dein knew that football was changing in England with the advent of rich investors – he wanted the board to take on external money. Now this is issue splits opinion so I won’t say if that’s good or bad but Dein felt that for Arsenal to compete we needed money coming in from an independent source. With Red & White they tried to impose their will but Kroenke is really the current board’s chess move to block Dein and Usmanov. For me, Usmanov deserves a place on the board. It’s ridiculous that he’s a 30% share holder and doesn’t have a voice.

    I hope PHW recovers well and is safe but if there is someone who should take over as chairman, it’s David Dein. Dein isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but he cares about Arsenal. He IS Arsenal thru and thru. You can’t say that about Fox or Gazidis etc.

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    • I like Dein and think we miss his connections in world football. I don’t think he was right though trying to get us to rent Wembley instead of building our own stadium. Even if we go 10 years without a trophy we will always have our own stadium to bring in income, which in the longterm is invaluable. If we’d rented Wembley we may have stayed more competitive in the short term but eventually we’d have been left behind with no way of clawing ourselves back.

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    • Absolutely agree with most of you sentiment. Yet, there is just one tiny little question that always pops up in my mind when the name David Dein is mentioned. It goes like this; if that man loves The Arsenal that much, then why in the name Christ did he sell his shares and ride off into the sunset? If I owned a considerable part of our belowed Club, I would rather live in a cardbord box than sell out like he did. I think most genuine fans would too. And how can he condone the fact that he has a son who makes a living out of destroying our chances of on-field success? A position he never, in a million years, would find himself in if it were not for Daddy’s connections and former status at the club.

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    • David Dein brought Kroenke to the board. Board got unahppy. Then he brought Usmanov in to pressure the board further. When the board split the pair by choosing sides, he became Usmanov man-thug. Next he got hisson Darren Dein to get all the good players out of Arsenal. So do we want Dein back? No. He is good and effective but also one hell of a back stabber.

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  6. The self-sustaining model is a brilliant idea, why would a great club like ours want to turn into a plaything for eccentric billionaires? But to achieve self-sustainability we need someone to help us out until we can stand on our own two feet and actually be sustainable. I don’t call revamping a squad year in year out because you have to sell your best players to keep the cheque book balanced sustainable, that’s regressive destructive and just depressing.
    If Usmanov or Kroenke had come in with the mind set to help us through this rough patch we are and have been in financially ( compared to the clubs we are supposed to be competing against ) we would be so much better off right now. A little help to sign a player or two, to keep a player or two, to pay off a debt or two that we can’t, in the short term! Once all the debt’s are paid off, deals are renewed and marketing is improved and what have you, we will be in a position to truly sustain ourselves, sustain a level of trophy winning performance that is befitting of this club.

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    • Actually, if you’ve been following the newspapers, help IS on the way. The Premier League clubs, who are scared that all that new TV money will go directly into players’ and agents’ pockets, voted for cost control (either break even or limiting the rate int’l wage bill can raise each year). We’rein excellent shape!

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    • If the “little help” you want in the short term will mean that we continue with the same dependent mindset in the long term, then I’d rather not have it, even for the long term.

      It’s more akin to a short-term loan from wonga, or something.

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  7. Honestly I pray for the day he takes over. Not for his money as such, but because he at least seams to care about the club I love. Nothing worse then loving Arsenal knowing the man in charge is just there for the money. It’s like your childhood sweetheart running off with a rich guy who is only using her for her body and you know once he has got what he wanted he will just dump her.

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    • Er, wasn’t it once rumored that he is actually a ManUre fan?

      Naive to think he is in it simply for his love of the club and not also for profit.

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  8. I get it that it wasn’t the clearest of interviews, and I don’t really have a stake in the billionaires’ fight over my club, but at least let’s keep the Borat/Jabba/ugly talk out.

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  9. hm, hasn’t changed my mind – still don’t want him on the Board. I just don’t trust his motives (not that I trust Kroenke’s, but they are probably different motives).

    Usmanov sees Abramovic’s work at Chelsea and probably for similar reasons (political safety, prestige, PR) wants in at an English club. Kroenke runs sporting businesses – that’s part of what he does (yep, we’re a franchise). But he at least understands how to do that (eg understand traditions, not interfere with the sport itself), even if its usually midtable for his other franchises. Does that make me feel nice and warm and fuzzy? No, but at least its we’re not there for other aims (and where we would be used as a bargaining chip).
    Sure Usmanov would pay for a few big signings, but as he says, that trend may be passing (though I don’t think that will happen quickly).

    And as with Abramovich we’d see the same interfering:
    ” I never, never ever give instruction to Chief Executive…”
    “… if I had a big stake in Arsenal of course I have my opinion about what must do to our team.”

    Sorry, but no.

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    • close minded.
      I doubt he’s that bad.
      Can’t be worse that Kroenke.Atleast he talks about Arsenal

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    • bloomin’ eck!

      well, I’m honestly trying not to be close-minded (eg I’m not saying Kroenke is the answer) and there really isn’t any half-measures with a ‘lets see what he does’ as it could be very bad, and after allowing him on the board, you couldn’t very well get him off.).
      As for talking about Arsenal, I’m afraid that’s part of my point – we’re a PR asset for him.

      I drew the comparison with Abramovich (rather than for example the Glazers at Man U) deliberately, as I don’t think he’s out to do a leverage deal and screw us that way.
      I meant that when Abramovich took over Chelsea, there was lots in the press about how he acquired his wealth (carefully not claiming anything illegal, but the press enjoyed the whiff), and how his ownership and new prominence in the UK meant that he was now slightly out of the firing line of Putin, for whom he could have been a rival.
      All I was saying was that he’s quite a good example to a businessman who was trying to shake away the “dodgy” tag as to how he acquired his wealth and keep on the right side of Putin (Usmanov also sacked a newspaper’s editor for criticising Putin’s election victory). Sponsoring Dinamo Moscow is again useful in staying on the right side.

      And I don’t blame him for any of this – in his position I might do the same.
      I’d just rather it was another club he used.

      And please – I am not xenophobic (which is what I think you meant). Honestly, I’m not and racism is a terrible and stupid bigotry.

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    • @Whisht I wouldn’t take too much stock in this talk.

      Consider this people: Sp*rs fans LOVE to talk about the Arsenal. Does that mean any of them are better owners of the club?!

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  10. Personally I believe either Kroenke will sell to Usmanov or they will both sell to ‘An Other’ once all the debt it paid off. As if the current status quo is maintained the club will be a very attractive purchase and a very tidy profit will be had.

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  11. Cant he just give us some money…..i mean surely if he gave wenger 50mil, with a big smile on his face, and said il pay the wages too……just a dream……but i dont trust no one. Kroenke or Usmanov……..Us fans should buy them out…….(gets coat…..)

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  12. Just dont like the guy. Although i’m happy for him to maintain his level of interest, i hope that when Stan has had enough, he doesn’t sell a controlling stake to the Uzbek or any other independent. Much better was the structure of the club owned by locals with varied levels of vested interest (Fiszman, Bracewell-Smith, Carr, Dein and supporter group reps like AST).
    The last decade (near enough) of Arsenal’s ownership paradigm has been internally split between a self sustatining model and a sugar-daddy model.
    I place my bets that when Arsene finally retires and writes that book, he’ll highlight keeping arsenal out of the hands of owners like Usmanov and leaving behind a club that will be successful for generations to come will tower over the achievements of the invincibles and all the titles and cups. Still trust Arsene with the keys to the kingdom until he deems this project complete.

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  13. Usmanov was not wrong with his last comment (on everything having limits). Cazorla was bought for peanuts considering his ability.

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  14. i think the reason nobody understands is deeper than his poor English but rather that though he is talking nothing is really being said. want some yes/no committal questions and answers

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  15. The interviewer is a huge cunt. Just probing Usmanov for headlines.

    “Would you sign Messi for 100 million pounds” translates to “Usmanov prepared to force Arsenal into 100 million pound deal to lure Messi to Emirates stadium”

    “Do you expect transfer fee’s to go down” translates into a headline reading, “Arsenal’s billionaire sugar-daddy refuses to acknowledge changes in the transfer market”.

    I thought the anchors in the US were dumbasses. This cunt sets the bar.

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  16. If I had £18 billion instead of always talking about what I’d do, I’d get of my fat arse and actually make a bid for the club. That’s why I don’t trust Usmanov, because if he really wanted Arsenal he could offer Kronke double his money, but he won’t because its still an investment.

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  17. Why is everyone avoiding that when asked point-blank about offering some of his immense fortune directly, he then begins to speak about limits and how the business model is? You know, everything the crankypants among us point to as a current failing in the club’s administration?

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