Alisher Usmanov says he is not about to sell his shareholding to Stan Kroenke after the American made a bid to take full control of Arsenal.
The Russian businessman has released a statement which reads:
“In recent days there has been speculation relating to a possible offer for my 30% 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.
In light of this, I would like to be clear that I am not holding any talks with Mr Kroenke about a sale. My interest in Arsenal from the beginning was long term and my intention has always been to buy additional shares should they become available.
This I did with the purchase of the stake of my business partner Farhad Moshiri with which I increased my shareholding from 15% to 30%, 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% 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.”
So, there we go. The Arsenal cold war continues for now – but we now have some confirmation that Usmanov is willing to sell his stake for the right price.
Also, the line “I am not holding any talks with Mr Kroenke about a sale,” maybe a quirk of language, but it’s correct in the present tense: it doesn’t rule out discussions in the future should the offer be tempting enough.