It’s been a while since I last talked about Arsenal (the whole Usmanov vs bloggers thing has really taken off though), and with positive news to report this time, let’s not waste time and get right into it, shall we?
For starters, if you’re up for some reading, here’s the report from arsenal.com (PDF) (press release, rather) detailing the current financial situation. If you just want a short review, then here it is in four words:
Arsenal are fuckin rich.
In practical terms, the money will mean little in the short run. Arsene Wenger is not one to spend rashly, no matter what the amount of money available to him and he’s a creator, not a builder or a jigsaw puzzle artist. His vision for Arsenal is stubborn and it does not involve shelling out 25-30m for Samuel Eto’o, not when he sees Adebayor and Robin van Persie growing season upon season.
In the long run the money has benefits but not without potential problems. one hand, it means that Arsenal’s debt will be wiped out with ease and the club will always have money to reinvest. On the other hand it will only attract more billionaires (some like Usmanov, others like Kroenke) who will want the whole pie to themselves. It’s not something restricted to Arsenal but considering that Arsenal are the richest club in England that haven’t been taken over AND are playing in the ‘richest league’ in the world, the financial numbers are the strategic equivalent of painting a bright bulls-eye on Arsenal’s heart.
Usmanov’s faux pas (or that of his lawyers) has generated a lot of ill-will against him amongst Arsenal supporters and I doubt that he will be able to complete a hostile takeover, especially since the Arsenal board will be far more resilient to any takeover attempts as compared to the Manchester United board. The recent changes at Chelsea will also serve as a reminder for fans that rich owners do not always contribute to club harmony. The possibility that Wenger could be dismissed by the board is something the fans will not accept and as a result Arsenal’s chances of being taken over are quite low.
In that light then, the press release is a statement of intent for the current Arsenal board, their move to show the supporters that they are responsible for bringing good results (financially) to the club. But while this protects their current position it doesn’t do much for the future. Their next step should be a bold plan to secure more Arsenal shares under ‘friendly’ control – and if that means dealing with Kroenke, so be it. I’m sure that with the money being generated, the board can consider investing further into the club and offer to buy out Kroenke.
You can bet your house that Usmanov will do so, if he hasn’t already. Best for the board to move first and eliminate the possible threats to Arsenal instead of dealing with them later down the road.