All is not well at the Arsenal as Usmanov pens stinging open letter to the club's board
Alisher Usmanov has added to the upheaval at Arsenal by attacking the board following Robin van Persie’s decision not to renew his contract with the Gunners.
Venting feelings shared by numerous Gooners after the Van Persie debacle, the club’s second-largest shareholder hit out at how the club is run, their ambition and ability to compete with the big clubs in a lengthy open letter to the Arsenal board.
Van Persie openly questioned the future direction of Arsenal when outlining his reasons for not renewing his contract yesterday and Usmanov, whose Red and White Holding company have a 29 per cent stake in Arsenal, second only to majority shareholder Stan Kroenke (63 per cent), echoed the Dutchman’s sentiments.
Hitting out at what is described as Arsenal’s self-financing policy, which the letter claims is “dressed up as prudent financial planning”, Usmanov writes: “As a consequence of this policy, which is dressed up as prudent financial planning, 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. All of that, naturally, comes at the expense of performance on the pitch.
“This policy is leading to the loss of our best players, often to our main competitors, and even causes the players themselves to question their future at the Club and the Club's ambitions. The situation with our captain and outstanding performer from last season Robin van Persie sums this up.
“Yet again we are faced with losing our true marquee player at the Club because we cannot assure him of the future direction and give confidence that we can win trophies. Where are the safeguards to ensure that this doesn't happen again and again in the future?
“As a top Club we should, at the very least, match if not beat the offers that other clubs make to try and lure our very best players away, and also provide a more compelling vision of the future.
“It appears that a place in the Champions League will be the pinnacle of our ambition again next season. Unfortunately, in the future we may see this ambition lowered further. It doesn't help to turn a blind eye to the reality of the situation and keep thinking of ourselves as being in the same league as Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City and Barcelona.
“To have a fighting chance of success, which means winning trophies, we need to match them in every aspect, including, if not first and foremost, financial.”
The above quotes form only a small part of what is a lengthy and hard-hitting letter (you can read it in full here) and it will be interesting to see what Arsenal fans make of it and what the response of the board will be.
It’s certainly an interesting, if turbulent, time at the Emirates at the moment.