Saturday, 22 September 2007
Beware the Bear… II
Following on from my post of the 30th August.
I have been delighted at the start that L’arse have made this season. In both the league and the European Cup the results thus far have exceeded my expectations and the new dynamic within the team post Henry has been most impressive. It probably won’t be maintained for the duration of the season but in playing terms the future looks good.
Not so good though is the possible future off the pitch with the story developing centred around the ever increasing share holding of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov.
A couple of stories that have emerged over the last few days that could be argued as giving an insight in to the personality of Mr. Usmanov and his modus operandi.
As has been reported widely yesterday several websites were taken off line under pressure from Mr. Usmanov’s London libel lawyers Schillings as a result of the publication of a post by Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan concerning Usmanov’s history, business dealings and interests
I have read the post and it is available to view on many sites. I will publish if you want me to but I don't want to take up a lot of screen space on something that has already been widely read. I don’t believe a word of it of course(!!), but you should really make up your own mind.
And that of course is one of the major issues at play here. You should be able to read the comments and make up your own mind.
Then today Alisher Usmanov has said he intends to buy a "blocking stake" in Arsenal through his holding company Red and White Holdings Ltd which is chaired by Arsenal’s former vice-chairman David Dein.
Mr Usmanov aims to up his share in Arsenal to at least 25% plus one share which will give him the ability to challenge the corporate running of the club and effectively make it difficult for the club to do what it wants.
Red and White Holdings Ltd, which is co-owned by Mr Usmanov and business partner Farhad Moshiri, currently holds a 21% stake in the London club.
I’m not going to discuss the self evident arguments over freedom of speech or this obvious design to obtain a position whereby the Arsenal board and shareholders will be bludgeoned into giving way to Usmanov and conceding control of the Club.
But you get a sense of what the Arsenal could be like under new management, an understanding of what the FA is if the ‘Fit and Proper person’ test is passed and what our commitment as a nation is to the freedom of speech.
Arsene Wenger has said he won’t let the power struggle distract him. "I'm responsible for the results at the club and not for the rest," he has stated. But although only an employee of the club he wields unsurpassed influence so maybe he should.