Wednesday, 26 September 2007
We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one.
Arsenal’s chairman Peter Hill-Wood has signalled the intention of the club’s board to fend off any new moves by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who is aiming to increase his 21% shareholding. The position has become significantly more defensible since the announcement that Arsenal's turnover has broken the £200m barrier after their move to the Emirates Stadium / Flashburton Grove / Dubaibury.
In a letter sent to Arsenal shareholders on Monday Hill-Wood wrote;
"The directors of Arsenal continue to hold 45.5% and have no current intention of selling any of their shares," and advised shareholders, many of whom are fans, to “take appropriate financial advice and consider the stance taken by the directors in committing not to sell their own shareholdings”.
Not that there is the slightest chance of fans selling shares if it means that Usmanov would get his hands on the club.
Peter Hill-Wood has said he opposes the involvement in Arsenal of Alisher Usmanov, because it is not sufficiently clear how the businessman amassed his multibillion-pound fortune in Uzbekistan and Russia.
"He's certainly not an open book," the Arsenal chairman said. "Business is murky in Uzbekistan, and that in itself is an argument against him being involved in Arsenal. I wouldn't want him to be the owner of the club."
Comparing Usmanov and Stan Kronke (an American Billionaire who has also recently acquired a stake in the club and is known to be interested in a take over), Hill-Wood said;
"Stan Kroenke is involved in sport and we have had constructive meetings with him,"
"We have never been in better shape financially and do not want anybody to buy the club, but if Kroenke wanted to buy it he would understand it and how to maintain the standards. We have not met Usmanov, so I may be speaking prematurely, but he seems a different kettle of fish."
Arsenal’s website is still on-line.
Hill-Wood follows his father (Denis) and grandfather (Samuel) as Chairman of the Club and it is this pedigree that can give some assurance. His family has been involved with Arsenal since the 1920’s and if there was ever someone who would use whatever power he had to maintain the traditions and integrity of Arsenal the P.H-W must be that man.