Alisher Usmanov Q&A: Everything Arsenal Fans Need To Know

Who is Alisher Usmanov?

He’s a billionaire from Uzbekistan in the former Soviet Union, though often referred to as Russian, who owns half of Red And White Holdings, along with his partner Farhad Moshiri (whose Wikpedia entry is sadly out of date).

How rich is Usmanov?

Very rich. Estimates of his wealth vary, but it seems to be comfortably over $10 billion. The Forbes list in 2012 has him as 28th richest person in the world.

Has Usmanov always been an Arsenal supporter?

He claims to have been a supporter for some years, though there’s no evidence of any particular allegiance for any length of time.

Does Usmanov go to Arsenal matches?

He certainly goes to some, but as I’m not there with my binoculars every week I can’t say exactly how many. But he’s got two executive boxes knocked together into one ‘superbox’, so he has the world’s most expensive season ticket.

Why does Usmanov want to buy Arsenal shares?

He says because he’s a fan and wants the best for the club. He believes Arsenal is underfunded and would like to put more money in.

Why doesn’t he put money into Arsenal now, then?

He’s offered to put in an equivalent amount (in terms of share percentages owned) to majority shareholder Stan Kroenke by way of a rights issue. Mr Kroenke feels this is unnecessary.

Would he put in more if he was sole owner?

He’s indicated that he would, but as we know from the world of politics it’s easy to make promises when you are in opposition, and often the tune changes when you get into power. FFP rules will also make this more difficult, though I’m sure clever owners will find a way round it, with advantageous sponsorship deals and so on (eg £400m Etihad Stadium sponsorship). It would also be possible to repay the stadium debt early, which would be within FFP rules and free up approximately £17m of repayment and interest charges each year. The current Board has said there is no need to do this, given the manageable nature of the debt.

What other reason could he have for wanting to own Arsenal?

Three really: one – he wants a new toy, in the manner of Roman Abramovich, something to play with; two – he thinks it will enhance his status to own a major and world famous football club; or three – he thinks he can make money from it.

Can Usmanov make money from Arsenal?

In the long run, probably. Global media rights are growing in value. Stan Kroenke probably thinks the same thing.

How many shares has Usmanov got?

For the latest position, look here on Arsenal update this figure every couple of weeks. Mind you, that isn’t necessarily the full story, so read the information on my blog entry here, which explains more about exact numbers of shares and the reporting thereof.

Why does Usmanov’s share position get announced on

Premier League rules and stock market rules both apply. Any director who buys or sells a share has to put out an official announcement immediately. This applies to Mr Kroenke at present, but not Mr Usmanov. Non-director shareholders have to announce whenever they go over a whole percentage threshold. So there are announcements on the Plus Markets website for Mr Usmanov reaching 29%, 28%, etc. The Premier League rules are ambiguous, but say that all shareholdings over 10% have to be announced. They’re not clear on whether every share needs to be announced above 10% for non-directors, but Arsenal announce changes in Usmanov’s shareholding every couple of weeks.

How many Arsenal shares is Usmanov buying?

Seemingly as many as he can get hold of. Though as he’s now bought most of the ones other shareholders are willing to sell, it’s getting more difficult for him.

Where is Usmanov buying Arsenal shares from?

There are still a few hundred Arsenal shareholders, though a lot of these now have only one share and are fans who don’t want to sell. Some shareholders have blocks of four or eight shares, and may sell all but one, so as to retain an interest but make some money as well.

Has Usmanov inflated the Arsenal share price with his purchases?

Yes and no. The price is a lot higher than it was a couple of years ago, but it’s not excessive when you look at turnover and consider marketing potential. Football is big business these days and Arsenal are in good shape to take advantage. So although Usmanov’s desire for shares has pushed prices higher, there is actually business justification for it too.

How many Arsenal shares are there?

62,219 – so 30% of that is 18,666.

Why does Usmanov want to get to 30% of Arsenal shares?

In summary, the Premier League treat a 30% shareholder as an owner, and don’t differentiate between situations where the 30% shareholder is the biggest shareholder, and where there is another majority shareholder as there is with Arsenal. So Usmanov hopes that when he gets to 30% the Premier League will give him all the rights and privileges of an owner, despite the fact that Arsenal already has a majority owner. See my blog entry here for more details.

Will Usmanov having 30% of shares give him a seat on the Arsenal Board?

No. Directors are appointed by a majority of shareholders, and Stan Kroenke has a majority. So Usmanov will only become a director if Kroenke decides he should.

Does Usmanov have to make a bid for Arsenal when he gets 30% of shares?

My previous blog on this said he doesn’t and in practice he won’t have to, but for the record the Takeover Code says this:

The [Takeover] Panel will consider waiving the requirement for a general offer . . . where:
(a) holders of shares carrying 50% or more of the voting rights state in writing that they would not accept such an offer; or
(b) shares carrying 50% or more of the voting rights are already held by one other person.

Obviously Mr Kroenke has more than 50%, and gives every indication that he has no intention of selling. So the Takeover Panel are not going to insist that Usmanov makes a bid when he reaches 30%.

Can Usmanov make a bid for Arsenal anyway?

He can make a bid anytime he wants to. It seems likely that a bid would happen in the close season, so he can’t be accused of derailing the team’s season. The close season is fast approaching . . .

If Usmanov makes a bid for Arsenal, what price will he have to pay?

The general rule is that a bidder must offer the highest price he has paid for a share in the 12 months preceding a bid. However, there are plenty of reasons for exceptions. The Takeover code lists the following:

Circumstances which the Panel might take into account when considering an
adjustment of the highest price include:
(a) the size and timing of the relevant acquisitions;
(b) the attitude of the board of the offeree company;
(c) whether interests in shares had been acquired at high prices from
directors or other persons closely connected with the offeror or the offeree
(d) the number of shares in which interests have been acquired in the
preceding 12 months;
(e) if an offer is required in order to enable a company in serious financial
difficulty to be rescued;
(f) if an offer is required in the circumstances set out in Note 12 on Rule 9.1;
(g) if an offer is required in the circumstances set out in Rule 37.1.
The price payable in the circumstances set out above will be the price that is
fair and reasonable taking into account all the factors that are relevant to the
Basically there is plenty of scope for the Takeover Panel to make any decision they like.

What price has Usmanov been paying for shares?

I’m told he has not paid over £14,000 for a share, in case he is made to pay his highest price. However, at least 78 shares have been sold at higher than £14,000 each, so someone else is buying them if it isn’t Usmanov. It can’t be Kroenke, because he is obliged to announce every time he buys a share.

When will the battle for ownership of Arsenal between Kroenke and Usmanov be resolved?

It seems quite likely that Usmanov will reach his 30% target this summer. The next step will be to see what attitude Kroenke and then the Premier League take to that event occurring. After that, developments will depend on whether any additional access Usmanov has to Arsenal’s information allows him to pressure Kroenke into selling up or accepting Usmanov into the fold. Usmanov seems determined to keep pushing and is getting closer to his target. The status quo won’t last forever.

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @AngryOfN5

If you have any more questions, or think I’ve left information out or not been clear, please add a comment or tell me on Twitter.


20 thoughts on “Alisher Usmanov Q&A: Everything Arsenal Fans Need To Know

  1. Usmanov, Dein and Wenger and Arsenal will be Arsenal again. I would have liked the writer to have mentioned that Usmanov offered a higher price for the shares to the sellers who , for whatever reason, sold their shares to Kroenke at the lower price. The article also comes across as somewhat anti-Usmanov, who’s a greater lover of the game than Kroenke and Gazidis together. That Usmanov has not been offered a seat on the ‘Board’ beats me!

  2. Usmanov is preparing to float one of his companies on the LSE, and the acquisition of a London football club would be part of a strategic plan, if you were preparing for a time when the political situation in Russia turns against the oligarchs who have ripped the country off so profoundly and so shockingly, to make London your eventual base. Usmanov is intimately involved in the Putin/ex KGB led kleptocracy – centered around Gazprominvestholdings – and, before that, emerged in the shadiest possible way from Uzbekhistan with an iron grip on that country’s metal industry. His friends there? None other than Islam Karimov, possibly the world’s grisliest dictator, and one Gafur Rakimov who, it is alleged by some, controls the heroin trade in Central Asia.

  3. I’m not sure this is EVERYTHING Arsenal fans need to know about Mr Usmanov. You’ve completely ignored his extremely shady past, probably because you know that he’d have your blog taken down should you even hint that he is not a fit and proper person for The Arsenal.

    • That’s a fair point – I was concentrating on the Arsenal aspects, but there is certainly debate, let’s say, about how Mr Usmanov has conducted himself in some business dealings and other matters in the past. It is a matter of record that he spent time in prison, and the way that oligarchs amassed their fortunes can and has also been questioned, and in some cases is the subject of ongoing litigation. Another commenter has put a link to Craig Murray’s site. I suggest that anyone interested read that and other information and make up their own mind.

  4. I have always believed that Kroenke was the wrong person to take a controlling share in Arsenal, he just wants to add to his franchises, and by all accounts he is not doing so well with his current crop and I don’t think he knows how English football is played. How many games has he actually attended. I would much prefer Usmanov as has declared his love of Arsenal and attends games and knows what it’s all about. I hope he goes ahead and buys Kroenke out.

  5. I know the ‘fit and proper person test’ is a bit of a joke but I was just wondering whether he would pass it as I believe he has been in jail and all of the dodgy dealings that he has been involved in.

    Or has he already had the ‘test’ ? As the premier league already class him as an owner

    • The test is applicable when AU gets to 30%, so he hasn’t had it yet, as he’s currently on about 29.68%. As far as I can tell from my own reading of the rules, he would pass.

  6. Really interesting piece mate. Think it’s abit of a farce that a man with 29% of the shares in a football club doesn’t have a position on the board. Would also like you to answer a question for me if you would Phil – have heard suggestions that should Usmanov be offered a seat on the board then he would ask David Dein to occupy it for him. Can this happen in practice? Would Usmanov gaining 30% signal a likely return for Dein? I know the two are friends and although I think I’m right in saying that Dein no longer holds a position at R&W, Usmanov and he are still in contact. Thanks.

    • I think who sits on the Board is entirely a matter for Stan Kroenke as long as he has more than 50% of the shares. So if Usmanov nominated someone else, Stan would still have to agree. David Dein returning is most unlikely under the current ownership, regardless of any involvement of Mr Usmanov.

  7. Whatever you may think of this man and his past the fact of the matter is that Kroenke is the worst possible owner we can have. I dont see anyone else lining up to turn us into world beaters so maybe we should take his money win some trophies and then maybe we can afford to have such high moral standards in our owners. As a fan the biggest crime is taking our money and not investing it in the squad. Yes he has dealing with dodgy people but then the CIA spent years transporting heroin into the USA and probably still do so if Kronke has met Obama then he must be dodgy right? Things are not as black and white as some investigative reporters would let you think. Its funny how our media like to focus on foreigners with dodgy pasys while our own governments behave appalingly and no one even batters an eyelid. I think the article is spot on to focus on what he can do for the Arsenal because when you get to that level of wealth ANYWHERE in the world you are dodgy. Period, and if you think otherwise then fine but you have conditioned by the western media to think that our governemnts are not involved in the multi billion dollar drug trade. Which is simply untrue. Mexico is the perfect example, the US media spends the whole time telling us how awful things are in Mexico due to the drug trade. Yet ALL of Mexico’s problems exist because of the USA. The US media goes on about how the US backed mexican government is trying to stop the cartels when in reality the Mexican government is actually funded by drug money. Maybe we should a little closer to home before making these sweeping statements of how the world is so black and white, how we in the west are the good guys and these pesky rich easterners can only bring trouble. Lets stick to what this man can bring to Arsenal and leave the biased, overly westernised conditioned journalists write there tunnel vision articles. We in the west have no moral high ground with ANYBODY. Lets not forget the opium wars which helped build this countries wealth so as British people we really need to step off our high horse.

  8. Why do people get rich in the first place? Either you are born rich or have a shady past. At least if you have a shady past you have earned the money yourself. That shows dedication, ambition and the will to go the extra mile. If you ask me that is exactly the people that should run our great Arsenal. How good would it be to make Mike Dean and the rest of the Fa scum to be terrified of our owner ?

  9. why is it that usmanov’s criminal record has not been mentioned here ?i mean there is clear proof to the fact that he is a thug with links to the russian mafia and had cases of drug trafficking and rape charged against him. can’t be totally fake .

  10. Are we trying the man for criminal charges or what is best for Arsenal? You cannot be straight as an arrow and the get rich enough to buy a top EPL club and that goes for every single club. What is worse is we have an owner that is only looking to drain the club to its bone and we are having a discussion about the possible shady past of someone with the rescue package, interest in the club, most expensive season ticket holder.
    While I have no interest in Abronovich’s past, I was particularly happy for Chelsea fans when watching the champions league final the other day. The guy was like a player on the pitch twitching all over the place with every move on the pitch. Now that is interest, passion and fan and you can’t fake that. We need that. That is what makes you spend. Not a man hardly interested what what happens on the pitch

  11. There is no rich folks who doesn’t have a dodgy or shady past. Even your so called Royal family the queen n her son all have blood in their hands,remember Lady Diana n how the British Govt is a conspiracy in covering up her murder. What about the Afgan War on terror that has the American Govt using the free drug trade to sponsor the war on terror,what could be said about them? You westerner talks as if your any better than the rest of the world,stop act as if you judging AU of any moral high ground when we obviously know that the revise is the case. A typical parable of a man telling his neighbor there is a mute in your eyes while he’s got stones in his eyes. We as a fan have suffer since Silent Stan took over,what has his era achieved for Arsenal? Shame,backwardness,high season tickets,no trophy and lack of an ambitious policies waiting on FFP before they consider to act. I’m an advocate of change,if AU shows an interest to bring such as he plans hitting 30% shares then I’m all for him whenever he decide moving for a takeover. Kronche is just making money off the club wit no interest in investing,for those of us who label Usmanov a shady businessman,news flash here crook Stan stealing fr you n not giving back #KronchyOut #UsmanovIn

  12. Some mental replies above. I don’t like either man but Usmanov is clearly poison and could potentially be awful for Arsenal, not to mention he’s guaranteed to destroy the identity of the club – some fans are so desperate for trophies they simply don’t care. Financially we’ve been tight because of the new stadium, over the coming years we’ll see more money free’d up to spend on players and wages as sponsorship deals get renewed, commercial contracts increase and now the stadium debt has entered a zone we’re happy to manage over the long term, there’s absolutely no need for a new, rich owner coming in and splurging a load of cash – just wait and see.

  13. Wit wat I’ve just read about Usmanov Q&A my question are these
    1. If Usmanov manage 2 reach d 30% share requirement which I pray 4 n bcome Arsenal FC controller
    Does Arsenal Fc is going 2 change its present system in d transfer market
    2 Are we going 2 continue selling our star players
    3 Are dey going 2 change all d coaching crew
    4 If Usmanov bcome controller is he going 2 b after trophies or after profit both

  14. Pingback: Everything, and nothing! |

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