Another great piece from The Times, who got stuck into Arsenal’s number two shareholder Alisher Usmanov this week. If you were unaware, Mr Usmanov’s Wikipedia page was altered to give a more kindly view of our rotund billionaire chum. Out with mention of criminal convictions and opponents mysteriously disappearing, and in with what a wonderful patron of the arts Alisher is, how philanthropic he is – it would not surprise me to find out that Santa Claus does exist after all, and he is from Uzbekistan. No wonder no one can ever actually find him at the North Pole.
The Times love a bit of oligarch bashing – I suspect it makes them feel better about working for kindly old Rupert Murdoch, another billionaire who you wouldn’t trust not to sell his own mother. So when they spotted that AU’s Wikipedia entry was rather more ‘hello birds, hello sky’ than it used to be, they went into full on investigative SAS journo mode. They traced the alterations to the computers of RLM Finsbury, Usmanov’s PR lackeys, who seem to have overlooked the fact that you can’t make people read and accept any old bollocks these days – they will argue about it, call you names and use this new-fangled internet to put their own side of the story. If that’s how clever his PR firm is, I’d strongly suggest to him that he looks for a new PR firm.
Finsbury have apologised and said it will not happen again – though this is after it has already happened twice! People (especially PR people) really have no shame these days.
Some might suggest that this altering of the facts makes Mr Usmanov himself appear less trustworthy. I wouldn’t suggest that, because for one thing he’s got far more expensive lawyers than I can afford. You be the judge. (Awaits comment saying, “I don’t care as long as he spends money buying Arsenal better players”.)
The Times have printed a lot more Usmanov-related stuff this week, as he’s trying to get his latest $12 billion share issue off the ground. More on that later.
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