Looks like we are having to suffer a sudden charm offensive from Arsenal’s second largest shareholders, Messrs Red and White. Mr Usmanov, or ‘Red’ as I call him, has been talking to CNBC, while Farhad Moshiri has spoken to Reuters.
“It’s time Arsenal won trophies like the Champions League,” says Mr U. Well I think we can all agree on that.
When asked about Rooney (presumably one of the only footballers the business correspondent interviewing AU had heard of), Mr Usmanov said he “could be the ideal signing for Arsenal”:
“He is a great player, there would be great success for Rooney [if he joined Arsenal], and for Arsenal too.” Bit presumptuous. It’s only Rooney, not Messi.
Usmanov has also “backed a summer transfer spree in an attempt to revive the club’s fortunes”. I think most of us are on board with that one too – I’m starting to think he might just be saying what we want to hear.
He went on: “We as shareholders point to some drawbacks in the management of the club, but Wenger is a great coach and the club is progressing in the commercial sense. We should trust him.”
This is rather more conciliatory than previously. In December he said to CNBC: “For example in commercial side, I think there are also many questions about [effectiveness] of the commercial management of Arsenal. But we will see, we will wait. Maybe when I wake up someday I’ll have this Arsenal club.”
Well that’s something to look forward to then. In December he also said: “I want to talk with every Arsenal fan. I am with you. I’m one of you. I’m ready to help the club with anything that I can.” Obviously that’s anything apart from helping Fanshare or making any legally binding promises about taking money out of the club or ticket prices or fans’ rights . . . or pretty much anything really. Still, he likes Arsène, so that’s nice.
Meanwhile this week Moshiri has popped up to have a word with Reuters. He apparently said “Arsenal would start to benefit from a £30m deal with Puma, echoing media reports that the German sportswear company was set to replace Nike as the club’s kit supplier.” Some fans took this as proof that the Puma deal was on, even though the club has not yet commented. Let me tell you something: Moshiri doesn’t know any more about the Puma deal than the rest of us. He’s not on the inside. However, it’s perceptive of him to spot that £30m a year will be a benefit. Not this year, though.
He also said: “Arsène Wenger was the reason we invested and he is very much the reason why we continue to support the club.” Okay – so what are R&W going to do when Arsène leaves then? It might be next year, it might be in three years or even five, but he will leave. If he’s the only reason you’re interested then that seems a shortsighted view.
Moshiri then turned pundit to say that “Wenger’s longevity would be an advantage when champions Manchester United and rivals Manchester City and Chelsea are all under new management.” Really. Well that may be true, but he seems to be overlooking that Chelsea have gone back to an old manager, and in any case they’ve still been winning trophies even when they change manager every five minutes. And Man City have so much money they even won the league with a very average manager who couldn’t control the players. But still . . .
“He [Wenger] remains the one with deep experience in the top four, and that provides a significant edge for the club. They managed to stay in the top four with very strict finances and without some of the biggest players. Now they have the foundation to move on,” said Moshiri. He’s starting to sound like a spokesman for the Board.
“Ivan Gazidis has secured a major win in the contract with Puma, for £30m a year,” he added. “That is a significant win for Arsenal. That shows Puma’s confidence in London and, through London, Arsenal.” Now he sounds like the Ivan fan club. Suddenly R&W love everyone! Oh, hold on: “Should they invite us, or consult us, we are there to help.” Ah, I see. It’s all about helping now. Not about taking over at all. Not about waking up one morning and finding Arsenal belongs to you. What a guy.
I don’t believe much that either of the principals of Red & White have to say on the subject of Arsenal. They’re in it for themselves, not for us. When they stop saying “We’re like the fans, and all the fans are important to us” and start doing things that would help fans, then I’d be a little less suspicious and cynical.
Amazingly some saw Usmanov’s quotes about Rooney as a chance to make up quotes from him. When challenged they went rather quiet.
In other Usmanov news, it was the fortnightly update on Arsenal.com today on the share position.
R&W still apparently stuck one share short of 30%. I’ve heard – and don’t quote me, this is just between us – that Arsenal take their time with the paperwork for R&W’s shares just to annoy them. Still, they’ve been on 18665 for at least six weeks now, and no one could be that inefficient with paperwork, could they. Especially not a company that’s managed a £30m a year deal with Puma.
Finally a picture tweeted to me earlier by @ArseneWonga. If this doesn’t prove we’re signing Rooney, I don’t know what will.
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Hang on, the Fonz used to say ‘Heeeeeeyyyyyyyyy!’ didn’t he, not ‘Yeah!’? The Rooney deal is off.