Today we are featuring a guest post from Ben which is the final winner of our competition. Rather than discussing players that should be transferred, Ben has chosen to focus on the Kroneke vs Usmanov situation that makes for an interesting read. Enjoy.
Although David Dein is well known to most Arsenal fans, his role in the struggle for power over the club is not widely understood. Dein was a longtime executive on the Arsenal board and had a reputation as a fantastic recruiter; bringing in world class players such as Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Viera, Theirry Henry, and Robin Van Persie during his time at the club from 1983 to 2007. He also is responsible for Arsene Wenger’s legacy at Arsenal, signing him as manager. In 2007, due to “irreconcilable differences with the board” , David Dein sold his stake in Arsenal F.C. to Alisher Usmanov, a Russian industrialist. Several months later, he approached the board as the head of Usmanov’s investment vehicle, Red and White Holdings, with a bid to become the majority shareholder. At this point, the board entered a lockdown phase, authorized to sell shares only to specified buyers. It was only then that Stan Kroenke, American billionaire, had his bid to acquire a majority stake in the club accepted after having his initial offer rebuked by the board. Today, Kroenke’s stake in Arsenal stands at 62.89%.
Both Kroenke and Usmanov wield impressive financial power. Kroenke’s estimated net worth is $3.2 billion U.S. dollars. This includes his stake as the founder of Kroenke Sports Enterprises, which owns the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Avanlanche, Colorado Mammoth, and the St. Louis Rams. Kroenke is also married to the heir of the Walmart fortune. Usmanov’s net worth is believed to be around $17.7 billion dollars. He studied international law in Moscow, and is the majority shareholder of Metalloinvest, a Russian industrial conglomerate. His only sports experience comes from being a board member of Dinamo Moscow, a Russian soccer team, which is sponsored by his company. Usmanov also owns several media companies, and claims to be a true arsenal fan. He has a slightly more questionable past than Kroenke, once arrested along with the son of the head of the Uzbek KGB. His stake in the club currently stands at over 29%.
One case worth analyzing when contemplating the potential outcome of Arsenal’s ownership dilemma is Roman Abramovich’s ownership of Chelsea. Over the years, Abramovich has put massive amounts of investment into his team, and as a result Chelsea has managed to achieve great success. However, his dominance over all aspects of the team has led to instability, with coaches being fired constantly. Kroenke rarely interferes with the day-to-day operations of any of his teams: arsenal has had extremely stable management despite the lack of trophies in recent years.
Yet, Kroenke Sports Enterprises is very large, with enough management oversight to ensure that major financial risks are generally avoided when it comes to investments. Arsenal is above the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, and all teams who have to invest such large amounts of money in order to achieve success. However, most great sports teams require a mix of financial risks taken by the owner and great management (on top of winning players). For example, the New York Yankees, who have dominated Major League Baseball, possess a great coaching staff and there is also a great deal of money contributed by the owners. For Arsenal, investment that could potentially be brought to the table by Usmanov paired with fantastic management in the form of Arsene Wenger, who is arguably the best coach in the world, can only have one outcome: the return of Arsenal as champions of both England and Europe.