Once football clubs are bought, assets can be stripped or they can fall into disrepair – with nothing the fans can do to stop it
For some years now, Arsenal football club has been in an unusual ownership position. Two billionaires own 97.13% of the shares between them. Stan Kroenke, an American, is the majority shareholder with 67.09%, while Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov has 30.04% to his name. In a kind of throwback to a world we had left behind, the two men were involved in a football ownership version of the cold war.
The American refused to allow his Russian counterpart onto the board, thus rendering Usmanov’s stake useless in terms of influence and power. The oil and gas magnate made offers to buy out Kroenke but was rebuffed, and in the end he has realised it is pointless to cling on to his stake in the club. Stymied by the fact that nobody else was going to buy his share to be similarly frozen out, he has made the decision to sell to Kroenke for about £600m. Usmanov’s profits are in the hundreds of millions based on his initial investment.