The day after Arsenal released its latest financial results, major shareholder Alisher Usmanov has warned that the club’s trophy drought will continue if they keep selling their star players.
‘Nobody can convince fans that the club is doing fine if for the past three or four years the club has been selling its best players,’ Usmanov said. ‘It doesn’t matter who our extremely talented coach, Arsene Wenger, buys to plug these holes if we want to win trophies.’
Usmanov, whose Red and White Holdings vehicle holds just under 30% of the club, has criticised Arsenal’s board for selling leading players. But he has backed manager Arsene Wenger:
‘I’m an absolute fan of Arsene Wenger,’ Usmanov said. ‘I support him and I’m confident in him. We think he’s a hero.
‘Despite changes in the playing lineup, he keeps the variations of the same beautiful game.’
Usmanov recently criticised Arsenal’s board in an open letter for failing to hold on to van Persie. He called for Arsenal’s finances to be strengthened through an injection of non-dividend-paying equity into the club.
‘Arsenal received our letter,’ said Usmanov. ‘We didn’t mean it as a hostile message or a declaration of war.’
However, Usmanov does not want to be on the board himself.
‘We are tired of being accused of fighting for a place on the board,’ he said. ‘We have never in our lives asked for this place.’
Usmanov does not plan to write another letter at this point as it would be a distraction while the club tries to win games.
‘The season is beginning – we must close this discussion and support the club, coach and players,’ he said.
Arsenal’s third-place finish in the league last season was enough to guarantee them a place in the Champions League for the 15th successive season.
‘I never say we need to spend enormous money for any players but we must have capacity,’ said Usmanov, when asked whether UEFA’s planned Financial Fair Play measures mean that teams must cut losses or face exclusion from European competition.
Usmanov said he loves the club and holds his investment as ‘
a fan… who has participation as a shareholder.’ He has no plans to sell, declaring ‘if you sell what you love you lose yourself’.
‘For now, we stay in Arsenal as shareholders as long as we don’t lose our love for this club. Now we wish it support and great victory.’