Hill-Wood: Arsenal do not need a billionaire

ARSENAL chairman Peter Hill-Wood insists suggestions the club need a billionaire backer are “lunacy”.

There has been much speculation the Gunners are ripe for a takeover, with the likes of Alisher Usmanov and Stan Kroenke having already taken a considerable stakeholding in Arsenal’s parent company.

Former Gunners vice-chairman David Dein – who controversially left the club in April – long held the opinion that the Gunners needed major foreign investment in order to compete with their Premier League rivals like Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool, who all have international backing.

But Hill-Wood insists Arsenal’s sensible financial policy will work in their favour.

He said: “We have always run Arsenal as a business and kept within reasonable bounds.

“All this nonsense about needing a billionaire to put a whole lot of money in to help shore up the annual deficit is not going to happen – it is lunacy.”

Hill-Wood said: “I have no objection to foreign investors coming into the Premier League, it’s going to be beneficial.

“Most of them are investment people and they are not buying into clubs because they have the passion for the local team they have supported since they were two years old.

“They think that football and the Premier League is an attractive investment and they want a return on that.

“That will work in our favour. There will be a more sensible attitude in transfer fees at silly levels and all this sort of thing.

“People putting £100 million in are going to want to see how they can make a profit. To go on paying more to players is not justified or sensible.”

Hill-Wood maintains the board have no intention of selling any more shares in the club – but would listen to any “sensible proposals” from the likes of Usmanov and Kroenke.

There has been uncertainty surrounding the direction of the club following the high-profile departure of Dein and sale of captain Thierry Henry to Barcelona, although speculation surrounding Arsene Wenger’s future was finally concluded last week when the Frenchman signed a new three-year deal with the club.

Dein left the Gunners board following a disagreement over plans to bring investment from Kroenke – who owns a 12.2% stake in the club – to the Emirates Stadium.

Last week Dein sold his 14.58% stake for £75million to Red and White Holdings Ltd – a company co-owned by Russian tycoon Usmanov and business partner Farhad Moshiri that has pledged to buy shares in the club – and was then appointed its chairman, fuelling talk of a forthcoming takeover.

But while Hill-Wood admits Arsenal, who release their financial figures for the year later this month, would be prepared to listen to what interested parties may have to say, he insists the board have no plans to sell.

“The major shareholders have no intention of selling and wouldn’t welcome an offer,” he said.

“We will have a dialogue with any principal or major shareholder. If they have got some sensible proposals we will listen to them.”

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