Fiszman death eclipses Gunners takeover wrangle

ARSENAL last night announced the death of director Danny Fiszman, at the age of 66, after a long battle against illness.

A successful businessman, he joined the club’s board of directors in 1992 and recently reached agreement with Kroenke Sports Enterprises over the sale of his shares.

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood said last night: “Danny was a visionary director, a gentleman and a true Arsenal fan.”

The club also acknowledged Fiszman’s efforts in helping the Gunners move from Highbury to their new Emirates Stadium.

Hill-Wood added: “We are all deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend Danny. His voice, wisdom and presence around the football club he so dearly loved will be sorely missed.

“Arsenal Football Club will forever be indebted to Danny for his invaluable foresight and contribution during the move from Highbury to our new stadium.

“Our thoughts at this time are with his wife Sally, family and friends.”

The news of Fiszman’s death overshadowed further news from behind the scenes at Emirates Stadium yesterday, where Kroenke has taken a controlling interest.

Yesterday Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov insisted he will not sell his stake in Arsenal after fellow shareholder Kroenke triggered a mandatory buyout offer for the club. US businessman Kroenke secured a 62.89% controlling share in the club earlier this week after agreeing to buy out major shareholders Fiszman (16.1%) and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith (15.9%) for around £234million.

By passing the 30% threshold, Kroenke is obliged to make a cash offer for the remaining capital at £11,750 per share. The club’s total value has been set at £731m (€823m).

Kroenke’s main focus will now be on purchasing the £194m (€218m) stake owned by Usmanov, who does not have a seat on the board but controls 27% of the club’s holding company.

But Usmanov yesterday said: “I am not going to sell my stake. I love Arsenal, that’s why I am a shareholder,” Usmanov said.

Usmanov, worth an estimated £11bn, first acquired Arsenal shares in 2007 after purchasing the stake of former vice-chairman David Dein.

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