Usmanov says board hampering Arsenal

UZBEK billionaire Alisher Usmanov has laid the blame for Arsenal’s failure to secure any silverware in the last six seasons squarely at the door of the club’s board.

The 57-year-old, who is not an Arsenal director, even though he owns almost 30% of Arsenal Holdings, believes self-interest among the board members is hampering the Gunners’ chances of on-field success.

Usmanov also claimed there would need to be a switch in emphasis if he were to end up on the board.

He said:: “If the role of a board member is to oversee a trophyless period, while making significant personal profits and asking fans to pay inflation-busting ticket price increases then, no, I would not want to be on the board.

“If instead it is to try to deliver sustained success, to increase your personal investment in the club, to help develop the commercial position and to ensure the fans have a say in the running of the club then, yes, I think I certainly have something to contribute.

“In terms of doing things differently, let me give you a very clear example. Arsenal has all of its major commercial contracts coming up for renewal in the next couple of years.

“It’s no secret that to maximise the value of those you need to be winning trophies. To do that you need to invest now in building a winning team. This is simple commercial logic. Whether it comes to pass, we shall see.”

Usmanov believes manager Arsene Wenger needs to be given the financial backing to bring in experienced players to complement the talented youngsters the club have at their disposal.

“There is a widely-held view among most commentators — and one that I agree with — that the club needs to stiffen the defensive spine of the team, with a dominant keeper, strong centre-halves and a powerful defensive midfielder in the mould of Claude Makelele,” he said.

“The Premier League is one of the most competitive in the world and whilst we have consistently challenged for honours, the club needs to develop talent and buy top-class players to win the trophies we all crave. This requires greater investment which, I believe, has been lacking thus far.

“What is not clear is whether the board shares this view. For too long they have seemed happy to sanction second, third and fourth as being acceptable, whilst at the same time they are planning to sell their shares.”

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