Alisher Usmanov, the Russian billionaire who owns 23% of Arsenal, has said he does not want to be “a hostage to any hostilities” which remain between the current board and former vice-chairman David Dein.
Dein, who left the club after a disagreement about overseas investment, sold his 14.6% stake in the Gunners to Usmanov and was later named as the non-executive chairman of the Uzbek-born businessman’s company Red and White Holdings.
But tension still remains between Dein and the Arsenal board and it is something Usmanov does not want to hinder relations as he continues to expand his interest in the club.
He has denied any immediate plans of launching a takeover, while other leading shareholders Danny Fiszman, who has 24.11%, chairman Peter Hill-Wood, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and Richard Carr, have pledged not to sell their interests in the club until at least April.
But it is clear as he approaches a 25% holding in the company – a figure which would give the 54-year-old a blocking vote and allow him a veto over key decisions – that he does not want his closeness to Dein to hinder his involvement with the present board.
Usmanov told The Sun: “We do not want to be a hostage to any hostilities between David Dein and the board.
“We are thinking now about how not to end up between the rock and the hard place.
“We will try to convince David to be less hostile to the current board and make an effort to pacify the board in their conflict with him.
“I’m grateful to David Dein that he decided to sell his shares to me and not someone else and we made him our non-executive chairman.
“But I don’t want his personal relationship with the board to affect my relationship with them. I want to establish my own relationship with the board.”
Usmanov also claimed that he and his advisors were not aware of the depth of feeling that existed in the rift between the two camps when they started to invest in the Gunners.
He continued: “What we heard about him (Dein) and the board at the outset and what we see now are two different pictures.
“When Mr Dein contacted us we didn’t know the substance of the problem between him and the board.
“I think it’s a highly personal and emotional situation.”
Despite the seemingly troublesome division between parties, Usmanov is not ready to sever his links with Dein – the man who brought manager Arsene Wenger to the club over a decade ago.
Usmanov’s business partner Farhad Moshiri added: “Our relationship with David has been for six months and with the club for four weeks.
“But David’s relationship with Arsenal is deeper and longer and we will be loyal to him.”