Archive for August, 2007

Hypocritical Dein Cannot Be Trusted

990 comments August 31st, 2007

“The Russians have parked their tanks on the lawn and are firing £50 notes at us.”
David Dein, 2004

On Wednesday afternoon, I had a phonecall telling me that David Dein had sold his share-holding to an as yet unknown Russian. The logical thought was that the buyer was Berezovsky – he has a box at the new stadium and has called himself an “Arsenal fan” in the press. Furthermore, he is understood to be on good terms with Danny Fiszman – from what I was being told, I suspected that Berezovsky had bought Dein out of the club for good and sided with the board as an investor.

Sadly not. After failing disastrously in a takeover attempt with Stan Kroenke, Dein has turned to an oligarch: Alisher Usmanov, the steel magnate. Stan Kroenke owns some part of the St. Louis Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Crush, Colorado Mammoth, and of course, the Colardo Rapids. He is a sports man through and through, with investments spanning American football, ice hockey, and soccer.  Usmanov’s only involvement in sport to date has been as president of the Russian and European fencing associations.

Now, I am not in support of Kroenke’s bid. But the above does demonstrate that Usmanov is a man with no business history or tangible interest in football. There are reports of him owning a box at the Emirates but I can’t find any confirmation of that. And more importantly, whatever you might think of how Kroenke’s in-laws have run the Wal-Mart empire, they’ve got nothing on Usmanov.

There’s a fairly clean Times profile of the man here. But a bit of digging by arseblog reveals that the paper also shows the darker side to “The Hard Man of Russia”:

Within hours of Dein’s press conference, Schillings, the lawyers, issued a statement on behalf of Usmanov. It read: “Mr Usmanov was imprisoned for various offences under the old Soviet regime. We wish to make it clear that our client did not commit any of the offences with which he was charged. He was fully pardoned after President Mikhail Gorbachev took office. All references to these matters have now been expunged from police records. Mr Usmanov does not have any criminal record.”

I’m sure that pardon has nothing to do with Usmanov’s very close relationship with the Kremlin. Nothing whatsoever.

Usmanov’s minor partner in “Red & White” is Farhad Moshiri, who features in a well-researched profile by Goodplaya here. From what I can gather, Moshiri is essentially Usmanov’s British representative.

And yet he will not be the public face of “Red & White”, a company with a name that is so sickeningly sycophantic to the Arsenal fans, for they have appointed a certain Mr. David Dein as their chairman.

Dein must be delighted. £75m in the bank and the financial backing to have a good go at making him Chairman of Arsenal Football Club. And believe me, this is a takeover bid. Yesterday Red & White made this statement:

However, Red & White confirms that it has no current intention to make a takeover offer for Arsenal or to acquire a shareholding in Arsenal which would trigger an obligation to make a takeover offer for Arsenal save as set out in note 1 below.

“Save as Set out in note 1”, eh? Let’s have a look at note 1:

Note 1

For the purposes Rule 2.8 of the Takeover Code (the ‘Code’), Red & White
reserves the right to announce an offer or a possible offer or to make or
participate in an offer or possible offer for Arsenal and/or take any other
action which would otherwise be restricted under Rule 2.8 of the Code within six
months from the date of this announcement if there is a material change in
circumstances or in the event that:

– an agreement or recommendation from the board of Arsenal is
forthcoming; or

– there is an announcement of an offer or potential offer for Arsenal
by a third party; or

– Arsenal announces a ‘ whitewash proposal’ (as described in Note 1 of
the Notes on Dispensations from Rule 9 of the Code) or a reverse takeover (as described in Note 2 to Rule 3.2 of the Code); or

– there is an early termination of the Arsenal Board’s publicly
announced agreement not to dispose of their interests in Arsenal for one year from 18 April 2007.

To translate, what Red & White are essentially saying is:

There won’t be takeover bid*.
*Unless there’s a takeover bid.

Now, let’s look at what Dein has actually done. Putting aside the hypocritical statement at the top of this article (which is hard, considering how laughable it seems now), this is a guy who tried to sell of the club to Kroenke behind the board’s back. Now, thrown out of the club for his misdemeanours, he has seemingly dropped Kroenke like a stone to sell to the highest bidder: Usmanov. Why? Because he doesn’t care where the money comes from. There’s no substance to Dein’s ambition. All he wants it to be Chairman and weild power at the club he supports.

Well, that’s what I want too. I’d love to have Arsenal as my own private toy. But I’d never do it. Firstly because I can’t afford it, but more importantly because I do not have a problem with the current Arsenal board. Dein does – a very personal problem, which he is turning into a war. But look at it this way: yesterday Keith Edelman said

We have ample cash resources for the manager to invest in the team and the squad. The manager caught his targets this year well within his budgets.

Do you think he is lying to us? With our financial results about to be published, could he afford to paint a falsifed picture of the economic condition of the club? Many of you will back Red & White because you are frustrated at the lack of investment in the team. But that is the free choice of Arsene rather than the enforcement of the board.

You can only imagine that Arsene knew this was coming. I sincerely doubt it will effect his contract one way or the other. But both Red & White and the current board share one common goal – to keep Wenger in charge. That means that nothing will change. Do you think that just because Dein comes back Wenger will suddenly feel free to spend £100m a Summer on a bunch of overpaid Galacticos? It just won’t happen.

So what will happen now? Well, I imagine that Usmanov and the board will enter a bidding war for Kroenke’s stake, in which there can only be one winner. Kroenke will make a tidy profit, and Dein & Co will be on around 27%. Apparently the Arsenal Supporters Trust back Dein’s bid – even their small percentage of shares would probably tip Red & White over the 29.9% mark and force a compulsory bid for the company, which would almost certainly be rejected. Dein will also request a place on the board, which’ll probably be knocked back.

But then they’ll get to work on individuals. Dein will offer board members Roubles beyond their wildest dreams, and at the end of the day, they’re only human. There will be offers they cannot refuse. They might see themselves as “custodians of the club“, but they are still people with lives and families and, ultimately, business interests.

It’s a slippery slippery slope from here, and I don’t like it one bit.


We’ve been handed a fairly easy Champions League draw, with another trip to Prague and a potential enthralling tie with Sevilla.  More talk about that another time.

It’s the final day of the transfer window today. I can’t see anything happening, and I imagine we’ll all be talking about the takeover instead for quite some time now.

A final note: whilst all of your opinions are welcome, especially on important matters like today, and kind of racism or xenophobia will not be tolerated. My opposition to any takeover has nothing to do with the nationality or race of those involved, and anybody who makes those kinds of statement will be instantly banned. If you see it, report it. Thanks.

Alisher Usmanov & Farhad Moshiri buy 14.58% of Arsenal; Confirm Dein as their “Chairman”

434 comments August 30th, 2007

Alisher Usmanov
Alisher Usmanov, the man behind the latest Arsenal takeover bid

Red and White Holdings Limited (“Red & White”) today announces that it has
purchased a 14.58% stake in Arsenal Holdings plc (“Arsenal”) from David Dein for £75m, and that it has appointed David Dein as its Chairman. Red & White also announces that it has committed funds to enable it to increase its stake in
Arsenal. However, Red & White confirms that it has no current intention to make a takeover offer for Arsenal or to acquire a shareholding in Arsenal which would trigger an obligation to make a takeover offer for Arsenal save as set out in note 1 below.

Red & White is an investment company established specifically to hold equity
interests in Arsenal. Red & White is jointly owned by Mr Alisher Usmanov, a
leading Russian businessman, and Mr Farhad Moshiri, a London-based investor and long time business associate of Mr Usmanov.

In his role as Chairman David Dein will develop proposals to support the future success of Arsenal and will focus on increasing Red & White’s stake in Arsenal as outlined above. Red & White believes that in light of the fast-changing landscape for football, both in the UK and globally, it will be able to assist Arsenal and ensure that it will be able to thrive in the future and become the leading football club in the world. Specifically, Red & White believes that in order to remain competitive at the top level of the game, Arsenal will require access to significant funding.

Additionally, Red & White believes that the continued involvement of Arsene
Wenger, over and above any renewed contract, is vital to the future success of
the club.

Red & White intends to approach the Board of Arsenal in the near future to
discuss its ideas, to understand the future direction of Arsenal and to explore
areas of potential cooperation.

Commenting on the announcement, Farhad Moshiri said:

“We are very excited not only to secure a significant stake in one of the
world’s most famous football clubs but also to have secured the involvement of
David Dein for the future. Arsenal is a great club with huge potential and we
look forward to increasing our stake and exploring ways to help support the
future development of the club for the benefit of all fans and shareholders.”

David Dein, Chairman of Red & White, added:

“I have always had the best interests of Arsenal at heart – I’ve had a love
affair with the club since I was six. I firmly believe that the involvement of
Red & White with a significant stake and the long-term commitment of Arsene
Wenger are absolutely the best outcome for the club, fans and shareholders
alike. I am delighted to have found, in Farhad Moshiri and Alisher Usmanov,
individuals who share my vision for Arsenal and of where it needs to go to be
the world’s leading football club.”

Alisher Usmanov:
Owner of Oskol Steel Mill, the Ural Steel industrial complex, and the Lebedinsky Iron Ore Mining and Processing Facility.  Has said his first love was his stock, or shares, in his metals plants.  Well, he sounds like a barrel of laughs.  Also known as “The Hard Man of Russia”.  I imagine that’s some kind of hilarious steel-based joke.  He is wealthier than Berezovsky, with an estimated worth of around £1.8bn.  This guy apparently makes Abrahmovich look like Mother Teresa.  This story from the Daily Mail corroborates this:

When the only independent national TV channel was closed down in 2001, it was Gazprom Media which took it over and turned it into a propaganda arm of the Kremlin.

Gazprom went on to buy up Russia’s two large independent national newspapers. The last significant remaining one, Kommersant, was bought personally last November by the sinister Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov, chairman of Gazprominvest Holdings.

The Editor-in-Chief was immediately sacked while the defence correspondent, Igor Safronov, mysteriously fell to his death from a window three months later.

Gazprom now controls a whole raft of formerly independent media outlets encompassing TV, radio and newspapers, all faithfully echoing the Kremlin line.

Oh good.  I think we can safely say that this is exactly what we didn’t want to happen. 

Farhad Moshiri:
Usmanov’s UK representative, this man just loves his pottery.  Expect the Emirates to be full of elegant vases anytime soon.

David Dein:
And slimy and orange as a rotting apricot, he’s a) made himself £75m, and b) bought a ticket back into Arsenal.  Because believe me, this little trio won’t be stopping here.

Major Announcement To Cloud Champions League Draw

311 comments August 30th, 2007

Usually on this day in the year, David Dein would be in Monaco with the movers and shakers of football for the Champions League Draw.  This year, forced out of the limelight by his own transgressions, he has reportedly called a 4.30pm press conference to make an announcement that will overshadow the draw of Arsenal’s European fixture list.

The end of the transfer window could see a big deal go down, but not neccessarily on the pitch.

Brace yourselves for an explosion of media interest and “Arsenal takeover” stories, whatever the precise details of Dein’s announcement.  You can be sure that the Tango-man will be loving the awkward questions Keith Edelman may have to field in Monaco at 5pm.

Arsenal 3 – 0 Spartans: Eduardo Flourishes On The Wing

111 comments August 30th, 2007

When the Champions League group stage draw is made this afternoon, Arsenal will be in the first eight names out of the hat. After comfortably seeing off a small army of Spartans last night, we now join Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool as top seeds for the group stages.

The tie was over within seven minutes. Theo Walcott, who had started on the right, burst past his man and fired across the the goal. Tomas Rosicky arrived in perfect Robert Pires-style to sidefoot the ball into the net. The fans who had travelled from Prague politely applauded their former hero’s calm finish.

After that, the tie faded. Although they attacked gamely,the game was up for Sparta. Arsenal knew that their passage was secure, and that led to sloppiness throughout the side. Walcott’s crosses became wayward, Diaby’s passing erratic, and Senderos’ absent-minded defending led to him being berated by Kolo on one occasion.

The game changed when we introduced Cesc and Adebayor, and later Denilson. The younger Brazilian went wide right, pushing Walcott up top with the Togolese, and Eduardo dropped out to the left wing. The introduction of Cesc alone would’ve made a massive difference. Wearing a black armband for his friend Antonio Puerta, he was clearly a man on a mission.

Just inside the last ten minutes, Cesc shifted the ball outside to Eduardo, who I thought had been quiet all night. The Crozilian then flicked the ball past the defender and sprinted round him, leaving the full-back for dead, before finding Cesc in the box. Fabregas fired into the near post, making it three goals before August is out, and killing Sparta for good. Almost literally.

The final goal was the one most Arsenal fans will remember. As the last seconds of the game ticked away, an Adebayor-inspired flowing move found Denilson on the right. The youngster’s clipped cross to the near post was met by Eduardo, who had made a great diagonal run. The number nine stretched out his left-leg to place the ball into the far corner, and score his first Arsenal goal in his first start at the Emirates. Not bad at all. If you watch this video of the goal, you’ll see Adebayor try to crush Eduardo in a jealous rage as he lies prone on the floor. Tsk tsk.

I did think that Eduardo looked better on the wing. I don’t know if I’d go as far as Myles Palmer when discussing Van Persie’s ability to suffocate his partner, but he is without doubt an individualist, and I for one wasn’t inspired by his hour-long pairing with Da Silva. The Dutchman’s selfish streak is partly what makes him so good, which is why it’s such a tricky one to manage.

Walcott didn’t look uncomfortable on the right, but his final delivery was for the most part poor. Arsene moved him upfront in the second half, and was very frank when discussing the merits of both Eduardo and Walcott and their performances in their various positions:

“Theo had a good first half. He can be decisive. He’s very direct, quick, is a good crosser and finishes well. He’s improving his link play and is more aggressive. When he uses all the assets he has he will be dangerous for everybody.  Once he plays through the middle he will make good runs and get behind defenders. Close to the line you need better technique and his greatest quality will be the runs he makes behind defenders.  In the future he’ll be used more as a central striker.

If a defender is one yard behind him Theo will never get caught. He makes good runs along the line of the defence and he will be able to use that more when he plays through the middle.  But it’s good for him to learn the job on the flanks.

Eduardo was the opposite of Theo, I found him more at ease on the left flank, where he had tricks of a winger, and then through the middle. He’s a great striker, you know, and you could see that. We did not always have the drive to find our strikers because we were more concerned with keeping the ball than finding our strikers, but if you find him he will score goals. That’s what he has, you know? He’s a box player.”

I suppose at this early stage in their Arsenal careers, we should just celebrate their versatility and the fact that last night they got a goal and two assists between them.

TTR #4: Welcome to the fourth installment in our Tenuous Transfer Rumours series.

First of all, a bit of bad news for anyone hoping we were going to move for Chelsea’s Lassana Diarra – I have a solid report that he spent Tuesday in talks with Portsmouth.

However, it was interesting to see Arsene interviewed before the game.  When asked if the transfer window was completely closed for him, he smirked and replied “No.  But 95%”.  Maybe he’s trying to sneaks someone in at the last minute, just as the window shuts.  Like Indiana Jones diving under a lowering wall.  And going back to get his hat.  Reckless.

Knowing our luck, the remaing “5%” of activity is a deal to sell Cesc to Bolton in exchange for a packet of crisps.

UPDATE: To hell with it – I can tell you that there might well be some buying going on at Arsenal.  But that doesn’t neccessarily mean we’ll have a bigger squad.

Think about it.

Sparta Preview, TTR#3: Adriano

245 comments August 29th, 2007

Today’s Tenuous Transfer Rumour: ADRIANO

“I’ve been offered Adriano on loan and I said no. We do not need him and it was an easy decision to make because we’re not out there to take a striker on loan.

“The agreement was for a loan. They wanted to give us a player but wanted one back in return. I won’t say who it was but I did not want to lose the player they wanted. I didn’t necessarily think Adriano would upset the balance of the squad but he has qualities we don’t need.

“I bought in [strikers] Eduardo and Bendtner. I already had Adebayor and Van Persie plus I still have Walcott and Diaby who can play through the middle. Why should I bring more players in? I have big faith in my squad and they’re proving me right at the moment.”

Not taking Adriano on loan I can understand. He has suffered with weight problems, and Wenger would’ve been reluctant to lose Rosicky (according to the Italian press) or Flamini (according to The Times). But trying to expand upon your striking options with the inclusion of Abou Diaby? Strange thinking from Arsene. Add in his declaration that he is prepared to play Alex Song at centre-back, and it’s clear that our squad is about as thin as Ally McBeal in a corset.

If I had time I’d say more. I imagine I will when the transfer window closes once again.
Tonight we have to finish the job against Sparta Prague with a professional performance. Sagna is out, so Justin Hoyte could start at right-back. I suspect Eduardo may be given a first start at the Emirates, possibly alongside Emmanuel Adebayor.

Admist denials of an impending departure for Jens Lehmann (who is not, as reported, in Germany), Manuel Almunia will continue between the sticks.

Tara for now. More tomorrow.

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