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Arsenal set for 1.5bn takeover from Middle East consortium

We'll bid record 1.5bn for Arsenal (twice as much as the Glazers paid for United)… but they MUST finish top four, say Arab consortium

By
Dave Wood

PUBLISHED:

22:32 GMT, 2 March 2013

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UPDATED:

10:48 GMT, 3 March 2013

Arsenal's eagerly-anticipated north London derby with Tottenham on Sunday was given an added edge with reports that a Middle East consortium will launch a 1.5billion takeover bid for the club in the next few weeks.

The group, made up of investors from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, hope to tempt owner Stan Kroenke with the world record sum, reports the Sunday Telegraph.

But the group warned that Arsenal, currently fifth in the Premier League and three points behind fourth-placed Spurs, must act quickly amid fears that the club miss out on a Champions League place and fall into a cycle of decline like Liverpool.

Money talks: World record takeover would put Arsenal in the same financial league as Manchester City and PSG

Money talks: World record takeover would put Arsenal in the same financial league as Manchester City and PSG

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere

Prize asset: Arsenal's Jack Wilshere

American Kroenke is the club's majority shareholder, while Uzbek Alisher Usmanov also holds a significant stake.

The offer for Arsenal would reportedly see the potential investors bid around 20,000 per share, making Kroenke's holding worth 830m.

It would be the world’s biggest ever bid for a football club, dwarfing the 800m paid by the Glazers for Manchester United.

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke

Alisher Usmanov an Arsenal shareholder

Money men: Owner Stan Kroenk (left) and majority shareholder Alisher Usmanov (right)

Big fans: The consortium want Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to stay on

Big fans: The consortium want Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to stay on

A meeting has already been reportedly been requested with the American to discuss the proposed
offer. The seriousness of the bid is reinforced by the recent successful
takeovers of Manchester City and Paris St-Germain by Middle East backers.

It is unlikely Usmanov will want to sell his shareholding, given his 'dream' of taking control of Arsenal himself, but the Middle East consortium
believes it will be able to work with the billionaire, who does not
currently have a seat on the board.

Any takeover would inevitably raise questions over the future of manager
Arsene Wenger but the Frenchman is understood to be highly-regarded by
the consortium.

A bid source was quoted as saying: 'Arsenal is at a pivotal position at
the moment. The fear is that the club is facing a cycle of decline like
Liverpool. From our point of view it is the perfect moment to make this bid
because at this moment in time you can still genuinely justify this
extraordinary valuation on the club.

'We will not bid for Arsenal if they go into decline. Kroenke and Usmanov will
not get this kind of valuation if Arsenal do not succeed and will not get
this kind of valuation ever again.

'The amount of capital required to pump into Arsenal to make it competitive
within England, Europe and the world means that the valuation cannot go any
higher.'

Arsene Wenger thanks Arsenal board for sticking by him amid attack from Alisher Usmanov

Wenger backs Arsenal board amid Usmanov attack and thanks club for support

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UPDATED:

17:14 GMT, 20 December 2012

Arsene Wenger maintains he has always felt fully supported by the Arsenal board.

Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov, the club’s second-largest shareholder, today reiterated in an interview with American broadcaster CNBC his desire to further invest in the Barclays Premier League club.

Usmanov – whose Red & White Holdings group are not represented on the board – also claimed Wenger did not have enough backing and blasted the decision to sell captain Robin van Persie to rivals Manchester United in a 24million deal last summer.

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Stand by your man: Arsene Wenger has support despite Arsenal's recent woes

Stand by your man: Arsene Wenger has support despite Arsenal's recent woes

Wenger, though, feels the club’s policy of self-sustainability will pay dividends in the long term.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Barclays Premier League trip to Wigan, Wenger said: 'I believe I have always had the support from the board, and am very grateful for that. We have worked over the years in respecting in what we did, which is to always work within our financial resources.

Arsenal Christmas fixtures

Wigan v Arsenal
Sat 22 Dec, 12.45pm

Arsenal v Newcastle
Sat 29 Dec, 5.30pm

Southampton v Arsenal
Tue 1 Jan, 5.30pm

'Therefore we made decisions which from outside looked not based on purely footballing reasons, but it was based as well on financial reasons.'

Arsenal yesterday announced new long-term deals for England midfielder Jack Wilshere and four other young players – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Ramsey.

Wenger remains hopeful England winger Theo Walcott will follow suit and commit his future to Arsenal, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.

The Gunners boss, however, insists just simply spending big in the January sales will not necessarily take Arsenal forward.

He added: 'What is important is this team develops in the way we want to play.

'I have seen some interesting aspects on Monday night at Reading.

'Let’s see how far this team can go.

Gone: Arsenal were forced to let Robin van Persie join Manchester United

Gone: Arsenal were forced to let Robin van Persie join Manchester United

'If we can add one or two exceptional players, we will do it.

'What we do not want to do is add players just because people put us under pressure to buy players.

'That is where we have to be strong enough. If we find a player who will give us something special, we will do it – but that in January will not be easy.

'We have money, and why should I not spend it if it is to find the right players

'I believe as well the first and most important thing is to keep confidence in the players we have.

'If we are consistent, we can come back.'

Usmanov, 59, has an estimated fortune of some 18billion and maintains his long-term ambition is to take a controlling interest in Arsenal, where American Stan Kroenke is the majority shareholder.

Speaking to CNBC from Moscow, Usmanov said: 'I want to take this opportunity to just reaffirm that in order to help the team, we would be ready to buy more shares, to buy control, to buy all shares.

'We are ready to do all that we can in order to help the company, in order to consider any form of co-operation or ownership with the team.

'If I have a big stake in Arsenal of course I have my opinion what we must do, for example in the commercial side there are many questions over the effectiveness of the commercial side of Arsenal today, but we will see, we will wait and maybe when I wake up some day I have this Arsenal club.'

Usmanov continued: 'I always tell Mr Wenger he is one of the best coaches and football managers in the world, but I openly admit he has many, many difficulties to contend with.

'This decision (selling Van Persie) was a mistake. If I am one of Wenger’s players I would want to stay for the finish, but he explained Robin wanted to go to win trophies.'

VIDEO Arsene happy to tie players in

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Arsenal selling Robin van Persie was a mistake, says Alisher Usmanov

You let the fans down selling Van Persie! Usmanov launches fresh attack on Arsenal

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UPDATED:

08:57 GMT, 20 December 2012

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov says Arsenal made a mistake in selling Robin van Persie to Premier League rivals Manchester United.

The oligarch, who has accumulated an 18billion fortune and is believed to be one of Russia's richest men, says it is still his dream to own Arsenal.

And in a rare television interview, the 59-year-old, who already owns a 30 per cent stake in the club but has no seat on the board, gave his full backing to under-fire boss Wenger, who has been fighting calls from fans to quit.

Hitting out: Alisher Usmanov has once again criticised the way Arsenal is run

Hitting out: Alisher Usmanov has once again criticised the way Arsenal is run

Usmanov, who earned his fortune in
mining, lumber and business investments and is believed to be
significantly wealthier than Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, said the
Arsenal boss has not had enough support in recent years to keep up with
Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Speaking in broken English, Usmanov
told CNBC in Moscow this morning : 'First I did not hear the claims that
Arsene Wenger was against me and the board, and I am surprised about
this.

'Second I always tell Mr Wenger he is
one of the best coaches and football managers in the world but I openly
admit he has many, many difficulties to contend with.

'Today less, but over the last five
years he has not had enough support to provide his conceptions of his
game in Arsenal from the board, either for transfers or for keeping
players etc.'

Usmanov was asked if he would have
done more to keep van Persie who joined United in a 24million deal in
the summer, despite Wenger’s attempts to keep the Dutch striker.

Dutch despair: Usmanov attacked Robin van Persie's sale to Manchester United

Dutch despair: Usmanov attacked Robin van Persie's sale to Manchester United

Dutch despair: Usmanov attacked Robin van Persie's sale to Manchester United

The Soviet-born businessman said:
'This decision (losing Van Persie) was a mistake. If I am one of
Wenger’s players I would want to stay for the finish, but he explained
Robin want to go to win trophies.

Asked about his influence in the
transfer window, Usmanov said: 'I never interfere with things over which
I have no control, this question (about buying players) is for Wenger.

'I never ever give instruction to chief executive of my plans I only ask you need my help or not.'

Usmanov also said Arsenal had not made enough capital from its commercial wing and he questioned the operation at the Emirates.

Slump: Arsenal have endured a difficult season so far, summed up by the humiliating Capital One Cup defeat to League Two Bradford

Slump: Arsenal have endured a difficult season so far, summed up by the humiliating Capital One Cup defeat to League Two Bradford

He added: 'If I have big stake in
Arsenal of course I have my opinion what we must do, for example in the
commercial side there are many questions over the effectiveness of
commercial side of Arsenal today. But we will see we will wait and may
be when I wake up some day I have this Arsenal club.

'The cycle of big money might change
tomorrow in football. Everything has a limit, and this cycle of
development (rising wages and transfer fees) may come down.'

Ivan Gazidis to proceed with plan to restructure Arsenal wage bill to help Arsene Wenger in transfer market

Gazidis to proceed with plan to restructure Arsenal wage bill to help Wenger in transfer market

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UPDATED:

22:06 GMT, 6 June 2012

Arsenal are pressing ahead with a plan to restructure their wage bill after chief executive Ivan Gazidis admitted the existing model is inefficient.

And Gazidis hopes the move will allow manager Arsene Wenger to compete for the world's top talent.

The Gunners' current top earner is Robin van Persie – who earns a basic wage of 70,000-per-week.

New structure: Gazidis (left) hopes to free up funds for Wenger

New structure: Gazidis (left) hopes to free up funds for Wenger

But in contrast, fringe players Manuel
Almunia, Abou Diaby and Marouane Chamakh among others are not far behind
with weekly wages of between 50,000-60,000-per-week.

Sportsmail exclusively revealed in March how the club would embark on a summer clear out in a bid to slash their wage bill by 23million.

And speaking at an Arsenal Supporters Trust meeting, Gazidis confirmed the clubs intention to reshape the club's salary structure.

'We have inefficiency of spending in our squad – but we are moving towards as efficient a model as possible,' said Gazidis.

'Our wage structure has been based around a flatter salary structure – that is part of a team ethos the manager develops, it's about interaction between players – not superstars.

'But we have looked at this carefully and we have to make adjustments for top talent. They are earning a lot of money and I don't think that will slow down. We have to adjust our model.'

Top earner: Van Persie nets 70-000-a-week

Top earner: Van Persie nets 70-000-a-week

Meanwhile, Gazidis has placed further doubt on Alisher Usmanov's attempts to land a place on the Gunners board.

The Uzbeki billionaire, who is already a minority shareholder, wants a seat on the club's top table – and has promised a massive cash injection if owner Stan Kroenke agrees his place on the board.

But Gazidis said: 'I don't think whether it's Mr Usmanov or anyone else out there that we should pump money into the football club.

Cash promise: Usmanov (left)

Cash promise: Usmanov (left)

'We don't think that is healthy or for the good of the game When I arrived three-and-a-half years ago there had been a lot of change of the board and some degree of conflict.

'Since then we have worked hard to ensure the board is unified and has a common purpose. In terms of any further additions to the board it is important we don't disturb unity and don't create conflict.'