Usmanov ups stake in Arsenal as he buys shares from Rangers
The clubs' 102-year relationship ends as Usmanov inches towards 30 per cent mark
ARSENAL'S century-old links with Rangers in Scotland have been severed after the Glasgow club's owner, Craig Whyte, sold its stake in the Gunners to businessman Alisher Usmanov days before the Scottish champions went into administration.
The move reportedly raised £230,000 for the Ibrox club, but according to the Daily Record that money somehow ended up with a stockbrokers in Bournemouth rather than Rangers' bank account.
The purchase inches Usmanov's stake in the Gunners closer to the 30 per cent mark. If his holding reaches that figure it will entitle him to a seat on the Arsenal board of directors. That, in turn, would give him access to the club's accounts and details of transactions, including wages and transfers. His current stake is thought to stand at around 29.6 per cent.
Usmanov has an agreement with American Stan Kroenke, who now owns 66 per cent of the club, which means he will not have to launch an official takeover bid if he does reach 30 per cent.
Not only does the sale increase Usmanov's stake, it ends one of the longest associations in football, dating to 1910. "The close friendship forged between Rangers and Arsenal spans back to the turn of the last century when the Londoners were experiencing financial trouble of their own," reports the Record.
"It's believed Rangers attempted to help out by buying two shares in Woolwich Arsenal because their manager, George Morrell, had previously worked for the Ibrox club. Around 20 years later, a much stronger and vibrant Arsenal gifted Rangers with a further 14 shares in return for their support during troubled times."
It all adds to the intrigue at the Emirates as Kroenke flies in for Thursday's shareholder meeting. The American is expected to throw his weight behind under-fire manager Arsene Wenger and, according to The Guardian, the half-yearly accounts will reveal profits of around £55m which will be handed to Wenger to rebuild the team.
But the paper predicts there will be unrest as the Gunners stare down the barrel of a seventh consecutive season without a trophy.