Arsenal fans back Usmanov's call to spend for success
Supporters agree with Uzbek billionaire's demand for more investment and want him on the board
THE ARSENAL model has long been one of prudence: spot and nurture young talent, buy well and watch your investments grow into marketable international superstars. The club's majority shareholder Stan Kroenke calls it "self-financing".
But a poll of fans reveals most Arsenal supporters do not agree with this philosophy and would rather see the club spend more on keeping and bringing big names to the club.
The survey was conducted by the Arsenal Supporters Trust following a harshly worded open letter from the club's second largest shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, last week.
The Uzbek billionaire accused the board of a lack of investment. "Yet again we are faced with losing our true marquee player because we cannot give confidence we can win trophies," Usmanov said in plain reference to the Robin van Persie saga.
"As a top club we should, at the very least, match if not beat the offers that other clubs make to try and lure our very best players away and provide a more compelling vision for the future," he added. "Where are the safeguards to ensure this doesn't happen again?"
Usmanov's Red and White Holding company has a 29 per cent stake in Arsenal. American businessman Stan Kroenke, 64, is the Premier League club's majority shareholder, owning 63 per cent of the club.
As the Evening Standard reports, Usmanov accused Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis of giving supporters the impression that Red and White was in a bitter stand-off with the board. But according to Usmanov, the "real conflict is between the supporters' expectations and your visions for the club".
The Arsenal Supporters Trust poll suggests Usmanov is correct. Eighty per cent of Gunner's fans said they would like to see Usmanov given a seat on the board, suggesting they agree with his stated policy of funding Arsene Wenger's team-building.
The supporters also showed solid support for Arsene Wenger, with 77 per cent of fans saying the manager was doing a very good job despite the club's run of seasons without winning a trophy being stretched to seven years. Frugal Arsenal, it seems, is not what the fans want - but they don't blame the manager.