Arsenal: 'new era' as Usmanov calls an end to Kroenke feud
Gunners are heading in the right direction says second-largest shareholder and Kroenke critic
Alisher Usmanov, the second biggest shareholder at Arsenal, has hinted at a possible thawing of relations with club owner, American Stan Kroenke, by heralding the arrival of "a new era for Arsenal where we win trophies".
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the Uzbek billionaire revealed that he had not spoken to Kroenke since the two embarked on a battle for control of the club seven years ago, but believed that the Gunners were finally on the right track.
Usmanov told the paper that he believed Arsenal's nine-year trophy drought did not need to happen, but he "also delivered his most enthusiastic endorsement of the club's current direction," says the paper.
He explained that the decision to fund the new Emirates stadium with debt had hamstrung Arsene Wenger for almost a decade and pointed out that the Gunners has some of the wealthiest shareholders of any club in the world, who could have invested in the team.
"The board and main shareholders chose the debt option," he said. "As a result of this choice, they were selling players and were unable to buy top players. These difficulties have now been overcome and the team is in a good state; the club's finances are in order and I believe that Arsene Wenger and the club's CEO [Ivan Gazidis] will manage them correctly."
Arsenal insiders "confirm an easing of tensions during the past 18 months between Usmanov and the current board, headed by Kroenke", writes Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph.
The Uzbek has access to the directors lounge at the Emirates and rarely misses a game, while the club now works with charities he supports in his homeland.
"What once seemed like a dysfunctional relationship is steadily improving. Both Usmanov and Kroenke are adamant that their investment is long term and, on both sides, every indication is that their Arsenal shares will remain in their respective families for another generation."