Usmanov invests another US$5.4 million in Arsenal

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov's gradual acquisition of shares in Arsenal has taken a sudden jump after his investment company spent US$5.4 million to secure extra shares in the English Premier League soccer club.

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has spent US$5.4 million to secure an extra one percent of shares in English soccer club Arsenal. The purchase takes Usmanov's stake in the club to more than 25 per cent, amid mounting fears from the Arsenal board that the Russian will be able to force a hostile takeover.

Arsenal board members, including American businessman Stan Kroenke, the owner of the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, signed a lockdown agreement last year vowing not to sell to Usmanov's investment company, Red and White Holdings Limited.

It is hardly surprising that Arsenal are attractive to foreign investors. The club, which surpassed US$334 million in revenue last season, and is well established at the Emirates Stadium, providing yearly matchday revenues of some US$150 million, is the only 'big four' English Premier League club to remain controlled by a majority English board.

However, the stake allows Red and White to block any attempt by the existing Arsenal board to change the financial structure of the club or transfer equity to board members without its approval.

The Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) has called for Red and White to invest transfer funds.

"Now that Red and White have reached 25 per cent, the time has come to turn their attention to setting out in more detail what this position means and if they have any practical ways that this support can be expressed," said a spokesman for the AST.