Arsenal major shareholder Alisher Usmanov slams 'selfish' board of directors after another trophyless season

Billionaire blames board for inaction in transfer market, wants a tougher defence, and feels Gunners will suffer commercially as a result of failure on the pitch
Major shareholder Alisher Usmanov is adamant that the board of directors are to blame for Arsenal’s woes after yet another trophyless season.

The Gunners crashed out of the Champions League, the FA Cup and the Premier League title race after the devastating last minute Carling Cup final loss to Birmingham City in February.

Usmanov, who still owns almost 30 per cent of Arsenal Holdings despite Stan Kroenke's takeover offer for the club, which has now closed, says that directors have been too focussed on personal profit and making fans pay more than securing more trophies for the north London side.

"If the role of a board member is to oversee a trophyless period, while making significant personal profits and asking fans to pay inflation-busting ticket price increases then, no, I would not want to be on the board,” he told News of the World.

"If instead it is to try to deliver sustained success, to increase your personal investment in the club, to help develop the commercial position and to ensure the fans have a say in the running of the club then, yes, I think I certainly have something to contribute.

"In terms of doing things differently, let me give you a very clear example. Arsenal has all of its major commercial contracts coming up for renewal in the next couple of years.

"It's no secret that to maximise the value of those you want to have success on the field and be winning trophies. To do that you need to invest now in building a winning team.

"This is simple commercial logic. Whether it comes to pass, we shall see."

The Uzbek billionaire also believes Arsene Wenger’s budget for transfers is inadequate the necessary defensive reinforcements, and thinks that the club will need to spend to challenge for the title.

He added: "There is a widely-held view among most commentators - and one that I agree with - that the club needs to stiffen the defensive spine of the team, with a dominant keeper, strong centre-halves and a powerful defensive midfielder in the mould of Claude Makelele.

"The Premier League is one of the most competitive in the world and whilst we have consistently challenged for honours, the club needs to develop talent and buy top-class players to win the trophies we all crave.

"This requires greater investment which, I believe, has been lacking thus far.

"What however is not clear is whether the board shares this view. For too long they have seemed happy to sanction second, third and fourth as being acceptable, whilst at the same time they are planning to sell their shares."

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