Usmanov: Arsenal primed for new era of trophies and glory

The businessman, who owns 30 per cent of the Gunners, has had issues with the club's decisions in the past but believes that they are now in fine shape to push for success
Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov believes that the Gunners are beginning a "new era" of trophy success after last season's FA Cup triumph.

Arsene Wenger's side beat Hull City at Wembley in May to end a nine-year wait for silverware, their first taste of glory since moving into their new Emirates Stadium.

Usmanov argues that the financial struggles to pay off the debt from the arena could have been avoided but is satisfied that things are now in place for the club to start a charge for greater success.

"The club is very well placed to succeed," he told The Daily Telegraph.

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"I think we begin a new era for Arsenal where we win trophies. That is most important for football. In my opinion, in line with the existing rules, the club has the correct decision-making process in place, including their selection policy, especially now, when they have the means to buy the best players.

"I think that Arsenal's planning was based on acquiring the new stadium, a decision taken by the previous owners," the Uzbekistan native added.
"The acquisition was financed with debt, which would be repaid through matchday revenues, among other sources.

"There is another way of doing it: when shareholders buy all of the assets and contribute them to the club. As a result, these debt-free assets may generate income for the club. It is always up to the shareholders to choose which model to adopt.

"The board and main shareholders chose the debt option at the time, which led to Arsenal going almost 10 years without winning a domestic title or the Champions League. The first trophy only arrived in the 10th year. 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."

Though he came second in a battle for control of the club with Stan Kroenke, Usmanov holds a 30 per cent stake in Arsenal. His personal wealth is beyond that of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich but the 60-year-old says that he would not be pumping in huge amounts of money were he in charge.

"I would do it my way, not the way of Roman Abramovich or Sheikh Mansour [of Manchester City], with all my respect to these two people," he remarked.

"I invested in Arsenal when I bought shares. Obviously, if the club needs [money], I am ready to consider various options. In my view, at present, the club has great prospects and it does not need additional investment."

Usmanov has publicly criticised decisions like the sale of Robin van Persie to Manchester United in the past but insists: "I never said anything bad about the club or somebody personally. I said what, in my view, we can do – not better – but more effectively.

"I also want to highlight the contribution of the coaching team. They achieved the best they could at a time when the club had a huge financial deficit.

"I have no plans to exit," he added. "I wish Arsenal success and hope that they win trophies."