ARSENAL shareholder Alisher Usmanov has splashed some of his considerable cash on a new luxury yacht... no doubt tempting Gooners to dream about the money he could fork out on players.
Usmanov has, it is being reported, handed over some £65 million on the craft, which includes a swimming pool, a helicopter pad, a gym, a luxury dining room and cabins for 20 guests.
Meanwhile, we learn that Usmanov has also changed his private jet to an Airbus A340-300 that costs £230 million. So let me get this right...he has spent almost £300 million on getting two modes of bleedin' transport?
Then again he is worth almost £12 BILLION! It begs the question: why isn't he being invited to join the Gunners' board, despite owning just under 30 per cent of the club? That is exactly the question being put to Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis next Wednesday in front of 300 Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) members at Emirates.
Other questions being asked of Gazidis, we learn, focus on our club’s future. One critic plans to ask if the wage policy should be torn up in a bid to keep RVP. It should be noted that so far, Stan Kroenke, the majority shareholder, has not allowed anyone from Red and White Holdings, Usmanov’s investment vehicle, to attend board meetings.
Another searching AST question will be to ask whether Arsenal should accept Usmanov's offer of mega-wonga to bring us in line with the spending of Manchester City, United and Chelsea. Time will tell.
The AST website informs us that other key issues set to be discussed are:
- The club's footballing expectations for this coming season, 2012/2013, and whether qualifying for the Champions League is the extent of the club's ambitions
- The new Elite Player Performance Plans being introduced and what this will mean for youth development at Arsenal
- The future of the Arsenal Fanshare scheme and club support to promote continued plurality in the ownership through supporter shareholders
- What progress Ivan Gazidis feels has been made in his first three years at the club and an update on the club's five year strategic plan
- What lessons have been learned from last summer's transfer window to make sure things go more smoothly and successfully this year, and the position regarding Robin van Persie
- How the club will drive commercial income aggressively in the short term given the long-term tie-ins on stadium naming, kit rights and shirt sponsorship and the need for more tertiary and overseas deals
- The club's view of Financial Fair Play regulations and what plans we have should they have little impact
- Given that Arsenal now has two billionaire investors owning over 96% of the club, is there a case for them investing funds to put us on a competitive footing before FFP starts to bite?
- Arsène Wenger's statement that he does not intend to do much business in the transfer market this summer and a feeling from many AST members that the team needs further strengthening. Can the Board reassure supporters that there are funds to invest?
- The club's wage structure and whether it is hindering Arsenal's chances of success by not being spent efficiently
- How many more shares Red & White holdings need to obtain before they have access to the full accounts and why won't the Arsenal Board at the very least engage in dialogue with Mr Usmanov and Red and White Holdings?
Elsewhere, news of the summer's friendly matches trickles in and it seems Arsenal and Rangers will take part in Southampton's Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup come July 14. The teams will face one another in three round-robin matches lasting 45 minutes each at St Mary's, with games ending in a draw decided on penalties.
CARL ELDRIDGE - Twittering @eldomedia