Was David Dein Right? Do We Need A Sugar Daddy?

Well, as we all digest the offer Manchester Citeh’s Arab owners have made to Milan for Kaka, a nose-bleed inducing €100 million (around £91 million) it’s time to revisit this question I think.   
Le Boss has made his views clear. He doesn’t think Citeh’s offer is good for the game. I’ve no doubt those Citeh fans that celebrated Thaksin Shinawatra’s arrival, then got out the Arab headdresses for the takeover of the Abu Dhabi United Group after Inspector Knacker in Thailand caught up with Shinawatra, blocking his bank accounts, are delighted. I understand the delight of the blue half of Manchester after all those years of having Yoonited rammed down their throats.   
David Dein fell out with Danny Fiszman and the rest of the Arsenal board over his view that we needed a rich “investor” to match Chelsea’s spending power. He tried to bounce his colleagues into selling the club to a multi-billionaire owner with deep pockets. Led by Danny Fiszman, he was shown the door. He did of course get a £75 million consolation prize when he sold his Arsenal shares to Alisha Usmanov.   
Usmanov’s company Metalloinvest is caught up in the global economic crisis. His Ural Steel company, a subsidiary of Metalloinvest, will be laying off thousands of steel workers in the coming months. He has apparently been told by the Russian government not to pursue a takeover of Arsenal. Such “advice” is ignored at one’s peril in Russia. Not taking such “advice” can lead to the arrival of the federal tax police. Now a visit from Her Majesty’s Customs & Revenue is not to be taken likely here in Blighty.   
In Russia they plot up in body armour and tend to carry Kalashnikov’s rather than laptops. Former Yukos Oil boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky got himself fixed up with a nine stretch in 2005 for alleged bribery and fraud. Nobody thinks this was because he was more bent than other oligarchs; merely that he had backed the wrong political horse. Usmanov is unlikely to make the same mistake. The price of doing business in Russia is keeping the Kremlin powers that be well onside.   
Silent Stan Kroenke is the other possible buyer who already has a significant stake in the club and is now on the board. He too has his problems however with the economic crisis. Nobody is going to lend him the thick end of £500 million to buy the club. He’d have to sell assets at the bottom of the market to fund a purchase of Arsenal. Rich people aren’t like you and me. That’s one of the reasons they’re rich and we’re not. Personally I’m too lazy and interested in other things to ever have made any money past what I need to pay the bills and go to football and the odd nice trip to somewhere windswept and interesting (usually involving football).   
If you or I had the assets that Stan Kroenke has we wouldn’t give a monkey’s about selling at the bottom of the market to buy our favourite football club. He does, that’s why he’s rich. Good luck to the geezer. I’ve got nothing against him personally. He just doesn’t think like most of the rest of us on the planet however (about half of whom “live” on about 75p a day, or about £275 a year if you prefer).   
So if we’re going to have a sugar-daddy he’s likely to have to come from the Middle East. But where is he (and from that part of the world I’ll guarantee it will be a he) going to get the shares to buy control from? He’ll need to perm two out of three from Red & White (Usmanov), Danny Fiszman and the Bracewell-Smith family to get close to overall control. Realistically he’d need to buy out Stan Kroenke too. Those four holdings together would amount to nearly 83%. But would however took over be content to have a minority holding retained by small shareholders? Unlikely.  Anybody who buys over 30% has to launch a mandatory offer for all the remaining shares.   
If any one owner gets to 90% they can compulsorily buy the remaining 10% and take the company private. Even in these difficult times that would cost a LOT. And there’s still around £300 million in debt incurred to build the Grove and the construction loans to develop Highbury into flats. And that’s before a penny is spent on transfers and big wages. The current market price for Arsenal shares is £7,550 a share. The market price is though notoriously unreliable in terms of Arsenal as there are such a small number of shares – 62,217 and they’re so thinly traded. Only 15 have been sold this past week.   
As I said, the rich don’t think like most people. None of the current shareholders is desperate for cash to pay the mortgage, rent or gas bill. They can afford to sit on their holdings for as many years as it takes for the current crisis to pass and the possibility of a higher offer coming along. Unless somebody fancies coppering up £500-600 million to buy the club, then hundreds of millions more to fund extravagant transfers and salaries, then it isn’t really worthwhile thinking about the Manchester Citeh route.   
Personally, I’d be completely against it anyway. I don’t own much but I do own one Arsenal share. It’s about my most precious worldly possession. The only time I’d part with it if somebody got to 90% and could compulsorily buy me out. Compared to most clubs on the planet, never mind this country, we’re absolutely rolling in money, all of which we generate ourselves. As it should be, in my opinion. Arsčne Wenger and UEFA president Michel Platini might not agree about much, but they agree about that.   
Let’s all settle down a bit and see what Arsčne can produce on the pitch and our new chief executive Ivan Gazidis can do in terms of attracting and retaining players.   
Finally, a plug for the newly re-launched Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association (AISA) website which features their 2009 on-line Arsenal Supporters’ Survey.
and have your two bob’s worth. I’d also commend AISA membership too. A bargain at £10 a y ear or £100 for life. A sound investment if ever I saw one!   
That’s all for today, my fellow citizens of the Gooner Republic. Good luck to all those Gooners flogging up the country to Hull.   
Keep the faith!   

LOGIN to Comment
LOGIN to Comment