Arsenal board votes against Usmanov deal - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Arsenal board votes against Usmanov deal

Arsenal's board have decided against a proposed rights issue to generate new cash which was put forward and underwritten by the Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, the second biggest stakeholder in the Barclays Premier League club.

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis confirmed the subject was given due consideration, but has been turned down in favour of the status quo which sees the Emirates Stadium club remain self-financing.

Usmanov - whose Red & White Holdings group have a stake of around 25 per cent in the club's parent company - had argued the scheme would help to reduce both the long-term debt of some £400million, which is mainly associated with the new stadium, and also hand manager Arsene Wenger extra transfer funds.

However, Gazidis maintained Arsenal's current capital structure was "very efficient".

"The board, with its financial advisors Rothschild, considered thoroughly the proposal to use permanent equity capital to either pay down debt or to add to the club's spending in the transfer market," Gazidis said in an interview with the club's official website, www.arsenal.com.

"With regard to debt, the conclusion reached is that the club has a very efficient capital structure with long-term debt on attractive interest rates.

"We can comfortably afford to meet the annual costs of this debt while at the same time generating surplus funds to invest in the club.

"Using permanent capital to pay down debt would not, therefore, radically transform the annual cash flow of the club."

Gazidis continued: "With regard to players, the board decided not to issue permanent capital in the hopes of signing one or two players in an inflated transfer market.

"Instead, the focus continues to be on securing the services of talented young players we have on long-term contracts and making very selective acquisitions, only where a new signing will add real value to our already strong squad."

Arsenal have, so far, only brought in Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen in what is understood to be a £10million deal from Ajax.

Gazidis, though, warned just throwing money at the side was no guarantee of long-term success.

"We have developed some of the best young players in the world, as they showed by advancing to the last four in the Champions League," he said.

"Simply spending money in the transfer market does not make a team or guarantee success.

"We have followed a slightly different route to most and have built, not bought, a team that has players who are highly sought after and valued by the biggest and best clubs in the world. But we intend to keep them

"The club, supported by the talents of Arsene Wenger, has embarked on a longer-term strategy of building its team rather than buying it."

Gazidis added: "There is a football graveyard of clubs that have not adhered to these principles and have unfortunately suffered the consequences.

"Our responsibility is to build the club so that it can be successful, not just this season and next season, but also 10 and even 20 years from now."

Arsenal today announced last season's leading scorer Robin van Persie has agreed a new long-term contract, reported to be worth around £80,000 a week.

Youngsters Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs have all been tied up on new deals this summer.

Gazidis commented: "Sometimes, understandably, the public focus is on new signings, but, especially as the football world becomes more and more competitive for the best talent, re-signing a current member of the squad is as important as - actually, usually more important than - making a new signing.

"This is another indication that we are focused on keeping our best talent here and are building a strong foundation for the long-term success of the club."

The Arsenal chief executive added: "We are laser focused on next season.

"Our young players have some very valuable high-level experience under their belts and will be one year older and better, mentally and physically.

"They will learn the lessons from last season and will be better players next year as a result.

"They are ready for the challenge, believe me.

"There are plenty of reasons to look forward to next season with optimism."

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