Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov has claimed the club need to stop selling their best players if they are to win their first trophy in seven seasons.
The Gunners have not won any silverware since the FA Cup in 2005 and since then have earned the reputation as a ‘selling’ club, parting ways with key players such as Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie.
The club’s latest financial figures came out this week, showing a pre-tax profit of £36.6 million, but despite having a reputation as a well-run club, Usmanov is adamant that that is not enough to convince the supporters of the board’s ambition.
“Nobody can convince fans that the club is doing fine if for the past three or four years the club has been selling its best players,” Usmanov told Reuters. “It doesn’t matter who our extremely talented coach, Arsene Wenger, buys to plug these holes if we want to win trophies.”
While Usmanov, whose Red and White Holdings vehicle owns just under 30% of the club, has criticised Arsenal’s board, he is full of praise for Wenger.
“I’m an absolute fan of Arsene Wenger,” he said. “I support him and I’m confident in him. We think he’s a hero. Despite changes in the playing line-up, he keeps the variations of the same beautiful game”.
The Uzbek-born tycoon recently slammed Arsenal’s board in an open letter for failing to show enough ambition to hold onto Van Persie and called for the Gunners’ finances to be strengthened through an injection of non-dividend-paying equity into the club.
“Arsenal received our letter,” Usmanov said. “We didn’t mean it as a hostile message or a declaration of war.” However, despite giving advice to the board on how to run the club, Usmanov states that he does not want to be on it himself.
“We are tired of being accused of fighting for a place on the board. We have never in our lives asked for this place,” he said. “For now, we stay in Arsenal as shareholders as long as we don’t lose our love for this club. Now we wish it support and great victory.”