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Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Gunners 'must brace for takeover'

Alisher Usmanov
Usmanov has been a long-term candidate for a takeover at Arsenal

Arsenal must prepare itself for a takeover bid from Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, according to football consultant Alex Fynn.

Fynn has advised several Premier League clubs including Arsenal.

He told BBC London 94.9: "If you're an Arsenal fan you should be concerned, but you should be more concerned if [director] Danny Fiszman wavers.

"He's been the rock around which the new stadium was built and if he wavers then there's a problem."

Fynn continued: "He's the man who has only a slightly less share than Mr Usmanov - he has about 24%.

It's a dangerous situation when you own less than 40% of the company and that is the situation since Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith left the board. Arsenal are in a very vulnerable state

Alex Fynn

"If he stays firm then I think then it would be a problem for anybody else to run a hostile bid, not withstanding the fact that the board now have a minority of the shares."

Red and White Holdings, of which Usmanov is a co-owner, increased its stake in Arsenal to 25% on Monday.

A formal takeover bid could be launched by Usmanov if the group's stake was to reach 30%.

Fynn said: "It's significant because it make him [Usmanov] the largest shareholder.

"The other reading is that Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith left the board in December and her 16% holding is in the balance.

"She is therefore freed from the lockdown agreement, which meant that no director can sell their holding before April.

"Then they must give a first option to one another before they can sell anything, so Arsenal are in a state of flux at the moment.

"It's a dangerous situation when you own less than 40% of the company and that is the situation since Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith left the board. Arsenal are in a very vulnerable state.

If any determined predator wishes to throw money, and they'd have to throw an awful lot of money, then they could take over the company

Alex Fynn

"If any determined predator wishes to throw money, and they'd have to throw an awful lot of money, then they could take over the company."

Fynn, who is also author of the book Arsenal: The Making of a Modern Superclub, says he would be opposed to a takeover.

He said: "It's a bad thing because the current board are custodians of the club, they've always run the club [without] any ego.

"They're most unusual, they're the old-style patrician directors, they believe they've been fortunate to inherit their stake on the board and as such they regard themselves not as owners but as custodians.

"They have masterminded the move from Highbury and if you take into account their property turnover, the group turnover is way over 200m and it is the third largest football enterprise in the world.

"It's much higher than the recent Deloitte rich-list has shown simply because they have done so well in property.

606: DEBATE

"They have a billionaire who's come in, Stan Kroenke is on the board. Moreover he is not a hostile newcomer to the board and he has the sort of experience that Arsenal were lacking before his arrival.

"When you add the new chief executive Ivan Kazidis, who has exactly the right experience in marketing terms that they've also been missing for a long time, then the Arsenal board is much stronger in terms of personality, experience and loyalty than it has been for a long time.

"The great danger though is they own less than 50% of the club now."

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see also
Usmanov increases Arsenal stake
16 Feb 09 |  Business
Usmanov denies Arsenal share bid
23 Dec 08 |  Arsenal
Key shareholder to leave Arsenal
18 Dec 08 |  Arsenal


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