Alisher Usmanov decision to sell his stake to Arsenal’s majority Stan Kroenke will not end his involvement at a Premier League football club.
The prominent USM sign at Everton’s Finch Farm training facility is proof enough of the Russian billionaire’s enduring influence elsewhere. As news filtered through of Usmanov ending his long-term ambition of running The Emirates, naturally Everton fans hope he will extend his influence at Goodison Park.
Usmanov’s business and personal relationship with Everton’s current majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri is a matter of public record, but has been referenced largely in whispers since the Iranian moved his wealth from North London to Merseyside. Now - should he wish to take the £540 million he is pocketing from Stan Kroenke elsewhere - Usmanov will no longer need to tap dance around Premier League ownership rules.
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Moshiri sold his £200 million stake in Red and White Holdings, which he co-owned with Usmanov, to fund his initial £49.9 per cent purchase of Everton in 2016. In doing so, he ended his previous ambition to buy Arsenal with his business partner.
The Premier League investigated and ratified the deal, deeming it exclusively Moshiri’s project. Although it was determined the ex-partners broke no rules that did not end suspicions a degree of circumnavigating was going on to ensure Usmanov’s wealth helped his friend. There is no hiding the fact Usmanov has already invested in Everton.
In January, 2017, Everton announced a £75 million deal with USM Holdings, which Usmanov and Moshiri founded in 2012, taking in several commercial packages.
The most significant was the rebranding of the Everton training ground.
Despite this most visible presence at a Premier League rival, Usmanov initially dismissed the idea Moshiri’s Everton switch impacted on his loyalty to Arsenal.
“I am committed to Arsenal and I will proudly retain my holding as a long-term investment for myself and my family to enjoy and benefit for generations to come,” he once said.
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“I want the absolute best for Arsenal and am prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure the success of the club.”
Evidently, that is no longer the case, and his Arsenal exit comes as Moshiri needs to push on with Everton’s stadium project on Liverpool’s docks.
Last December, Everton confirmed they had secured a 200 year lease on the site at Bramley Moore Dock and would be submitting a planning application in 2018.
The new arena will cost £500 million, and although initial financing of £280 million comes from Liverpool City Council via the Public Works Loan Board - to be paid pack over 25 years - another £220 million must be immediately paid by the club.
Despite the club preparing for another new era on the pitch under manager Marco Silva, revitalising an ageing, overpaid and underperforming squad, Everton’s stadium proposals remain the most important and pressing issue to protect and enhance the club’s future.
For all Moshiri’s well-documented wealth, neither he nor Everton are shy to admit they welcome further investment to facilitate their vision. It may be a happy coincidence, perfect timing or both that a close ally like Usmanov is now free to assist.
Whether the partners are reunited at Everton or not, it’s a fair assumption Moshiri and Usmanov are deep in conversation about the ramifications of today’s events in Arsenal.