Alisher Usmanov: Wenger should decide his Arsenal successor

Ed Aarons
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Arsène Wenger alone should not be blamed for Arsenal’s poor run of form and continuity is needed, said Alisher Usmanov.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images</span>
Arsène Wenger alone should not be blamed for Arsenal’s poor run of form and continuity is needed, said Alisher Usmanov. Photograph: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal’s second-biggest shareholder Alisher Usmanov has admitted he is “fully isolated” from making decisions at the club and believes Arsène Wenger should have a part to play in appointing his successor when he finally decides to stand down as manager.

Uzbek-born Russian businessman Usmanov has a 30.04% stake in Arsenal through his company Red and White Holdings having failed in a takeover attempt in 2011, when Stan Kroenke increased his controlling stake to 67%. In a rare interview last week which was published by Bloomberg on Monday, the 63-year-old hinted that he would prefer Wenger to stay in charge for now and suggested that the Frenchman was not entirely to blame for Arsenal’s recent struggles.

“I do not think that the coach alone is to be blamed for what is happening,” said Usmanov.

“Some continuity is needed. This includes the need to prepare a successor for Wenger, but in a very respectful way. I can suggest that Wenger himself can prepare a successor.”

Usmanov, who is not on Arsenal’s board despite owning nearly a third of shares, also took aim at US businessman Kroenke and revealed that the only person from the club he communicates with is chairman Sir Chips Keswick.

“I personally, unfortunately, am fully isolated from decision-making in the club,” he said. “All the responsibility for the fate of the club rests with the main shareholder.”

In January, USM Holdings, the holding company for Usmanov’s wide-ranging business interests, became Everton’s first training-ground partner in a multi-million pound five-year deal. The Merseyside club’s owner, Farhad Moshiri, is also chairman of the board of directors at USM Holdings but has denied his former business partner was behind the Iranian’s takeover last year.

What to read next