Arsenal board criticised over Van Persie saga

Updated: July 6, 2012

Arsenal board criticised as van Persie announces he will leave next summer.

Arsenal’s summer, which started well with the signing of two international strikers, has taken a turn for the worse since Robin van Persie announced he would not renew his contract which expires in June 2013. In the wake of his announcement, Arsenal’s second-largest shareholders have written an open letter to the board expressing their “deep reservations” over the direction of the club.

The letter, written by Red & White Securities Limited (RWS) which is fronted by Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri, outlines concerns over “losing our true marquee player” asking the board, “Where are the safeguards to ensure that this doesn’t happen again and again?”

RWS hold around 30% of shares in Arsenal’s parent company but do not have a representative on the board. They express concerns that Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has given the impression of a “bitter stand-off” between themselves and the Gunners hierarchy.

The letter goes on to criticise the boards strategic planning by saying, “In our view it is clear you are trying to distract attention from the more fundamental issues facing the club. These are the financial model, the lack of investment and club’s future strategic direction. At the heart of this is the policy of so-called self-financing. The previous decision by the board to fund the building of the Emirates Stadium with long-term debt was, we believe, certainly not about self-financing.”

RWS continued by pointing setting out their “vision” for Arsenal pointing out they have “invested circa £200 million of cash” adding, “It is simple. A debt free club, with a big enough war chest to buy top talent players who can hit the ground running and who can complement the club’s long tradition of developing young players and homegrown talent. Together they can help the club win the most prestigious trophies – because it is the trophies which are the crowning achievement for everybody at the club.”

Van Persie announced on Wednesday that he would not renew his current Arsenal contract because, “we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal should move forward.” Last year the Netherlands forward enjoyed his best season since joining Arsenal form Feyenoord in 2004, scoring 37 goals in all competitions.

Van Persie will become the latest in a string of stars to leave the club recently, citing dissatisfaction at the lack of success and transfer funds. A year ago, then-captain Cesc Fabregas joined Barcelona, while playmaker Samir Nasri and defender Gael Clichy signed for Manchester City and went on to win the Premier League title in May. Previously City had also recruited Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure from Arsenal in 2009.

“As a top club we should, at the very least, match if not beat the offers that other clubs make to try and lure our very best players away, and also provide a more compelling vision of the future,” Usmanov and Moshiri wrote.

RWS wished majority shareholder Stan Kroenke “every success”, despite harbouring “deep reservations about the viability of the policies being pursued by his management team and sanctioned by the board”.

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