x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Heat on Arsenal owner after Robin van Persie's decision

Investors send a note expressing their ire to Stan Kroenke which says it is down to the manager who has to "carry the burden".

Stan Kroenke just finished a year in charge of Arsenal.
Stan Kroenke just finished a year in charge of Arsenal.

LONDON // A simmering feud between the major shareholders of Arsenal erupted yesterday when the American owner Stan Kroenke was accused of selling the club's best players and replacing them with cheaper ones.

In the letter obtained yesterday by The Associated Press, Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri wrote to Kroenke expressing "deep reservations" about how he runs the club after Robin van Persie, the captain, declined to sign a new contract.

Usmanov and Moshiri own just under 30 per cent of Arsenal through the investment company Red & White, but they have not been allowed to join the board by Kroenke, who also owns the NFL's St Louis Rams, the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche.

They complain in the letter that Kroenke is running Arsenal "without any investment" and with little sign that a trophy drought stretching to 2005 will end soon.

"It is down to our manager and not the shareholders to have to deal with the club's tight finances, carry the burden of repaying the stadium debt by selling his best players and having to continue to find cheaper replacements," Usmanov and Moshiri wrote.

"All of that … comes at the expense of performance on the pitch. "This policy is leading to the loss of our best players, often to our main competitors, and even causes the players themselves to question their future at the club and the club's ambitions. The situation with our captain and outstanding performer from last season, Robin van Persie, sums this up."

Van Persie announced on Wednesday that he would not extend his Arsenal contract, which expires in a year, because "we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal should move forward".

The Dutch forward scored 37 goals for Arsenal last season.

Arsenal have lost other stars in recent years amid dissatisfaction about the lack of success and lack of funds for transfers. A year ago, the former captain Cesc Fabregas joined Barcelona, while the playmaker Samir Nasri and the defender Gael Clichy signed for Manchester City and won the Premier League title in May.

City 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.

They complained to Kroenke and other board members that it seems securing a place in the Champions League "will be the pinnacle of our ambition again next season".

"Unfortunately, in the future we may see this ambition lowered further," they added.

Kroenke has just completed his first season in charge of Arsenal, in which the team finished third in the Premier League.