Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has always been vocal about his love for English premier league club Arsenal, and his dream to one day own the North London club, but with recent developments in England, Dangote’s Arsenal dream may never come true.
The long time supporter of the English club, had on different occasions expressed his interest in the club, but said he would start considering a bid after 2020, when he must have completed Africa’s biggest refinery in Lagos. The best way into Arsenal for Dangote would have been taking up Alisher Usmanov’s 30.04 percent share, which the Russian billionaire is willing to sell. Despite owning more than a quarter of the club, Usmanov has no seat on the board and no say on how the club is run.
He had last May offered majority shareholder Stan Kroenke $1.3 billion for his 67.05 percent stake in the club, which Kroenke rejected. Apparently frustrated, Usmanov had expressed desire to sell his stake to “a party who shares my and undoubtedly the majority of fans’ vision for the club”. With Dangote’s public statements about Arsenal, he seemed like the “party” Usmanov was describing, but the Nigerian is not ready. On Tuesday, Kroenke was reported to have said Usmanov would sell his shares to him for about £550 million ($712 million), and so goes Dangote’s chance.
However, the man listed as the 100th richest man in the world by Forbes, has not given up yet, Dangote said he will go after Arsenal from 2020 as planned. “…even if somebody buys, we will still go after it.”
Dangote can wish all he likes, Kroenke is not one to sell. To the American, sports is business and as long as Arsenal remain a good asset, he will hold on to his control of the club. The 71-year-old American is the owner of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, which is the holding company of Arsenal Football Club, the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League and the newly formed Los Angeles Gladiators of the Overwatch League.
Arsenal legend Ian Wright said a Kroenke takeover would be “absolutely disastrous”. Wright’s worry is that the American billionaire cares more about money than winning trophies.
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust also described it as a “dreadful” development for the club. But Kroenke wouldn’t care; he’s got his club and for Dangote, the Arsenal dream may be over.