Increasingly vocal Arsenal chairman, Peter Hill-Wood has now hit out at shareholder and shady geezer Alisher Usmanov.
First he laughed at Chelsea’s “bullsh*t” attempts at being a big club, and now he is telling Usmanov to bugger off.
Do Arsenal really need a filthy rich owner, especially as Chelsea’s very own billionaire is doing a convincing pastiche of “The Madness of King George”? Hill-Wood doesn’t think so, the Arsenal chairman had a good rant in The Guardian, Hill-Wood said:
“He’s certainly not an open book. Business is murky in Uzbekistan, and that in itself is an argument against him being involved in Arsenal. I wouldn’t want him to be the owner of the club.”
A little look into Usmanov’s alleged history reveals that he is as bent as a nine bob note. The 21% shareholder in Arsenal was convicted of fraud, corruption and theft of state property and even spent six years in prison! Usmanov claims that the arrest was politically motivated and that he has since been given a full pardon from the Russian government. The Guardian reports that :
“That version of events has been contested by Craig Murray, the British ambassador in Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004. Murray spoke out then about alleged corruption and state-sponsored brutality and he remains a trenchant critic of the former Soviet republic. After the purchase of Dein’s stake he drew attention to Usmanov’s convictions on his blog and published further allegations, which Usmanov’s lawyers, Schillings, said were defamatory and insisted be taken down by the internet server Fasthosts. Murray’s whole blog has now been removed.”
Murray still stands by what he said :
“I was the ambassador in Uzbekistan. Usmanov is the country’s most prominent businessman and it was my job to know about him.”
Although Usmanov’s lawyers claim documentary evidence of the pardon, is is very hard to unravel the comlicated events in post Communist Russia, and there is no way of 100% confirming his innocence. Surely Hill-Wood is right, there is no place for such allegedly tainted money even if the party claims innocence or politically motivated attacks. Then again, tell that to Manchester City…