Robin van Persie Saga Threatens to Split Boardroom Further
Arsenal’s now infamous policy of self-sustainability has come under increasing pressure in recent days, following Robin van Persie’s decision not to extend his contract.
The Dutchman is not merely the latest in a number of stars to quit the Emirates, the former Feyenoord man is their captain, talisman, and - at times last season – only player to offer the fans hope for the future.
Ever since their move to the Emirates Stadium in 2006 (just two years after they had last won the league). Arsene Wenger’s transfer kitty has dried up, as the board seek to pay off the stadium debts and turn a healthy profit.
One-by-one, key stars have left, with the title slipping further away with each year. But still, the Gunners board remained defiant, sticking to their rigid policy and ensuring the club is in the black each season.
On one hand, it is admirable, especially considering the mountains of debt that have paralysed other clubs; on the other hand, it needs to be remembered that football isn’t just a business, and that performance on the pitch is just as an important barometer for success than the balance sheet.
The Van Persie saga appears to have finally brought that home to some people, while for the fans – and certain shareholders –it was the final straw.
In a letter to the Arsenal board, 30% shareholders, Red & White Securities Limited, fronted by the oil magnate Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri, attacked both past and present directors for the guidance of the club over the past few years.
They claimed that their prioritising of private profit ahead of the club and its fans caused the steady sale of star players. Stan Kroenke, the other billionaire on the opposite of the table, refuses to talk to Usmanov, and neither see fit to invest any of their considerable wealth into the playing squad.
It is a saga that threatens to open deep divisions at the top of the club, just at a point where they should be united, seeking to recover from the blow of losing their star player.
The fans will hope this tipping point could cause change for good. However, with the divisions getting deeper by the day, there is also the nagging fear that things could get worse before it gets better.
The Gunners are currently an outside 10/1 in the odds betting to win the Premier League, next season.