Four years after David Dein, then vice-chairman of Arsenal, moaned that ‘Roman Abramovich has parked his Russian tanks on the lawn and is firing £50 notes at us’, it emerges that he has sold his 14.58% stake in the club for £75m to – you’ve guessed it – a Russian oligarch. Not only that, but he has been named as chairman of said oligarch’s Red & White Holdings company, setting the scene for a fascinating future shoot-out.
Dein was booted off the Arsenal board back in April after it failed to get behind his plan to sell the club to American Stan Kroenke. The present board are pushing to keep the club English and independent, which under normal circumstances would reflect the fans’ own natural sentiments. Perhaps not this time though. The mooted foreign invasion is being backed by Dein, who’s been Arsenal mad since six and was instrumental in the club’s most recent successes, through his close relationship with Arsene Wenger, the Gunners’ hugely popular boss. Could be a few split loyalties if and when they do decide to aim their cannons at the club.
As for the oligarch, Alisher Usmanov is Russia’s 18th-richest man, an Uzbekistan-born metals and mining mogul worth £2.8bn. He was imprisoned during the former Soviet regime, but is one of the lucky oligarchs to have remained on the good side of Russia's macho leader Vladimir Putin. Like countryman Roman Abramovich, he is someone who will add some decent colour to the game, both on and off the field. A successful takeover would mean the top four Premiership clubs facing each other across the old Iron Curtain – Man Utd and Liverpool, owned by Americans, versus the Russian-backed Chelsea and Arsenal. Who needs David Beckham?