Usmanov v Kroenke for Arsenal control

Alisher Usmanov may face a battle with fellow billionaire, American Stan Kroenke, for control of Arsenal.

The Mail on Sunday says with David Dein having enlisted the help of Uzbekistan-born Russian billionaire Usmanov in his bid to regain control at the club, it's reported that Danny Fiszman and American sports mogul Stan Kroenke have established indirect contact and plan to meet.

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It means that Arsenal, who face Portsmouth today, will be the latest club to become a battleground for moguls from the two superpowers. Russian Roman Abramovich owns Chelsea, and Alexandre Gaydamak, a French-born Israeli of Russian descent, is in charge at Portsmouth.

Americans Malcolm Glazer, Randy Lerner and the partnership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett own Manchester United, Aston Villa and Liverpool respectively.

And manager Arsene Wenger, who is set to sign a new contract this week, is likely to find himself caught in the middle of a battle for control between his close friend and neighbour, Dein, and Kroenke.

Dein, who is chairman of the Red and White Holdings vehicle jointly owned by Usmanov and financier Farhad Moshiri, said last night: "Red and White and Stan Kroenke are both long-term strategic investors.

"I may have sold my shares, but I have increased my power because I have the backing of people who share my aims and vision for the club. As a significant shareholder, we will seek to speak to the board in due course.

"I want to make Arsenal the No 1 club in the world. Having two billionaires on hand to lend extra firepower doesn't do any harm."

However, it is understood that Kroenke declined to buy Dein's 14.6 per cent shareholding, because he knew that the current board, headed by Peter Hill-Wood, would refuse to deal with him if he did.

Instead, Kroenke's representatives have begun talks with associates of Fiszman, who is the largest individual shareholder at Arsenal with 24 per cent.

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