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Usmanov ready to up Arsenal stake

ESPN staff
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Alisher Usmanov is Arsenal's second-largest shareholder © Getty Images
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Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has indicated he is ready to increase his investment in Arsenal, while admitting he sees the club primarily as a business opportunity.

Usmanov, who has previously spoken of his "love" for Arsenal, said he would increase his 30% stake if the opportunity arose, but also suggested he prioritises Russian sport over the Premier League.

The Russian holds the second-largest stake in Arsenal, with American tycoon Stan Kroenke the largest shareholder with 67%.

In a blog for Bloomberg, Usmanov wrote: "Many people ask me why I bought my stake in Arsenal, rather than spending the money on Russian football. The fact is, I invest millions in Russian sport each year - an amount far in excess of my Arsenal investment.

"But I also think it's worth pointing out that the English Premier League is a highly organised sports business and Arsenal is, first and foremost, a business investment for me. It is one of the leading clubs in terms of how its commercial operations are managed, and I am absolutely convinced it will be a successful investment.

"I am fine with the size of the stake I have in Arsenal now, but I'm always ready to increase it."

Usmanov has previously played up his passion for Arsenal in footballing terms. When he bought into the club in 2007, he said: "From the late 80s and early 90s the Premier League became the greatest league in Europe and it was possible to watch games in Russia or go to the stadium.

"I remember the tremendous team of Tony Adams, the real Gooner, and used to watch George Graham as the coach of the team. But I really fell in love with Arsenal's game ever since Arsène Wenger took over."

Now however, it appears Usmanov's relationship with Arsenal is more focused on business matters, with the oligarch keen to highlight his commitment to football in his home country.

"The taxes that I will pay on my profits from this venture will be paid in Russia, thereby potentially finding their way back to Russian football," he said.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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