Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov is reported to be considering selling his 30% stake in Arsenal after giving up hope of acquiring the club outright.
The Uzbekistan-born billionaire has found majority owner Stan Kroenke unwilling to engage in takeover talks despite repeated attempts.
Usmanov had previously made a £990m offer to buy out Kroenke, but the American said his 67% share in the club was not for sale.
Russia’s so-called oligarchs who have relocated to London could be under threat as there have been calls to deny them access to their lifestyles following the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain.
Usmanov and Roman Abramovich, who owns Chelsea, are the most prominent among the Russian elite living in London.
Last October, Usmanov turned down a £525m offer fromKroenke to acquire his shareholding, saying:
“I have always been and will continue to be an ardent supporter of Arsenal and I see my 30 per cent stake as an important aspect in protecting the best interests of the fans in the club.”
Usmanov has said previously that he is willing to sell to any party — other than Kroenke — who
“shares my and undoubtedly the majority of fans’ vision for the club”.
But finding a buyer will not be easy as Usmanov does not have a board seat at Arsenal or any say over the running of the club. Any new shareholder is likely to face the same problems with Mr Kroenke in effective control.
The logical move is for Usmanov to sell to Kroenke. A sale could also end the impasse in the boardroom just as Arsenal prepares to move into a new era on the pitch.