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Dangote’s Passion For Arsenal, Ignites Ownership Interest

Posted: Jun 27, 2015 at 2:25 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Uzor Odigbo  –  Lagos


Besides his several attempts to acquire the largest shares in Arsenal Football Club, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, is also an ardent fan of the North London Club.

He is not being driven by business instincts; Dangote is also passionate about the management of players and tactics of the manager Arsene Wenger.

As one of the his associates puts it, “He likes the club and want to associate with it.”

According to reports, the business magnet had in time past criticised Wenger’s approach to the game, saying the 65-year-old, “Needs to change his style a bit” and warning that the club “needs new direction”.

He made this known in an interview with BBC Hausa service recently.

He also averred that he would have enough time and resources to buy the club after he finishes building his refinery in Nigeria.

Dangote, who first hinted that he would be buying the club last month said, “I will have ample time and resources to pay what they are asking for,” he told BBC Hausa.

Also, In an interview with Bloomberg, Dangote said that he would make fresh attempts at buying the London club despite his rejected bid in 2010.

“I still hope, one day, at the right price, that I’ll buy the team. I might buy it, not at a ridiculous price but a price that the owners won’t want to resist. I know my strategy.

“We have $16 billion-worth of investments in the next few years. Right now I want to take my own business to a certain level. Once I finish on that trajectory, then maybe [I’ll bid again for Arsenal],” He told Bloomberg.

However, fans said they were mindful that he had the resources to do so, going by reports in the American Forbes Magazine that put his fortunes at around $3.3 billion (about 2.18 billion pounds).

Even though many acknowledged his bid for Arsenal take over are legitimate as a businessman out to invest for profit but insist that corporate social responsibility demanded he should also invest in Nigeria, where he made the bulk of his fortunes.

Arsenal was founded in 1886 (129 years ago) and currently valued at 1.3 billion pounds as at May 2015.

A former Green Eagles Coach, Adegboye Onigbinde, said, “For him not to think of our league shows that something is terribly wrong.

“We do not have a structure. In fact going by FIFA regulations, none of our clubs has met the required standards of a club that a person like Dangote could have owned.”

He, however, said the proposal by the businessman was a business decision.

“We should not be emotional on that ground,” Onigbinde said. “It is only when you bring in patriotism that it looks morally wrong, but first and foremost, he is a businessman. And so is only normal for him to spread his tentacles wisely.

“Business and sentiments do not mix. If I may advise, I think what we need more in this country is someone to back the overhauling of our grassroots programmes. If Dangote decides to focus on sports development, the youth of this country will not forget him because sports in general are what has brought fame to some ghetto children.”

A former Director-General, National Sports Commission, Amos Adamu, said the attitude of Nigerians do not encourage investors to finance local clubs.

“It is practical, there are people in Nigeria that have never been to the stadium to watch the Nigerian league matches but as businessmen will naturally align with success,” he said.

“These same people will do anything within their means to ensure that they watch international leagues like the Barclays Premier League and co; they are die-hard supporters of teams like Arsenal. We are looking at it as football, but it is business for him, but people investing in football are doing it to make more money too.

“He has interest and he can make more money from it so why not, it is purely business no strings attached. There are certain things you like in life that makes you happy.”

Former Eagles winger, Felix Owolabi, said that the businessman’s intension was based on making more returns on his investment because of how lucrative football had become.

“To start with he is a business tycoon that wants to expand his frontiers,” he said. “So, I personally have no problems with that, there is no point bringing elements of morality into this.”