Alisher Usmanov: 'Foreign owners good for Premier League'

Arsenal's Russian shareholder Alisher Usmanov looks on before the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane in north London on March 3, 2013
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Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov insists that foreign ownership is good for the Premier League and is not having a negative impact on the identity of the English game.

Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov has insisted that foreign ownership of Premier League clubs is good for the English game.

Half of the top flight's teams are owned by non-English benefactors, including all of those sides currently occupying the top six places in the table.

Critics have suggested that the increasing influence of overseas shareholders is stripping the country's sport of its identity, but Usmanov, Britain's richest man with a personal fortune of £13bn, has stressed that foreign ownership is only criticised when clubs are not successful.

"It's an artificial question which somebody wants to put on the table," he told reporters. "Everyone who has legal right to buy something can perform this right.

"We have [Stan] Kroenke, [Randy] Lerner, many, many people and now many Asian owners. I think everyone is comfortable if the club are successful. If the club are not successful then, of course, everybody wants to find somebody guilty.

"I'm sure it is good [for English football]. When investors come and invest in the economy, in British football, it is a big part of the entertainment economy in the United Kingdom. What's bad?"

Usmanov has also repeated his public desire to take full control of Arsenal, if the club's majority shareholder, American Stan Kroenke, decides to sell his stake in the Emirates Stadium outfit.

Arsenal stakeholder Alisher Usmanov photographed in December 2004
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