Over the last few years Aliko Dangote has outlined his plans to buy out Stan Kroenke at Arsenal. With a personal fortune estimated at $10.6bn, Dangote has the greens but is this high rolling Arsenal devotee genuinely interested or is it just a publicity stunt to promote himself and his business empire ?
Some who have observed him over many years think that he has no intention of making a successful bid to own the North London club, whilst others simply acknowledge that Stan Kroenke wouldn’t accept any offer for his prized UK based sporting asset.
Let’s be honest, Kroenke has been here before and held firm. Alisher Usmanov tried to buy him out for £1bn, but in the end caved in out of frustration accepting a £550 million counter offer.
Upon leaving, Usmanov poked Kroenke in the eye by stating:
“I have decided to sell my shares in Arsenal Football Club which could be the best football club in the world,”
Dagnote’s name surfaces like a navy submarine to show his occasional strength and presence, but also to soak up the flattering attention.
I’ve written lengthy pieces on the Nigerian for the last few years but have yet to see a single bid. The supporters would be stupid to discount him or his claims because as a Nigerian friend of mine noted: “If he says he will buy something, he usually does”
But the situation isn’t exactly clear cut. Aliko Dangote is a complex man with a fan base that includes Bill Gates but it’s extremely hard to find anything out about him other than what he wants you to know. It may be a case of listening to all the aspects of his character before coming to any conclusion.
There are some that say the negativity comes from his wealth. Aliko Dagnote is thought to be the 49th richest man on the planet according to Business Insider and is the richest non-white in the Forbes richest list.
They say he is inclined to flights of fancy and has a desire to broadcast his intentions on the TV but it’s said that his real focus is on building his empire and in the process of gaining a greater level of notoriety. He is unbelievably generous with large cash donations and a steady stream of support, which stretches to great many worthy causes in his homeland. All of them have benefited from his vast wealth.
Others believe that these acts are to disguise the fact that he exerts a great deal of influence over high ranking political figures to secure favours for his projects and to avoid scrutiny. He is described in various articles as ‘ corrupt and someone that exploits his fellow Nigerians by paying the lowest possible wages to those at the sharp end of his various ventures.
Some make him appear brash and devious, using his money to get exactly what he wants at the expense of all other considerations but one quote in particular makes him seem as if he can hardly believe his good fortune. He said:
“One day I went to a bank, at that time there were no restrictions, and I wrote a cheque and cashed $10m. And I took it home for myself. And I put it in the boot of my vehicle and I went home and I opened it and I looked at $10m and I said: ‘Okay fine, now I believe I have money.’”
The day after he returned the money to the bank.
On the positive side, Aliko Dangote appears to be the ideal candidate to oust Kroenke because of his claims regarding what he could do for Arsenal football club but be very careful what you wish for. The money he would be bringing would put Arsenal in contention with all the top domestic and European teams but on the negative side his tendency to want control almost every aspect of the club would probably mean interference at a coaching level and there are not many that would tolerate that.
So who is this enigma and where did he come from ?
Aliko Dangote made his fortune by founding Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest cement producer but he also has a stake in publicly owned salt, sugar, textiles, real estate and oil, gas and flour companies. He has recently been working on building the largest oil refinery in Africa, which was due to be completely finished by 2020, allowing him to place his bid for Arsenal. However, he has now revealed that he will be reviewing that plan in 2021.
“It is a team that yes I would like to buy some day but what I keep saying today is we have $20bn worth of projects and that’s what I really want to concentrate on.”
“I’m trying to finish building the company and then after we finish, maybe some time in 2021 we can.
“I’m not buying Arsenal right now, I’m buying Arsenal when I finish all these projects, because I’m trying to take the company to the next level.”
So anyone about to wave Kroenke off at the airport may have to wait a while longer. There are absolutely no guarantees either way but having seen Kroenke survive one bidding war, you wouldn’t rule him out of being victorious again.