Royal Blue Mersey spoke with fellow SB Nation blog The Short Fuse about the new Everton owner Farhad Moshiri, and his time as partial owner of Arsenal. Our thanks go to Paul DeBruler for speaking to us. Make sure you follow The Short Fuse, one of the most definitive Gunners' sites on the net.
RBM - What do you know about Farhad Moshiri? How involved was he with the running of the club?
TSF - Very little on the former, and thus I don't really know on the latter. To expand a bit: Arsenal's ownership group has long been very much a "be seen and not heard" organization - we all know who the big players are, but they rarely if ever say anything publically (except Usmanov, about which more later), and thus it's hard to get any sort of reliable read on what their influence in the club actually is or was.
As far as his involvement, as a sort of "third level" partner, behind majority owner Stan Kroenke and minority owner Red & White Holdings principal owner Alisher Usmanov, I'm not sure if Moshiri had a significant voice at all; if he did, I'm not sure to what end he used it.
RBM - Arsene Wenger has been notoriously tight-fisted in the transfer market - how much of that direction was coming from the ownership?
TSF - That tight-fistedness started when Arsenal committed to building the Emirates; they were basically impoverished, relative to the other big teams, by the stadium construction because Arsenal committed to paying for it with money and not debt in large part (a big part of the stadium was paid for by sponsorship deals that were front-loaded at a reduced rate relative to the rest of the league, the money of which went straight to the construction project). In the years of stadium construction almost every available pound went to the construction effort. They do have debt from the stadium, but it's a manageable level (their most recent books show debt service of £13 million.year on a debt of about £260 million) that was achieved by not spending on players.
At first, that wasn't a huge deal - and then the good players Arsenal did have decided to leave. Which in and of itself wasn't a huge problem, but once the Fabregases, van Persies and Sagnas left, they were not replaced like for like, but with youth and "players with upside" (read: projects that may or may not come good) because of financial constraints.
When the stadium was complete, Arsenal fans thought "okay, now they'll spend money". Then they didn't. Then, a couple years ago, all those front-loaded endorsements expired, and Arsenal started raking in competitive sums for shirt sponsorships and the like, and fans thought "great, NOW they'll spend money". Then, again, they didn't.
Arsenal haven't been totally silent or unwilling to spend money - Petr Cech, Mesut Özil, and Alexis Sanchez are proof of that - but they don't spend nearly as much as their title rivals do, and probably never will as long as Wenger's around. The board has repeatedly said over the years that Wenger has the money to spend, but Wenger is legendary for not budging from his perception of a player's value - and if the player is too expensive, Arsene won't buy. I don't believe that comes from the board, though - Arsene is an economist by training, and he's stubborn.
RBM - Much has been made of a letter written by Moshiri and Usmanov a few years ago about their vision for Arsenal. Did anything come of that?
TSF - Short answer: Nope.
Usmanov has said publicly a few times, most recently in 2013 that he would pour money into the club and buy "superstars", but not many people take that all that seriously - Kroenke's not going anywhere and he controls the club, so all Usmanov is doing is stoking populist rage towards a club that many feel is underachieving. (side note: counterpoint #3 in that article does not seem to have happened, nor will it). Alisher Usmanov also has an...unsavory side to him, let's say, that many, myself included, do not want to see rewarded by having an active role at the club.
RBM - We've also heard rumors that majority owner Stan Kroenke might attempt to buy out Usmanov's 30.05% share? Do you see that happening?
TSF - Maybe? I think?
Not for nothing is Kroenke called Silent Stan by Arsenal fans. He never tips his hand and never says anything about the club, really, so your guess is as good as mine, but with Usmanov repeatedly saying he's never selling his shares, Kroenke doesn't have a whole lot of leverage there, so I'd guess that Arsenal ownership will be status quo for the time being.
Some very interesting observations there on Moshiri and his business partner and close friend Usmanov. Make of what you will. but just because Moshiri has said he will invest money in Everton does not necessarily mean Roberto Martinez will suddenly be handed the keys to a huge war chest.
Also, the way Arsenal approached the whole issue with building a new stadium without incurring crippling debt is a good lesson for the Toffees as we seek investment for a new home.
Share your thoughts on the new owner in the comments below.