JOHANNESBURG — Football management, specifically in the United Kingdom is a mugs game. The management salaries are unmatchable, but it does come with the territory, because unless your name was Alex Ferguson, and until recently, Arsene Wenger, your job is usually in the firing line on a daily basis. Calls for Wenger’s head have grown in recent times, with the Arsenal boss penning a new two-year contract at the end of last season, despite the protests from supporters. Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote is a proud fan of the club, and rumours have circulated before that he’d be keen on buying the team. And in a recent interview Dangote confirmed his intentions, saying he’ll consider such a move once the construction of his $11bn oil refinery is completed. But what may have supporters split is his first order of business when he does. Dangote says he’ll fire Wenger, who’s been manager since 1996, as someone else should try their luck. The Arsenal coach has won 3 Premier League titles, 7 FA Cups and 7 Community Shields in his 21 years of service. – Stuart Lowman
by Francine Lacqua and Paul Wallace
(Bloomberg) – Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote’s first order of business if he succeeds in buying English Premier League football club Arsenal will be to fire the manager, Arsene Wenger.
Dangote, Africa’s richest man, has coveted the team since becoming a supporter in the mid-1980s, he said in an interview. He’ll consider making an offer once the construction of an $11 billion oil refinery in the commercial capital, Lagos, is completed.
“The first thing I would change is the coach,” Dangote said. “He has done a good job, but someone else should also try his luck.”
Wenger is Europe’s longest-serving manager. Since his appointment to the London-based club in 1996, he’s won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup trophies. In May, he agreed to a new two-year deal, ending months of speculation over his future prompted by his team’s indifferent form last season.
Arsenal’s biggest shareholder is American billionaire Stan Kroenke, who controls almost 67 percent of the company. Earlier this year, Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who already holds a 30 percent stake, sought to buy out Kroenke in an offer that valued Arsenal at as much as 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion).
Dangote, 60, doubts he’d have trouble persuading Kroenke and Usmanov to sell.
“If they get the right offer, I’m sure they would walk away,” he said. “Someone will give them an offer that will make them seriously consider walking away. And when we finish the refinery, I think we will be in a position to do that.”