Nigerian billionaire Oriji Kalu has recently shown interest in buying a stake in Arsenal Football Club. It has been stated that Kalu intends to buy at least a 35% stake in the English club and aspires to bring trophies back to Arsenal.
Kalu is not new to the task of backing a football club. He has successfully done it with Enyimba FC in Nigeria between 2000 to 2007. His investment ensured Enyimba not only dominated the Nigerian Premier League – winning it 5 times in 7 seasons – but also won the African Champions League twice. As per his tweet, Kalu wishes to have a similar impact at Arsenal.
“Our success with Enyimba FC between 2000-2007 has continuously increased my passion for football. As the pillar of sports in Africa, I am considering an investment in football & I will buy 35 percent stake in Arsenal FC. Our target is to lift the Champions League & EPL back to back as we did with Enyimba.”
But is he really the man who can fund Arsenal towards a better future? Let us look at the math. The net worth of Oriji Kalu is deemed to be a little over USD 1 billion. While that is a lot of money, buying a stake in a top Premier League club like Arsenal is a different ball game.
According to Bob Ratcliffe, head of the football division at Ineos – which owns French Ligue 1 outfit Nice – it will cost at least USD 2 billion to take full control of a “Top Six” football club in the Premier League. Ratcliffe made this remark in January 2020 at Financial Times’ Business of Football Summit.
With that valuation in mind, a 35% stake will be upwards of USD 700 million. That is 70% of Kalu’s net worth. In comparison, Stan Kroenke, who is the current owner of Arsenal, has a net worth of USD 10 billion. Full ownership of Arsenal accounts for 20% of his net worth.
Would it really be possible for Kalu to shell out 150 to 200 million pounds over a summer transfer window as Arsenal’s rivals have done in the past? Highly unlikely.
Moreover, the Kroenkes have recently started investing in the Club as is evident with the signing of Nicolas Pepe last summer and Thomas Partey in this transfer window. Furthermore, Arsenal are in talks to land Dominik Szoboszlai in the January transfer window to give Arteta more creativity in the middle of the park.
Knowing that the wage book will get lighter next summer as Ozil, Mustafi, Sokratis and Luiz depart, Gooners can hope for further investment by the current owners. Arteta has seemingly convinced them with his vision for the club. It is in the interest of everyone to give this partnership between owner and manager a bit more time.
Author: Kshitiz Choudhary
Photo: wonker, 2009