Arsenal keep Usmanov at arm's length by rejecting proposal for rights issue

<div>ARSENAL&rsquo;S second largest shareholder Alisher Usmanov last night responded frostily after the Premier League club rejected his proposal of a rights issue.<br /><br />Gunners chief executive Ivan Gazidis said yesterday that the board had discussed the fund-raising exercise but concluded it would not greatly improve their financial position.<br /><br />Usmanov, who owns a 25 per cent stake through the investment vehicle Red and White Holdings, said he accepted the decision but made clear he disagreed with the board&rsquo;s judgement.<br /><br />&ldquo;We do not share their view but are prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt for the moment,&rdquo; said a Red and White statement. &ldquo;However, we will keep the situation under close review.&rdquo;<br /><br />Usmanov had argued a rights issue would benefit the club by reducing its sizeable debt and boosting manager Arsene Wenger&rsquo;s spending power.<br /><br />But a board that has repeatedly frozen the Russian out was never likely to agree to a move that could allow him to increase his stake.<br /><br />Gazidis said: &ldquo;Using permanent capital to pay down debt would not radically transform the annual cash flow of the club.&rdquo;<br /><br />Striker Robin van Persie, meanwhile, has committed to a new long-term contract with Arsenal.</div>