Who is Alisher Usmanov? Sanctions on Russian oligarch and Everton, Arsenal and Vladimir Putin links explained

Everton sponsor and former Arsenal shareholder as assets frozen amid Russian-Ukraine conflict

The effects of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has rippled through every aspect of life with the Premier League also unable to escape the repercussions of the Russian President’s actions.

FIFA has suspended Russia from all international football as well as stripping them of the privilege of hosting the Champions League final, due to take place on 14 May.

The FIA has also announced that in the current climate, the Russian Grand Prix - scheduled for September - will be unable to go ahead.

In response to Putin’s invasion on Russia’s neighbouring country, Politicians and organisations around the world have issued sanctions against not just the Putin administration but Russians inhabiting elsewhere.

The UK government has been working through what it has referred to as a ‘hit list’ of Russian oligarchs with links to President Putin with the hope of imposing restrictions and punishments on them.

UK Ministers are wishing to target the assets and investments oligarchs have in the UK while they also consider additional action against the advisors who work for the Russian tycoons.

The Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, was one who recently hit the headlines for seemingly avoiding the sanctions instructed by the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss.

The Russian billionaire announced on Sunday that he had handed over stewardship of the London club to Chelsea’s Charitable Trust Foundation and had been contacted by the Ukrainian Government to help find a ‘peaceful solution’ to the ongoing conflict.

Usmanov at an Arsenal game in 2013Usmanov at an Arsenal game in 2013
Usmanov at an Arsenal game in 2013

Abramovich is however not the only Russian tycoon to be involved in the richest football club in the world.

Alisher Usmanov is an Uzbek-born business-man and President of the Fédération Internationale d’Escrime (International Governing body of Olympic Fencing) and has seen his assets frozen by the European Union.

Why were Alisher Usmanov’s assets frozen?

Speaking after the decision, an EU Council said: “Alisher Usmanov is a pro-Kremlin oligarch with particularly close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“(He) actively supported materially or financially Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilisation of Ukraine.”

The document also said: “(Usmanov) has been referred to as one of Vladimir Putin’s favourite oligarchs. He is considered to be one of Russia’s businessmen-officials, who were entrusted with servicing financial flows, but their positions depend on the will o the President.”

As well as having his assets frozen, Usmanov will face restrictions which include a ‘prohibition from making funds unavailable’ and an EU travel ban.

What are Alisher Usmanov’s ties to the Premier League?

The 68-year-old has recently had his assets frozen by the European Union due to the ongoing war between his country and Ukraine.

Usmanov’s company, USM Holdings, sponsors Everton’s training ground and the billionaire also has an exclusive naming-rights option on the Club’s new stadium.

The Toffees owner, Farhad Moshiri, is also the chairman of USM Holdings.

Usmanov and business-partner/Everton owner Farhad MoshiriUsmanov and business-partner/Everton owner Farhad Moshiri
Usmanov and business-partner/Everton owner Farhad Moshiri

Not only is Usmanov involved with Eveton, but the tycoon who is estimated to have a net worth of around £13.3 billion (Bloomberg Billionaires Index 2021) was previously a shareholder at Arsenal.

Usmanov’s links to the Gunners followed suit with Moshiri’s ownership of the club and up until February 2016, the business partners held a 30% stake in the north London club.

After Moshiri sold his shares of the Gunners to Usmanov, the Russian billionaire was the second-largest shareholder before accepting an offer from Stan Kroenke in 2018 for £550m.

What does this mean for Everton?

At present it is yet unknown how it will affect the Toffees who’s next game is against Boreham Wood on Thursday 3 March in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

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