ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Arsene Wenger’s experience as Arsenal manager will give the club an edge next season when English Premier League rivals have new men at the top, a major investor in the club said on Thursday.
Farhad Moshiri also said Arsenal would start to benefit from a 30-million-pound deal with Puma, echoing media reports that the German sportswear company was set to replace Nike as the club’s kit supplier.
“Arsene Wenger was the reason we invested and he is very much the reason why we continue to support the club,” Moshiri told Reuters in an interview.
Moshiri, who with Uzbek-born business partner Alsiher Usmanov owns almost 30 percent of Arsenal, said Wenger’s longevity would be an advantage when champions Manchester United and rivals Manchester City and Chelsea are all under new management.
“He remains the one with deep experience in the top four, and that provides a significant edge for the club,” the Iranian-born Moshiri added.
Wenger, who joined Arsenal in 1996, is the longest serving Premier League manager after Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson retired in May.
Former Everton manager David Moyes has replaced Ferguson, Chilean Manuel Pellegrini has taken charge of Manchester City and Jose Mourinho has returned for a second spell at Chelsea.
Moshiri said he believed that Arsenal, without a trophy since 2005, could now step up their investment after absorbing the costs of a move to a new stadium.
“They managed to stay in the top four with very strict finances and without some of the biggest players. Now they have the foundation to move on,” he said.
“(Chief Executive) Ivan Gazidis has secured a major win in the contract with Puma, for 30 million pounds a year,” he added in an interview at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
“That is a significant win for Arsenal. That shows Puma’s confidence in London and, through London, Arsenal,” he added.
Puma and Arsenal have declined to comment on reports of a kit supply deal that would begin in 2014.
Arsenal are majority owned by U.S. sports entrepreneur Stan Kroenke. Usmanov and Moshiri do not have board representation despite their substantial shareholding.
“Mr Usmanov is an avid Arsenal fan, he enjoys watching the games and he has probably the best box at Arsenal,” Moshiri said.
“Should they invite us, or consult us, we are there to help.”
Writing by Keith Weir in London, editing by Clare Fallon