Each time I read about the unquenchable desire of the richest man in Africa and the the 67th richest man in the world to buy one of the most glamorous football clubs in the world—I get somewhat giddy. Whether it’s because the cement and sugar magnate is a Nigerian, or that I have fantasized also buying off Manchester United –in my wildest rumination—I just relish the prospects of Aliko scooping up the Emirates Stadium and adding it to his ever-burgeoning empire. And I have no shred of doubt that he can achieve it.
A lot of reactions have trailed this desire of the world’s second most influential black man, both at home and abroad. Some here have argued that Dangote has shown some unpatriotic tendencies by deciding to take away the billions that he made here and plunge it into an already affluent society. For them, they’ll rather have him invest in the Nigerian league in order to help it grow better.
Some foreigners have also opined that Dangote should use his fortune to better the lots of his people as they reasoned that Arsenal already have billionaire stake holders and another billionaire taking over the franchise would not make any difference in their quest to contest for laurels and honors. Many of them were not even looking at it from a football perspective; they just dread the prospect of a foreigner claiming their once cherished heritage.
Firstly, let me address those fanning the flame from home. I do not think the magnate’s desire has got anything to do with patriotism. No one would require any schooling to know that football is big business these days and it is governed by the basic rules of commerce. There is no sentiment attached. It is a multi-billion dollar empire being run by oligarchs and organized systems. Dangote, of course, would pitch his tent to the Nigerian league if he finds it lucrative. So rather than censuring the man’s desire to acquire Arsenal—a desire fueled by sheer ambition and business prospects(Arsenal is going to be a money spinner and a wise investment) — those who run the Nigerian league should put their house in order and make the league become attractive and a lucrative investment for sponsors—including Dangote. Some years ago, it was all over the news of the rife between the then league sponsors– Glo, and the league administrators such that matters had to be taken to the court! If Dangote had been running his business on sheer sentiments order than shrewd decision-making acumen of a tycoon, he surely wouldn’t have amassed the kind of wealth he had acquired. Get your house in order and watch the money roll in.
For the foreign Arsenal fans and those who shrug at the prospect of another foreign billionaire coming in because they see their clubs as their heritage, I think they are also in some form of denial. Everyone who follows football knows that most of the top clubs in the Barclay’s Premier League today are owned by foreign oligarchs and dynasties—from Manchester United to Liverpool. It’s the trend and that’s what you get from globalization. I recall many years back when Roman Abramovich showed up to buy Chelsea, not many would have predicted the success his era would bring to the club and subsequently English football. Today, just in about a decade, Chelsea has won almost everything there is to win in club football and they are even the current English Champions! Besides, just in case you didn’t know, Dangote today is twice as rich as Abramovich! He has an ambition to steer Arsenal from the path of winning FA cups as consolation to really competing in Europe and winning the league. Dangote would probably bring the same passion and business adroitness that he puts in his sugar and cement business and put Arsenal on the map once again —after all, which football fan would not want a monopoly of trophies for their club!
Now let’s look at this whole thing in another way: I believe that are things to learn from Dangote’s desire to buy Arsenal—something I would put as the billionaire’s mindset and I’ll share a few.
Daring: Of course you’d suspect to be better-off than about 99% of the rest of the world’s population would require some audacity. And Dangote is showing every bit of it. He is reiterating his ambition to own Arsenal— and he is saying it with some cockiness as if Stan Kroenke and other shareholders have no choice than to game. Billionaires don’t see impossibilities and it’s not just because of their deep pockets, it’s because where ordinary mortals cringe and fear the lion in the street—they move on with gusto—something that elevated them them to the billionaire status in the first place.
Sense of Timing: Billionaires are very calculative. It was said that this was not the first time Dangote has shown interest in buying into Arsenal. The first time, he had thought that the stocks were too pricey but now his instinct is telling him to do business because after the building of the Emirates stadium, Arsenal books are pretty healthy now and looks like a good spot to invest in!
They want to leave a legacy: Dangote buying Arsenal would compound his status in the league of billionaires and his fame would skyrocket. I can imagine him coming in every while, sitting at the VIP stand at the Emirates stadium, swathed in his natty suit that beclouds his fortune, and smiling once in a while as Arsenal players mesmerize with their sexy style of play. As the richest fella in Africa, he cannot be dubbed a local champion by any means, but getting Arsenal would consolidate his place in the pack of fellow deep pockets!
They inspire others: Success breeds success. No one would be inspired by a man who failed—except that man was able to launch a comeback. It reminds me of one quote I shared on my Facebook page: “Good players inspire themselves, great players inspire others,”— in other words, great people inspire others. I can imagine how many kids in Nigeria and all over Africa would be inspired to be like Dangote if he acquires Arsenal. This would also be a good PR for Nigeria and it would inspire other compatriots home and abroad to make exploits. So carry on, Mr. Dangote— I’ll be rooting for you!