Six years and waiting –The Arsenal’s Fan Dilemma (Kenyan perspective)

A relative period without silverware has got Arsenal fans wondering whether its profits first, trophies later for the club as discussed by a gooner.

By Arnold Njue

Football is a funny old game. People say that all the talking should be done on the pitch. Well think again. I have been an Arsenal fan hitherto the Wenger era up until now. I have scratched my head to come up with observations as to why this team is failing

PART ONE: THE GENESIS OF CLUB POLITICS

In 1983, a certain David Dein bought 16.6% holding of Arsenal Football Club and was made the Vice Chairman as a result.  The then Chairman Peter Hill Wood called him crazy for his investment in the club. David Dein first met Arsene Wenger in 1988 in London. Slowly but surely, they cultivated a close friendship that lasts to date. Dein built up his shareholding and owned up to 42% of AFC in 1991. Later in 1996 David Dein used his influence to appoint little known Frenchman and good friend Arsene Wenger as manager of the club, after similar attempts failed in 1995.

During his tenure at Arsenal, Dein was in charge of all major football matters. He took a role in the transfer of players and contract negotiations where he was able to use his extensive networks and contacts to get players and convince them to join Arsenal.

In April 2007, David Dein left the Arsenal board, acrimoniously after falling out with the rest of the board over a possible takeover of Arsenal by an external benefactor seeking to invest in the club. Lady Nina Bracewell, joined with the other board members, her husband’s cousins, as well as the Danny Fiszman and the chairman, Peter Hill-Wood, in resisting a take-over by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, which was believed to have the support of Dein.

Later during that year, David Dein sold what was left of his shares to Red Holdings, an investment company owned by the Russian Usmanov and Fahard Moshiri.

Dein’s exit was met with dismay by ex-players and the dressing room, with Thierry Henry leaving soon after and Arsene only staying after Dein convinced him against leaving the club.  Slowly began a downward spiral that infiltrated the team and a couple of seasons without silverware would now turn to a full scale trophy drought.

David  Dein was the only board member who was a football man; the one administrator at the club who would demand results on the pitch to match the results off it. He truly cared about the club and was the one person who kept Arsene Wenger in check. He would frequently visit the dressing room to encourage the players  before and after games .The players loved him and he was like a father figure to them. The fact that his son Darren was Thierry Henry’s best man at his wedding says it all about his relationship with the players.

Batman and Robin: Dein and Wenger had been instrumental in the success of Arsenal.

I cannot overstate how Dein’s departure left Arsene Wenger with a carte blanche to do as he pleases with the team as long as the revenue stream is healthy. In one unplanned for move, Arsene became the untouchable one. The rest of the board members were not football fans but business minded people whose main interest in the club was to make money for their investment. So long as the club was making money, Arsene Knew he had no one to answer to. Qualification for the UEFA Champions League (which Wenger would guarantee) would ensure sufficient annual returns for the club and became the de facto measure for success. That he would ensure such benchmarks without spending much on player recruitment made him indispensible to the board. With all he has done for the club and achieved at Arsenal, it goes without saying that Wenger became bigger and is still bigger than the club.

After deciding they will not sell shares of the club to any “non member” in April 2009, the Arsenal board would reverse this decision in April 2011 when American Stan Kroenke bought out several major shareholders of the club. Kroenke acquired the shares of Lady Nina Bracewell (15.9%), as well as Danny Fiszmann (16.11%) and other directors of the  board. This after they had denied Alisher Usmanov the chance to buy the shares as he was not “one of them” despite him bidding for the shares for a higher price much earlier than Kroenke.

The current shareholding of our beloved club is thus as follows:

Stan Kroenke- 66.96% – Appointed Non executive Director after some initial resistance.

 

Red Holdings PLC (Alisher Usmanov & Farhad Moshiri)-29.9%.

The shares they have were sold to them by their close associate David Dein.

The remaining 3.14% is held byformer players and three shares by the Arsenal Supporters trust.

This is how the Board operates to vest their interests after frustrating David Dein.

The Board have a different agenda to the fans and the best players at the club.The players can move on, but we the fans have no choice, so we suffer at the of whims of arrogant directors and manager, all answerable to no one .

Now that we have a background on the board room politics, indulge me further in the  second and final part of this series as we look at what’s wrong with the Le Arsenal; Le professor!

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Categories: Sports | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Six years and waiting –The Arsenal’s Fan Dilemma (Kenyan perspective)

  1. Nnaemeka

    So are you implying that Wenger is more interested in his footballing philosophy and revenue generation than winning trophies? Because then he can just resign as manager, buy some shares and take up the position of Director of Football, a la Cruyff at Ajax!
    I’d like to read this Part 2.
    United Fan here, by the way.

    • Arnold

      Not by design its because he is such a spin doctor selling us the future that he saYS things like “3rd is a trophy” If i buy IU will kill Denilson , diaby etc etc . he has so much control of the club that he will never get anywhere else . he cannot resign he will just get tried and wait for his contract to get over .. His trophy is a healthy balance sheet For instance in the Semifinal in the Carling cup against Chelsea he said that he didnt paly Arshavin because he wanted them toi win without him !

  2. Joe

    Nice article, well put…by the way the blog now resembles a rap album..with collabos! Don feat. Arnold..Lol

  3. solo

    good one cant wait for part 2…..i pity arsenal fans

  4. Jamo

    Wenger is obsessed with statistics,style and records.He should endeavour to be a ruthless/ugly winner.Even RVP today came out saying they have to change their fancy style for effective football.
    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/4011940/Robin-van-Persie-tells-Arsenal-to-forget-about-playing-pretty-football.html

  5. Football nowadays is never about passion and love for the sport. It’s all about business. Greedy, wealthy corporations have heavily infiltrated most of the successful and widely famous football clubs in the world and are now responsible for the downfall of majority of them. In fact there are rumours that in a couple of years from now we could be witnessing the collapse of most widely watched and widely loved football leagues and majority of the football clubs going bankrupt because of huge debts.

    Good read though.

  6. Arnold

    Board room affects the pitch in more ways than one !

  7. loso manutd

    not being an arsenal fan its hard to comment but hope our rivalry from back in the day will be renewed

  8. Joram

    Ive forgotten how it feels to win a trophy … and using the famous words of MATIBA… As to whether Arsene wenger should go or not… LET … THE PEOPLE DECIDE… lol

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