The shadow of David Dein is still looming large on the Emirates Stadium but as of today, all that remains of David Dein is just that; his shadow. It was Dein who introduced Arsenal to Kroenke, it was Dein who brought in the much hated Usmanov, and it was Dein who ultimately paid the price for his own avarice.
When all this started, Dein’s main argument was that he saw clubs like Man U, and Chelsea receiving huge influx of cash from wealthy patrons and figured that the only way that Arsenal could compete was if they too had a sugar daddy. I say Man U but really it was always Chelsea. Dein, it seemed, was jealous over Chelsea’s endless flow of cash. And of course he was jealous, he was the one who had been beaten by them to the signatures of many of their most important current players (Essien, Drogba, etc) so he had first hand experience with the way that that much money can influence players and the league.
His vociferous arguments fell on deaf ears, the board had a different plan, another strategy that would see them through this period and into the next. The board was thinking long term, Dein was thinking short term. As if to highlight their differences, the board’s long term strategy was to build Emirates stadium, have 60,000 seats, and turn the old Highbury stadium into luxury condos while Dein just wanted Arsenal to play at Wembley.
His differences with the board now stark, Dein went off on his own and courted an unknown American entrpreneur and sports mogul and coaxed Stan Kroenke into buying ITV’s shares of Arsenal for an inflated price. This, thought Dein, would be the perfect partnership, his “genius” and Kroenke’s “billions.” The blogs erupted, calling Stan Kroenke “Kranky Satan” and other slurs and denouncing any takeover and especially an American one. Thus, with the threat of a Kroenke takeover looming large, it was then that chairman Peter Hill-Wood uttered his famous words about Satan (I mean, Stan) Kroenke
We don’t need his money and we don’t want his sort. He knows sweet FA about our football
Dein was summarily dismissed and immediately after his departure he seemed to sour on the club. At first the speculation was that Dein would team up with Kroenke and just take over the club. But something happened and suddenly a third billionaire was on the spot, someone far less savory, a convicted criminal named Alisher Usmanov. No one except Dein and Kroenke and possibly Usmanov know what happened between Dein and Kroenke that summer. Maybe Kroenke figured out that Dein was hell bent on revenge instead of a serious business plan, maybe Dein asked too much for his stock and Kroenke refuse, and maybe Dein just found the biggest billionaire he could find and squeezed as much as he could out of him. Like I said, no one knows.
Dein sold his remaining shares to Usmanov for $150m, which is a hell of a return on his initial $300,000 investment, and agreed to chair Usmanov’s holding company “Red & White.” That relationship lasted a year before even Usmanov got sick of David Dein and fired him. Which leaves David Dein one of the richest and yet most despised Arsenal “fans” on the planet.
The threat that Usmanov brings has put the Arsenal board in a tricky place. I think they really didn’t want outside investors at all ever, but since Dein went and ruined that they are now forced to embrace outside investors who they think have Arsenal’s best interests at heart. Which is exactly why they appointed Satan Kroenke to the board today. After their initial reaction it turns out that Kroenke really IS their sort and really does know sweet FA about our football.
It’s funny because as an American, I get this all the time. Even here on my blog, I get people who post stuff about me being a Yank and not knowing “shite” about football. Or, when I go to London I get shit from the locals about being an American. What can I say? Like Satan Kroenke I guess I just have to keep doing what I do and eventually people will give up on their prejudices, because it’s really not our problem if you’re prejudiced, it’s yours.
As if to throw it in Dein’s face, not only did they appoint Kroenke to the board, but they have today released a statement that shows Arsenal with a record turnover of $400m and operating profits of $100m despite rising debt (to cover increased costs for the Highbury development) and salary that is closing in on $200m a year.
Regardless of how they got down this road, and it was a bumpy ride with Dein, Usmanov, and Kroenke, this latest statement about the financial health of the club makes it very clear that they went down the right path for the long term health of the club. I am proud to be a Gooner today because they seem to be doing just about everything right. Now, if they could only use some of that money to sign Appiah (right after we lock Theo up for 4 more years) we’ll be as sound on the pitch as we are in the boardroom.
Bolton v. Arsenal
By now you know that Arsenal are traveling to Bolton to take on what was, until last year’s 3-2 down-to-10-men-come-from-behind-win, Arsenal’s bogey team. I think I can get in a good match preview first thing in the morning because the late kickoff (9:30am PST) should give me plenty of time. The other good news is that the match is live on FSC and so, I don’t even have to go anywhere to watch it: I’ll sit here in my underwear and my Fabregas jersey and sing olde tyme Arsenal songs…
See you then.