One day you will be able to sit in the Arsene Wenger stand

Two days ago Jon Spurling tweeted “A great stat today from David Dein about the Emirates loan. The club was loaned around £350 million at a time when annual turnover was £150 million. Staggering. The reason? Assurances that #Wenger would remain boss. #Arsenal fans should always remember that in years to come.”

Spurling, for those who don’t know, is the author of one of my favorite Arsenal books, Rebels for the Cause (Hardcover, $4) which is a must read for anyone who wants to even pretend that they are an Arsenal supporter.

Dein spoke at Cornwallis Academy (Spurling’s school) and there is no transcript of the motivational speech. So, you won’t find this quote in any place other than Spurling’s Twitter timeline. But he’s a reliable reporter and unlikely to put his reputation on the line to make up a story for a few hits on Twitter.

Of course, Dein could have been speaking a little sideways. But let’s assume that he was telling the truth. If so, it’s an incredible revelation and more proof that the Emirates Stadium is the house that Wenger built.

We already know that Wenger signed on* to shepherd Arsenal through the lean years. We know that he oversaw a team that sold off all of its expensive stars and replaced them with promising youth players like Fabregas, Diaby, Senderos, and van Persie. We know that he was shackled in his spend for a long time. And of course we also know that the project eventually fell apart, leaving Wenger to pick up the pieces, to rebuild the team, to nearly win a League title, and win three FA Cups.

I know that Wenger was outright hated by many toward the end of his tenure at Arsenal. He was hated by many for the entirety of his time at Arsenal but toward the end, things got quite ugly. And many of those people are still angry at him.

This undying hatred for a man who gave his whole professional life to Arsenal* reminds me of one of my maxims: do what you do for the people who love you, the people who hate you will never be satisfied.

And that’s how Wenger managed, giving us over 20 years of Champions League football, a record 7 FA Cup wins, and 3 League titles (winning the League at Old Trafford and White Hart Lane). His early successesses set the groundwork for our stadium project.

And no matter whether you think that “any manager” could have done that (maybe they could) the fact remains that Arsene Wenger did that and helped grow a company which went from £150m in turnover to one which generated over £400m in turnover in just 12 years.  There is evidence that the club could have done better, though how much the failures with commercial contracts and advertising deals (or even player contracts) should be blamed on Wenger is still a major point of argument.

Regardless of his flaws and even his failures, and in spite of the people who will always hate him, I suspect that one day, not long from now, Arsenal will name one of the stands after him. Because as Spurling’s quote above shows us, beyond just the on-field activities, Wenger was an integral reason for the success of the stadium project. He’s one of the main reasons we even have the stadium. And he deserves to be honored for that along with all of his contributions to the Arsenal.


*He was remunerated well, yadda yadda


  1. but the way kroeke behaved is like he pulled the money in his pocket it leaves me wondering how the club is being managed. knowing very well that without the fans and surpoters the club is useless and there pride is by winning cups to make them happy.

  2. Name a stand ? He should have a statue and the stadium renamed after him. Not kidding.

    1. Oh yes. The club should consider it as soon as contractual obligations permit. I’m personally not a fan of statues, though.

  3. How can any real Arsenal supporter “hate” Arsene Wenger? He clearly loves the club as much as any of us; how many managers can you say that about? He brought us years of success, unforgettable moments of glory, bought world-class players and developed them to play a style of football that blew opponents off the field and earned us respect from everyone in football (except the members of the PGMOL, apparently). He faced financial challenges that would have crippled most managers but even in the leanest years we were only denied major trophies through untimely and horrific injuries, and a paranoia-inducing collection of outrageous refereeing decisions. Certainly his later years were frustrating for all of us. He was cursed in part with expectations that were built on his earlier successes. Did he stay too long? Perhaps. Perhaps it was because he felt he could still bring success to the “club of his heart”, and it amazes me that he was willing to put up with all the sh1te thrown at him in the last years of his tenure by the “haters”, even as he was delivering three more FA Cups to the trophy shelf.

  4. Should be the Arsene Wenger Stadium, to be fair. But Emirates Airlines pays us tens of millions for naming rights, and Arsene is famously parsimonious 🙂

  5. Wenger is everything, everything is Wenger.
    For a good while, that wasn’t mere flippant comment or hyperbole, it was actually true. Not fake news.

    But perhaps yesterday’s news and that’s why we need regularly remind ourselves of how immense he was for Arsenal, for football in Europe and for millions around the world who enjoyed the body of his work.

    Thanks, Tim. Keep it up.

  6. I think Wenger himself said some time in the last few years that “the banks” made it virtually impossible for him to leave Arsenal because of the stadium, so that adds up.

  7. Dein is speaking the truth. The banks would not sign off on the loan until they were assured of Wenger’s long term managership. Everything just fell into place from thereon. The stadium was delivered on time & on budget, unlike one a few miles down the road.
    I’m sure there will eventually be something lasting to honour the man other than just statue.

  8. Good article mate. The hateration was generated outside of the club and some Arsenal fans manipulated into believing that Arsenal were in perpetual “crisis”. Melodrama sells. Look, you could make a healthy career for being known as someone who criticises/maligns Arsenal. Liverpool has been a sleeping giant for much longer than Arsenal, but Liverpool fans are special. They will criticise their own players but if anyone else does, especially if they go over the top, the Liverpool fans become fiercely protective of their team. Arsenal fans, when people from outside start criticising our players, even if they go way over the top …we join in. At Liverpool even at their lowest points after their huge historical success; does anyone seriously think “A Liverpool Fan TV” would last 5 minutes outside of Anfield..?

  9. “The second thing I believe, what is the most important thing that people never talk about, is to believe in human beings. Despite all this, when you’re such a long time in the job, you’re not naïve. You know all the strengths and weaknesses, and how sometimes people can be selfish or mean. But you still have to believe that there is a light in every human being that you can get out.”

    What a man. What a f&$cking great man! No stand or statue can adequately represent what figures like him bring to their particular fields of endeavor. But it’s impossible not to mark him in some major way. Perhaps renaming one of the roads around North London close to the ground?

    1. Probably Arsene will eventually have a street or some such named after him, but he’ll have to be deceased first. So no chance yet for a while we hope.

  10. Fellow gooners….
    Seen the Wenger interview with BeIN….
    That man is masterclass and one that football will indeed cherish for a time to come.

    The media palava of his latter years, especially Season 17/18 were undeserved, a toxicity created by men who ain’t as good as he is.

    I’ll cherish the memories as I came to support Arsenal in his time…never been able to watch another team with such ecstasy….maybe my national team (Super Eagles)….but Wenger gave football a new thing.

    “I’ll ask God where are the referees”….wow…

    You can check it out…

    1. The best way to remember Arsene is not to engage in revisionism, positive or negative. Arsenal, in the end, had to gently shove him out the door. And correctly so.

      It possible to simultaneously adore Arsene, think that he was an amazingly innovative manager and the greatest in our history, and that he declined as both a manager and coach in the last 5 to 8 years of his tenure.

      Ironically, the player who did more than most to end his trophy drought, is also being shoved out the door.

  11. Well said Claude but good luck wthat.
    From one end of the spectrum ,where Wenger refused to spend because” he was probably getting a percentage of funds left over from the transfer kitty available to him”.
    To : “he sacrificed himself and his personal ambitions for the club and its owners who denied him money ( even through later years)necessary to compete” at the opposite end, and everything else in between.

    Personally, I always wondered how assurances given to banks in 2006 prevented Arsene from leaving , say, in 2010 for example, when the transition to the Emirates stadium was truly completed.
    I mean , it’s not like the banks demanded he stayed on for the duration of the loan, right?

  12. Thank you. I really enjoyed the article and most of the comments – it was always too much to ask for there not to be some who would can’t stop themselves from the “yeah but ….”. I hope the great man is back in management soon

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