Well that explains the Chairman’s pointed omission of David Dein from the list of shareholders who would not be willing to sell to Ice Skunk if he comes calling. David Dein’s departure twenty four hours later was due to ‘irreconcilible differences‘. Which sums it all up, a painful divorce for the parties involved. The true reasons why will become clear over time, I am sure. Whether his departure is due to a schism, one side willing to sell, believing the Club to need new investment to enable it to compete and the other mindful of the history and unconvinced by what they know of the main protaganist, is unknown. The statement from the Club though gives the fuel for that particular fire,
In light of recent speculation with regards to the ownership of the club, the remaining board members, who together own 45.45% of the issued share capital of the company, would like to reassure the supporters, shareholders and employees of Arsenal Football Club that they remain long-term holders of their interests in the club. To this effect, they have entered into an agreement not to dispose of their shares for at least one year and have confirmed that they intend to retain their interests on the expiration of this period
That they have entered into what is being interpreted as a binding agreement for the next twelve months is a good sign. Whether they are willing or able to hold onto their shareholdings for longer is a moot point, any number of external factors may render their well-meaning intentions irrelevant. Whether Dein is going to sell his 14% shareholding or use it in conjunction with Ice Skunk is a more disturbing consideration. Until such times as Dein makes a statement or events take place to clarify the situation, we will not know. Sometimes though actions speak louder than words. Peter Hill-Wood said in The Guardian earlier this week,
We don’t have to follow the herd
Very true but the innocent always get caught up in a stampede. That the Board do not need to sell right now is well-known but whether by retaining their shares they are doing the Club a disservice remains to be seen and depends on your own viewpoint. I do not want to see a takeover but I am a realist. If it is the only way that the Club can remain competitive then reluctantly you have to concede the point. Even arguments about the Clubs ‘English-ness’ are a distraction. Football is a global game, more so now than ever in the past. Over time, the ‘aura’ of the Club diminishes – I think the loss of the Marble Halls will have a huge impact over the next decade in this respect. What you need from a new owner is a healthy respect for the history with a bucketload of cash to invest in the future. If you get that then it is pretty much as good as it gets.
Where Dein will be particularly missed is his knowledge of the Contractual, Transfer and Political side of Football. He has undoubtedly vast experience in all three, having been the de facto Director of Football. The concern I have in this respect is whether the Board or Senior Officers of the Club have sufficient expertise to replace him or will the Club miss out on players through naivety or inexperience on their part? The concern is not with the question, more the answer. There will certainly be rumblings of discontent from certain sections of the support throughout the Summer as the media portray every ‘missed signing‘ as evidence of the chaos behind the scenes, irrespective of whether or not the Club actually bid for the player in question.
Supporters will be more concerned with the immediate future and how this will impact upon Arsene Wenger’s position at the Club, if at all. Although there is a strong personal bond between Dein and Wenger, I sincerely doubt that it will impact upon Le Boss on a professional level in the short term. As far as Wenger’s Contract is concerned, he will probably behave no differently this time around than he has done in the past. That means another twelve months of speculation about whether he will sign or not. Perhaps it is my memory playing tricks but have not all of his previous renewals gone to the wire; the signing being close to or beyond the previous contract’s expiry? I do not believe that the Board have any less faith in him now than they had at any time in the previous decade nor have any of them given anyone any reason to believe that this faith is misplaced or about to disappear. Indeed they owe the Manager a considerable amount of loyalty for keeping the Club in the top four places of the Premiership during a spell when finding a White Fiver would have been seen as a large contribution to the Transfer Kitty.
In Dein’s time at the Club, there have been five Championships, five FA Cups, two League Cups and a European Cup Winners Cup. Dein has made a huge contribution off of the pitch to those and that he should be thanked. He was not without fault and brought a fair amount of criticism in recent years for his part in the creation of the Premiership and the ‘ills’ that some perceive were as a result of it. Certainly, his political shenanigans have not made the Club hugely popular within the media circles but frankly who cares what they think. It will be interesting to see if he retains his position at the summit of the G-14 as he no longer represents one of its members. If this is a final parting of the ways with the Club then it would be no surprise to see his head pop over the parapet at either UEFA or FIFA.
The scaremongering has already begun. Even the broadsheets report with the words ‘turmoil’, ‘takeover’, ‘chaos’ and ‘crisis’. At a time when the Club could have done with some stability, the fluctuating season on the pitch may yet be matched off of it.