In Defence Of Peter Hill-Wood (!)

Peter Hill-Wood is an old duffer, as we know, and I have had a go at him several times recently. I firmly believe it is time for him to stand down – or at least aside – and put a younger, more dynamic and modern-thinking man in place as Arsenal Chairman. This is not to say I don’t appreciate what he, his father and grandfather have done for Arsenal over the years, but it’s time for a change. By all means keep PH-W as club president or some other honorary title to recognise his and his family’s service, but he shouldn’t be making announcements and attempting to run the AGM.

But even PH-W wasn’t always old. Twenty years ago he was considerably more with it than he is now. This is an interview from April 1992 after a relatively poor season for Arsenal. There were big changes going on in football, with the Taylor Report forcing the impending closure of terraces and the formation of the Premier League.

It was a dynamic time at Arsenal too. The previous year we’d been champions, one match away from an unbeaten season, and top for the second time in three years. We were England’s biggest club for a brief period between the dominant periods of Liverpool and Man Utd, but in 1991-92 we showed only flashes of that kind of form, while Leeds and Man U fought it out at the top. Off the field there were protests about Arsenal Bonds, an idea that was born from the need to spend money upgrading the stadium. This interview concentrates on that subject and the mood in football and outside. As now, it was a time of recession and belt-tightening, but fan protests about bonds were much more vociferous than any recent protests about increased ticket prices.

PH-W comes over in this as seeing the bigger picture around football pretty well. He recognises the public and government perception of the game, and the lack of sympathy in official circles. There’s also evidence of ‘same old story’, though – referring to the Bond marketing he says, “With hindsight, we’ve been guilty of not getting the PR right.” Didn’t Ivan admit the same thing this week, 20 years on?

PH-W talks about the need to increase commercial activities to ensure that ticket prices are pegged “at realistic levels”. Uh-huh. And of course manager George Graham will never be forced to sell our best players due to financial constraints, because “We want to be the best team in Europe.” Double uh-huh.

I’m always struck by the changing monetary values in these pieces from a couple of decades ago – £16.5 million for the new North Bank Stand is described as “monumental”, and at £1,100 or £1,500 a bond then was the same price as a season ticket now.

As for the football, the young Ray Parlour is singled out for praise by his Chairman, who assures us we have a squad full of top class players, a bad season is a temporary blip and another go at the European Cup would be terrific. What’s that saying about how the more things change the more they stay the same?

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20 thoughts on “In Defence Of Peter Hill-Wood (!)

  1. Well with PHW in there things really will never change. Couldn’t agree more though things do seem to be exactly as they were back then, except that we have a choice now which I don’t think we had then. In those days some sound tactics, good transfers and a well run club (with a bit of luck) meant success. Now of course each club is run as a corporation due to the insane levels of money involved. But just like other result based industries those corporations who invest the most in there core buisness have the best chance of success, well at least in the short term. Long term success is harder and requires wise investment and paitence but also risk taking in order to eventually have sucess. Arsenal do neither at the moment due to the need to please an owner who can’t actually afford to own the club. Kroneke actually needs Arsenal to be profitable as the rest of his portfolio is failing. So when you have an owner who really only starts to care when the balance sheet is affected then you will have a talented team which will always be two to three star players from success. In the short term this helps a failing buisness man maintain his lifestyle while in the long term current stars will leave and future stars won’t be interested due to the lack of ambition. Sound familiar?
    We know why PHW doesn’t want Usmanov on the board, but as fans we have the right to demand that they allow Usmanov to invest in the club in a sustanable manner and this talk of sugar daddy is just rubbish that will never happen at Arsenal. You want trophies? Get rid of PHW and Kroenke and it will happen, 3 star players, a realistic wage structure which these guys will never implement, and renegioatiated sponsership deals and suddenly you have a competitive football club. We keep saying that the chavs and Man c are billionaire play things well rather that then a billionaires bread and butter like we are as that can only lead to stagnation. Ask any St louis rams fan about Kroneke and you will get your answer.

  2. Rubbish comment. What do you think will happen when Abromovich leaves Chelsea; Sheik Mansour bails out of Man City, The Glazers at Man U or the other Americans at Liverpool ? Liverpool particularly have reason to question the wisdom of wasting money. Arsenal is self sustaining and that is the right way. Not dependent upon any individual

  3. I have to say that just uttering the word “we want to be the best team in Europe”, Hill- Wood strikes gold. Oh how wonderful it would be to hear the Krankies, sorry Kroenke, utter those words. Respect PHW. Life is about intention. We all strive towards our aims. Without a clear understanding and certainty of our aim we are being led into confusion rather than taking the real actions that lead to success. The worst thing possible at this level is to lower our aims. Respect to Newcastle, Man U and Chelsea. You are all going for it. Respect to Peter Hill Wood. Kroenke/Gazidis….sorry until you have the fans interets at heart, and the will to win Trophies, by buying good players…no Respect. I am a disillusioned Arsenal supporter.

  4. I am afraid he will always be known as the Buffonic chairman who decided to build a stadium two sizes too small,a truly mind boggling decision . I suspect if asked he would tell us that 60,000, was all Islington council would allow.Thanks then to the men from Woolwich who all those years ago made the brave decision to move boroughs,.Without them we would not be even having this conversation.The one thing Arsenal football club does have and always will have is an enormous fan base,so why the hell you would not want to take full advantage is simply just bewildering.

  5. Scravaldio
    Shame because you will be lambasted for telling the truth. A myth is propogated that somehow Arsenal’s method is more ethical. Abramovich and Mansoor the Devil in disguise. Well if the American business model is moral we are all rats following the pied piper. To those guys we are an investment. To Mansoor and Abramovich maybe a plaything. Maybe they do want joy and glory. Thing is that they are taking their fans with on that road to glory. Arsenal fans are being conned by a fossilised business system than incorporates no joy, excitement and glory. We are the reason for our team, not a business ethic. Now the idiots will reply…what happens when Abramovich and Mansoor drop their toy? What is happening to us will happen.

    • re likes of Abramovich and Mansoor etc….they are using football as a medium to further their reputation, standing or brand in the world.

      Reality is that this billionaires hardly pay any tax so pumping £100m in the club every season hardly dents their bank balance.

      Bring on Usminov…sooner the better!

  6. The man is a great believer in traditions and he and his rose tinted cronies have just created another one ie not winning a trophy for 7 years.

    No doubt the old fart wants to uphold this glorious new tradition even at the expense of club reputation or standing.

  7. Hill-Wood is useless and always has been. In the last 30 years it’s been Dein and Fiszman that made all the big decisions, and Ken Friar has been excellent – Hill-Wood has just sat in their shadow talking shit. His comments about Kroenke when he first came on the scene prove it – he’s decoration and nothing more than that, except everytime he opens his mouth he now puts his foot in it. Needs to go.

  8. As far as I am aware 60000 was the capacity allowed by IslingtonCouncil for health and Safety issues. David Dein (after the Wembley debarcle) hah proposed a move to a bigger stadium and at a lower overall cost at Kings Cross .

    With regards to the first comment I would respectively advise the poster to check the structure of Abramovich’s financial input into Chelsea.
    As for Usmanov, what do you think he would do ? Just chuck 100’s of millions into the club for no return..
    It’s fine saying we want to increase our global brand but that is not easy without more quality players and eventually winning trophies again, yet that is a distant horizon.I forsee individual TV rights for us which has already been tried by others and brings in huge revenue.

    I keep hearing that we have the highest ticket prices in the PL, but people have a choice to go or not.If they are glory hunters then they aren’t true supporters in the sense of the word.

    I froze my bollocks off in the sixties and much of the seventies watching dire football and even saw us lose at home to Leeds in the mid sixties when about 4500 attended, our lowest ever home crowd.

    If you support the club you are there for a lifetime ride.

    Sure there are a number of things that could be improved but to compete with City,no thanks.

    • Kelsey
      Strange I froze my bollocks of watching Arsenal in the sixties. I still freeze my bollocks off sometimes, even with my dickie heart. Does supporting a team mean we cannot disagree with the board, with how they are run. Total absolute disrespectful nonsense. You are attacking the fans not the board. What does that say for you?

      • Steve,

        I am not attacking the fans, I said there was a choice to go or not to go.Support means support. We have no control as to how the club is run. I have stated before there are many things wrong and that IMO we have had the best of Wenger.Of course one can disagree with the Board , the manager, the coachig, some of the signings, but I wouldn’t call my opinion “total absolute disrespectful nonsense” Anyway,i didn’t come on here for a row.

      • Kelsey
        Apologies for coming in a bit strong.

        You said
        “I keep hearing that we have the highest ticket prices in the PL, but people have a choice to go or not .If they are glory hunters then they aren’t true supporters in the sense of the word.” Well they may well be true supporters.

        Although we cannot individually affect the board, on mass we can. In every aspect of society, a critique of what seems to be wrong will arise. That is the healthiest thing ever. How, otherwise, can change take place. For example:- If the people complain and the government don’t change things, should the people stop their critique? All supporters want joy, glory, success and it happens at different levels. For some it is a particular game, some promotion, some winning the Champions League. If the setup of the club, at our level, is now in conflict with that capability, I would say something is wrong. But it is in reality healthy to have a critique. When we had the invincibles the joy factors were prominent, now the discontent is becoming prominent. Protest is healthy, how otherwise can what is not working change.

  9. The consistent misinformation and scaremongering about Usmanov is rather tiresome.

    He is a fan like us.

    He intends to invest – not spend billions but precision investment. A good thing …

    Stan intends to remortgage the club like Glazer at Utd. This is the feeling of many.

    Usmanov is welcome at Arsenal as far as im concerned. ST holder 15 years. And I know others disagree – which is fine but dont you dare question our support just because we want Usmanov involved.

    • Hi Stan the Woman (what does that mean..great stage name)
      I so agree with you. Kroenke the club collector has his eggs in too many baskets and has no idea of what the heart of an Arsenal supporter is like. What is sure is he is NOT “Stan the the man”. Because he was American he was seen as a ‘Goody’, in contrast to Usmanov’s ‘Baddie’. What a myth that has turned out to be. Still the myth circulates that Abramovich and Mansoor are sort of evil monsters who will lead their clubs to the, eventual, abyss. Is having a Patron negative. Where would Michelangelo be without the Medici’s? Why is everybody so paranoid about Usmanov? He is not from Smersh. Let him have his 30% of the shares, let him join the board (would be the most ethical thing to do) and let him invest. And let the fans recoup their joyful football.

    • Some evidence to support your statements p,ease. Just saying things without any factual evidence to support doesn’t make them true. It makes them what they are; your personal wish list.

  10. it is becoming obvious that I have to chose my words carefully .Everyone has a right to an opinion and perhaps you have misunderstood what I originally said. There are a whole generation of supporters who have grown up in the Wenger era and those are in the main the ones who are impatient and demand more trophies or that we should compete more successfully in the transfer market,but we know today we can’t do that,but we certainly could buy a better quality of player than we have recently.
    I didn’t mean to upset anyone and in fact our away support is one of if not, the best in the PL

    Stan the woman, those are huge statements,can you base them on fact.?

    Personally I don’t like either Kroenke or Usmanov to control our club.,but for different reasons.

  11. I have only been posting on here for a few days as I enjoy the articles,as this blog is quite different to many. Le Grove comments are generally out of the playground,Untold are the complete opposite. Maybe someone could guide me as to the general theme on here.Thanks.

    • I’m not sure there is a theme, Mr K. It’s whatever comes out of my head. Until recently there hadn’t been a lot of controversy in the comments, apart from when NewsNow listed one of my ‘Arry pisstakes in the spurs section, attracting a lot of the wrong sort of people. And then some Chelsea fans turned up when I mentioned something about the Champions League. Apart from that, peace and harmony has reigned.

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