David Dein seems to stir up a few emotions still in Arsenal fans. It seems I can’t criticise anyone without some section of Arsenal fans being upset about it. Maybe I should just stop criticising people altogether! A crazy notion, clearly.
I should correct one thing I said in my previous post (as was pointed out to me on Twitter): the first block of shares Dein purchased in Arsenal were unissued, as I mentioned, but this of course meant that he did put that initial money (£290,000) into the club. My mistake.
I was also asked on Twitter why I was picking on Dein rather than Hill-Wood, Fiszman or the Carrs, all of whom also made money from Arsenal. It’s true they all did, but not really like Dein. The Hill-Woods and Carrs inherited their shares from their fathers and grandfathers, so they never went into football with the aim of profiting. David Dein is the first major Arsenal shareholder who conceivably did that. I don’t know, and I doubt anyone can ever prove, that David Dein’s sole or main intention was to make money from Arsenal for himself, but he’s the first with that opportunity. And he was instrumental in the formation of the Premier League, with its crystallising of power in the hands of the big clubs, and could see that football was about to enter a much richer age. Danny Fiszman came in after Dein, and was also richer beforehand so had less of a motive to profit personally from Arsenal. Of course they all took the opportunity to make some money from Arsenal when they could, but in most cases motives are complex and a matter of opinion.
And the other reason I’m writing about David Dein this week rather than anyone else is that he’s the only former Arsenal shareholder currently planning to disturb the peace of his neighbourhood with building works.
- Arsenal have won 27 major honours in a 127-year existence.
- 13 were won during Dein’s 24 years at the club.
- 14 were won during the other 103 years.
“I’m not saying Dein had anything to do with what went on on the pitch,” says Andy, “but it’s a mighty big coincidence.”
Well how much of a coincidence is it, and how much is David Dein actually involved in that impressive trophy haul?
George Graham won six of those trophies as manager, and I believe David Dein had a hand in appointing Graham to the job, so credit there. However, I also believe that he approached Terry Venables, who rejected the offer and recommended his mate George. So perhaps the credit needs to be tempered with luck that Venables wasn’t interested and had the good sense to recommend the right man. How much Dein then helped with matters like transfers during Graham’s time is unclear to me, but I suspect he certainly tried.
George’s reign came to an ignominious end, and probably lucky for Dein’s trophy ratio that it ended when it did, as the team was in decline almost to the point of freefall in the mid-90s. Twelfth place? Behind Tottenham? Oh dear oh dear.
But then big credit to Dein for having the foresight to bring in Arsene Wenger, and as we know Arsene counted Dein as a very close friend. His influence on the manager, and therefore indirectly on success on the pitch, is undeniable.
Even prior to Wenger, Dein was active in making big signings like Bergkamp and Platt to revitalise Arsenal, so the club was heading back in the right direction before Arsene arrived. Circumstances were right for the Frenchman to challenge the only other big club at the time, but well done to Dein for seeing the possibilities.
When Dein left Arsenal in 2007 we were still challenging, but oil money meant trophies were already much harder to come by, so from the point of view of his trophy ratio he left at the right time, though not of course by choice. We may have won another trophy or two since 2007, but even with Dein present it wouldn’t have been on the scale of 1998-2005.
There’s something about David Dein that always seems to make him fall on his feet, though. Something bad happens and he manages to pull out something better, by luck or judgement. Maybe Arsenal should bring him back just for that. What could go wrong?
Follow me on Twitter: @AngryOfN5