Apr 192007

So, quite a dramatic day in the history of Arsenal Football Club yesterday, as one of the most stable boards in the game split, and it seems quite acrimoniously.

The clear conclusion from all this is that David Dein did not resign, he was sacked. So, the question is, why? What brought this whole situation to a head? The answer is extremely clear, from the interview Peter Hill-Wood gave to Arsenal.com:

Ok, so can I ask was the disagreement over transfer funds available to Arsène Wenger?

PHW: No not at all.

Does this development in any way relate to Stan Kroenke’s recent acquisition of shares in the company?

PHW: Well I think there are a number of reasons why we’ve come to this decision, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to go into further detail.

Which, having just rejected the previous reason, is a fairly clear indicator. Stan Kroenke currently holds a little over 11% of Arsenal, and combined with Dein’s share could hold around 26%, still short of the 30% required for a takeover bid.

This, of course, is complete conjecture – what Dein does with his shares now is something that no-one really knows. It is apparent that he wanted the American to have a position at Arsenal, possibly for his own benefit, possibly selflessly for Arsenal, but no matter what his reasoning, the rest of the major players rejected it out of hand, a point which is made clearer by all the principal shareholders on the board making an agreement not to sell for 12 months.

Of course this has sparked mass panic and media hysteria, especially from the Sun who not only blew it out of all proportion but also were factually incorrect, claiming:

Dein also masterminded the switch from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium.

which is a strange statement given that while Dein wanted the club to move, he pushed hard for Wembley to be the home and then sat back while the rest of the board handled the million and one Ashburton issues. The chairman alluded to this yesterday when he said that recent developments added to the increasing split, rather than being the start of them. The camp has not been united for some time.

The question on most lips however, is what happens to Wenger now. Dein was certainly instrumental in bringing him to the club, but Arsene is shrewd enough not to conduct his entire relationship with his employers through one person. Hill-Wood claims this himself, attempting to reassure fans by indicating Wenger’s relationship with the whole board remains excellent.

But does this cast doubt on his future? To be honest, if anyone has only a year to run on his contract, there is a doubt over his future, but I can’t see him walking away from the long-term project he is masterminding because of this one incident. Dein is perfectly capable of looking after himself, and will move on. For starters, he is still the chairman of the G14, but combined with being removed from the FA, he certainly has more time on his hands now.

And make no mistake about it, Dein is the one to watch now if you want to get an indication of a possible takeover. He may retain his shares, he may sell them, and either action would give some hint as to what happens next.

One thing is for sure – the board cannot be regarded as spineless. They do not want to sell up, and have now removed the one board member who did.

This one will run throughout the summer, I imagine.

Meanwhile, Julio Baptista barely raised an eyebrow with his moans about the weather, northern teams, agricultural centre backs and the unsurprising unwillingness of opposing defences giving him as much time as he wants.

“The weather over here is killing me. My girlfriend and my mother are frightened about not seeing the sun in England.”

Bring out the violins. Anyone think Wenger’s finally told him his summer plans? One of which is to suggest a new nickname for the Brazilian:

“The moment you stop to think, someone has taken the ball off you and knocked you to the ground.”

This from ‘The Beast’?

Judging from his and Reyes’ constant complaints, Seville must be a truly wonderful place.

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