An evening with David Dein

By Elliot Guthrie

Account of a Q&A event with the former Arsenal vice-chairman held last Monday

The evening started with a presentation which lasted from 18:15 – 18:45 and then from 18:45 till 19:30 it became an open floor Q&A. To his credit David Dein answered every question related to ownership, board, manager etc. and while some answers were obviously politically diplomatic he did disclose some intriguing and fascinating points. Having spoken with Ivan Gazidis on many an occasion I found Dein to be much more friendly, approachable and understanding of the concerns of the modern fan. I’ve made notes of the evening in a chronological order and hope you find this of interest.

On the subs’ bench

*Opened with an anecdote about how one of his first moves as a figure of authority in football was to push for a second substitute in a match day squad. He stated a majority of club opposed this idea due to extra cost such as hotel and food bills. He said it’s ironic how squads have grown astronomically since the 80’s.

*Prefers the idea of an 18 team Premier League. Feels the quality of the International game would improve as a result of less matches and would also increase the competitive nature of league matches at the tail end of a season.

*Stated that there was a 92.6% stadium capacity for the Premier League as a whole in the 2011/2012 season and fully expects this to increase this season. Ticket increases continue to rise as there isn’t a reason for the League as a whole to reduce them. He sympathises with the plight of the common football fan. He emphasised that when Arsenal played their Champions League fixtures at Wembley for a brief period he created 10,000 seats available for only £10. He stated he wished for this to be replicated at Emirates Stadium and was disappointed it wasn’t. Felt that by moving to Wembley the average ticket cost would be much cheaper and the ground would be full to capacity. He highlighted the growing revenues coming from abroad and that they are almost matching the domestic television revenue streams. Cited when he was in South Africa last month for the Africa Cup of Nations that fans were obsessed with Premier League as opposed to national tournament. He feels ticket prices can and should be made more affordable as a result of revenue from other sources.

*Surprisingly mentioned that whilst visiting the Spurs training ground last week he found their facilities and general infrastructure to be the most impressive he had seen in European football. Often referred to their technological advancement in training methods and their general status as a rising club. Feels if they complete a new stadium they will become a dominant force in world football. (This strongly sounded as a dig at Arsenal for their possibly out-dated methods and reluctance to adopt modern day practices.)

*His main objective at present is to implement and campaign for independent time keeping within football akin to rugby i.e. stop the clock when ball goes out of play and he believes this will be trialled in next 2 to 3 years. Also strongly believes goal line technology will be in place for start of next PL season.

In 2007 you encouraged Stan Kroenke to become involved in Arsenal on the basis that the club needed their own billionaire backer. Has it worked out as you hoped?
David smiled and said ‘great question.’ He mentioned that at the time the Granada shares were available that Chelsea were ‘pulling away’ domestically. He felt the club needed the insurance of a billionaire backer as security and as a need to compete. He also highlighted this need to compete by mentioning his relationship with Alisher Usmanov. His general feeling was that Stan Kroenke wasn’t being utilised sufficiently within the Club at present, hence his growing relationship with Usmanov (who he obviously feels would be a better choice.) He stated that he had ‘no regrets’ as regards his motive and reasons in encouraging a billionaire backer to be involved with the club. (Sense that his regret is that it was Kroenke who got in before Usmanov).

When questioned his plans as to a possible return to Arsenal he stated that he was enjoying his current freedom of travelling around the world watching the sport he loves. However, he referred to himself as being ‘on the subs bench.’ I.e. he was willing to return if required.

Can AFC continue to compete under the current model?
He stated Arsenal were in a terrific position to compete. He highlighted the well-known mantra of being well placed with a strong turnover that was greater than Manchester City’s. He feels that the ‘artificial building of commercial revenue’ is soon to be stopped and referenced UEFA’s strong handling of Malaga as the start of FFP being strongly implemented, he mentioned clubs who he refused to name were successfully cheating the system and it is difficult to prove legally that they are.

On field matters are a different situation. He feels certain players at the club are ‘simply not good enough.’ He persistently stated that ‘Get a winning team and everything flows from that.’ He feels that Club are attempting to negotiate sponsorships without a world-class product (team) to speak of. Dein highlighted the need to focus on the field and matters off it will improve. Feels AFC are doing the opposite.

He stated that he doesn’t know why we repeatedly fail to make sufficient investment during transfer windows. Finds the situation ‘frustrating.’ Feels that AW can be successful again in the future if ‘top quality signings are made available to him.’ Feels the players are letting him down too often. (Strongly avoided blaming AW for any of the club’s recent shortcomings)

If you were on the board in the summer would you have sold RVP?
Hypothetically speaking he stated that the players hold incredible amounts of power when it comes to transfer/contract negotiations. Feels the Club were ultimately left in a powerless position. He spoke of ‘preserving equity in the product’ (RVP). Ultimately he feels this led to RVP’s departure. (Strongly suggested that negotiations were left far too long that in the end the Club were held over a barrel.)

Another question of negotiations was posed when someone asked ‘Why didn’t you pay Ashley Cole the extra £5k a week?’ He stated that he fully wanted to but wasn’t the sole conductor in the discussions. (Someone asked if he was only saying this to appease the crowd he stated, Ashley is a top player any club would be poorer without him.) This notion of other board members disagreeing with him was replicated when he spoke of wanting to bring Wenger in in 1994. He was overruled and the board favoured Bruce Rioch which he describes as a ‘catastrophic decision.’

As the evening came to an end he emphasised his strong passion and belief in Arsene Wenger, the human. He feels that fans are becoming removed from the person and the political. Mentioned a story from 1988 when they first met and played charades. (His fondness and respect for Arsene was understandable yet admiring.)

Closed the evening by stating he cannot predict the future of Arsenal. ‘Whatever happens, happens.’ Yet he closed by smirking and mentioning don’t be surprised by ‘a major event of change in the not too distant future.’

(Ed’s note – nowhere else to run the following, so am posting here. Been requested to get some help for this lad…

Young supporter charged at Bradford game. Witnesses needed
The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) has been approached for assistance by a young Gooner who has been stuck on for a Section 5 public order offence (using insulting words or behaviour) after being arrested at the game whilst in the away stand in sections N & T by West Yorkshire Police. The lad vehemently denies the charge. He’s frightened to death of ending up with a criminal record. The FSF has arranged legal representation. The lad’s parents are very supportive. What is needed URGENTLY are eye witnesses to the arrest to come forward. The lad has received a court date of 28/2/13 so this is urgent. If you were there and witnessed anything relevant please contact amanda.jacks@fsf.org.uk

22nd February 2013 09:00:00


Comments and Reaction

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Tony Evans  11:51am 22nd Feb 2013

I am just not sure about David Dein. On the one hand he obviously loves Arsenal and wants to see us competing at the very top but on the other he still obviously holds Wenger in high regard. So he could unlock the potential Usmanov billions (great) but still trust Wenger to spend it wisely (not so great). A real dichotomy. - Post No. 35111

Gooner Downunder  12:03pm 22nd Feb 2013

God we miss DD. I am praying for a major event of change happening in the not too distant future. FFS, we need something to lift our miserable spirits. - Post No. 35114

James  12:48pm 22nd Feb 2013

I was a great fan of DD and all he did for the club.But it can never be forgotten that it was Dein who brought Kroenke to the club.That has proved to be a disastrous decision.We are told Dein is best friends with Wenger and they regularly have dinner together.So why doesnt Dein tell him he is managing the team wrong. - Post No. 35120

declan burke  12:52pm 22nd Feb 2013

The last quote of '' Don't be surprised by major event of change in the not too distant future'' is music to my ears, far more encouraging than the constant waffle coming from Gazidis & Wenger over the last few years. His analysis that the club must first instill a winning team then go and pursue the commercial aspect is so so true. - Post No. 35121

Zbizz  13:05pm 22nd Feb 2013

Thanks so much for posting that, it was a realy good read! Given Dein was the man who challenged and got the best out of Wenger, as well as buy players like Dennis Bergkamp and David Platt, I'd have him back at the club in a heartbeat! - Post No. 35124

Gunnerlover  13:35pm 22nd Feb 2013

I keep saying that the problem with arsenal is not Arsene Wenger, but the sole problem comes from the board. David dein has said it all it''s only left for us to figure it out. When you have bunch of unproductive,ineffective , inefficient members running an organization sooner or later the lack of adequate skills and mental capacity in other to get result would keep declining which is face we are in now, if the board does not make effective imvestment Arsenal would go down the more. Policies are made and could be change when there is a desire to achieve success . David as got a good sense of management and achieving success - Post No. 35127

smithy  13:36pm 22nd Feb 2013

Good informative piece.We would all see if Arsene has still got it,if Dean and Usiminov replaced the hapless and ineffectual Gazidis and Kronke.As an Arsenal fan I would be happy with that situation,but it is blindingly obvious the status quo is unacceptable and either the board or Wenger must go.An accountable and a challenged Arsene is a more enticing prospect. - Post No. 35128

maguiresbridge gooner  14:08pm 22nd Feb 2013

Interesting to hear what he said about the spuds facilities and infrastructure,but it's no surprise other clubs have caught up to us over the years on the pitch anyway.Hope he's right about the major event of change in the not to distant future. - Post No. 35134

Angry & Frustrated  15:13pm 22nd Feb 2013

I sincerely hope that this is not some kind of red herring re DD's hint at "a major event of change in the not too distant future". We all meed something to cling to right now, to enable us to see some kind of light at the end of our current very dark tunnel. I have no reason to doubt your integrity Elliot, but am so despondent about all things Arsenal right now that any false hope of a brighter tomorrow would probably be the final straw for me, as I can take no more of this deceitful money grabbing regime coupled to a tactically grossly inept manager. Hope of change is the only thing I cling to, and hence any possible hint of change pricks my ears up, and gives me hope again. So please can anybody else present at this Q&A session verify what was said by DD to collaborate Elliot's observations to give me genuine hope that this chapter in Arsenal's history is possibly about to change in some way? Again no disrespect to you Elliot, but after all the lies told by the club and Wenger to all of us, I hope you understand my reluctance to take your words at face value, as once bitten twice shy! - Post No. 35147

Richard Dickerson  15:40pm 22nd Feb 2013

Arsenal's managerial problems are easily solved. We appoint joint managers aka Liverpool (Roy Evans & Gerard Houllier) & Fulham (Roy Evans & Karl-Heinz Riedle). Kroenke & Usmanov (D Dein) each choose their preferred man. It'll appease the fans because when we win we can praise the new guy & when we lose it'll obviously be AW's fault. Should it be a glorious draw after being 2-0 down the new man can take the plaudits & if we throw away a 4 goal lead it'll be Wengers fault. Simple! - Post No. 35149

Red Mist  15:42pm 22nd Feb 2013

Bond scheme kronky and the Wembley idea thanks I hope your spending your Arsenal millions wisely! Unbelievable that people still blame kronky for everything and not the manager for buying crap player after crap player for millions as if it's got nothing to do with him. - Post No. 35150

allybear  16:01pm 22nd Feb 2013

Very interesting article but Dein is a big Wenger fan and can see no wrong in him. I wonder what this major change is going to be? Does he agree with Wenger being one of the most unsporting managers around. His behaviour on Tuesday was terrible. For me he cant go soon enough and im sick of people saying what he did when he first joined the club,its in the past! - Post No. 35152

Mandy Dodd  16:09pm 22nd Feb 2013

The change will most likely be son of Stan joining the board according to some sources..... - Post No. 35154

Elliot Guthrie  16:22pm 22nd Feb 2013

David Dein's comment "don’t be surprised by ‘a major event of change in the not too distant future'" was said in isolation at the end of the evening. In context of the discussion I believe he meant it in the sense that football changes ever so quickly in the current climate so that don't be surprised if anything does change. It's highly likely he meant this generally but the open-ended ambiguity of the comment suggested to me that he may have been hinting at something. - Post No. 35155

CanadaGooner  16:28pm 22nd Feb 2013

"if they (Spurs) complete a new stadium they'll become a dominant force in world football" NOW, WHERE HAVE I HEARD THAT BEFORE? ha ha ha (a once great team called arsenal completed a new stadium (following the Dein logic above) and........... - Post No. 35156

Stan  16:34pm 22nd Feb 2013

Interesting report. Perhaps I've missed it, but it's strange that this hasn't been reported anywhere else. Given the week we're having, I'd have thought the media would have picked up on anything which might destabilise the club further. Where did this Q&A take place? - Post No. 35158

Ron  17:27pm 22nd Feb 2013

Dein creates spilt views. Mine is that hes now so full of agendas and mini agendas he would say anything to ingratiate himself with the fans. A bit of a spiv who gambled and lost is my position. Seems double dyed. Loves to be liked and cosseted. Thanks above we never ended up at Wembley, the stinking dump. His Son helps sell our best players too!I wonder what he says to him? "Dad, look at the wedge ive made off the ...... sale and the..... sale and mark my words Dad, ive got a cracking move set up and on the go for ......" Dein - "Good stuff Son. I started off as a barrow boy you know, just like Lord Sugar and im screwing Arsenals Board over and the Club where i can, just like Sugar did at the Spuds"."Wish they come begging for me to go back though as Arsenes lost without my genius". "His early success was all me you know. The Daily Mail said!" - Post No. 35164

tfSmudge  17:59pm 22nd Feb 2013

Nice one Elliott, how Wenger has missed Dein! Nope he never wore a red shirt but I don't think he's been given the respect he deserves. This man loves his Arsenal, and football in general, that's why nobody else has snapped him up, he's loyal. Dein recognised the threat from the likes of Chelsea many years before anyone else. And yes he also owns up to making a mistake with Kranky – and Nina Bracewell-Smith admitted the same after selling out to him too. If Dein says Usmanov would do better I for one believe him, he's said so himself of late. As for the current board members, would you find them in the shop rolling up their sleeves helping out. Or else in the newly opened north stand welcoming fans with a handshake – nope but they're not my kind of board member. This club needs charisma and charm again, the ability to attract the best, and someone in the know, for that reason alone we as Arsénal supporters have all missed Dein. If we'd carried on winning he'd have been forgotten about by now, rather too conveniently for Hill-Wood it seems. As it is he isn't and shouldn't be. I know what 'major event of change' I'd like to see... Never mind the bollox - Post No. 35169

Big Andy  19:34pm 22nd Feb 2013

I believe that the 'major event' will be Kroenke selling up to Usmanov. That's the only thing that makes sense. Dein is close to Usmanov and knows exactly what's going on within the club. - Post No. 35173

Where's Wally is a Gooner  19:59pm 22nd Feb 2013

All you can say regarding Dein is that the club have been going backwards ever since he left. At least he managed Wenger which no-one has done since. For us fans his time on the board makes Gazidis and Kroenke's contributions look pathetic - Post No. 35175

LJB  20:42pm 22nd Feb 2013

Kroenkes son is a total waste of space who daddy has to find a job for because noone in their right mind would employ him.However he knows nothing about football so he should fit right in.There are no football men on the board so there is noone there to see what a useless manager wenger has become.Just how OGL likes it.This is no justification, but if David Dein was my dad i'd be selling all Arsenals players too,and Jack would be next.Terry Neill would still be in charge if it was up to the rest of them.Dein really is the architect of Arsenals success;the rest have only ever been interested in making money. - Post No. 35177

Joe S.  21:45pm 22nd Feb 2013

God, Mandy Dodd, don'y you sound excited by the son of Stan? You are a true harbinger of good news and sound optimism. Too gutless to accept true change you spend your time defending the status quo and supporting the Kroenke's, Wegners, Laws and other rubbish which has been inflicted upon our club like a curse from hell.Like alot of moderates who espouse the voice of reason you really are a hypocrite. - Post No. 35178

La(bacary)sagna  22:25pm 22nd Feb 2013

Dein and Usmanov in charge, Kroenke and Gazidis out! - Post No. 35180

another load of bs  17:04pm 23rd Feb 2013

It is the sheer greed of dein and fizman that have left us where we are today. WAKE UP - Post No. 35191

Peter Wain  19:53pm 23rd Feb 2013

The first teans resilt was great but the under 18 losy 6-1 to Aston Villa ay home and the scum beat the under 21 4-2. Still lost of work to do. - Post No. 35192

Chris  22:25pm 23rd Feb 2013

Joe S. - I'd be interested to know in what way you believe Mandy has been a hipocrit there? Or was that just mindless use of the latest slogan you have seen used to try and shout down 'moderates'? You guys..... - Post No. 35193

nicgooner7  22:51pm 23rd Feb 2013

lets hope the major event is silent stan and gazidis standing down!!!!! - Post No. 35194

Fishpie  1:09am 24th Feb 2013

I think Mr Dein's absence from Arsenal and the apparent falling out with his old buddy Mr Fisman was a tragic turn of events. It seemed to me that together they had added another level of ambition and drive to the club in the 80's/90's which resulted in the Graham years, in Bergkamp, Wenger, the greatest football we've ever played, a state of the art training ground and a quest for bigger stadium. But if MR Dein had set aside some of the money he made by selling the shares to Mr Usmanov and thereby provide the club with a much needed parting legacy,a) he would still have made a handsome personal profit on his original investment and b) he would have demonstrated his true love for the club, thereby reassuring all of us he could be considered a genuine custodian for the future. Same applies to all the previous shareholders actually. None of them did anything improper or anything many of us wouldn't have done ourselves but I've never been able to stop myself feeling some resentment that the club's immediate financial needs were not really considered by these supposed lovers and fans of the club when they sold their shares. Perhaps that's a bit mean spirited of me, especially as Mr Dein was forced to leave the club and of course the late Mr Fisman was very ill and close to death at the time of the sale and he was of course a primary mover on the creation of our stadium. Enough of a legacy many would rightly say. But in order for David Dein to return I wonder whether for a lot of us he might still need to put his money where his mouth is to win back the trust he once had. - Post No. 35195

Mandy dodd  16:01pm 24th Feb 2013

Joe s , you demean yourselfin your response far more than I could should I even want to. When did i express my approval of the son of stan? You are so steeped in anger bitterness that you cannot even debate....or even read rationally. Do yourself and your family a favour, distance yourself from arsenal and follow a non league club. Your health is clearly being damaged. It's not worth it - Post No. 35237

Moscow Gooner  19:30pm 24th Feb 2013

Dein: architect of the bond scheme and the 'social re engineering' plan for Arsenal after the demolition of the North Bank. And I think responsible for that disgusting Disney badge we have plastered all over the stadium now? Kroenke out - but no way should we get Dein and his gang back. They belong down the road, hence his glowing comments about SHL. - Post No. 35253

Joe S.  22:01pm 24th Feb 2013

Nothing wrong in following a non league club Mandy if you are a true football fan.I recently watched a local Under16s derby in the rain consisting of mixed males and female teams. There was enough passion and skill there to more than forget the crap going on at Arsenal. As for your idea of debate,what should one say.You don't seem to know much about the world of football and all that is important to you rests in finishing on top of Tottenham Hotspur. - Post No. 35261

Mandy Dodd  0:06am 25th Feb 2013

Glad you enjoyed that experience Joe S surely that is what football is all about rather than the poison that for some seems to be for some following arsenal. I reiterate, for some on here, it is clearly not worth it, in fairness some seem to be of that opinion. Arsenal, right or wrong, whether you agree or disagree are on their path, they will stick to it, I believe you may as well back them and help finish in the top four, with this board, failing to do so will not be a wake up call as some hope, it will actually result in spending less, which some want so they can moan more...what wenger calls a vicious cycle. I would rather the team succeed whatever the circumstance...but that is just a me. But back to my original point, you took offence at the son of stan thing, I was just reporting what I have now heard from several sources, does not make it true, but for the record, was not voicing my approval, know nothing about the guy - Post No. 35263

GG89  20:05pm 25th Feb 2013

A surprise in the not too distant future? What could that be? ...Asteroid hits AW on the head and he wakes up as if he were back in 98 and buys a wining team with the 123m in reserve... - Post No. 35317

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

23rd February 2018

It Is Actually Getting Worse

Online Ed: Arsenal’s largely unmotivated players defeated at home