Arsenal are already battling Liverpool to secure 3rd spot, but with yesterday’s events two new battlefronts have been opened :
Arsenal vs Kroenke, and Arsenal vs David Dein.
David Dein is not a person that everyone likes – he wines, dines, he keeps his eye on the money but at the end of the day, this is also the guy closes the deals, the guy who gets the job done.
The fact that Dein brought in Wenger or that he was close to some of the players is bloody meaningless. For the players, life will go on and the Tottenham game tomorrow is of far greater significance.
When Hill-Wood says: “We don’t need Kroenke’s money” he may be right, but that’s not the full truth. Is Hill-Wood saying: We don’t need Kroenke’s money to compete for 3rd/4th in the Premiership, or is he saying we don’t need Kroenke’s money to compete for the Premiership?
Let’s see Hill-Wood clarify that one.
As I asked earlier, it’s important to find out what Kroenke has in mind for Arsenal before dismissing him as a greedy shyster.
There’s a lot of discussion going on in the media and the blogosphere, but there are a few things that carry far more importance than others.
1. David Dein vs Arsenal
The problems between Dein and the rest of the board members are not new.
“Two days ago, there was a very secret board meeting at Arsenal where it was made clear to Dein that he had to go.
Dein has always wanted Arsenal to float (on the stock exchange), like Manchester United did, but the rest of the board members, including chairman Peter Hill-Wood and major shareholder Danny Fiszman, don’t want that.
Fault lines have developed within the Arsenal board over the last few years and clearly the intervention of Kroenke created a flashpoint.”
2. The ITV shares
There’s evidence to support that the ITV shares worsened relations between Dein and the board.
“Let’s be truthful, the rift with David Dein has been festering for some time, although nothing sufficiently as bad as this to make it impossible to continue. We had an idea he was in league with Kroenke and the board did not know what was going on. We put two and two together and came up with the right answer.”
When ITV sold their shares they called me half an hour before the announcement to tell me. That’s not right. I asked David Dein if he knew Kroenke and after hesitating he simply said ‘Yes’. We suspected that he knew Kroenke far more than he was letting on and we came to the conclusion eventually that he knew him a lot more.”
Are Hill-Wood and Fiszman (and the other majority shareholders) mad at Dein because he’s not telling them everything? How does that mean that Dein does not have Arsenal’s interests at heart?
And if the board and Dein differ on which course to take (as they seem to have for some time, from before the move to Emirates), is it in Arsenal’s interest to throw Dein off the board?
Hill-Wood’s comments sound emotional and prejudiced:
“Call me old-fashioned but we don’t need Kroenke’s money and we don’t want his sort. Our objective is to keep Arsenal English, albeit with a lot of foreign players. I don’t know for certain if Kroenke will mount a hostile takeover for our club but we shall resist it with all our might.
We are all being seduced that the Americans will ride into town with pots of cash for new players. It simply isn’t the case. They only see an opportunity to make money. They know absolutely nothing about our football and we don’t want these types involved.”
Good words to please the blinkered fans but once again, is it in Arsenal’s best interests to go their own way without hearing what Kroenke has in store for them?
A club that has built a money-making machine in the Emirates is worried about tradition and potential takeovers by greedy Americans?
A club that charges £1800 for a season ticket is taking about traditions and avoiding money-centered operations?
There’s too much bias in Hill-Wood’s statement – and it kind of sounds like an April Fool’s day joke interview, but if that’s what Hill-Wood is saying and IF he’s speaking for Fiszman and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, then Arsenal are playing a dangerous game by using emotions instead of reason to stand up to a takeover.
Another problem I see is in Hill-Wood’s wording of his guarantee for future transfer funds:
“If Arsène wants to strengthen then we have the money to provide him with any reasonable purchases.”
Reasonable is a broad word. Chelsea are back on the path to ‘reasonable’ transfers (as evidenced by their lack of purchases in the January window) but they can afford a 20m player and still work on bringing in young players and renew contracts.
Can Arsenal do the same? No, please don’t mention the 40m loan facility, which results in Arsenal taking a LOAN, if anyone hasn’t noticed, and don’t mention the 30m that Arsenal already have, which are given to the club for general expenses.
3. Kroenke’s route to 30%
Kroenke owns 11.26% shares, right?
Here’s an interesting thought for you – Myles Palmer may be an ass but he gets his facts right. According to him:
“Over 700 shares have been sold this week, which is more than 1% of the club.”
He speculates the obvious:
“That means that somebody has placed an order in the market to buy any shares that become available.”
That sounds like Stan Kroenke to me folks.
How long do you think it will take for Kroenke to buy up shares from the smaller shareholders?
How long before someone who owns a relatively large amount of shares, like Landsdowne Hedge Fund (5% according to ANR), sells out to Kroenke?
Hill-Wood (0.8%, Richard Carr (4.6%), Fiszman (24.11%) and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith (15.8%) have committed to not selling for the next year. Note that it’s not a legal agreement, just a promise.
These guys make up 45% or so of Arsenal’s shares.
55% of the shares are outside the board’s control, including Kroenke (11.26%), Dein (14.6%) and Landsdowne Hedge Funds (5%).
I wonder what the odds are for Kroenke getting to 30% before the end of June?
And if I haven’t made this clear, the whole “board vs the greedy Americans” is a nice story, but like the story Wenger has created around the Arsenal team, it doesn’t hold much weight if it’s not matched with substance.
If the board want the fans on their side, they can play the emotional card, or they can lay out their plans for Arsenal and explicitly tell them to what extents they are willing to go to take Arsenal back to the top of the Premiership and then ask Stan Kroenke to do one better.
Update: Hill-Wood statement transcript on David Dein’s departure (Arsenal.com)