Dein Sells Out

Last updated : 07 September 2007 By Monsieur Le Chapeau

Since his abrupt departure earlier this year the Dein camp have been steadily feeding us the line that Dein's sole purpose in trying to attract a foreign investor to the club was to ensure financial backing for the team, to secure the funding required to take the club to the next level. Having brought Stan Kroenke in to buy ITV's shares from them Dein was expelled from the boardroom for attempting to engineer a takeover of the club - a move that was apparently undertaken without the knowledge or consent of the rest of the board. This, according to Dein's apologists, had little to do with his increasing marginalisation from the board and the antipathy he is reported to regard them with, and everything to do with his desire to see his close friend Arsene Wenger given the wherewithal to compete in the transfer market with the richest clubs in the world.

At the time, many Arsenal fans shelved their doubts regarding a possible debt leveraged buy-out (a so-called "Glazer type" takeover) out of loyalty to and belief in David Dein. After all, Dein was the man who brought Arsene Wenger to the club and had done so much to push Arsenal forward as a club. That Dein had been instrumental in ushering in an era of football (not just to Arsenal, but the Premier League itself) that has seen the game bloated by greed and soured by ridiculous hyperbole was conveniently swept under the carpet - that particualt change, it's argued, was both necessary and inevitable, and if Dein enthusiastically pushed for that vision he at least did it with Arsenal at the forefront of his mind.

Dein's importance to Arsenal seemed to be further underlined when Thierry Henry cited his absence as a contributing factor to his leaving the club, though with hindsight it looks increasingly like our ex-captain was looking for any excuse possible to leave. Dein's argument that the team needed a major cash investment to compete was also strengthened by Thierry's exit and specualtion abounded that the perceieved cost cutting in the squad was the product of a skint board, rather than that of a naturally thrifty manager.

So far, so good. While we weren't all enthusiastic about a proposed takeover - especially if it meant taking on extra debt - we were mostly ready to judge the Kroenke-Dein axis at face value. Dein's work for the club ensured that he should at least be heard out. Few on the board were particularly well known to the fans, none as liked as Dein had been, and those that were known seemed seperated from the fans by a gaping chasm of wealth, class and age. As Kroenke continued to hoover up any loose shares, in dribs and drabs, it seemed he would at least be given the benefit of the doubt, and mass protests like those seen by Man U fans were a very distant prospect.

Now, however, Dein has revealed his true colours. In the face of new optimism regarding the team, and the apparent willingness of Arsene to grant us a couple more years of his Imperial Majesty (long may he reign) he attempts to convince us that he is still working behind the scenes on our behalf. Despite Arsene's repeated statements otherwise Dein is still peddling the claim that the team requires a massive cash injection. He is desperate to be seen as a knight in shining armour, riding to rescue us from the dragon of our decrepit, useless and disinterested board. Arsene's friendship must be truly strained as he attempts to balance loyalty to his team and to his ex colleague. That Dein plays up this friendship at every opportunity is at least disingenous and at worst deceitful - Arsene, we are told, was advised by Dein to sign an extension - the implication being that Arsene is backing Dein's efforts to worm his way back onto the board.

With September set to see us release our first set of financial reports since moving to Ashburton Grove we will soon see whether Dein's position on our finances adds up. The board, however, remain bullish about our situation, to the extent that they are already boasting about how good the figures will be. Arsene has also had his say, telling us that if he wanted money he would be granted it. Dein, it seems, is losing the financial argument.

What then of his apparently failed venture with Stan Kroenke, and his new "partnership" with Usmanov? Did his relationship with Kroenke break down when he failed to deliver enough shareholders to him? Or did Kroenke refuse to guarantee him the chairman's job? What could possibly have lead Dein into selling nearly 15% of Arsenal, apparently his entire holding, to a company owned by someone who seems a very dubious character indeed? If we are to contend that he was motivated by anything other than the thought of £75 million quid then what did drive him? (Incidentally, I'm not the first to postulate that of the £75 million newfound English Pounds Sterling that Dein is richer by he doesn't gift any to Arsenal for player purchases).

One explanation that might fit the bill is POWER. What Dein really wants is to be in charge. The wheeler dealing, the political machinations at The FA and G14, mingling with "his" squad of superstar players, treating guests to seats in the directors box, is this what really motivates Dein?

According to their press statement Usmanov's Dein fronted Red And White company is not looking to take over the club. Instead, we are told, their investment in Arsenal is purely financial - the club, apparently, has been undervalued (despite the massive upturn in share prices since takeover rumours started). If this is true then what our new stakeholder is interested in is not how much they can put into the club, but how much they can take out. It is difficult though to imagine a company with a 15% share in the club unilaterally investing funds in the club (merely buying Dein's shares sees no money whatsoever returned to the clubs coffers) in the hope of reaping future profits from such an outlay. Will they cough up an extra £20-£30 million for player purchases on their own, for a manager that doesn't seem to want the money? To do so would require an additional profit for the club of somewhere between £130 and £200 million just for them to break even.

This, then, is the situation that David Dein has landed us in. We have two "investors" - both claiming to be uninterested in buying the club but both potentially vying for control of it (the thought that they are actually acting in tandem is even scarier, my moments of wilder specualtion include the theory that Usmanov was only brought in to scare the board into Kroenke's waiting embrace). And this from a man who continues to claim he acts purely out of love for Arsenal. Dein's credibility is destroyed, his reputation broken and any lingering goodwill from Arsenal fans is evaporating fast.

If you truly love Arsenal, David, and not the power associated with running the club, then come clean now and admit what a horrific mess you've made. You've sold us down the river for what appear to be your own ends, and if the worst comes to pass we will hold you accountable.