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Bring Back Dein

by Ian Trevett

I am a full-paid up member of the AKBs – otherwise known as the Arsene Knows Best brigade – which is why I always come back to this site. But I also belong to the trickier to pronounce AKBBKEMWDIA grouping, although to be fair, I have just invented this. I don’t think a career in marketing beckons after coming up with such a garbled acronym.

In case you were wondering it means: Arsene Knows Best But Knows Even More When Dein Is Around.

He made some big mistakes. I hated the idea of playing Wembley. I hated the idea of Usmanov owning the club. I am pleased that the rest of the board stood up to him on these occasions. But the fact remains that Arsenal has had considerably less clout on the British and World football scene since he departed.

On football matters, he is well connected, ambitious and powerful. No-one on the board has represented the club in the same way since. His deal-making was legendary and decisive, and gave us a big advantage.

I know that Hill-Wood and the old buffers on the board have the best interests of the club at heart but they are hardly dynamic and forward-looking. Lady Nina has called for fresh blood and I totally agree.

If you want to understand the influence of Dein, you just have to look at the post war record of the board. Chapman and Allison were football revolutionaries and years ahead of their time. Nothing was too sacred to change. Standing still was never an option, they always had a new idea and during the 1930s we were, without question, the most powerful team on the globe.

After the war, the team carried on nobly, winning a couple of titles, but after 1953, the club declined into a mind-numbingly mundane institution, and the team won just one league championship in 26 years (puts today’s barren spell in a bit of perspective). Part of the reason for the decline was that the board slavishly followed the innovations made by Chapman. One manager, Billy Wright, used to curse the bust of Chapman that looked down disdainfully in the Marble Halls.

The board totally missed the point. Chapman’s legacy should have been a club that constantly changed and experimented, always looking to the future. That was what he was all about. Instead they ‘honoured’ him by replicating what he had done in the 1930s. In his name they created a backward-looking club.

It only changed when Dein arrived in the early 1980s. Hill-Wood had such a lack of vision that he scoffed that Dein’s investment was dead money.

Dein had a vision for the club and every day he looked in the mirror wondering how he could create a winning team. To be honest, I never trusted Dein at the time, and I saw him as the enemy when they demolished the North Bank and introduced the Bond scheme. I wrote for the fanzines and even got a serious looking warning letter on one occasion. Mind you, the editor of The Gooner had added a headline of ‘Dein’s Dirty Deals’ which may have been a bit provocative!

But in time, I realised that this was a man dedicated to turning Arsenal into a force to be reckoned with. I met him a few times when he instigated some fans forums to help create a better atmosphere in the ground (a forerunner or Red Action), and he donated ‘anonymously’ a huge flag that appeared all over Europe until someone swiped it.

But his biggest contribution of all was appointing Wenger. He wanted Wenger after Graham departed, but he was over-ruled by the rest of the board who wanted a Graham Mark II (another Scot in a blazer). He got his way in the end and at last we had a manager who truly lived up to the legacy of Chapman.

I’d bring back Dein now. He’s not perfect, but he would shake the place up. His partnership with Wenger worked even better than Bould and Adams or Petit and Vieira. Bring them back together now.

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35 comments to Bring Back Dein

  • WalterBroeckx

    Ian,
    As I have written an article about Dein myself this week this could be interpreted as some kind of answer to the sometimes critical questions I asked in it. I don’t know if this is some kind of answer to my article?
    If it is I can say that in fact I could agree with the title completely. Because if this would happen it would answer my questions and we could come to the conclusion that there is not a hostile feeling against Arsenal.
    And this would be the best thing for Arsenal. So yes bring him back and give him the chance to show his loyalty and his feelings for Arsenal. And then we will know that we don’t have to have a double feeling when we see the name of his son in the midst of transfer rumours

  • george rodger

    Maybe he could give his son some of the 80 odd million he pocketed when he betrayed the board.That might stop him selling our players and pimping them around the world.

  • bob

    george rodger,
    I wasn’t around at the time. So, if it’s not amiss, i’d like to know what you mean by Dein allegedly pocketed big money that you mention. I don’t have any ulterior motive in airing dirty laundry. But if you feel like it, I’d like to know what you’re talking about. If not, it can well wait until a less volatile time among us. But sometime…

  • Michael Osborne

    I have been an Arsenal Supporter since 1953, I agree we need David Dein Back shaking things up

  • head

    Bring Dein back as Director of Football. I wouldn’t make him Chairman or anything like that, but I think the aforementioned position would be give him the ideal influence.

  • Dark Prince

    A superbly realistic Article. Dein too wasn’t perfect. But he had more to offer Arsenal than any other guy. Hope he’s comin back some day. Nice article!!

  • Ugandan Goon

    Ian,
    for a short time after dein’s departure, while the board worked out a management structure and recruited we were without the back room staff to do what dein did, but with the installation of tim fox, ivan gazidis and a few notable others, as an organisation arsenal plc is going after bigger fish, international fish, educated fish, money making fish- dein went after local fish. Lets not forget when he left arsenal he intended to bring the club and board down to it’s knees because without him arsenal were finished, so we know what we dont miss apart from the permatan- flaming hubris.
    As for a progressive agenda that asks us to regress, logial inconsistency, shall we excuse it a sentimentality, yeah lets just call it that, it’s nice…..
    Les move on, the guy tried to take out the current board, no one man bigger than the club and all that…
    Lastly the footballing landscape has changed significantly isnce deins day (and i suspect yours) hence the rise of the spivvy dein jrs of this world.
    Bring dein back, thanks but no thanks is my two penneth’s worth

  • Ugandan Goon

    flaming typos!_ a fucking drive by with a pea shooter

  • sahil

    @bob: In 2006/7 dein sold his 14.5% share to usmanov for 80 mil pound.

  • nicky

    As a supporter since the 1930’s, I found the slightly differing views of Walter and Ian rather confusing. On balance, however,I
    tend to agree more with Ian, mainly because I want to believe that Dein’s skills would be an asset to present-day Arsenal.
    It’s a sobering thought to recall that since the 30’s Arsenal have never retained a top Division Championship. In my long memory the Club has always experienced triumphs and disasters in equal measure and for this reason I have always held the view that supporting Arsenal is not for the fainthearted.

  • sahil

    @XX- If you had a original thought it would die a lonely death

  • Shard

    Dein coming in the club (and purchasing Hill-Wood’s shares for something like 250k pounds I think) was a little before my time following the club, so I will ask this. How do we even know what Dein actually did? What his role really was and what did he bring to Arsenal. I know the usual answers there, and legendary is well and good but what do we actually KNOW.

    But let’s say he did all that you say. I for one acknowledge his role in bringing Wenger in, and his influence in the shady backwaters of football politics. He was chairman of the G-14, and he was recently touted as a possible FA chief(Does he have any current role at the FA?) I also think Dein is a very savvy self promoter, and that his ‘legend’ has grown since he left, despite him not wanting the club to be self sustaining or having its own stadium (basically wanting our entire club to be different) and selling his shares for a huge profit (something the board is accused of everyday) is probably a testament to his PR skills.

    The only reason for this love-in with Dein seems to be that we have not won anything since the stadium move. If we had, Dein would have been, not forgotten, but still moved on from thought. Now I have in the past said that Dein perhaps might have the influence to stop the referee nonsense we see and that it might be worth bringing him back into the fold. But Walter’s article made me think that is it possible that Dein himself may be the cause of the referee nonsense (again, does he hold any official/unofficial position at the FA?) Far fetched that Dein, a ‘true Arsenal fan’ would do this? I’m not saying he is doing it, but it isn’t far fetched at all.

  • insideright

    Am I the only one who remembers Panorama devoting a whole programme to Deins dealings with Beveren which in some way were construed as breaking rules re multiple club ownership/influence?
    And wasn’t it shortly after this that DD got his marching orders?

  • IvoryGoonz

    @insideright: that’s called living on the edge. It wasn’t illegal until some bureaucrat decided they were doing too good.
    At the end of the day, whatever deal Dein was doing, he was doing it for US.
    Wenger and the current board don’t run the club for us anymore, only for themselves.
    We are not interested in being forever 4th.
    And sorry if I’m gonna hurt some people; but it does look more and more like paedophilia.
    You ain’t ever gonna see a matured player from that youth project staying. Afterall once they are mature; they are not young anymore and don’t interest Wenger anymore.

  • sahil

    @insideright: Fifa cleared dein and arsenal of any wrongdoing in their deals with beveren.

    @shard: Dein was the vice chairman of FA from 2000-2004.He was a representative of FA till 2006.He was also president of englands 2018 world cup bid but at the present time i dont think he holds any position in the FA.

  • bob

    Shard,
    I found this analysis of Dean/Beveren which says that Arsenal/Dean had advanced a loan to help then stabilize its then feeder club (Beveren); but that the loan was legal and Arsenal did not have a controlling interest or make decisions for Beveren. It says that a 1996 BBC “expose” of this was total overreaching and a tempest in a teapot. And that Arsenal was completely unfazed and willing to fully cooperate with any turnover of papers/investigation that Bladder might deem necessary. Anyway, for what it’s worth: http://soccerlens.com/dodgy-link-between-arsenal-and-beveren-a-few-words/

  • bob

    p.s. insideright, the above link speaks about that Panorama show, I believe, so have a look.

  • Shard

    @bob

    I actually was aware of that, but Arsenal were cleared of wrongdoing. As someone says above, I think the rules were changed later, and subsequently our partnership with Beveren was cancelled.

    I’m not in the anti-Dein camp or anything. I just don’t understand this love-in with him. He was a person performing a role for Arsenal, and he did well for us in many ways. But he left the club because his ‘vision’ for the club was different. Now people may say his vision was right and if their view is that we should be a Chelsea to compete with Chelsea then they are entitled to their view. But why accuse the board of being self serving and making money, when actually Dein has done those exact same things while not being in a position of any responsibility. Dein is history. It’s time people moved on.

  • bob

    sahil,
    many thanks for helping me catch up on the info about Dein’s 80 million share sale to Usmanov. This history clearly has a powerful and lingering effect. As Bob Dylan put it, “you never know how the past will turn out.”

  • bob

    Shard,
    Thanks, for completing this for me. Cheers.

  • IvoryGoonz

    @bob: Dein was forced out.
    Same way as Lady Bracewell-Smith.
    For showing too much ambition.
    Thing is once you climbed onto a trophy ladder again like we did with the double, players and fans ask for more, while Wenger and the rest of the board just put a lid on our ambitions to win it.
    Saying we can’t get a LB to replace Clichy or it will hinder Gibbs development is also pure shite talk.
    If he can’t do the job now, then get someone who can.
    This will give him much less pressure and eventually get an even better Gibbs.
    I will always wonder what Diaby could have been if we had at least kept Viera. Tere is no replacement for experience

  • Shard

    @sahil

    Thanks fr that. I didn’t know Dein was the president of the 2018 bid.

  • sahil

    Going off track here but so happy TNOW is shut down.It is about time Rupert is shut down completely(but sadly it will never happen).

  • Mandy dodd

    I am a bit undecided on the dein issue but the perceived opinion is that dein had quite an influence on wenger, and was the one man who could overcome his natural aversion to signing players. The popular story is that dein was up all night persuading wenger to sign sol on a free, apparently wenger did not want to pay his wages. If this really is true, dein please come back.
    Wenger will be judged by many on what he does this summer. If we lose key players and wenger is perceived as timid in the transfer Market, the calls for dein will drown out all others. Some sites are reporting we have missed out on targets already due to dithering. We do not know if this is true but these things are becoming more and more widely believed on what I keep reading.
    I do not think dein will return, that is if fix an had any influence on stan.
    Dein back, let’s see how the current team manage this summer

  • Ugandan Goon

    @Mandy,
    i love you very much, but wenger is averse to signing players as i am to a trip to the moon i.e held back by financial circumstances.
    Whatever may be said about sol campbell, he is not the brightest tool in the box, i too would need a session with dein, possibly tied down to a hard chair and bright light in my eyes with barbie girl playing over and over again loudly and with some waterboarding thrown in to see the rationale of that signing.
    Can you imagine what we possibly missed out on especially as it was back in the day when we could actually afford someone serious?
    The perception of wenger as timid in the transfer is crazy as we always seem to get some really ggod deals, that sounds more like a guy who drives a hard bargain- “0 mil for jordan henderson and 100 thousand a week- click! hello hello….. mr .wenger are you still there?… he will also want…. sorry jordan i think he is probably on his next call by now.

  • Ugandan Goon

    That was meant to read 20 million.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I actually never heard of Lady Nina being too ambitious, IvoryGoonz. Can you give us some proof of this? I think you are just making this up in an attempt to give more weight to your own opinion.

  • bob

    Ok, we do need money. So, as I’ve started to outline in the previous post, let’s brainstorm on multi-uses for the Ems – such as, negotiate to become The Venue for this summer’s opening of the last of the Harry Potter’s. Don’t guffaw (just yet): how about an Ems concert series – great talent at a special outdoor venue – our Proms so to speak – to funnel into beautiful football. Any takers? Let’s not be stoic or victims but something local that people could actually go to and put money into and bring friends and families, and take in dosh from various cross-town rivals. Now this is not for purists – obviously – but neither is video replay and this is within reach and can raise money. Arsenal Entertainments. Gems and the Ems. Commercial, of course. But can we afford – after all our hand-wringing analysis – to hold our noses on this? To me, it’s a reasonable if not essential step toward closing the growing money chasm; one that seems far more immediate than the dividends to be reaped by the Asia trip. Any takers? Let a thousand flowers bloom!

  • bob

    p.s. Maybe Dein could come back as an entertainment impresario and run it to replenish the coffers: Gems at the Ems.

  • Notoverthehill

    Concerts at The Emirates are restricted to the end of the football season and 31st May of any year. This is due to the fact that the head groundsman needs June and July for the playing field to be returfed etc.

    David Dein is not as commercially astute as a former ManIOU and Chelski chief executive proved himself to be. Strip out the Glazers and the interest payments to pay down the debt, ManIOU is as well run nay better run than Arsenal Holdings. For example what benefit is Epson to ManIOU, apart from the Epson logo that appears on TV screening of football games. How many trips do ManIOU take with Turkish Airlines?

    A vast market is possibly available using Red and White Holdings influence with Digital Sky Technologies. A link-up may be possible to span Russia, China and India with streaming The Arsenal games to a target audience of 2 billions (American style) people. Think of the impossible to make it probable.

  • David Roberts

    I have just read the next post by Anne, “Untold Arsenal Media Watch – Arsenal under attack”. This link to some Sun photos of Arsene on holiday are interesting, as far as this post is concerned.

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3679274/Is-Arsene-Wenger-splashing-out-in-Europe.html#ixzz1RPI4FjBj

    Look at the last image, who is that behind Arsene? Is it Dean? So what does it say about their relationship, unless the Sun have missleadingly stitched in an old image.

  • Gooner Gal

    Bring back David Dein? No thanks, in this instance we should let the past be the past.

    Darren Dein or any one agent, shouldn’t be allowed to represent more than 4 members of the 1st team as we don’t want to keep being held to ransom.

  • insideright

    Thanks for the info chaps – I know more than I did before about the Dein/Beveren situation.
    What still worries me is that people who support his return often seem to ignore the fact that our ‘demise’ in recent years correlates far more closely with the arrival of Abramovich and high level financial doping that it does with Deins departure.
    In the end Dein did one outstanding thing for us which was to bring in Arsene Wenger. I’m not sure that so many of the other things he was associated with (Wembley and Beveren amongst them) were either wise or covered him/us in glory.

  • andy bishop

    We have not signed a world class player since Dein left. He was the one who suggested Kroenke in the first place, Hill-Wood said we do not want his sort at Arsenal. Look how that has turned out. Dein loves Arsenal unlike some of the underperforming players we have in the squad.He got results for us. Give the current board a chance and see what quality of player they sign this season…judge them on that.

  • Ian Trevett

    Sorry. I missed the debate from my own post.
    As I expected, mixed opinions on Dein.
    To me, the board have been lucky in that Wenger has been so loyal and taken on so much.
    I worry about the lack of dynamism as board level.