Sad news to start this blog with and that is the death of Arsenal director Danny Fiszman which occured yesterday.
He’d been ill for some time and the timing of his passing goes a long way to explain a lot of what has happened this week. It’s a testament to the man that even as he was facing something so horrible he ensured the secure future of our football club. A real Arsenal man right to the end.
It was Danny Fiszman who was the driving force behind the new stadium. It was down to him that Arsenal exists where it does now, just a few hundred yards from Highbury, and not at Kings Cross or as tenants of the FA at Wembley. Imagine Arsenal in either of those places now. No thanks. He did what he did in the background, never one for the limelight, and always with the best interests of the club at heart.
The stadium is the physical legacy he left behind but perhaps it will take some time for people to realise how much more he did for Arsenal Football Club and just what an important figure he has been in our history. Chairman Peter Hill-Wood paid tribute:
Danny Fiszman was a visionary Director, a gentleman and a true Arsenal fan. We are all deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend Danny. His voice, wisdom and presence around the football club he so dearly loved will be sorely missed.
Thoughts this morning are with his family and friends and everyone at the club who will miss a real Arsenal man and a real gentleman too.
Meanwhile, Alisher Usmanov has reportedly said he won’t sell his shares to Stan Kroenke, suggesting his ‘love’ for the club is the reason behind that.
You don’t get to be a billionaire oligarch without a bit of savvy so the Uzbek will realise that there’s good PR for him if he doesn’t sell. He has no need to. A fortune in the tens of billions means the couple of hundred million he’d raise from the sale of his Arsenal shareholding is a pittance in the grand scheme of things. Empty gestures, like committing a number of shares to the supporters, are easy to make when a) you need to restore your public image and b) when you know you’re never going to have to follow them through.
For some, it’s beneficial that he holds onto them as it allows the other shareholders, most importantly the fans who hold their stake for sentimental rather than financial reasons, to keep hold of the small part of the club they own. To my mind that’s a good thing. I am, however, slightly discomfited by the projection of Usmanov as some kind of good guy in all that’s gone on in the last week. Yes, his not selling is beneficial to those who wish to hold onto their shares (and those who make the assumption that Kroenke would gobble them up at the first opportunity), but at the end of the day he’s not some friendly philanthropist.
Those who accuse Kroenke of being a ruthless businessman, and who, rightly enough, have concerns about how the future of the club will play out, ought to spend some time this morning on Google to see what they can discover about Mr Usmanov. The idea that he would have come in, wiped out our debt and given us a few hundred million to spend in the transfer market is ludicrous. After all the hard work, is the Chelsea model of ownership one we really wanted to go down anyway?
As I said, there is a benefit to him maintaing his stake but I would also urge people to open their eyes a bit. There’s an element of the grass always looking greener on the other side.
In terms of football news this morning there’s very little going on. There was an interesting snippet on Twitter from the BBC’s David Ornstein. He reckons a behind closed doors friendly will take place in which Thomas Vermaelen may play. It’s good to hear that he’s that close to playing some actual football again even if it is probably too late for him to make a contribution to the current season.
Also confirmation of the Djourou – Szczesney news that his been dripping this week. I expect both of them to go back into the team for Sunday’s game. The ‘smashers will pose a threat up front with Carroll and Suarez, like a combination of the Hulk and Speedy Gonzaeles, and we need our best defence to try and cope with that.
It’ll be interesting to see who is on the bench in terms of the goalkeeper. Will Almunia’s broken heart knee injury keep him out or will Jens be there to provide experience and give the half-time team talk? And of all the fly-on-the-wall things I’d like to see in the game of football, a Jens Lehmann, inspiration, motivational, angeriffic half-time team talk is right up there with the best of them.
I suspect, given everything else that’s going on at the club today, team news etc might be in short supply until tomorrow, but we’ll have to wait and see. The only other injury concern we have ahead of the game on Sunday involves Alex Song who was injured during the thrill and excitement of the Blackburn game. I’m told Bacary Sagna should be fit despite missing the Blackpool game. We’ll wait and what’s what.
So, that’s about that, just time to point you towards two new prints in the store – Tony Adams and Dennis Bergkamp – and I’ll be back very early tomorrow with all the news and, of course, an Arsecast.