David Dein explains why Arsenal joined the Super League

Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has attempted to explain the club’s decision to join the European Super League.

The Gunners are one of six Premier League clubs that joined the breakaway competition last year.

However, it collapsed about 48 hours after the announcement by the clubs involved.

Arsenal and other EPL sides came under pressure from their fans and the government, and they backed out of the competition.

However, should they even have agreed to join in such an attempt to destroy UEFA’s monopoly?

Dein doesn’t think so, and he believes they joined the effort because the club’s current owners are driven by the need to make money.

He tells The Daily Mail:

‘I was an Arsenal fan through and through and fortunate to be able to buy shares. Then there is the other type, who have money, buy a club, and then become a supporter. To them, football’s a good investment or good for their profile. So they don’t have a connection.

‘I was a fan on the board. I could never have agreed to a project like the Super League. If I was there when that happened, I’d have resigned. They didn’t read the tea leaves. A closed shop? Nobody has a divine right. Some of these owners think they’re too big for the rest of the league. They’re deluded.’

Just Arsenal Opinion

Football is mostly about making money nowadays and it is hard to fault the club owners who partnered to form the ESL.

However, it does not appeal to fans when they make it seem they only own the club because they want to make money.

Tags David Dein


  1. David Dein. Sold shares for 70m to the highest bidder, a Russian mafia Abramovich light. Then left the board with the dilemma of selling to Kronke or Usmanov. The share battle between those two hurt Arsenal for 12 years. As Josh Kronke said, they’ve really only had control of Arsenal since 2018. Admittedly Dein didn’t have to sell to Kronke and he and Fizman saw things differently. But to make that move instead of going along with what the rest of the Board wanted was a crappy thing to do and as I said, hurt the club immensely. For those of you that think the Kronkes should have “taken the high road” and invested in the club anyway, ask yourselves if you would invest hundreds of millions into something that directly benefits someone who is actively trying to undermine you.
    Dein was instrumental in bringing in Wenger and making Arsenal the best in Europe in the last decade, so credit to him for that. But he lit a fire that somewhat burned us down for a decade for money (I assume Usmanov paid well over the market for his shares). That’s not the action of a true fan.
    For the record, I haven’t researched this stuff in a few years but this is what I believe to have happened. I could be wrong in some aspects but I don’t think so.

    1. I have a question for you Mike M,after reading your views.
      Would you call the actions of the remaining board members selling their shares to Kronkie, thus enabling him to start the process of becoming the sole owner of Arsenal Football Club the actions of true fans?

      If your correct in your assumptions regarding Dein’s actions regarding his shares, he wasn’t the person who uttered the words that went along the lines of not wanting his type at the club, then sold out the club, when the price was right.

      1. Ken,I am no expert but I don’t think they have any choice.once Kroenke had acquired Usmanov shares,he had enough for a full take over and were obliged to sell their shares(or something along those lines).

    2. Dein sold his shares for great profits but the main reason wasn’t the money. In his own words(Dein).
      To provide these financial resources, Arsenal need new investors. I believe the board should welcome non-British involvement. Without new investors, I feel very soon Arsenal might not be able to compete successfully at the very top level, despite the fantastic work of Arsène Wenger.”
      The former vice-chairman pointed out that he has now introduced two billionaires in Kroenke and Usmanov to the club as strategic investors with the intention of ensuring Arsenal remained competitive.
      Dein’s thought that Arsenal would be better off for having 2 billionaires instead of one.(also back then no one could have predicted what would happened years later with both Usmanov and Moshiri).all Dein wanted was for all the parties to work together for Arsenal,not really his fault that they couldn’t and didn’t.

  2. American sport is a closed shop so its not surprising if American owners want to do the same thing in Europe. Then you have Arabs wanting to sportswash their human rights abuses with the enthusiastic support of the club’s fans. It’s not surprising if what goes on doesn’t meet with many fans approval, unfortunately there’s damn all they can do about it.

  3. Ken, I’m honestly not sure of the answer to your question. Does having a “nominal” shareholding in the club make you a better fan? I know for sure the AST and others didn’t really have a say in the running of Arsenal. Maybe you’re right but i see the way KSE is running Arsenal right now as very positive. Maybe what I’m saying is that someone has to be in control. Dein made over the odds for his original sale and Usmanov made over 300m also. That definitely didn’t benefit the club. Kronke acquired his original shares from ITV. He was the most likely person to assume control of Arsenal from then on. Fizman had cancer and along with the rest of the Board, decided Kronke was the preferred custodian. Then Dein came up with Usmanove after Fizman had sold Kroenke another 11%. So at some point the Board was always going to sell, it was just a question of to whom. If that makes sense?

    1. Yes, I see your point.
      For me, though, it was the board who backtracked, renaged and let kronkie in.
      Even after accepting that DD went behind the board, I believe he could see what kronkie was planning and tried to stop him.

      He also wanted to explore the possibility of Wembley becoming our new home, something that kronkie would have not accepted, as he wanted ownership of the club and it’s assets – Wembley would never have been our own… just as WHU will never own their new ground.

      So many unknown reasons, but one thing is for sure, David Dein always had The Arsenal as his No. 1 priority, I’m not sure that Kronkie did.

      Finally, I agree that our owner has, finally, started to show an interest in the playing side, rather than the commercial, supporting MA 100% with all of his decisions…. however, what DD says about kronkie’s wish to join the super league, fits in with past experiences of the man.

    2. Mike, I agree that Dein is no saint. He began the process of selling out to Koenke when he persuaded Fiszman to bring his share holding down to a round 15,000 and Fiszman was livid that he wasn’t told that he’d be selling to Kroenke.

      Dein was spooked by Abramovic and the billions he was using to buy success. Also by the turn of events where we had a stadium rebuild that ran at over double its projected cost of £200m and was only completed in 2006. They expected to repay loans with revenues… then the financial crash of 2007/8 came along and blew even those plans out of the water. Dein reacted by trying to find an owner.

      But it began before that. Dein was part of decision to float the club on the stock exchange and in deciding to float 100% of its shares he allowed for the concept of ownership to exist in the first place.

      The problem is that, however well-meaning, he made some questionable decisions and did it in rather underhanded ways, believing that he knew best and the hell with any collective decision-making (which is what a Board is supposed to do).

      I might even ask…why didn’t he see it all coming? He should have lobbied the authorities to implement a German-style 50+1 rule to ensure that clubs stayed owned by the clubs – and investors (other shareholders) had limited say in the running of the club.

      If he’d done that, Arsenal’s invincibles season would have been the springboard to the bright future that it really should have been without all the “financial doping” as Wenger correctly put it, which Abramovic started and which has blighted football ever since.

  4. Are you quite well Ad MARTIN?

    You seriously expect us to believe that it is “JA opinion” that “it is hard to fault the club owners who partnered to form the ESL”!

    when that abomination was put forward but CRUSHED TO DEATH by massive fan power, within two days and rightly so!

    So why pen this Devils Advocate, so called “opinion” that you personally do NOT believe and nor does virtually any other GOONER either? This sort of ridiculous, untruthful assertion lets you, personally, down.

  5. IDK, I’m not sure where you read that Fizman didn’t want to sell to Kroknke and it was arranged by Dein but I have never heard that. As far as I know, the entire Board agreed Kronke was the best option (due to his background in sports franchises) but then Dein sold to Red and White. It could be because Kronke “low-balled” the offer but I know he offered the same as he’d paid Fizman. Usmanov paid more and imho that’s why Dein sold. If Dein had really been concerned about Arsenal’s financial situation he could have held off on selling and had a new investor buy the rest of the Board’s shares. He’d have made more money that way but he wanted to cash in. And it cost us a lot. That’s as far as I know.

  6. Jon Fox, I’m not trying to poke the bear because I know this is a passionate subject among fans but I have one question regarding the ESL. What would have happened if they had pulled it off, Shitty, Manure, Liverpool, Spuds and Chavs had all gone (maybe along with Everton, Villa or Leicester) and we’d have been left behind in the PL? Not sure what our fans would have said about the owners then?? I certainly don’t agree with it but not to go along with it when it was so far along would have almost been negligent as far as the owners of Arsenal were concerned, whether they really wanted to or not. Just my opinion.

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