David Dein – Half of Arsenal’s greatest ever double act


They say that successful “double acts” are few and far between, David Dein was one part of the most successful partnership, with Arsene Wenger, our club has ever seen.

It was David who shocked the footballing world when he brought in Arsene Wenger in 1996, having followed his career for a long while.

We all know the years of success that followed this partnership, and I believe that success should be viewed as a 50/50 achievement, both on and off the field.

Basically, it seemed that Arsene told David who he wanted, and it was duly delivered with as little fuss as possible. Life was so simple then, as each trusted the others judgement and knowledge in each other’s field of expertise.

Not only that, the atmosphere around the club, was one of success, togetherness, invincibility, professionalism, organisation, expectation, and a united fan base that knew our club had discovered a kind of football never witnessed before – and we all knew the importance of David Dein in this incredible journey unfolding before our very eyes.

He never courted publicity, but when he did give interviews, he oozed class, intelligence, warmness and a kind of humility that actually seemed to promote him and his work, in a way that made one feel safe and secure regarding our club being in very safe hands.

David was a former co-owner and vice-chairman of The Arsenal Football Club, plus former vice-chairman of the Football Association. He was an Arsenal supporter as well, always recognising the support the fans gave to the club.

With all the positives above, it seems impossible to believe that it was Dein who introduced Kroenke to the club.
The year was 2007 and Dein thought that Kroenke’s money would help build the new stadium and finish the redevelopment of Highbury, so it was arranged that Kroenke bought the shares owned by the Granada Media. It seems that the rest of the board were unaware that this was happening, and it is assumed that this was the start of the division between David and the rest of the board.

What followed with regards to Kroenke is well known, he eventually bought out the club.

But it was David’s long held belief that Wembley was a much better idea for the club, than building a new stadium and he was backed up by the fact that Wembley was always filled when the club decided to play CL games there, in order to maximise gate receipts.

It was at a crucial board meeting in May 2007, when the vote decided in favour of The Emirates, that David was outvoted, and he was then dismissed the following month.

It was also believed, once again by the board, that Dein had gone behind their backs when arranging the sale of shares to Kroenke and they took this opportunity to show their displeasure.

Peter Hill-Wood famously said afterwards, “Call me old fashioned but we don’t need kronkie’s money and we don’t want his sort”. History reveals that Kroenke’s money changed that view with surprising speed!!!

Licking his wounds, David Dein joined forces with Alisher Usmanov and, later, Farhad Moshiri, to form Red and White Holdings, with the aim to buy The Arsenal by the obtaining the shares of board members and other individuals.

It didn’t work out, with the board finally selling all their shares to Kroenke and when Usmanov did the same, David Dein’s hope of returning to the club he loved faded away.

One really surprising fact I found out while doing this research is the fact that in the last fifty years only two shareholders have put money into The Arsenal…David Dein and Granada up to 2016.

David still watches games at The Emirates and is still a passionate Gooner, as anyone who listens to him speaking about our club can obviously hear.

When Arsene Wenger was asked about regrets, he said “Regrets? I’ve had a few and David Dein leaving was one. Ideally, I would have loved to continue working with him”.

I believe that’s a sentiment most Gooners would have loved to have happened and, as I said at the beginning, successful double acts are hard to find.

We had that perfect double act, along with the success – along came Kroenke, who eventually, stabbed both men in the back…my personal opinion of course.

I would love to know how other Gooners feel about David Dein and his legacy, for me it’s yet another example of our club messing up!!!


*Thanks to Andy Kelly, Phil Wall and Mark Andrew for their book entitled “The Arsenal History”, from which I gleaned some of the facts contained in this post.


  1. Miss Dein so much! People forget how important he was to our success. Just look how badly Wenger struggled without him. He was a very good businessman, but cared so much for Arsenal, whereas Kroenke couldn’t less about the club!

        1. Thanks Ken
          Having left London 15 years ago I am at least able to walk the dog along our local footpaths and lanes during this terrible time
          All the best to you and yours

        1. Hi Thomas, I’m good thanks, how about you? How are you spending your time?
          Yes, that would be amazing, but unfortunately I can’t see it happening! Only time we’ll see him at the Emirates is on match day!!

          1. Hi sue well I av paint outside the house done the garden cleaning the house 5 times a week getting bored now wish I was at work but ahah just grim and bear it

          2. Been busy then 👍 nice one!
            Just have to hope things return to normal soon… they are so weird right now!
            Keep well & stay safe, Thomas!

    1. TMJW, funnily enough I was going to put how both struggled after the break up with David’s attempt to buy The Arsenal back being fruitless after trying for over two years to oust kronkie and the board that had stabbed him in the back.

  2. I sit here in Trinidad and I remember that most fruitful partnership. Your article is on point . Added to that breakup though is our move from Highbury . Had David stayed , he and Arsene would’ve debated that move . I believe that moving David Dein and Highbury are the true reasons for our mediocre achievements .

  3. Very informative.
    Why business owners believe in backstabbing the very people who really help them, I cannot understand.
    Both Mr Dein and Le Prof did immeasurable job in Arsenal to bring Stan Kroenke into additional great wealth. But see how he bloodied their nose. Though, try he will, to erase their contributions from his success, the story would continue to be told well enough as their consolation. Remember how he schemed out Sven Mislintat in his ”kitchen cabinet” at The Arsenal.

  4. Excellent article Ken, needless to say. I much agree with the Double Act concept and that was exactly what it was. When Dein was forced out stupidly, disgracefully and catastrophically for our future hopes, the double act died that same day and – here we may differ- but, and as you well know, I think we were never the same again once DD went. It was Morecambe without Wise, fish without chips and far less successful but importantly, far less DYNAMIC with a much reduced sense of urgency and intolerance of being just an also ran. History since2007 shows that view to be correct, though you may disagree somewhat, despite what you correctly wrote in your great article.

    On the wider level of life, all good things come to an end and life is cyclical for all of us, at least for those of lucky enough to live in a free country and who have good health.
    We lucky ones are all guilty in varying degrees of taking the good things and our freedom to enjoy them for granted. On Arsenal we had become spoiled and, in the wider scheme of things, up til this virus, still are spoiled to a large extent by comparison to many other unfortunate folk.

    One compensation about being older is that we have a measure of life perspective, denied by lack of age and experience to younger fans. I think it unlikely that our club will ever return to THAT degree of onfield superiority over all our rivals and the loss of both partners in that Double Act is the reason. It was like a perfect marriage in many ways, lacking only sexual attraction. And that can be overrated I’d suggest, at our age. But don’t let on I said this!!

    1. Jon, I pass on the sexual side of your reply, as I haven’t a clue what your talking about!!!!

      On to your comments regarding David and Arsene though – I wouldn’t argue in the least that the club never regained the heights it achieved under these two men, how could anyone disagree with that statement?

      Without going overboard, it was like watching poetry in motion on and off the field – two men who were at the top of their relevant fields of expertise and worked in complete unison.

      I give great credit to Wenger, by the way, he has always acknowledged his friend with the credit I tried to show in the article and though he was the “front man” receiving the praises, simply because he was the manager.

      As for what happened when he left, that’s another story and (as I didn’t want the famous “Well PAL” thrown at me) I hope to do a similar article on the years before after DD, when the AW statue goes up.

      Researching the different players/managers etc is quite fascinating and if anyone thinks they know all about our club, they are in for a shock!!!

      To think that David Dein and a television company were the only shareholders who used their own money investing in our club is staggering and of course, Stan Kronkie seems determined to follow the vast majority in this unbelievable way to support a club.

      As regards to age, not sure if you and I are a great advert for mature thinking once we get on our soap boxes!!!
      Still, if it’s done with respect for each others views, it makes the world go around.

      Glad you enjoyed the article – stay safe.

      1. Ken, My place is full of statues of me, each one standing on a soap box! As a teenager I used to go quite often to Speakers Corner to gaze in wonder at the few wise and the many crank folk who spoke there. It was a great way to observe human nature in the raw.
        BTW, one of us should tell Phil that PAL stands for Prolonged Active Life! PAL is of course a dog food and that was once their famous TV advert slogan. Perhaps Phil now runs that company and is craftily advertising it on here!

        1. Hey
          I used to go to speakers corner myself a lot in my hippy days. And I got on the box too after a few psychedelics!

          1. Then it is possible I jeered you Pat, though I suspect I am older than you so probably not, as I was still young when I used to go often. Never thought of speaking myself though, which, even to me, seems odd nowadays!

  5. Gentleman David Dein, Met him on many occasions, outside the Emirates, at the Arsenal quiz night where he presented me with a medal back in ’99 and many times outside the old main entrance at Highbury. Always a thoroughly decent man with time for everyone. Got involved in many controversial confrontations with him where both of us expressed strong feeling. One such conversation involved the moving of the Television Camera. I always thought the trajectory was too low at Highbury. unable to see our pattern of play and the camera either needed taking to the back of the West Stand Upper or being suspended from the roof, but David thought my idea was crazy and being the owner of the club obviously got his way and both of us had a good laugh about it. Yes, very sad when he left Arsenal, his wisdom and foresight has been one of the major factors in our lack of success in the last 10 years.

    1. Actually Kenny, it is the overridingly main reason. IF DD had remained he would never have let Wenger teams drift, the way they increasingly did after 2008.

  6. Dein took care of the contracts and player signings

    most shortlisted targets were signed back then….

    he has the charm and power to convince the board to approve over the budget signings

    things went different when Gazadis took over…we lost most of our targets and could not pay the extra 4 to 5 mil to secure them

    1. Great story Kenny, what was the medal for, quizzing or your knowledge of his club?!?!

      As you and John indicate (below) David made the buying side of the partnership so uncomplicated for AW – unlike the gazidis, but that’s another story!!!

      1. Yours was the great story Ken, your knowledge is second to none. The medal was for runners up in the Arsenal Quiz of 1999 that used to take place in training ground building behind the Clock End. Our team of four was called “Joe Baker’s Jaw Breakers”. Turned out the team that won actually cheated, receiving text’s from an outside force LOL

        1. Kenny, were they called the “Sir Henry Norris Four” by any chance thanks for the compliment – I wish I still had your powers of memory my friend, as I do have to check my thoughts sometimes!!!

          Jon has got it wronng with DD though – AW identified the players, DD went and got them, AW trained and moulded them- that’s how I see it anyway.
          gazidis was a little creep who wasn’t equal to David Dein’s boot laces.

          Take care out there – are you still cabbying at the moment?

          1. Thats how i see it too….

            Dein knows about football and players….if he cant get the first choice target he will ensure the 2nd best is done….

            Petit was an example…Wenger feels he could improve the team….but overbudget

            Dein took care of it and get it across the line

          2. Jon, I thought you were saying that DD would have had an input into what was happening on the field – once kronkie got the club, with his wallet firmly shut, I don’t think David and Arsene could have done anything differently.

            That’s why we were buying players from the middle shelf and not the top shelf.

          3. Thanks for that Ken, why would they be “The Sir Henry Norris Four”, because of the wheeler dealing, LOL I’ve retired from the cab at Christmas, TFL finally drove me out with traffic schemes, roadworks, bike lanes and all round destruction of London. Your post on Sir Henry Norris was brilliant, Sorry for the delay Ken but I always catch up eventually

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