WAS THE REASONING BEHIND BUILDING THE EMIRATES STADIUM THE LIE SOME CLAIM IT WAS OR DID CIRCUMSTANCES INTERVENE? by Ken1945
Those of us who remember the wonderful Highbury stadium, will always look back with great affection at the home of The Arsenal from 1913 until the end of the 2005 season.
It’s hard to believe that this unique stadium holds an incredible record attendance figure:
Imagine 73,295 fans watching us play Sunderland in 1935 – let me just repeat that figure 73,295 fans – so how did the majestic, one off masterpiece stadium compare to other major English home grounds back then?
Liverpool’s record attendance stands at 61,905 in 1952.
Everton’s record attendance stands at 78,299 in 1948.
Manures record attendance stands at 83,260 in 1948…against The Arsenal – but at Maine Road!!!
Chelsea’s record attendance stands at 82,905 in 1935…against The Arsenal
Spuds record attendance stands at 75,038 in 1938.
City’s record attendance stands at 84,467 in 1934…still the biggest attendance for a match played at their home ground.
So, in the days when football was, indeed the “working class game”, we were capable to hold massive crowds, although from personal experience at the age of seven, one was never guaranteed to see any of the game when they actually got in to the ground… but the atmosphere was electric!!!
However, following the decision to make major football grounds all seater venues at the start of the 1994/95 season and following the Hillsborough disaster, the capacity at Highbury dropped to 38,419 spectators, nearly half of that record 73,295.
Highbury was renovated three times, in 1932/36, 1989 and 1993, but the club realised that to compete with the major clubs with bigger capacities, the decision was taken to move home and Highbury was closed on the 7th May 2006.
The supporters were told that this move was, not only to accommodate more of the, reported, 100,000 plus fans on the season ticket waiting list, but to also allow the club to start investing the vast increase in revenue on players from across the world.
The move happened in 2006, with the first match being a testimonial game for the wonderful Dennis Bergkamp and the stadium itself took our breath away.
It was magnificent – built on time – on budget – no hold ups, and all was in place to fulfil the promise and the dreams of millions of Gooners worldwide.
We had finished fourth in the league in 2005, but at last it seemed thousands more Gooners would be able to lend their support, both vocally and in monetary terms and the sky was the limit.
Just to give you an example of what the difference was on matchday revenues between us and Manure, we made a reported £45 million, while they made £92 million for that 2005 season…and yet we were competing with them on the pitch for every domestic trophy… so if we could compete with them with regards to revenue as well, what on earth could go wrong?
Our well respected and long serving board, along with Arsene Wenger and David Dein, were about to make the dream come true and we were ready to conquer the world… so what did go wrong?????
Well, the vision and planning started way back in 1999, with the first construction beginning on the Ist February 2004, once the funding needed was found and completed.
Such was the power and image of our manager Arsene Wenger, it was demanded by the banks that he was to be our manager until all the works were carried out, something worth remembering as part of his and our history.
At this time, there was no billionaire owners, such as Abramovich around, nor was the money that media outlets such as Sky, BT etc even considered. Then the whole footballing world changed in the blink of an eyelid, as we were building and starting to repay the debts of The Emirates:
1. In 2004 with debts totalling £80,000,000, Chelsea were bought by Roman Abramovich and has spent over £2billion since then, acquiring some of the world’s top players.
2. In 2008, Sheikh Mansour brought the City Football Group for £265,000,000 and has spent over £1billion since then, acquiring some of the world’s top players.
3. In 2011, Stan Kroenke became the sole owner of Arsenal and has spent nothing of his own money in acquiring players.
4. The board turned its back on the fans, by selling out to the man once described by the then chairman Peter Hill-Wood thus: “Call me old fashioned, but we don’t need Kroenke’s money and we don’t want his sort. Our objective is to keep Arsenal English, albeit with a lot of foreign players. I don’t know for certain if Kroenke will mount a hostile takeover for our club, but we shall resist it with all our might.”
Blink…they all sold out to him, lock, stock and barrel and walked away with a fist full of dollars!!!
5. As far as I am aware, the only board member who has shown any remorse regarding the sale of shares is Lady Nina Bracewell, who sold her shares of 16% in April 2011. Her ladyship then complained she sold them too cheaply… since then, and to put the record straight, she says she “deeply regrets selling to Kroenke” and claims he has no passion for the club!!! Well done Nina, you got one thing right and we are all grateful for your insight.
6. In April 2007, the board and Kroenke sacked David Dein, terminating THE most successful partnerships in modern football with Arsene Wenger.
Dein reported that Wenger asked him whether he wished him to resign in support of his friend. Dein answered by saying that he mustn’t leave Arsenal, as the club would suffer greatly from his loss as their manager.
This ridiculous sacking was initiated (so it is said) by Kroenke, the man who Dein introduced to the club – you couldn’t make it up, you really couldn’t… but it happened, and that’s when, in my opinion the club lost its integrity.
7. Sky TV began offering huge amounts of money for the right to show PL football and in 2015, they paid £4.18 billion for five of the seven packages on offer – BT paid just under £1 billion for their package and the BBC agreed a £204 million deal for MOTD highlights.
8. The PL currently has twelve billionaire owners, with a reported and combined wealth of $90.8 billion (it seems only one of them, Stanley Kroenke, does not believe in using his personal wealth of over $10 billion to acquire and strengthen the playing staff… and was the only billionaire who asked his players to take a pay cut of 12.5%), with Roman Abramovich being the first of these owners.
Before him, there wasn’t a single billionaire owner around when The Emirates was first envisaged in 1999.
Blink of an eyelid (or just twenty years) the picture had been changed for ever.
Now, let’s go back to the original question and that was “were we lied to regarding The Emirates Stadium?
Well, the fact is, if we are just given a yes or no option, then it has to be Yes.
But I believe that, at the time, every one of the listed eight statements were of a completely unknown and utterly unthinkable happening.
It was stated that due diligence and planning should have been more thorough, but I challenge anyone to honestly say they could have predicted back in 1999, or even 2003, that one, let alone these seven examples would happen.
So technically, we can throw our arms up in the air claiming we were lied too, but my view is that greed – outside influences – timing – billionaires and circumstances are behind the reasons why The Emirates stadium has not yet produced what it was built for, so I really do believe that the claim was made in all sincerity and not a lie, as some would say it was.
I am sure we will compete with the top clubs once again… just as we did at Highbury and once Mikel Arteta shows Stanley Kroenke what he could actually do with a little assistance from his ownership and wallet, the sky will be the limit… the big unknown is will Kroenke listen and invest?
Blink of an eyelid and we could see Partey and Aouar signed if Stan wants it to happen.
My glass is half full as usual and being an optimistic realist. I hope Silent Sam turns over a new leaf, once he realises what a gem we have in Mikel Arteta.