Thursday, 14 April 2011

RIP Danny Fiszman | Fabregas guarantee required | Thierry to return?

Morining Gooners.

Unfortunately today, I start the blog with the sad news of Danny Fiszman's passing. It is well documented he was heroically battling cancer for the past couple of years, out of the public eye. It was sadly a fight which he lost, with Arsenal Football Club announcing his death last night.

Mr Fiszman, 66, was a private man, preferring not to appear in the limelight and it was very rare that he would give interviews or speak with the media until the last few years. He was, as some have already put it, the power behind the Arsenal thrown. The man who had the foresight to take our football club to the next level.

It was his plan to move us from Highbury to the Grove which places Arsenal within the upper tier of world football today. His vision which saw us move a quarter of a mile from Avenell Road to the Ashburton Grove site on Drayton Park Road rather than Kings Cross or Wembley.

And on Sunday, when we take on Liverpool, all Gooners lucky enough to stand in our new home can remember that had it not been for Danny Fiszman, we might not have been watching football in the borough of Islington at all.

There are a few facts I wanted to share which not many people know about Mr Fiszman.

  • He was the South African-born son of a Belgian Jewish couple who fled the Nazis during the Second World War.
  • He started supporting Arsenal as a six year old.
  • In 1991 Fiszman buys his first tranche of shares, 10,000, from David Dein to acquire an eight per cent stake in Arsenal and a seat on the board.
  • Five years later in 1996 he buys 3,000 more shares from Dein and in 1999 buys a further 3,000 shares from Dein for £7 million to increase his stake in Arsenal to 33 per cent.
  • Fiszman was a former diamond trader worth just over £150 million, according to the 2006 Sunday Times rich list, selling his interests in the Star Diamond Group in 2004 to concentrate his efforts on Arsenal.
  • He is a fully trained commercial pilot with his own private jet, who once flew Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Sylvain Wiltord and Robert Pires back to London from Slovenia, where they had been playing for France.
  • At Arsenal he drove the new staduim plan past the board, Islington council, the government and gained the finance for the project from the banks alongside former managing director Keith Edelman.
  • He was the driving force behind the £400million move from Highbury to the new Emirates Stadium.
  • In March 2007, he sold one per cent of his holding in Arsenal - appearently unwittingly, to Stan Kroenke.
  • It was around the same time he moved to Swizerland to become a tax exile.
  • A fluent French speaker - Fiszman conducted the renegotiation of Arsene Wenger's contract in 2007 with him in the Frenchman's native tougne over dinner.
Here are a couple of quotes from Fizsman which show the type of man he was.

September 2007 - News of the World
"As I step back from my other businesses I look forward to being more involved with Arsenal.
"Share value doesn't mean anything to me. If you buy your dream house you don't put a value on it because you don't want to sell. I don't want to sell.
"This is a fantastic stadium, a fantastic team, manager Arsene Wenger is about to sign a new contract and I'm staying.
"My family love it, my kids love it — here I am."
August 2008 - The Times

"If Arsène said he needed £30 million for a striker, he would get it, no problem at all. It is not our decision who he spends money on and nor will it ever be. We totally back Arsène, but there is a dual problem for him. If we were to buy the sort of big names that people talk about, we would be looking at relatively mature players who then need to be integrated into the way we play.
"Secondly, it impacts on the youngsters, and in many cases Arsène thinks it is quicker for us to bring a player through our system. But that does not mean all we are interested in is the artistic achievement award. We are not settling for second-best. We want to win trophies and I think it is time we did, but Arsène also believes in creating teams with a certain style."
There is a tribute from our chairman Peter Hill Wood on the official site which I found moving. Already Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Jack Wilshere have paid their own respects via Twitter.

I'm sure the club will have something planned for Sunday, a fitting way for us all to remember a great Arsenal man.

It is now obvious why the events of the past week have taken the place. I'm sure Mr Kroenke won't forget what Mr Fiszman has done for our club.


In other matters Arsenal related, Alisher Usmanov has announced he won't be selling his stake in Arsenal to Stan Kroenke.

The Daily Mail are running some rubbish about Arsene Wenger seeking assurances from Stan Kroenke that Cesc Fabregas won't be sold this summer. I think the last thing Mr Kroenke would do if he wanted to be in the supporters good books would be to sell Cesc. Just scaremongering by the Mail in my opinion.

The Daily Telegraph report Mr Kroenke is also considering whether to impose a season ticket rise next season.

The Washington Post say Thierry Henry's New York Red Bulls have been invited to play in the Emirates Cup in August.

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