David Dein's days as a significant powerbroker within the Football Association came to a sensational end yesterday when he was voted off the FA's main board by Premier League colleagues unhappy with his stance on key issues, including agents, and embarrassed at his role in the bungled pursuit of Luiz Felipe Scolari as the next England manager.
Thursday's revelations that Arsenal had secretly lent money in 2001 to a company that took control of the Belgian club, Beveren - which has prompted Fifa, the game's world governing body, to ask the FA to investigate the matter - added to the disquiet.
After a vote of Premier League clubs at the League's AGM yesterday, it was decided that Dein, Arsenal's vice-chairman, should be replaced on the FA board by Manchester United's chief executive, David Gill. The League's other representatives on the FA board remain Blackburn's Rob Coar, Bolton's Phil Gartside and the League's chairman, Dave Richards. Dein will still serve on the less influential FA Council but yesterday's vote showed a resounding lack of confidence in him to retain any higher office within Soho Square.
The atmosphere at the AGM was described by one source last night as "heated" and "confrontational". The issue of agents caused particular friction because the chairmen decided as a group to recommend the official banning of payments by clubs to the agents of players they sign. It was widely agreed the practice of "paying at both ends", as it is known, cast doubt on the game's integrity, even though it has never been outlawed under FA rules.
Dein is vehemently in favour of the rules as they stand, and does not want payments to agents outlawed. Arsenal routinely - and legally - "buy up" players' agents and take them on their pay roll when they sign a player. This happened, for example, when they bought Jose Reyes.
Arsenal have always argued that tying the agent to the club in this way helps to maintain stability. Dein's colleagues evidently disagree, and let him know how strongly by voting him off the FA board.
The League will now recommend the FA changes its rules so players pay agents themselves. "When a club is buying a player, supporters find it hard to understand why clubs sometimes pay the player's agent," Richard Scudamore, the League's chief executive, said. "This has been accepted practice and deemed in accordance with existing regulations. However, in the interests of transparency and accountability we are asking the FA to amend their rules to prohibit this."
Dein's stance in opposing the move "was a significant factor" in his removal from the FA board, according to one source. His role in the Scolari affair was another. He was seen as having pushed Scolari's case, only for the Brazilian to embarrass the FA by publicly declaring he was not interested in the job.
Middlesbrough's chairman, Steve Gibson, was among those who questioned why Arsène Wenger, Dein's manager at Arsenal, had not been approached about the job. "How someone like David Dein can be kingmaker, I don't know," Gibson said at the time. "The FA is there for the good of English football, but was Wenger interviewed? Why was he protected?"
The Beveren controversy could heap further embarrassment on Dein. Fifa yesterday instructed the England and Belgian FAs to investigate whether there was any wrongdoing or conflict of interest in the relationship between Arsenal and Beveren.
BBC's Newsnight revealed on Thursday that police in Belgium had discovered that an investment into Beveren of £1m in 2001, from an anonymous donor, had come from Arsenal. Arsenal said they lent the money to a third party to help stabilise the club's finances.
The money was lent to Raoul de Waele, a business associate of Dein, to help fund a takeover of Beveren, where Jean Marc Guillou, one of Wenger's oldest friends in football, became the manager, and used the club as a staging post to import Ivorian players, including Emmanuel Eboué, whom Arsenal subsequently bought, into Europe.Reuse content