Kroenke on board but Arsenal will stay best of British

When the Abu Dhabi United Group were hovering over Premier League clubs, they considered buying Manchester City, Newcastle or Arsenal. City's Thaksin Shinawatra duly rolled over with his legs in the air and Newcastle's Mike Ashley was left cursing, not having had the opportunity to do the same.

What would have been more interesting, however, was the likely response from the panel-led boardroom transferred two years ago lock, stock and cigar-smoking directors from Highbury up the road to the spanking new Emirates Stadium.

Emirates and Abu Dhabi: a natural fit, surely? Not quite. Here is Peter Hill-Wood, formerly of Eton, the Coldstream Guards, the Free Foresters cricket club and Hambros, whose grand-father and father both preceded him as chairman of Arsenal, on the subject of whether the club should remain in British hands: "I'd prefer it that way. For traditional reasons. I think we perhaps have a deeper understanding of Arsenal than somebody who comes in from Timbuktu and puts down a billion pounds to buy it. It's been part of our lives and lifeblood.

"My family [involvement] goes back almost 90 years, and one's never thought of being involved in any other football club."

Last Friday, Arsenal did admittedly take the almost revolutionary step of appointing as a director the American businessman styled as "E. Stanley Kroenke", of whom Hill-Wood once said: "We don't need his money and don't want his sort."

Kroenke and his 12.4 per cent of Arsenal shares have now been welcomed on board – and on the board – as a bulwark against the Uzbek Alisher Usmanov, who holds twice as many. "I don't think he'd bring the sort of talents Kroenke can bring and we are not really looking for any other directors," Hill-Wood said on Friday after announcing impressive annual turnover of £223 million and £36.7m pre-tax profit.

As for David Dein, who was one of the most influential figures in English football before backing Kroenke at the wrong time and being forced out of Arsenal: "He didn't do quite as much here as he made out and I think he gave the impression that he was the only person running the place, which wasn't strictly true." Ouch.

Arsenal believe their current set-up, together with the successful move to a modern 60,000-capacity stadium, offers sufficient long-term financial security without the need for any rich benefactor like Roman Abramovich or a Middle Eastern sheikh.

"If you're expecting some sort of sugar daddy to top up the coffers every time you overspend, that leads to the business becoming unsustainable," Hill-Wood said. "And the guy could easily get bored or decide to go into horseracing, say, rather than football. I don't think it's a help, because it makes you pretty slack in the way you run the business."

What, though, of those £30m transfer fees their rivals pay for Robinho, Dimitar Berbatov and, er, Andriy Shevchenko, while Arsène Wenger scours the French League for bargains? "Arsène has not been under any restraint at all. We've never denied him any request, and having an economics degree he understands the figures and doesn't want to be responsible for bankrupting us. Danny Fiszman [an Arsenal director] asked Arsène what he would do if we gave him £100m to spend and he said: 'I'd give it back'."

Similarly, Hill-Wood insists that although valued players such as Mathieu Flamini and Alexander Hleb have left the club, they would resist any bid for Cesc Fabregas, adding: "We hope the club will continue to be stable and do what it's supposed to do, which is play attractive football and hopefully win something."

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own