I went to work this morning and was lucky enough to see Sir Stirling Moss, Dalton Grant, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Yohann Blake and a certain Usain Bolt. Getting the autographs of Blake and Bolt may turn out to be something great if either of them wins the 100m gold medal as expected at London 2012. With all this celebrity spotting going on I didn't know anything about developments at Arsenal until quite late in the day. It has turned out to be another ridiculously busy one.
I'll start with Red And White and their statement in criticism of the powers that be. Let me make it clear that I believe Usmanov's people should be getting a say in how the Club is run - they own nearly a third of the shares. They don't, as they claim, "own one in every three seats" in the stadium - if they do then I've just handed over my season ticket money to the wrong people. I have to say I have a real problem with Red And White making such statements about Arsenal, while claiming to have no desire to destabilise us in any way.
Let's start with the part of their "open letter" that I agree with. They inform us that Ivan Gazidis has, effectively, been cold-calling big firms with regards to commercial deals with Arsenal. In doing so he approached a company that is more than 50% owned by Alisher Usmanov. Red And White quite rightly state that this is unprofessional. How can Arsenal, given that the Board will have nothing to do with Usmanov, be looking for sponsorship from a company without first checking whether or not the Uzbeki owns it? It's yet another in a long line of fails on Gazidis' Arsenal CV.
Apart from that I have no time for anything else they have had to say. The content of the letter is brilliant, and it says everything that most fans want to hear from the Club itself. Every one of us wants to see a debt-free Arsenal spending the big money on the big players, and bringing home trophies. However, there is more than a whiff of propaganda about this. It's a bit like the political party in opposition - they can promise the Earth, but don't have to deliver any time soon. I said on Facebook earlier that it was a piece of "opportunism" following Van Persie's unexpected outburst last night. However, now I have thought more about it I believe there is potentially something a bit more Machiavellian going on.
It is my belief that David Dein is still very much involved with Red And White. Do you remember David Dein? He is often thought to be the man that Arsenal are missing. Certainly in terms of player recruitment he was in a different league to Gazidis. However, I'm not having any nonsense about his "passion" for Arsenal. It's easy, I am sure, to be passionate when you are the only director drawing an annual wage (and a very big one at that), as well as schmoozing your way through the corridors of power in European football. Red And White make great play in their letter today of the fact that the Board made a lot of money selling their collective shares to Stan Kroenke. Lest we forget that David Dein made more money than most of them when he sold out to Usmanov. Make no mistake that David Dein did damn well out of Arsenal Football Club. Where he fell short in his ambitions was never managing to become the all-powerful Chairman he wanted to be. The "establishment" of Arsenal, the Hill-Wood/Bracewell-Smith/Carr/Gibbs axis made sure that this never happened. Interestingly, within today's statement Red And White make it clear that Usmanov does not sit on the Board of any of his companies - in other words he has someone on there for him. When Dein was initially employed with Red And White I am certain that he was set to be that man if and when Usmanov's people got the shares required for control of Arsenal.
So where am I going with this? Well let's look at the fact that, over a number of years, we have seen our star players leaving Arsenal. Thierry Henry signed a new deal in 2006, negotiated by David Dein. In 2007, after Dein was sacked by Arsenal, Henry left for Barcelona. Within a year Adebayor was agitating for a move. A year later he got one, along with Kolo Toure. Then we had the annual nonsense with Fabregas. Gael Clichy also left under a bit of a cloud last season. Now we have Robin Van Persie. Do you know who is the common thread running through all these sagas? Darren Dein, the son of David Dein, has been one of the agents representing each of the players named. Such is the passion that the Dein family has for Arsenal that Darren Dein actively seeks to get our best players transferred year on year it seems. The question is, why?
Red And White have made great play on the fact that this has happened. They also, in a very detailed letter it must be said, cite the example of Robin Van Persie and use it as a reason for their press release today. It's almost as though they had it written already, and that they knew what Robin Van Persie was about to do. But then, if Darren Dein is one of the agents involved, and David Dein is still in with Red And White, it is almost certain that they knew what was about to happen. Could it be that David Dein is actually pulling all the strings here? Is he actually the grand puppeteer? I believe it's certainly food for thought. In the interests of not wanting to invite Alisher Usmanov's lawyers in to my house, I will state that I am only putting this forward as a personal theory, based on no evidence whatsoever.
As I said earlier I believe Mr Usmanov has a right to have his voice heard on the Board of Arsenal Football Club. However, I think the "open letter" today stinks to high heaven. As with Robin Van Persie's ill-advised digs at Arsenal last night the supporters will, by and large, see through the whole thing. If Red And White wanted to make a point, and to get in well with most of the supporters, then they have just scored a tremendous own-goal. What we need right now is not a Civil War for Arsenal FC, but for the Club to do what it has done best when it's been under the cosh during the last 100 years - come out fighting just like Sir Henry Norris did and do what's best for Arsenal, to the detriment of anyone who gets in our way.
Elsewhere I am delighted that Terry Burton is back at Arsenal as Reserve and Youth Development Coach. Burton was the man who nurtured the likes of Martin Keown, David Rocastle, Martin Hayes, Niall Quinn, Michael Thomas, Paul Merson and, of course, Tony Adams back in the early to mid 1980's. He had previously been part of Arsenal's FA Youth Cup winners in 1971 as a young apprentice player.
Terry Burton has been a very successful coach throughout his career, and last season was assistant to Dave Jones when he took over at Sheffield Wednesday and got them promoted. It is always nice when a real Arsenal man comes back to the Club. Hopefully he will be able to instill the Arsenal Way in to the youngsters that come under his charge, just as he did with those lads who came through back in the day. Tony Adams talks highly of Terry Burton's influence. If we can bring through a couple of leaders like Adams, Keown and Rocastle over the next few years then he will have lost none of his magic. Welcome back Terry.
Finally today, you may recall that I said a couple of weeks ago how Arsenal's proposed match in Nigeria looked like being cancelled. You could have knocked me down with a feather when they announced last week that the game was going ahead against a Nigeria XI. I don't know whether I was surprised tonight when Arsenal told us the game was off after all.
For me this is yet another cock-up from the clowns that are running important areas of the Club. Make no mistake this is incredibly embarrassing to Arsenal. I know a couple of supporters who had booked their trip to Abuja, at great expense, and now have been let down badly. It is humiliating that Arsenal could announce, with no small fanfare, their new partnership in Africa. Going to Nigeria always seemed to be a stupid idea. I don't know if anyone in Arsenal's commercial department knows much about current affairs, but Abuja is not an insanely popular travel destination. There are a few reasons for that. Arsenal should have looked in to them before realising there would be "difficulties" in actually taking superstar footballers there. It's just the sort of unprofessional incompetence that Red And White are referring to. Unfortunately.