Thursday, 14 April 2011
Danny Fiszman - a true Arsenal man
The Club announced yesterday that Danny Fiszman has died after a long battle with cancer. I think many people knew Mr Fiszman was ill, but very few would have realised how imminent his passing would be. Of course this explains the sale of his shares in Arsenal to Stan Kroenke.
Danny Fiszman has been a shareholder and Director at Arsenal for nearly twenty years. For a long time he was the major shareholder in the Club and the leading figure on the Board. When the Board took the decision to move from Highbury it was Fiszman who, along with Ken Friar, secured the permission to build the new ground within a stones-throw of our old home (the much vaunted David Dein wanted us to move to Wembley). He then effectively gave up the day to day management of his business interests in order to oversee the stadium project. That it was delivered on time, under budget, and the nature of the manageable loan agreements are all down to his tireless work on behalf of the Club. It is hard to overstate the work that went in to securing planning permission etc, and to overcoming the various legal challenges that were made against the plans of Arsenal – again this was all down to the work of Danny Fiszman and his cohorts in the project team.
Many will have seen Mr Fiszman simply as a Director, rather than a benefactor. By that I mean that he was often maligned on the grounds that he never spent his millions on the team, but seemed happy to sit on his shares as the price went up. I must admit that I was pretty much in this camp until watching a TV interview with Tony Adams a few months back. It is little known that most of Arsenal’s early success under Arsene Wenger was down to a cash injection from Danny. Tony Adams has told the story of how the Summer of 1997 saw Mr Fiszman personally finance the deals for Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit, Gilles Grimandi and the other players to join that year (the others were Alex Manninger, Luis Boa Morte, Christopher Wreh, Matthew Upson and Alberto Mendez – of those only Mendez didn’t end up with a Championship medal in 1998).
When you consider that, and the fact that he was the main man behind the work of moving to the new stadium, it is clear that Danny Fiszman deserves his own place in Arsenal history. He may not be a Chapman or a Wenger, a Bergkamp or an Henry, or even a Sir Henry Norris or a Dennis Hill-Wood, but Danny Fiszman would feature highly if someone was to write a new comprehensive history of Arsenal Football Club to the present day.