Former Arsenal supremo David Dein was at the helm of the Gunners for 24 years, forming a hugely successful partnership with legendary manager Arsene Wenger.
David Dein is the football visionary who was the brains behind the formation of the Premier League.
The global phenomenon has transformed the face of English football and turned it into a multi-billion-pound success.
When news broke about a clandestine plot to form the European Super League, Dein was angered by the sheer greed behind the move.
The fact that his beloved Arsenal were involved made him even more upset.
Sadly, Dein, 79, fears the threat has not gone away, with Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona still pursuing a legal battle.
Chelsea owner Todd Boehly last week refused to rule it out completely.
“Former Arsenal vice-chairman Dein said:”The Super League was shocking.
There’s a play in the West End called ‘The Play That Went Wrong‘ and that’s what I call the ESL. ‘The ESL that went wrong.
‘ The very thought of a sterile league with no promotion or relegation…. “We don’t want teams being judged on history. Being catapulted into the Super League just because you’re Manchester United or AC Milan, that’s not the way sport works. It’s 11 versus 11. That’s where you start, with a level playing field.”
“The Super League is the Champions League. But the word here is greed. There is a worry that it will come back because the three clubs are still fighting UEFA.“.
When the Premier League was formed, Arsenal’s annual turnover was £1.5million a year.
The TV deal in 1986 was worth a total of £6.3m. Now it is around £5billion, with overseas rights almost doubling that figure.
“I was on a plane the other day and I switched on the TV and there was Liverpool v Newcastle on a Turkish Airlines flight 30,000 feet up,” said Dein.
“That tells you the demand all around the world. A league watched in 200 countries.”
“The Premier League is the fastest train on the track and we’ve got to keep it going.”
“The fact it has 1.3 billion viewers around the world and goes out to 200 different territories tells its own story.”
It is a shame for English football that someone who lives and breathes the game, who was at the heart of Arsenal’s glory years under Arsene Wenger, and who was a former FA vice-chairman, is no longer directly in football.
The day he was ousted by Arsenal – he reels off the date and time, 5pm. April 18, 2007 – was, he says, his “Death warrant.” Despite offers from Newcastle, Barcelona and Liverpool, he refused to work for anyone else.
Wenger nearly quit after that and the pain haunts them both even if Dein still goes to every game at the Emirates.
Arsenal have never been as successful since his exit, even though signs are promising now.
“Arsenal have struggled since Arsene left,” said Dein.
“There’s been recently a bit of renaissance and something good is going on but, in my day, Arsenal were fighting for top spot with Man United. It was never in my agenda to come fourth. I wanted to win the title. There’s been slippage, particularly since Arsene left in 2018.“.
“I’ve never understood why Arsene was good enough for FIFA, and good enough to be head of Global Football Development, but wasn’t good enough for Arsenal in some capacity.”
“That was a big mistake by the board. They should have kept him within the family. At least we are seeing some recovery and long may it last. There are some signs of a good team emerging so hopefully they are on the way back.”
“Arsene has been bruised by the way he was treated and that’s not dissimilar to me.”
“He was there for 22 years, I was there for 24.“.
Dein’s warts-and-all autobiography, Calling The Shots, details everything from the Invincibles to Sven Goran Eriksson’s adventures, Pizzagate, FIFA scandals and his charity work in prisons to help rehabilitate offenders.
It also deals in depth with the politics and fall-outs at Arsenal amid bitter boardroom rows surrounding majority shareholder Stan Kroenke.
“I don’t have a relationship with them which is a great shame,” said Dein.
“I’m touched when I go to games by the people who ask ‘when are you coming back?'”.
“My answer is always the same: that I’m here but just in a different capacity.”