Throughout the last week, Arsenal Twitter was awash with talk of a fundraising campaign to raise money to fly a plane demanding “Wenger Out” and “No New Contract”.
Late on Friday, rumours circulated that due to weather conditions, the plane might not be able to circulate The Hawthornes.
During the first half of yesterday’s dismal display, the sound of a small aircraft above the ground seemed to go on forever. Unable to see the plane, I turned to a pal and said “they must have paid for a lot of flight time”. It was only at half time that we were aware that there were two banners. One proclaiming that Wenger should go, the second one declaring that we need to trust and respect Wenger.
With the secrecy and surprise of the second banner, there was only one conclusion to be made, that a single individual, or very small group of individuals, had paid for the second plane.
Hiring planes is not cheap. The Wenger Out one required a very public crowd funding campaign. The Respect Wenger one had zero publicity. No fundraising campaign. Clearly the actions of of a small group who people who worked in the background, silently, to organise and pay for it.
The company who flew the planes confirmed that the second plane was ordered by a company in Hong Kong. Not a surprise that it had been paid for by a couple of rich foreign fans. But further digging has potentially shown something beyond a rich fan wanting to publicaly back Arsenal Wenger.
A little research by some Arsenal fans have a uncovered Hong Kong firm called Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd.
A little Wikipedia search on this company shows that Jardine Matheson Holdings are a conglomerate based in, you guessed it, Hong Kong. Closely associated with this company for over 100 years are the Keswick family. Sir Henry Keswick is the chairman. The MD is Ben Keswick, son of Sir Henry’s brother, Simon.
The CEO (or DMD) is Adam Keswick. He is the son of Sir Henry’s other brother, Sir John Chippendale Lindley Keswick known as “Chips”.
Now the pieces are falling into place. We have a banner paid for in Hong Kong, a Hong Kong company run by the son, brother and nephew of the Chairman of Arsenal. A man who has reportedly previously paid for an anti-Usmanov banner within the Emirates.
The second banner and “banner wars” bought a bit of a smile to my face on a dark, dark day. But the fact the second banner could have been bought and paid for by a company with connections to the Chairman of Arsenal Football Club leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.