In the winter of 1994 the good ship Arsenal, guided by George Graham, hit the rocks. ‘Bung’. The word had never been heard before in football. A ‘bung’ was something you put in a bottle. All of a sudden, it was about to become common parlance in footballing terminology. Ken Friar said that George had told him that £425,000 was put into his bank account which he didn’t expect and didn’t ask for. George had dealt with the Norwegian agent, Rune Hauge, in the purchase of two players from Scandinavia – John Jensen and Pal Lydersen.
It is important to understand how transfers worked back then. George was the main driving force, with a great track record of spotting and recruiting hits. If he needed backup on the financial, legal, negotiating or administrative side, both Ken Friar and I were on hand to offer our support. Ken had been involved at Arsenal since he was a boy and nothing usually got past him. My business background and contacts were all part of the big picture where needed
[Rune] Hauge had paid money into George’s bank account without the club’s knowledge and George came to Ken to own up to it – to front up, as his lawyers recommended. He wanted to put the wheels in motion to pay that money back to Arsenal and because it was a taxable situation it needed to be discussed properly. It was not a situation that we as a board had come across before. We held an emergency meeting and members were polarised. Some members immediately wanted to dial 999. I was not one of those.
David Dein was vice-chairman of Arsenal for 24 years. His time at the club straddled the old game and modern era.
Instrumental in the establishment of the Premier League, Dein’s time begun when managers called the shots when it came to transfers. They would decide on a player, do the negotiating and the directors ratified the decision.
By the time he left the club in 2007, the football landscape was very different with Directors of Football, Agents and Super Agents.
David Dein: Calling the Shots is the long awaited memoir of one of the most influential men in Arsenal (and football) history.
It is the story of how Arsenal became a modern super club, written by the man who was steering the ship.
Part memoir, part inspirational meditation on leadership, teamwork and how to invest in people. It tracks the full story of David’s remarkable life and career to date, recounting never-before-told stories from the inside.
Read the stories on the signing of Ian Wright, how being too good looking stopped David Ginola being an Arsenal player and the moment Dein found out Dennis Bergkamp could not fly, as well as the inside story on what happened behind closed doors with the George Graham bung scandal.
Dein was not just a shareholder and employee of The Arsenal, he was a fan.
Often found in the stands at reserve, youth and ladies games (he was President of Arsenal Ladies Football Club), his ownership of the club came out of love. He was more than just an owner to the players. He was a friend.
Calling the Shots: How to Win in Football and Life is available now.