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David Dein

David Dein
Born (1943-09-07) 7 September 1943 (age 72)
Occupation Former vice-chairman of Arsenal and the FA

David Barry Dein (born 7 September 1943) is the former vice-chairman of Arsenal Football Club and former vice-chairman of the Football Association; Dein currently spends much of his free time touring schools and prisons as a public speaker.[1] He was also the President of the G-14 group of European football clubs between October 2006 and May 2007 and has sat on various committees within FIFA and UEFA including UEFA's Club Competition Committee and Executive Committee. In August 2007 he sold his shares in Arsenal F.C. to London-based, Russian-owned business company Red and White Holdings. He was also the International President of England's failed 2018 World Cup bid.

Role at Arsenal

He was Vice-Chairman of Arsenal between 1983 and 2007. He was appointed when he bought a 16.6% share of the club for £292,000 (he later sold a significant proportion to co-director Danny Fiszman) At the time of Dein's purchase of the shares in Arsenal back in 1983, Peter Hill Wood Arsenal's Chairman described Dein as "crazy" to invest his money in the club stating that "to all intents and purposes it's dead money".[2] Dein built up his shares until he owned 42% of the club in 1991. During his time at the club, he was responsible for football matters taking an active role in the transfer of players and contract negotiations where he was able to use his extensive network of football contacts. Dein was behind the appointment of the then little known Arsène Wenger to the manager's job in 1996; under Wenger Arsenal have won the FA Premier League three times and the FA Cup five times, and Dein strongly backed him and his transfer wishes throughout.[3]

David Dein was also influential in the transformation of Highbury into an all-seater stadium. Following the Hillsborough disaster a report by Lord Justice Taylor called on all Premier League clubs to introduce all-seater stadiums. Dein was behind the introduction of a bond scheme to finance the redevlopment of Highbury's North Bank and Clock End terraces into all-seater stands.

Dein also helped obtain Arsenal's entry into the G-14 group of major European football clubs in 2002, and became President of the G-14 in October 2006.[4] A keen promoter of women's football, he was also President of Arsenal Ladies Football Club, the most successful English women's football team, while Arsenal vice-chairman.

David Dein was responsible for bringing Arsene Wenger to the club. Following the dismissal of George Graham in February 1995 he tried to convince his fellow-board members to appoint Arsene Wenger as manager. They seemed reluctant to bring on board an unknown Frenchman managing in Japan and opted instead for Bruce Rioch. Following the dismissal of Rioch a year later, Dein again suggested that Arsene Wenger should be appointed as manager. His efforts proved successful 2nd time round and Arsene Wenger was appointed manager of Arsenal in October 1996. It was David Dein who introduced Arsene Wenger to his fellow board members and convinced them to appoint him as manager. No one denies that without Dein, Wenger would never have been appointed manager.

[2] [3]

David Dein's success in recruiting Arsene Wenger as manager in September 1996 is enough to ensure his legacy in the history of Arsenal. Together they spent the next decade transforming the club and helping it join the elite clubs of European football.

Dein believed that English football was falling behind other European leagues and was not embracing a forward-looking plan to improve. He saw Arsene Wenger as the man to help push Arsenal forward embracing new methods to achieve this. Dein also believed that Arsene Wenger would change Arsenal's style of play which was seen as dogmatic and one-dimensional to one based on technique and speed more attuned with the approach adopted by teams from the continent.


Dein was instrumental in convincing some of the world’s biggest talents to join the club.

In September 1991 he helped Arsenal sign Ian Wright from Crystal Palace for £2.5 million.

In June 1995, Dein flew to Milan "and returned with the signature of, for the first time in Arsenal’s history, a true international superstar." Arsenal bought Dutch International Dennis Bergkamp for £7.5 million from Internazionale.

Over the following years, Dein was also responsible for recruiting players such as Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Marc Overmars, Thierry Henry, Davor Suker, Robert Pires, Sol Campbell, Gilberto, Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure, Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie. All were to contribute heavily to the success of Arsenal.

On 18 April 2007 it was revealed by Arsenal that he had left the club with immediate effect after "irreconcilable differences" between himself and the rest of the board. It is thought that he was in favour of a possible takeover of Arsenal by an external benefactor seeking to invest money into the club. Arsenal had invested heavily in the development of their new stadium which forced the club to take on heavy debts which meant the club was in need of new revenue. The other members of the board were said to have signed a contractual agreement that they would not sell their shares for a year, and they jointly expressed their intention to retain their shares in the longer term.[5] Dein was replaced as G-14 chairman by Olympique Lyonnais chairman Jean-Michel Aulas the following month.[6]

Sale of Arsenal shareholding

In August 2007, David Dein sold his 9,072 shares (14.58%) in the club for £75 million to Red & White Holdings, an investment vehicle of Russian metal billionaire Alisher Usmanov and his business partner Farhad Moshiri.[7] Dein was appointed as chairman of Red & White, which is the largest shareholder in the club outside of members of the board of directors. In September 2008 he resigned as chairman of Red and White, with The Times suggesting it was to improve relations between Arsenal and Red & White.[8]

Departure from Arsenal

David Dein’s departure from Arsenal was met with a strong reaction from key figures at the club.

Arsene Wenger described David Dein’s departure "as a sad day for the club". Following his departure, Wenger was believed to have asked Dein whether he wished him to resign from the post of manager in support for his friend. Dein told Wenger that he should not leave Arsenal as the club would suffer greatly from his loss as manager if he decided to leave.

Arsene Wenger stated "It is a huge disappointment because we worked very closely together, David has contributed highly to the success of the club in the last 10 years and even before that as well. Red and white are the colours of his heart."[5]

Arsene Wenger also stated "David Dein is needed in football because this guy has revolutionised this club (Arsenal) and also English football. He is top quality."[6]

Former Arsenal hero, Ian Wright described David Dein’s departure as follows:

"I know the players aren't happy. I know Thierry Henry's not happy. We're talking about a man [David Dein] who goes into the dressing room after every single game, shakes every player by the hand and who knows all the youth team players."

"I know this for a fact that the manager and the players are 100 per cent behind David Dein and I can see real repercussions coming off the back of this." [7]

Thierry Henry claimed that David Dein's departure as vice-chairman had dismayed him and left him in no doubt that it was time to move on.[8]

Role at the Football Association

In 1986 Dein was voted onto the board of the Football League Management Committee and subsequently achieved a place on the FA Council. He was also one of the major architects of the FA Premier League in 1992. He eventually rose to the position of vice-chairman of the FA in 2000, a post he held until 2004 when it was scrapped after restructuring. He was subsequently re-elected to the FA Board as an FA Premier League representative.

Dein was a key mover in the FA's manouevreing to hire Sven-Göran Eriksson as England manager in 2001.[9] Five years later, in 2006 he was one of four members of an FA panel (the others being Brian Barwick, Noel White and Dave Richards) tasked with identifying Eriksson's replacement. Dein's preferred choice, Luiz Felipe Scolari, was offered the job and looked set to take it[10] but later changed his mind;[11] the FA eventually chose Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren.

Dein sat on the FA Board until 2 June 2006 as one of four representatives of the FA Premier League clubs on the Football Association board. He was replaced by David Gill, chief executive of Manchester United.[12] This removal came one day after a news story broke on the BBC's Newsnight programme regarding possible infringements of FIFA rules regarding player transfers with, and loans to, Belgian club Beveren.[13]

The timing of the news story may have been an issue in the vote. The FA compliance committee investigated the BBC's allegations but did not find any breach of FA or Premier League rules by Arsenal.On 30 June 2006, FIFA released a statement claiming there was no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing by Arsenal in relation to its ties with Beveren. This came following close consultation with the FA which had investigated the allegations made by Newsnight. FIFA’s statement concluded by stating that "In view of these findings, FIFA does not see any reason for further investigation or for any additional measures to be taken in this connection."[9].[14]

He was the representative of the FA Premier League on UEFA's committee for club competitions, and a former member of the FA Council having to step down from his position when he left Arsenal.

Role in developing the Premier League

David Dein was one of the major architects of the formation of the Premier League in 1992, which would re-shape the structure and finances of English football. He was determined to help football's metamorphosis from struggling sport into a multi-million pound industry. "I felt football was really a sleeping giant and had a long way to go," Dein said. "After seeing how the Americans operated their sport, particularly American football and baseball and basketball, I felt we were light years behind. We had so much more to give as an attraction." [10] In an interview with the Financial Times, Greg Dyke the current Chairman of the FA stresses the central role of David Dein in the creation of the Premier League when he states "David Dein was the most revolutionary bloke I've met in football. David Dein created the Premier League it was his idea." [15] Today Dein continues to fly the flag for the Premier League representing English football's elite competition around the world in various gatherings as an official ambassador of the League.


David Dein was appointed President of G14 in October 2006 and used his time at the head of the organisation to try to reduce the tension between clubs and country and develop better relations between clubs and international governing federations such as UEFA and FIFA. At the time several legal disputes between clubs and FIFA and national associations relating to the release of players for international matches were on-going. It led to an agreement on compensation for the release of players for international tournaments.[11][12]

On the day of his election to Chairmanship of G-14, David Dein stated: "I can see a negotiated settlement between all sides within the next 12 months,".He revealed that himself and Barcelona president Juan Laporta have held talks with Fifa and Uefa.[13]

He denied that there were ever any discussions held at G14 on developing a so-called "super league" whereby the leading clubs would compete outside the Champions League format.World Soccer May 2008

Activities since leaving Arsenal

Since his departure from Arsenal David Dein has continued to remain active on the football scene. He continues to attend all of Arsenal’s home matches and is present at most international tournaments as a guest of UEFA and FIFA.[16] He continues to provide his views on all the major issues of interest relating to the future of football around the world; be it in media interviews or at conferences and many other public speaking engagements including at schools across the UK. Topics that he has addressed include foreign-ownership of clubs, club finances and levels of debt within the game, goal-line technology (of which he’s a strong advocate), youth development and the development of women's football.[17]

In March 2009 he addressed the European Parliament in Brussels calling on FIFA to scrap its proposed 6+5 rule arguing that players should be picked by clubs on the grounds of talent and not nationality. He also called on clubs to be allowed to continue to buy young talent from abroad arguing that it would be wrong to deny the most talented young players the ability to develop in the most suitable environment wherever that may be.[18]

In April 2015, David Dein was invited to address MBA students at Harvard Business School and share with them his experience of running a modern-day football club.

David Dein also regularly speaks at prisons and schools (as part of the "Speakers for Schools" programme) providing inmates and pupils with his views on motivation and inspiration based on his experience in football.

Alleged Conflict of Interest

Dein's dual role as director of Arsenal and as a senior member of the Football Association's executive led to accusations of conflicts of interest.

In 2005, Chelsea manager José Mourinho said "A person who works in the club should not work in the FA. The FA is the FA and the club is the club"; he called on David Dein to resign. Mourinho's complaint related to the league programme apparently favouring Arsenal. In 2004-05, Arsenal played five of their six league games immediately following Champions League group matches at home, while Chelsea had to play five away.[19] This was not the only row Dein has had with Chelsea: Dein complained about Chelsea "tapping up" Ashley Cole, which resulted in Cole, Chelsea and José Mourinho all being fined by the FA.[20] He was later accused of making a "covert" approach for Gilberto Silva that was similar to Chelsea's approach for Cole, while Gilberto was at Atlético Mineiro.[21] Dein denied this, saying he had made his approach known to Atlético; the president of Mineiro, Alexandre Kall, confirmed Dein's account and said that Arsenal had complied with all the rules.[22] Kall stated "I am shocked to hear about the press reports concerning the sale of Gilberto Silva. I can confirm that Arsenal complied with all the rules and all the negotiations with the player were held exclusively between the two clubs."[14]

In 2006, during the search for a new England manager to replace Eriksson, Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce questioned Dein's role in the FA, saying: "I don't know how much power David Dein has but he obviously has a great influence at the FA", and alleged that Dein had shielded Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger from the selection process.[23] Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson made similar allegations,[24] but Wenger denied this, saying he had been on FA chief executive Brian Barwick's original longlist, but told him from the outset that he did not want the job,[25] a story later confirmed by the FA.[26]

England 2018 World Cup bid

In February 2010 David Dein was appointed International President of England’s 2018 World Cup bid. David Dein was responsible for lobbying members of FIFA’s Executive Committee who picked the country which will stage the 2018 World Cup.[15]

David Dein’s appointment to the post came following difficulties encountered by the bid team. The bid’s board consisted of a number of politicians and was seen as lacking ‘real’ football people. Relations between the FA’s Chairman Lord Triesman and the Premier League were also seen as difficult.

David Dein’s long years of experience within the game and his contacts at the highest levels of global football was seen as vital in increasing England’s chances of winning the bid.[16]

Responding to his appointment, David Dein stated:

"I am delighted to be part of the 2018/22 bid and look forward to an exciting campaign. Having had 25 years experience in English, European and world football this was a challenge I could not refuse. Now the hard work begins."[17]

David Dein spent many hours meeting with members of FIFA’s Executive Committee during the 2010 World Cup making the case for England to host the tournament in 2018.

He attended over 30 matches in a non-stop charm-offensive. His confidence in the complex waters of football politics were seen as a huge asset. [18]

Within the football world, Dein is also renowned for his lively sense of humour. At a recent presentation of the England bid to key football administrators in which he was given just 12 minutes to make the case for the bid, Dein joked that "the last time I did it in 12 minutes I was 18 years old".[19]

Personal life

David Dein lives in Totteridge. He's been married to his wife Barbara since 1972, has three children including Gavin Dein[27] and is the grandfather to 5 grandchildren.

David Dein's son, Darren, is a solicitor, and was Thierry Henry's best man.[28]

Dein was chairman of The Theatre Investment Fund in England.


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Wenger Praises Dein's Work. Sky Sports. Retrieved on 10 February 2007.
  4. ^ "Dein named chairman of G14 group". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2006-10-04. 
  5. ^ Harris, Nick (19 April 2007). "Takeover forces Dein out of Arsenal". Independent online (London). Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  6. ^ "British trio linked to bigger G14". BBC Sport. 17 May 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  7. ^ "Dein sells Arsenal stake to Russian oligarch for £75m". Times Online
  8. ^ "David Dein changes tactics". Times Online
  9. ^ Scott, Matt (28 April 2006). "Dein once again proves to be head headhunter". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 8 May 2006. 
  10. ^ Scott, Matt (27 April 2006). "Scolari is offered the England job". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 11 May 2006. 
  11. ^ Austin, Simon (28 April 2006). "The Scolari Saga". BBC Sport. Retrieved 8 May 2006. 
  12. ^ "Premier League Statement". FAPL. [dead link]
  13. ^ Jones, Meirion (27 June 2006). "Arsenal face Fifa investigation". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  14. ^ "Arsenal Statement". The FA. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ World Soccer May 2008
  17. ^
  18. ^ Hearing Culture Committee European Parliament 30 March 2009
  19. ^ Sanghera, Mandeep (12 July 2005). "Mourinho calls on Dein to quit FA". BBC Sport. Retrieved 8 May 2006. 
  20. ^ "Mourinho & Cole lose fine appeals". BBC Sport. 10 August 2005. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  21. ^ "Dein faces Gilberto Probe". Sporting Life. 
  22. ^ "Dein Gets Brazilian Backing". 
  23. ^ "Allardyce surprised by Dein role". BBC Sport. 28 May 2006. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  24. ^ "Wenger rejects criticism of Dein". BBC Sport. 5 May 2006. Retrieved 8 May 2006.  He returned to Arsenal Fc on 27th Oxtober 2011.
  25. ^ Bose, Mihir (2 May 2006). "Wenger turned down England approach". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 8 May 2006. 
  26. ^ "Arsene Wenger". Retrieved 8 May 2006. [dead link]
  27. ^ Hugh Filman (7 February 2008). "Rewarding Passion - Gavin Dein, Chief executive Reward". Brand Republic. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  28. ^ "Arsenal offered a final glimmer of hope by Henry's". The Independent. Retrieved 2006-10-05. [dead link]

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