When I had a look at the news headlines last night and saw that there had been boardroom departures at Arsenal, I automatically thought of Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, who for some time has been seen as the weakest link in the boardroom lockdown agreement.
I’m surprised Sir Richard Carr has left as well, though it’s clear from the club’s statements that Lady Bracewell-Smith’s departure was less than harmonious.
The fact that she has left the boards of the Club and Arsenal Holdings suggests that she has had a fall-out with the rest of the board, which may have happened during the board meeting conducted at Emirates last Thursday.
Remember, she was taken on through her husband’s family’s association with the club rather than any deep-rooted passion for the Club herself.
If Lady Nina sells her shares, the chances are that unless she is put under huge pressure from her husband’s family, she will do what any businesswoman would do and sell to the highest bidder.
Speculation suggests that is likely to be Alisher Usmanov, who will then be able to launch an official takeover of the club and almost certainly take a place on the board: with Lady Nina’s shares Usmanov will have more than the 30% required...
M*nure fans protested heavily about their club's sale to the Glazers. Premiership titles in successive years and the European Cup/Champions League trophy suggest things haven't gone too badly since they took over. Yep, the club is laden with debt and will be in trouble if the banks come looking for their cash or the Glazers try to sell, but, short termist as it is, would it be such a bad thing for Arsnal to fall into Usmanov's hands?
Many papers have reported that Usmanov has a difficult relationship with the Gunners board, which would make sense, but is not entirely accurate.
Usmanov has tickets for the Director’s Box at Emirates, I understand, but is not allowed to bring David Dein with him. Chairman Peter-Hill-Wood has admitted that there have been conversations between the board and the Uzbekistan businessman.
But there is another aspect to this, which has not yet been considered.
I have friends who do business in Eastern Europe and Russia and the credit crunch has hit there worse than most places.
We have already seen how Roman Abramovich is cutting his expenditure at Ch*vski and I suspect the same MIGHT be true of Usmanov.
If that is the case, then Peter Hill-Wood’s comments bear some thinking about: “I know that Lady Nina is an advocate of the policies we have been following to make the Club self-sustaining and free from external injections of money. She has certainly been in favour of what we are doing.
“I don’t know for certain what she wants to do with her shares. I do know that the Bracewell-Smith family have been involved with the Club for many, many years and are great supporters. We hope that she would remain a shareholder but she has not spoken to me about it lately. She is no longer in the lockdown so she is free to do what she wishes to do.
“A number of the Board have indicated in the past that they are interested in buying more shares so the future stability of the Club is secure. The Board is very keen to retain control of the Club to ensure that its values and traditions are upheld and live on for many years to come.”
If that is the case, then Danny Fiszman, whose diamond business will not have suffered in the way other businesses have done (the papers are full or gold and precious materials retaining their value even in a slump) may well be in a prime position to buy Lady Nina’s shares – and restore the status quo of stability that the club needs right now.
Until we know WHO is going to have Lady Nina’s shares, the uncertainty is going to cause all sorts of upheaval, just as we have seen at other clubs.
Only Alisher Usmanov knows what he really wants from Arsenal in the long term, and I for one hope the financial problems in Russia force him to sell his shares at a loss to raise much-needed capital.
Personally, I’d like to see Fiszman or another member of the current board to buy Lady Nina’s shares so we can get on with retaining our independence from potential “investors” rather than true Gooners. Our tradition and heritage is something to be proud of. I for one want to see us retain it.