Arsenal’s debt to the three ‘Jewish musketeers’

Arsenal’s debt to the three ‘Jewish musketeers’

Author Alex Fynn on why Arsenal Football Club owe a debt of gratitude to three Jewish men.

Andrew Sherwood is the Jewish News Sport and Community Editor

If anyone’s in a position to write a book about Arsenal football club, it’s Alex Fynn. His knowledge of the club, together with relationships he holds with the main protagonists who have worked behind the scenes at Highbury, and now The Emirates, over the past two decades or so, puts him in good stead, and that’s why his book Arsenal, The making of a modern superclub is enjoying a ninth reprint, with this version, including additional chapter which cover the past two seasons.

Fynn, who Wenger describes as a ‘football guru’, enjoyed playing AJY league football with David Dein, Arsenal’s former vice-chairman, and it is the latter, who he describes as being one of the ‘three Jewish musketeers’ who the Gunners owe a lot too. He says: “The modern Arsenal owes three Jewish men a debt of gratitude that it can’t possibly repay. For example without David Dein there would be no Arsene Wenger, without whom there would be no successful football club there is today. Without Anthony Spencer, a land agent, who found the site, there would possibly be no Emirates Stadium, but of course The Emirates Stadium needed administration, finance and above all devotion to duty which was exemplified by the late Danny Fiszman. So you could say that messers Dein, Spencer and Fiszman are the three musketeers who along with Ken Friar, are the architects of the modern Arsenal.”

Fynn chose to bring the book up to date, rather than just reprint it, with the additional four chapters ending at last season as well as dealing with the club’s finance and marketing, their role as a business, and asking whether Wenger will stay or go at the end of the season. As Fynn puts it, “is he good for Arsenal or would he better serve the club that he loves and has devoted the past 20 years of his working life too – and so successfully – would he be better off leaving them?”

arsenal-book2Discussing last two chapters which discusses the club’s finances, Fynn acknowledges the club has spent more over the past couple of season in transfers, though still questions whether it’s enough for them to win the game’s biggest prizes. He says: “The additional chapters bring something new to the debate, firstly in terms of the business. Arsenal used to prioritise profit over prizes, they say they’re not a selling club, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the ambition to win titles because to win title these days you have to spend money – and lots of it.

“Arsenal may have spent big in the summer, but not as much compared to others, there’s still a gap in terms of Arsenal’s spending compared to their rivals. Is there the ambition to win titles? The facts suggest they maybe still lacking behind.”

Believing it would be good for Dein to get back in the Arsenal fold, he left the club in 2007, Fynn says: “Unlike others, he has never flirted with another club, he would only go back to Arsenal if they asked him. I don’t think they will and I think that’s a great pity. I think both sides are losers, Dein because he loves the club so much and could still be a force for good, particularly in working with Wenger. It would be better for the club and I can’t understand why it hasn’t happened.”

Whether Dein returns or not, Fynn believes there’s still room for improvement at the club. “It’s a stable, good, self-sustaining business, but it could do so much better if it remembered that to have the optimum business (in football) you need to have a successful football club and success is defined by winning the Premier League or Champions League, or at least making a good fist of doing so and they’re not doing that… You have to say, good, well done, but perhaps can do so much better.”

Fynn knows about successful partnerships – he puts the success of his book down to that of his and co-author Kevin Whitcher. “I know about the mechanics of football, the strategy of the Premier League and Kevin knows about the love of his life – Arsenal and has a depth of knowledge about the club,” he says. “He is subjective, I’m objective and between the two, maybe it’s a good partnership.”

  • We have two signed copies of the book to give away. Simply answer the following question: Which French club did Arsene Wenger leave to go to Japan? Send your answer to
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