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The only thing anyone can talk about in my part of the newsroom today is the ousting of David Dein from Arsenal. Will Dein be back? Is he plotting a takeover with Stan Kroenke? Why is the rest of the board quite so implacably opposed to a sale? I defer to my much more knowledgeable colleagues but it is gripping stuff. Chairman Peter Hill-Wood has been interviewed by the club’s own website but he easily dodges the question of why Dein and the board fell out. Online, Myles Palmer on the Arsenal News Review makes this excellent point: “How can the directors say they won’t sell for a year? No serious business puts out statements like that. It’s a pathetic and imbecilic statement.” But, he adds: “Fasten your seatbelts, chaps : this is shaping up like a hostile takeover that could see Arsenal sold for £600 million.” On the other hand, unlike some of the clubs which have sold out recently, Arsenal has already made its big investment and so may not feel the same pressure.
Mick Kavanagh, one of my fellow news editors, says: “Longstanding fans of the beautiful game will be amused by the tribute made over the contribution made by Mr Dein to the Arsenal traditions which chairman Peter Hill-Wood insists will continue. One assumes he was not referring to the dour offside-trap defence, notorious drinking culture and gambling habits of its leading players. These famed Arsenal traditions have finally fallen out of favour under team manager Arsène Wenger.” Mick is an Aston Villa fan.
Elsewhere, we have interims from WH Smith. Same old story: profits up, sales down. Surely that isn’t sustainable. The retailer has also announced it will introduce 70 post offices to its stores which, I suppose, has a certain logic.
A familiar story also from the Pru. UK sales down (23 per cent) in Q1; Asia and US doing well. This won’t do much to appease critics of chief executive Mark Tucker.
Rumour of the day: Mulberry shares are up 23 per cent on takeover rumours. We don’t think Baugur is bidding though.