Silent Dan and the Grand Plan
There have been plenty of tributes pouring in for Danny Fiszman from those that knew him and those that have just come to know of the important contribution he has made to the club. The naming of one of the bridges to the stadium in his honour was a particularly pertinent one as he was in many ways the bridge between the patriarchs of pre-war Arsenal and the modern club which has taken shape over the last couple of decades.
As a very successful businessman who shunned the limelight he was very different in that regard from David Dein who, when his own business ran into financial problems, sold a good part of his then 42% shareholding to Fiszman and brought him to the club. While Dein networked in the corridors of power, glad handing the great and the good of international football and developing his own reputation, Fiszman worked in the background, along with stalwarts like Ken Friar building the power of the club and its structure. He rarely spoke to the media, except for a brief period plugging the gap between the departure of Edelman and the arrival of Gazidis, as he frequently declined to be interviewed.
Dein's networking skills brought much that was good to the club including Fiszman himself as well as Wenger and ultimately perhaps Kroenke without really having the ability to understand that there was more purpose to it all than self promotion. If Dein was initially the man to shake up the boardroom and the club then it was Fiszman that collected up all the pieces and made them fit together to build something worthwhile. Despite the board's initial antipathy towards Kroenke it seems to have been Fiszman who saw that there was some merit in building closer ties and, though some say unknowingly, sold a small parcel of shares to Kroenke in March 2007 shortly before Dein's departure. After Dein's sudden removal from the club Fiszman developed ever closer ties with Kroenke while Dein fell out of favour and eventually sold his shares not to Kroenke as might have been anticipated but to Usmanov. It seems that whatever additional guarantees Dein wanted from Kroenke they weren't available.
Both ardent and genuine Arsenal supporters Fiszman and Dein were important parts of the making of the club we have now but Fiszman had a longer term view of AFC's future and put the clubs continuing interests before his own, as far as that can ever be true for any good businessman. I can't help but feel that while Fiszman wouldn't have cared overly Dein would love to be recognised by the club in the way that Danny's contribution is being recognised now but then history has always looked more favourably on the pioneers than the chancers.
There seems to be much that is similar in the personalities and character of Fiszman and Kroenke and if Kroenke is anything like the man that Fiszman was we can but hope that Silent Stan will be just as good for the Arsenal as Silent Dan was.
Rest in peace Danny Fiszman
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