Remembering Danny Fiszman
Arsenal is traditionally a club of innovators. Tradition with vision was long a buzz word in the Arsenal boardroom in the 80s and 90s. From the rabble rousing of Norris, the footballing and structural vision of Chapman to the pioneering spirits of Graham and Wenger. Arsenal is a club whose evolution has been sped up by great men. Some of these men are widely known and celebrated, their anecdotes fastened to our history and passed on through the campfires of N5. Like the men I have mentioned. Others, not so much.
The likes of Allison, Whittaker and Don Howe have taken more of a back seat in the large, dusty volumes of Arsenal history. Today, we remind ourselves about one of those pioneers. It`s a year ago today that we lost Danny Fiszman. Amos penned a neat tribute to his achievements and quiet pioneering spirit , so I won`t rehash too much old ground. Suffice to say, Arsenal`s position as one of the biggest clubs in Europe, playing in one of the continent`s finest stadiums owes much to the foresight, determination, business acumen and work ethic of the Willesden born son of Belgian Jewish refugees.
Fiszman made his fortune in diamonds with the Star Diamond Group, but his passion was Arsenal. He purchased 2,840 shares from his friend David Dein in 1999 and eventually increased his stake to 24% by 2007. To help finance the purchase of such a large holding, Fiszman sold Star Diamonds to concentrate fully on being a Director at Arsenal. In truth, all of his efforts had long been concentrated solely on the club he loved. In 2003, when funding dried up for the new stadium project, Fiszman was regularly working 15 hour days for Arsenal.
He was a private man, who rarely gave interviews, so details are sketchy. But some time around 2008, his health was beginning to fail. He gradually began to sell his shareholding to Stan Kroenke Sports Enterprises. In early 2011, it became apparent he had been suffering from throat cancer. On April 11th, 2011, with death staring him in the face, Fiszman spent his last hours of life tying up the sale of his remaining 16.11% share in the club to Stan Kroenke. He died less than 48 hours after the deeds were signed. The club he loved were secure.
Fiszman died on 13th April, 2011, leaving his beloved wife Sally. Fiszman`s hobbies, other than Arsenal, included flying. To the extent that he was a qualified commercial jet pilot. 24 hours after his death, the club unveiled their tribute, renaming the Clock End Bridge the Danny Fiszman Bridge in his honour. The Emirates Stadium stands as a lasting reminder of his legacy to the club. In remembrance of Danny, I`m always minded of Isaac Newton`s famous quote, "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." May you continue to rest in peace Danny. LD.