Frank Warren - The Full Interview

Frank Warren knows a thing or two about the fight game…in fact, he is Britain ‘s very own Mr Boxing. But the promoter is also a massive Arsenal fan and has been watching the glorious Gunners since he was a boy back in the early Sixties.
Here, in the first part of an exclusive interview with Warren , he tells us about his love of the Arsenal, his favourite star players over the years and what he thinks about the present set-up under Arsene Wenger, along with his hopes for silveware this season.
Can you remember first game and who was your favourite players growing up?
The game that sticks in my mind was when Arsenal beat Oxford United 5-1 in a replay of an FA Cup game  – I do remember other matches before that but this one sticks in my mind. It was a severe winter, I think it was 1963, but Arsenal had under soil heating and they played it in a midweek afternoon and we bunked off school to go and watch it. As I said I remember other game. I remember seeing (former arsenal and Wales keeper) Jack Kelsey playing. My hero growing up was (former Arsenal striker)  Joe Baker. Arsenal bought him from Torino for what was at that time a fortune, I think it was close to £70,000. It was a lot of money back then. He had quite a good goal scoring record. You’ve got to remember the Arsenal weren’t that successful back then but we had some good player like George Eastham, Alan Skirton and Georgie Armstrong was in his early days of playing so that was the team I was brought up on so you can imagine today I am over the moon watching them!
At Highbury there used to be a schoolboys entrance, did you go in there as a boy?
We used to go I the schoolboys and I can’t remember whether it was ninepence or one shilling and three, but I was a skinny kid and we went in the schoolboys and then you could squeeze through the railings s and then we would go up the North Bank or Clock End to watch the game. Any my old man used to have season tickets in the West Stand so I used to go with him as well but I used to like going with my mates.
You mentioned some of your earlier Arsenal heroes, what about the ages?
You look at Liam Brady, I mean, Frank McLintock and I went into business together. He was a fantastic captain and really controlled the back line. You talk about so many, I mean Ian Wright’s up there. I remember players like Geoff Strong, a quality player. John Radford also. I remember Peter Marinello who was going to be the next George Best but he wasn’t strong enough and one footed. Everyone likes strikers but I appreciate defenders, players like Tony Adams – I used to love watching Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon all that back line, players from the George Graham era and I thought Arsene Wenger got more out of them<
We’re at the Emirates and it has taken some getting used to but we’re getting there…do you ever drive past the East Stand Highbury and have memories flooding back?
I’ll be honest with you I didn’t want to move to the Emirates and it has taken me some time to get used to it. What I liked about Highbury was how compact and how cosy it was. I mean the Emirates is a fantastic stadium but Highbury is where I grew up watching my football and loved it. I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to Arsenal and I bought a couple of items from the old ground when they had the auction.
How different is the match day experience for you now…I read that you have a box at the Emirates (reported to cost him £75,000 a year)?
s I said I’d got as kid with my mates and then go with my old man sometimes and then  as I got older you’d go and meet up in the pub with your mates before going to a game in the North Bank. I have been lucky enough to acquire a box and I am delighted with that for me it is a good way to watch the game. I suppose I am a bit spoiled now, it’s one of my luxuries in life.”
How important is Arsene Wenger to the club?
What you do is gauge your success not only on making a profit but on trophies and I do feel we want some trophies. You don’t want to be also-rans, you don’t want your season to be over quickly and we are capable and I am hoping that Wenger has got it right and that now we can get some trophies. I will be very disappointed if we don’t win anything this year.
But I don’t think he has just transformed the club, I think he has transformed British football. He eradicated players finishing training then going boozing and gambling by gradually easing out all of the English players. If you go back to Arsenal’s pedigree it’s the amount of Irish and Scots who played for us and that is no longer the case. I think he (Wenger) wanted continental mentality, they’re not boozers and it suddenly clicked didn’t it? Within three or four passes we went from one end of the pitch to the other and three out of four times you’d get a goal, you know, when we were ‘the Invincibles’.
Other clubs watched that and caught up with that regime. I think we are evolving a little bit more now where teams have caught up with us with their training techniques and copying what he brought to British football and he seems to have pushed that on a bit more this season… at least I hope he has!
The Exclusive Interview Continues
Arsene Wenger has helped revolutionise English football. Now Frank Warren has challenged British boxers to learn from the Frenchman’s methods to improve the fight game.
And Warren has singled out Ricky Hatton as one of the chief culprits who damages his body by boozing and bingeing in between bouts.
Hatton has hinted he may return to the ring next summer — despite his second round KO at the hands of Manny Pacquiao back in May – and Amir Khan, promoted by Warren, hasn’t ruled out a match-up with the Hitman.
But Warren insists Hatton, who piles on the pounds with fast food and pints of Guinness after a fight, wouldn’t be allowed to perform if it was down to the Gunners manager’s strict regime regarding his players’ well-being.
The boxing promoter, a huge Arsenal supporter, says he was astonished by the level of professionalism he witnessed when he had a guided tour of the club’s training HQ.
Warren, 57, said: “Can boxing learn anything from Wenger in terms of preparation, diet, mindset? Absolutely! I have been to London Colney and I’ve seen the facilities and it is like a doctor’s surgery, like a Formula One pit, everything is there…the technology! The players have the best care, the best dieticians.
“One of the problems that is happening with British boxing, and it really pisses me of over the years, is the bingeing and the boozing. Football players used to do it.
“Ricky Hatton is a prime example. You know, he is one of the greats but if he was a footballer he’d be dropped,” added Warren. “Wenger would never allow that to happen but in boxing, certainly in the Press and the media, it means you’re a great bloke because you can have a drink with the boys.
“But for a sportsman you shouldn’t be doing that but more importantly as a role model for other boxers they may copy that and they think they can get away with cheating, because it is cheating, you’re cheating yourself.
“Wenger has stopped that sort of thing happening but at the moment it is a bit of a problem in boxing,” added Warren.
Not that Warren isn’t frustrated at the lack of success and silverware at the club he started supporting in the early Sixties as a lad growing up just a goal kick from Highbury.
“Talking as a fan I have got to be totally honest I’m worried about the fact that we haven’t won a trophy for four years,” he said.
Warren has also revealed he has a long-standing desire to put on a boxing show at the 60,000-capacity Emirates – a desire he has held since watching Henry Cooper lose to Muhammad Ali – then Cassius Clay – at Highbury in 1966.
“I spoke to Ken Friar, he’s a mate of mine, and we tried to do something at Highbury but we couldn’t because of the residents. But at the Emirates? Of course I would although it would be a very expensive exercise. I have promoted and managed heavyweight champions and some of the best British fighters but what I really want to do, and one of the boxes I want to tick, is to promote a big fight at my club.”
ARSENAL face yet another season without silverware unless Arsene Wenger buys big in the January transfer window.
That’s the damning verdict on the misfiring Gunners from boxing promoter and huge Arsenal fan Frank Warren.
And the fight game guru has called on would-be owners Alisher Usmanov and Stan Kroenke to settle their power struggle and provide Wenger with the funds he needs to bring in new talent and salvage the club’s season.
US billionaire and Arsenal director Kroenke now owns 29.9 per cent of the club’s shares, while Uzbeki tycoon Usmanov holds a stake of about 25 per cent.
Lifelong Gooner Warren, 57, points out that neither of the billionaires are Arsenal fans at heart but he insists that their massive wealth is essential if Wenger is to challenge the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea.
Warren says the lack of real strength in depth at the Emirates has been highlighted with the absence of injured strikers Robin Van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner.
“I don’t know either of them but they’re obviously not Arsenal fans at heart,” said Warren . “They’ve come in and seen an opportunity of running a football club. It’s like when I bought Bedford Rugby Club. I wasn’t a Bedford fan. I bought it, got involved with it and in the end it became a bit of a passion.
“They see it as a business opportunity and I don’t know maybe they have become Arsenal fans, I’m sure they have but it’s not in their blood. The upside of it is that as long as it doesn’t destabilise the structure of club – there is board in-fighting there is no doubt about that – what it means at the end of the day is that there will be funds available for transfers.”
Warren watched on as Chelsea ’s heavyweights floored Arsenal last week in a 3-0 drubbing that virtually saw the club’s fans throw the towel in on the Gunners’ title assault.
And the painful defeat showed why Wenger must bolster his squad in the New Year and that he should have done so in the summer.
“I know over the years they have said that money is available but I would like to have seen Wenger, who is very astute and I have a lot of respect for him, but I still would have liked him to go into the transfer market”.
“I’ve always felt that we needed a bit more depth, especially with the Van Persie out and I’m not a big fan of Bendnter but if he’s out we’ve got Eduardo and then we are struggling a bit.
“The Chelseas of this world and Manchester United have got a bit of depth. But if Usmanov or Kroenke are going to put money into the club and the club doesn’t entirely lose its identity and go corporate then I am all for it.
“Because talking as a fan I have got to be totally honest I’m worried about the fact that we haven’t won a trophy for four years.”

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