The Lady doth protest too much… and are we living in a Police state now?

 

Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act 3 Scene 2 is when Queen Gertrude is challenged by her son as having remarried after his father’s death with a degree of ease which contradicted the apparent intense devotion  prior to this event. It suggests that the protests are so loud that the sincerity of the emotion is called into question. It is exactly that proposition that I would like to put to Gooners, who sit open mouthed and bewildered at the current Boardroom events. I have listened to Danny Fiszman present the case for Arsenal’s future in several interviews. His involvement in the departure of two major shareholding Directors, namely David Dein and now Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith has given rise to some rather unpleasant speculation in the press.

The Times, had earlier suggested some bizarre conspiracy whereby Danny Fiszman has engineered this falling out so that in the event of the club’s sale, he can also dispose of his shareholding. This is my view is utter nonsense. Why should Danny Fiszman want to leave the club in such a manner such as to guarantee even more vindictive disapprobation than that received by David Dein? One thing is clear in these related events. The fact are that in every case to date, after detailed scrutiny, the decisive action taken by the Board was found to have been necessary to safeguard the custodianship of Arsenal football club.

So let us not be to quick to rush to judgement and condemn the Board in general and Danny Fiszman in particular. Let us start by comparing the public statements of the respective parties. Sir Peter Hill-Wood said of Lady Nina on the Club’s official website

“Lady Nina has left the Board and we wish her well for the future.

Lady Nina is no longer representing the Club and therefore is released from the lockdown. However it was created to maintain stability in the Club and those participants are committed to maintaining the ownership structure as it is. I don’t know for certain what she wants to do with her shares. I do know that the Bracewell-Smith family have been involved with the Club for many, many years and are great supporters.

I know that Lady Nina is an advocate of the policies we have been following to make the Club self-sustaining and free from external injections of money. She has certainly been in favour of what we are doing. We hope that she would remain a shareholder but she has not spoken to me about it lately. She is no longer in the lockdown so she is free to do what she wishes to do.”

 When Interviewed in Nyon at the Champions League draw on Friday, Danny Fiszman would not be drawn any further than that statement which was traditional and very Arsenal like. The version given by Lady Nina exclusively to the Daily Mail  was in stark contrast…

 

The paper commented that Lady Bracewell-Smith, who holds a 15.9 per cent shareholding, was manoeuvred off the board in a surprise, ruthless coup on Wednesday, masterminded by the most powerful director Danny Fiszman.

I’m in total shock and very upset about the appalling way I have been treated,’ she said.

‘The board have no manners whatsoever and my views were ignored on many occasions.

‘I can’t understand why I have been removed in such a ruthless fashion. I had no intention of selling my shares and was no threat to the lockdown agreement between the directors. I have also had no proper explanation as to why they wanted me out so much.

‘It is very difficult to accept, especially after what my family has done for Arsenal for so many years. ‘I am extremely upset at what’s happened and the way it has been done.”

The paper goes on to reveal that the Arsenal board had isolated her from her main ally on the plc board, Richard Carr, by relegating him to the football club subsidiary before the unanimous vote against Lady Bracewell-Smith was taken. She added:

‘There is no way Richard would have agreed to this, he’s family.

‘I’ve never had a thought of selling my Arsenal shares, and I still don’t.”

 Now at first glance one cannot help feeling very sorry for the very un-Arsenal like manner that Lady Nina was voted off the Board. Please note that other sources have suggested that there was a difference between this scenario and that of David Dein’s departure in April of 2007. I cannot see any difference. The Board unanimously voted off a major shareholder with immediate effect. Not an action that would have been taken likely given the media consequences and the risks that the substantial shareholding now liberated from the lockdown agreement might end up in the wrong hands.

Arsenalinsider can exclusively reveal that the devil is in the detail, and that in much the same way that David Dein had allegedly acted in ways that had not had the full confidence of the Board, Lady Nina herself by her actions had perhaps given rise to not disimilar concerns. The exact nature of her actions that led to those concerns from Board members will probably not be revealed for public debate, for that would not be the Arsenal way. However clues I believe can be found in the statement of Lady Nina. For instance, why say the following…

‘I can’t understand why I have been removed in such a ruthless fashion. I had no intention of selling my shares and was no threat to the lockdown agreement between the directors

The use of the word “had” is extremely revealing in my view. The suggestion that Lady Nina was preparing to sell her shares once the lockdown agreement was close to termination is a very serious charge, and I have no evidence to support that hypothetical analysis, but Lady Nina herself gives rise to that line of enquiry with her own words. What else could have generated such a precipitate and unanimous censure from the Board? Too much like fantasy land? Until I remind you of how I began this blog. Almost without prompting, Lady Nina makes the final plea for the defence in the article in the Daily Mail and closes by saying.

‘I’ve never had a thought of selling my Arsenal shares, and I still don’t.”

Come come now, Lady Nina… hush! The lady doth protest too much, methinks…

On an equally serious note, and as a member of the Football Supporters Federation, I would like to draw Gooners attention to the campaign being launched by the FSF and Liberty against the use of Section 27 of the law and Order act against football supporters. Whereby you can be ejected from a public or private place without explanation under the pretext that you may pose a risk of an alcohol related public order offence. The law prevents you from returning to that place for 48 hours. It could be used against a pub, or just an area where fans are congregating and the Police Ofiicers have reasonable suspicions that the drinking of alcohol has taken place. I used to be a supporter of the Metropolitan Police, but without trying to be political, I do feel that the executive of that Pol ice force has allowed itself to become politicised by the current Government.

From t he breaking up of lawful protestsagainst the Chinese occupation of Tibet in London, to the arresting of a member of Parliament and the searching of Parliamentary offices without a warrant, to the shooting of an innocent Brazilian, we have seen a police force that can only do it’s work with the consent of the public, risk alienating itself against those it is sworn to protect. These are sad days indeed, and I am not suggesting that the events referred to above are part of a conspiracy to undermine the rights of the general public, but the use of such blunt instruments like section 27 does beg the question as to why football supporters have been targeted.

It may be following on from the homophobic chanting by football fans against Sol Campbell or the racist slurs directed towards the Egytian striker Mido, and therefore represents an extreme over reaction. But one thing is for certain. Sooner or later it may be used against Arsenal fans, and you had better be prepared. The Police have overstepped their brief with this one, and as I said, the executive of the Metropolitan Police Force needs to remember that the force polices with the CONSENT of the public, and we need only look to examples like Toxteth in the seventies, to see the consequences when that consent is withdrawn.

Please do not see my words as some extremist call for direct action, or incitement to disobey the law abiding police officers that patrol the Emirates Stadium. Nothing could be further from the truth, but many of us will have suffered instances where the Police Officers have acted in ways that by any analysis was unreasonable, and the use of section 27 could be used by those extreme elements that have always existed in the Metropolitan Police force, to enact retribution on sections of Arsenal fans. Alarmist maybe, but I am being deliberatively provocative so as to hope to avoid that scenario arising.

The FSF have produced a fact sheet about Section 27 which can be download from this link The FSF also needs funds to enable it to mount a legal challenge to this Police behaviour. You can help this cause by donating the price of a pint of beer to clicking on this link and making a donation, or send a cheque payable to the Football Supporters’ Federation, Fans’ Stadium, Kingsmeadow, Jack Goodchild Way, 422A Kingston Road, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 3PB.

Please help us get rid of this unfair use of the law that was never intended to target football fans, yet it seems that along with CCTV, and the use of stop and search and the use of sections 3,4 and 5 of the Public order act that could see you being arrested for not telling a Police Officer your name, the streets of our great country are slowly becoming similar to that of  an old fashioned Eastern European Police State or the world described with such potency in George Orwell’s novel 1984.

Fabregas the King.

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