Danny Fiszman died just a few days after selling his last shares of Arsenal Football Club to Stan Kroenke. He sold the shares to the American because he trusted him more than anyone else.
Fiszman’s sons weren’t very interested in football, and he felt the club would be better off in the hands of an experienced and proven sports tycoon. Fiszman was one of the last true custodians people, who came to football as wealthy owners with one sole interest: to protect the long term future of their club. He didn’t believe in the benefactor model, an investment that was motivated by ego and allowed the investor to meddle with the first team business. Oh, no.
Danny used to receive the lineups just before the game together with everyone else in the directors’ box. He possessed the class of “old money” and the vision of a new capitalistic entrepreneur he’s from a family that its’ philanthropic tradition goes all the way back to 19th centaury Poland. His father, Leon, a former goalkeeper in a jewish-socialist football team in Lodz, moved from Poland to Belgium but had to flee the Nazi occupation to England on the last boat from Dunkerque.
Danny himself was born on the first day the Nazis bombed London with the V2 rockets. After the war General Electric invented the Synthetic diamond and real diamond prices plummeted but his father did not leave the business and bought many real diamonds. After a month the prices went up and he eventually became the second biggest private diamond dealer. Danny’s childhood was dominated by sports he was about to join Britain’s Olympic ski team but his father urged him to focus on his learning and his job as a diamond dealer.
However, he found time to run (he was a marathon runner) and to learn how to fly – he had an infomercial pilot licence . And he found a lot of time for his favorite team Arsenal. As a kid, Danny went to every Arsenal home game, and also to many of Tottenham’s home games.
It was accepted back then and he always felt bad about the resentment that grew between the two sets of fans. As the owner of Arsenal he went to all the team’s games home and away. He was above all a true fan. Fiszman bought into Arsenal Football Club and became a board member through his purchase of an 8% stake from his friend David Dein, starting with 2,840 shares in 1999.
He bought the shares for £2m basically helping Dein, who went through a not-so-brilliant economic time then. Fiszman slowly increased his stake to 24%, and started working on Arsenal’s long term future.
In that point his relationship with Dein became tense. Fiszman wanted the new stadium, insuring greater income, to be next to Arsenal’s Highbury home in order to keep the club in its community. Dein wanted Arsenal to partner the F.A in the new Wembely and focus on team building for Arsene Wenger. But Fiszman did not cave in, and Arsenal started the most important project in its history.
He sold his business to concentrate on the move from Highbury to Ashburton Grove. Fiszman has read all 6,000 legal documents associated with the ambitious project he was working hard to make sure Arsenal will get the best deal possible for its future. The project , now known as The Emirates Stadium, is the true legacy of Danny Fiszman. He has left Arsenal in a much better shape than the club was when he came. He was a true custodian of the club. May he rest in peace.
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