Arsenal Board Members Says Danny Fiszman Helped Shape Club With Stadium

Arsenal board members said Danny Fiszman, who died at age 66, helped shape the London soccer club by helping the team move to a new stadium.

Fiszman, who three days ago agreed to sell his shares in the Premier League soccer club to American billionaire Stan Kroenke, died after a long illness, Arsenal said late yesterday.

The Swiss-based diamond dealer joined Arsenal’s board in 1992 and was a key figure in the 13-time English champion’s recent history.

“Danny Fiszman was a visionary director, a gentlemen and a true Arsenal fan,” Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood said in a statement on the club’s website. “His voice, wisdom and presence around the football club he so dearly loved will be sorely missed.”

Fiszman joined Arsenal when he bought an 8 percent stake in the team from former chief executive David Dein. He gradually increased his share to become the club’s major stockholder before Kroenke and Russian Alisher Usmanov started investing in the team.

Fiszman played a major role in Arsenal’s move into the new Emirates Stadium in 2006. The club sold a bond and real estate at its former stadium Highbury to help fund the deal.

“Arsenal Football Club will forever be indebted to Danny for his invaluable foresight and contribution during the move from Highbury to our new stadium,” Hill-Wood said.

Fiszman started selling shares to Kroenke in 2007 and he supported the American’s bid to join the board, which was initially opposed by some directors.

Kroenke praised Fiszman’s “unwavering commitment” to the club.

“He taught me so much about the proud history and traditions of Arsenal,” Kroenke said in a statement. “We not only lost a great business leader but a good friend.”

Kroenke’s agreement to buy Fiszman’s remaining 16 percent holding must be completed within 20 days of his death. He’s paying 11,750 pounds ($19,118) per share.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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