The former chief of one of the world’s most famous football clubs recently visited The Latimer Arts College in Kettering to speak to students about leadership, business and football.
David Dein, past vice chairman of Arsenal, was widely praised for bringing manager Arsene Wenger to the club in 1996. During his reign Arsenal won multiple accolades, including the FA Cup five times.
Speaking to over 130 students, David talked about the creation of the Premier League and highlighted what he thought young people needed to do to succeed in their careers.
“In the 1980s and early ‘90s there were four divisions, making up 92 professional football clubs. Five clubs formed the Football League – Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton.
“Football in England was in big trouble at the time. There was hooliganism and attendance was dropping like a stone.
“The five top clubs got together and decided to change football forever. Our idea was to take the top division of 22 clubs and re-brand ourselves as the Premier League.
“Our message was ‘be the best you can be.’ We wanted to have the greatest show in town with television behind it. This would achieve maximum interest, be a commercial success, and we could sell sponsorship.
“Corporate Social Responsibility was also very important. By breaking away we were leaving 70 clubs stranded. We had to make sure there was enough money filtering down to keep those clubs alive.
“Last season, 1,026 goals were scored with an average game attendance of over 36,000. Stadium occupancy was 96.3%, and football goes out to 229 territories around the world on TV, grossing nearly £2 billion centrally and £280 million for the lower divisions and charities.
“Today 25% of people going to Premier League games are female, 40% are between the ages of 18-34, and 12% come from black and ethnic minorities.”
Answering students’ questions, David added:
“Every year on January 1st you should say to yourself ‘I’m going to do better than last year and stick together. You play, lose and win as a team, and you should never criticise each other.
“I have my own personal ‘motto of the turtle’ – you don’t get anywhere unless you stick your neck out.”
Speaking after the event Year 10 Latimer student, Isaac Birch, said: “I really enjoyed hearing how David made his way through the football world – his stories were very motivating and all the work involved in building up the Premier League was amazing.”
Year 9 student, Jolanta Kirchner, commented: “It was very interesting to find out how football has changed and we definitely learnt that if you want something you have to go for it and not let anyone hold you back.”
The talk was arranged through charity ‘Speakers for Schools,’ and also acted as part of The Latimer Arts College’s ongoing ‘Raising Aspirations’ programme – an initiative designed to help students engage with leading industry professionals and businesses.