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afc David Dein warns Arsenal to invest

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Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein last night insisted there were no imminent plans for a takeover of the club he has supported since boyhood, but he warned that the Gunners would get left behind unless they kept up financially with their Premier League rivals.Speaking 48 hours after announcing he had sold his 14.58 per cent holding in the club to Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov's newly-formed Red and White Holdings, Dein, who was axed last April for talking to potential overseas investors, said he had only the club's best interests at heart.Arsenal's board have steadfastly denied any suggestion that they need to break up the current structure, but Dein said: "The landscape has changed. It's not about today, it's about the vision for the future. In the last few years we have seen overseas investors pour their money into clubs, making it more difficult for everyone else and making the transfer market more competitive."Dein sold his shares to Usmanov for a reported £75 million having bought them for £290,000 in 1983. He had been expected to do a deal with US tycoon Stan Kroenke, whose purchase of shares in the North London club sparked the rift with the board that led to his departure from the club after 24 years.That now appears to have cooled, but the pair remain on good terms and Dein has not ruled out any future partnership with the Denver-based millionaire who holds 12.5 per cent of Arsenal's shares.More likely, however, is an eventual bid by Red and White Holdings.Usmanov admitted as much on Friday and Dein, dismissing the Arsenal board's assertion that they did not need the help of their influential former supremo in any restructuring, said: "We have to look three to five years forward and I believe the club will need extra investment if it wants to win the major trophies."Although the Arsenal board remain in control, with the club's largest shareholder, Danny Fiszman, committed to the lockdown agreement signed by his fellow directors to ward off any takeover threats, it is understood a legal challenge to what is perceived by some as a gentleman's agreement that does not best serve the club's interests, could be made at some stage.Dein would not comment on this, but is worried about Arsenal being left behind by Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool both domestically and in Europe. "I believe that if we really want to be No 1 we have to bring more firepower to the Gunners," he said.Dein, who has been an Arsenal fan since he was six, has watched every single home game since being axed. It is understood that he has been offered numerous senior positions at other clubs at home and abroad in recent months but has turned them all down.He is known to be particularly concerned that two more major Premier League clubs could be taken over by wealthy foreign investors and is increasingly worried where that might leave Arsenal.Although reluctant to talk about his dismissal, Dein has privately savaged the board's attitude to him. "David was immensely hurt by the brutal sequence of events," one close friend said yesterday. But it is understood that legal action for unfair dismissal was never an option because of his affection for Arsenal.Significantly, it is understood manager Arsene Wenger, who is about to sign a new long-term contract, has been kept fully up to speed with behind-the-scenes manoeuvring. The pair have remained close friends and it is clear a return by the man who brought him to the club over a decade ago will have played a major part in the thinking of the Frenchman, who was livid when Dein was kicked out. "From day one, I've encouraged Arsene to re-sign because he is by far the best man for the job," Dein said last night.

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