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Lady Nina, Wind of Change

There’s not much more plain information this morning, but interpretations are bubbling forth like magma from the rock. Two schools of prophecy:

(1) The acrimony of her departure will make Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith  more inclined to sell her shares to Alisher Usmanov, as a way of sticking it to the board members who marginalized her (the Cassandra/”I Have Seen The Future, And It Is Uzbek” school).

(2) Family duty and club loyalty will keep Lady Nina from betraying the interests of Arsenal by selling to a man the fans and owners despise; if she sells at all, it will be to The Acceptable Stan Kroenke (the Pangloss/”Such A Crop Of Hay As Never!” school).

Kroenke, the American billionaire who launched his own weak and insufficiently despotic attempt to take over the club before joining the board not long ago, emerges as the pivotal figure in much of this theorizing, with some Arsenal message boards and blogs asserting that he is already set to buy Lady Nina’s shares (and maybe Usmanov’s shares, too), and to own the club outright, with the board’s backing, by summer. (Insufficient nothing, in other words: an ounce of honey is worth a pound of tyranny.)

Abstruse evidence for this prediction includes former Arsenal chief executive David Dein’s September resignation from Red & White Holdings, Usmanov’s front company, which is seen as a sign that the club is slipping through Usmanov’s thick and hard-to-fit-between fingers.

It’s always possible that Lady Nina has no intention of selling. But she was always, according to Arseblog, a reluctant participant in the lockdown agreement, and there’s the suggestion that the decline in the value of her share prices since it started was a factor in her strained relationship with the board.

In any case, the Telegraph describes her as “a dangerous enemy,” which is the sort of language I hope we’ll be getting more of as this story unfolds.

One figure I’m curious about in all this is Lady Nina’s husband, Sir Charles Bracewell-Smith, who presumably has moustaches that can be broken off and used for balm, like aloe plants. He’s the real heir of the Bracewell-Smith/Arsenal dynasty, and transferred his shares to Lady Nina in 2005 for reasons unknown to me. (I imagine a ballet chorus girl and a dry Edwardian reckoning.) He’s out of the picture, but does he wield in-the-wings influence? Or is he rusticating in Pisa with dubious gentlemen in oyster-colored gloves?

Are they merely drinking his sherry while advancing their own plans to seduce consumptive American heiresses? Or do they care about him as a person? Can he be restored to respectability before dissipation makes him an outcast at Eton? We shall see.

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Lady Nina, Wind of Change

by Brian Phillips · December 18, 2008

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