Arsenal’s altimatum

For the past week I have been on a shopping/sightseeing trip to London, and all the talk in the City is over the Arsenal/Emirates Airline deal.

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By  Ben Dawson Published  March 12, 2006

|~|arsenal-200.jpg|~||~|For the past week I have been on a shopping/sightseeing trip to London, and all the talk in the City is over the Arsenal/Emirates Airline deal. Or put simply, how could Arsenal do such a thing? ‘Such a thing’ is of course a reference to the recent deal Arsenal signed with the Israeli tourist board, which will see Israel promoted at all Arsenal games as a top tourist destination. Now here lies a small problem — Arsenal will be sponsored by Emirates Airline for the next 15 years, and that US$180million deal includes naming the Arsenal stadium Emirates Stadium until then (on top of an eight-year sponsorship deal). My sources at the club say that Emirates officials are far more than ‘unhappy’ with the deal, as I reported last week. “They are furious. Absolutely furious,” one Arsenal official tells me. Emirates Airline officials are now considering a total boycott of Arsenal’s opening ceremony, and may even cancel other commitments surrounding the opening of the stadium in August. They have, my sources say, given Arsenal until the end of March to ‘think twice’ about its deal with Israel. DISCOVER THIS Talking of Emirates Airline, I see a big battle on the way with Virgin Atlantic. Throughout London this week I have seen the Emirates Airline advertising campaign slogan, ‘Keep Discovering’ changed to: ‘Keep Discovering — Until you find the best...Virgin Atlantic’. Good work Branson. BIG SPENDER Also during my trip to London, I have been picking up signals that the hugely successful British entrepreneur Philip Green is looking to do business in Dubai. Green is the brilliant billionaire businessman behind the retailer British Home Stores. Well, I am told that he is looking at ways to bring the Selfridges group into the Dubai shopping scene. Also on Green’s agenda is a possible incubator fund to encourage new ideas at a local level, rather similar to the one that i-mate boss Jim Morrison came up with a couple of years ago. I hope the Green rumours are true. He is a top guy, and if nothing else knows how to throw a great party. For his 50th birthday a few years back, he organised a bash in Greece, flying in 300 friends on private jets, and persuading Tom Jones to sing. SORRY JIM I owe Jim Davidson an apology. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a long-winded piece slating the British comedian for comments he made during a golfing tournament in Dubai. It turns out I probably went over the top, and a letter from Jim appears elsewhere in this magazine. I received a personal note from him myself, saying: ‘Dear Ben, Whatever have I done to upset you — apart from you being a paid up member of the Labour Party — I have no idea? I have sent an email to your editor in chief with a response to your article, with a copy to you. Have you received it? It’s a shame you did not come to see the Kate Adie show as you might have enjoyed it and I did not upset anyone apparently. Were you at the Rolls Royce Golf Do? I ask this only because Kate Adie was at all the wars she wrote about. For your information, the next one in the series of shows, where I attempt to be a chat show host, is an evening with Rick Wakeman. Please let me know if you would like to come along? We can then have a chat and you can tell me what’s wrong. Best wishes Jim Davidson, OBE’ Well Jim, it looks like I made an idiot of myself for the piece I wrote — and for that I apologise.||**||

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