Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith Ends Family's 70-Year Link with Arsenal Football Club

Mary O'SheaSenior Writer IDecember 17, 2008

Arsenal fans got the news today of major changes to the club's board.

Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, whose family has a long history with Arsenal, is leaving the Boards of the Company and the Club with immediate effect.

Lady Smith was a former non-executive director of the English Premiership football club.

She was born in New Delhi and married Sir Charles Bracewell-Smith in 1996. Sir Charles is the fourth baronet of Keighley and son of former Arsenal director Sir George Bracewell-Smith, who sat on the board of directors from 1953 to 1976.

George's father was former chairman of Arsenal between 1948 to 1962.

Since World War II, the major shares of Arsenal football club have been in the hands of the Hill-Wood and Bracewell-Smith families. The Bracewell-Smith shares were divided between his son and daughter and then between his grandchildren, Sir Charles (who transferred his over to his wife Nina), Richard Carr, and Sarah Carr—who is better known as Lady Phipps-Bagge.

Richard Carr also announced today that he would be resigning from the Board of the Company but will remain on as a director of the Club.

Bracewell-Smith was a powerful force at the North London club, being its third-largest shareholder with 15.9 percent, behind Danny Fiszman (24.11 percent) and the highly unpopular Alisher Usmanov, who currently owns 24 percent of the equity.

Lady Bracewell-Smith was instrumental in preventing an Usmanov takeover of the club in April 2007 when she joined forces with her husband's cousins, Fiszman and Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood, which was a move fully backed by David Dein.

Her departure was said to have been sparked by heated debates during a board meeting held on Thursday last in which Bracewell-Smith clashed with other members of the board.

As she no longer represents the club, Bracewell-Smith is not tied to the lockdown agreement, thus allowing her to sell her shares if she so wishes. Considering she prevented a Usmanov takeover, it looks likely she may sell to American Stan Kroenke if indeed she does wish to sell at all.

Having said that, considering her fall out with other board members it remains to be seen whether she will literally sell out to Usmanov.

Speaking to Arsenal.com, chairman Peter Hill-Wood said: "A number of the Board have indicated in the past that they are interested in buying more shares so the future stability of the Club is secure. The Board is very keen to retain control of the Club to ensure that its values and traditions are upheld and live on for many years to come."

He continued: "The philosophy of the Club remains the same. Our efforts are directed towards stability and making the Club successful. Changes of personnel will not alter the directors’ view of how we should proceed in the future. All the directors love the Club and are committed to maintaining its heritage. Acting in the best interests of the Club is fundamental to the decisions we take on behalf of Arsenal. The Directors feel the Club’s future is positive both on and off the field."

While it appears to be the end of an era for one Arsenal legacy, hopefully a new one will begin in earnest on Jan. 1, when Ivan Gazidis, the new Chief Executive, joins the Boards of the Company and the club.

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