Former Arsenal vice chairman David Dein has apologized to ex-Gunner Ashley Cole for the club’s failure to keep him.
Ashley Cole came up through the Arsenal youth system and was a key figure during the club’s undefeated streak. He was the best right back in the world at the time.
Cole joined Chelsea in 2006, at a time when the club had the financial resources to attract top talent. Arsenal could have improved his contract, but couldn’t due to the debts of the Emirates Stadium.
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This provided Chelsea with the opportunity to entice him to the Stanford Bridge. Dein has admitted that it is one of his greatest regrets. He revealed on talksport ( quoted by Metro ):
“We should never have lost him in my opinion, his contract came up for renegotiation and we didn’t offer him the right money.”
“Meanwhile, Chelsea did and then there was this thing with the clandestine meeting which is a funny story because I got a call one day from a journalist and he said we’ve got a hot story that your player Ashley Cole is being tapped up by Chelsea.”
“I went down to the offices and they said here’s a signed statement from a waiter in a restaurant in the hotel where Ashley Cole was meeting Chelsea.‘He was an Arsenal fan clearly and he gave the story to the News of the World.”
“That was the end really and it was a great shame because Ashley was homegrown and was an Arsenal boy.I regret we didn’t do enough at the time to keep him at the club. It was also at at a time when we were talking about building the stadium.”
“The finances, the tensions were raging about how we were going to finance it we were watching every penny and consequently we didn’t do enough to keep him and I regret that with hindsight.‘Ashley, if you’re listening I’m sorry.”