According to various reports, Raul Sanllehi and Sir Chips Keswick have fallen out over a proposal to appoint ex-Gunner David O’Leary to the Arsenal board.
It is said that the Spaniard does not feel the need to add the club’s record-appearance holder to a newly created advisory role, something that Chairman Sir Chips favours.
O’Leary played 722 first team games between 1975-1993 for the Gunners winning two titles, two FA Cups and two League Cups along the way.
He embarked on a career in the dugout when he hung up his boots, taking charge of Leeds United (1998-2002), Aston Villa (2003-06) and Al-Ahli (2010-11).
A bad-tempered game between Arsenal and Leeds in 2000 saw O’Leary and Robert Pires involved in a headline-making, post-game bust-up that seemed to drive a wedge between the Irishman and Arsenal for quite some time.
Time heals all wounds and both Pires and O’Leary are now ambassadors for Arsenal with the pair working together as part of the Legends squad.
O’Leary has close links with the club’s ‘old guard’, which includes Keswick, Ken Friar and Lord Harris of Peckham, and has been spotted wearing the club tie in the directors’ box at games home and away this season.
Were O’Leary, 61, appointed it could be classed as an injection of young blood given the current average age (excluding Josh Kroenke) of the board is over 78.
Interestingly, ex-Gunner Alan Smith – who played alongside O’Leary for six years – used his column in the Evening Standard last week to talk up his former teammate being appointed to the board.
Smudger wrote: “This increased involvement does make me wonder if O’Leary is about to take a more active role — a seat on the board, perhaps, to offer football advice. That would feel like good PR at a time when frustrations are growing within the fanbase.”
While Smudger might view O’Leary as a canny appointment, what doesn’t look great, especially at a time when the manager’s head is on the block, is for leaks about further internal disagreements making their way into the press.
Given Sanllehi’s job title is ‘Head of Football’ you can understand why he might be suspicious of O’Leary creeping onto his patch.