The Arsenal board constituent since WW2 

We were recently asked if we had a list of Arsenal’s chairmen, directors, secretaries and chief executives since World War 2. The answer is “yes”, and we’ve put together a blog about the men and woman that have run Arsenal over the last 60 odd years.


Since World War 2 Arsenal have had just five chairmen, three of which were from the same family. They are:

Chairman From To
Samuel Hill-Wood During WW2 04 January 1949
Bracewell Smith 13 January 1949 09 October 1961
Denis Hill-Wood 09 October 1961 04 May 1982
Peter Hill-Wood May 1982 14 June 2013
Chips Keswick 14 June 2013 Present

Samuel Hill-Wood had been Arsenal chairman from 1927 until 1936 when he stepped aside to allow three members of the gentry to head the board of directors. He resumed this position shortly after the start of World War 2 and stayed there until his death.

Samuel Hill-Wood

Samuel Hill-Wood

He was succeeded by Bracewell Smith, a hotelier and politician. He stepped down in October 1961 due to poor health and was succeeded by Samuel Hill-Wood’s son Denis. This led to more than 50 years of Hill-Woods in the top chair. Denis passed away in May 1982 and his son Peter took over the reins. Peter Hill-Wood is Arsenal’s longest serving chairman. Following a heart attack in December 2012, Peter retired, breaking a run of more than 90 years of Hill-Woods in the Arsenal boardroom. The current incumbent is Chips Keswick.


Since 1946, 22 men and 1 woman have sat on Arsenal’s board of directors, these include the chairmen listed above,

Director From To Notes
Bracewell Smith 7 July 1938 12 January 1966  
Ralph Fielder 3 February 1939 November 1946  
Alfred Bone December 1946 5 March 1962  
Jimmy Joyce November 1948 9 September 1960  
Denis Hill-Wood April 1949 4 May 1982  
Guy Smith March 1953 18 September 1976  
Bob Wall 5 March 1977 23 March 1981  
Robert Bellinger November 1960 Summer 1996  
Stuart McIntyre March 1962 26 May 1989  
Peter Hill-Wood 1 May 1962 14 June 2013  
Noel Bone October 1962 October 1983  
Tony Wood 10 January 1975 2 January 1989  
Ken Friar 1 June 2000 present  
Roger Gibbs Summer 1980 22 June 2006  
Clive Carr 28 May 1981 12 July 2001  
Richard Carr 28 May 1981 Summer 2009 Still a director of Arsenal FC
David Dein October 1983 18 April 2007  
Danny Fiszman 24 January 1992 13 April 2011  
Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith 15 April 2005 17 December 2008  
Chips Keswick 24 November 2005 present  
Lord Harris of Peckham 24 November 2005 present  
Stan Kroenke 19 September 2008 present  
Josh Kroenke 5 December 2013 present  

As you can see, there was a good degree of stability prior to 2005. Things have been somewhat dynamic since then, and this is likely to continue for a few years when you consider the ages of Chips Keswick (74) and Lord Harris of Peckham (72).

You may have noticed that Richard Carr is shown as being a director of Arsenal until the summer of 2009 but he is still a director of Arsenal. How is this so? Until 2001, there was only one limited company that ran Arsenal Football Club. This was called The Arsenal Football Club PLC Limited. When the decision was made to build the new stadium at Ashburton Grove, a holding company was formed. The idea being that the holding company would bear the brunt of any financial disaster and allow the football club to continue trading. Arsenal Holdings PLC is now the parent company of The Arsenal Football Club PLC.

At the time of its formation, the board of Arsenal Holdings was made up of the directors of Arsenal FC. Richard Carr left the board of Arsenal Holdings in 2009 but remained on the board of Arsenal FC, which is still the case.

Richard Carr

Richard Carr

Family ties

As is usual with football clubs, there have been a number of family connections on the board of directors over the years.

As previously noted, three generations of Hill-Woods have not only sat on the board but also been chairman. In addition, Denis Hill-Wood’s son-in-law, Tony Wood also served on the board for 14 years.

Bracewell Smith’s son George (but known as Guy) joined him in 1953, whilst his two grandsons, Richard and Clive Carr, resumed the family connection in 1981. Another of Bracewell’s grandsons, Charles Bracewell-Smith, married Nina Kakkar in 1996 and she also sat on the board for 3½ years. You may be wondering about the family name – was it Smith or Bracewell-Smith? It was Smith until the early 1970s when the Smiths decided to posh themselves up a bit and hyphenated their middle name and surname to become Bracewell-Smith.

Alfred Bone

Alfred Bone

Commander Alfred Bone was Arsenal’s vice-chairman throughout the 1950s and, shortly after his death, his son, the reverend Noel Bone, joined the board. Or as we like to say down at the yachting club: Noel Alfred-Bone.

More recently, majority shareholder Stan Kroenke’s son Josh was elected to the board.

Company secretary

The company secretary fulfils an important role and prior to 1990 the names of these men would have been very familiar to Arsenal fans.

Secretary From To
George Allison 30 May 1934 31 May 1946
Tom Whittaker 31 May 1946 24 October 1956
Bob Wall 24 October 1956 January 1973
Ken Friar January 1973 October 1997
David Miles October 1997 present

Generally, until 1956, the role of secretary was also carried out by the manager. However, after Tom Whittaker’s death it was decided to split the workload and create the role of secretary. The only other time that the roles of manager and secretary had previously been separated was between 1919 and 1925 when Leslie Knighton was manager and John Peters was secretary.

During the 1960s and 1970s Bob Wall was pretty much Arsenal’s spokesman.

Bob Wall

Bob Wall

Looking through the programmes and newspapers, it was usually Bob that put forward Arsenal’s view on matters concerning the club and football in general. One thing that is noticeable is the longevity of service to the club that the secretary puts in, be it in this role or others. Ken Friar has been at Arsenal for 68 years whilst others have completed: John Peters 36 years, George Allison 33 years, Tom Whittaker 37 years, Bob Wall 46 years and David Miles 43 years.


In addition those listed above, the following have filled other positions in senior management at the club since the war.

Name Position From To
Bracewell Smith President 9 October 1961 12 January 1966
Bob Wall General Manager January 1973 5 March 1977
Sir Stanley Rous President April 1980 18 July 1986
Ken Friar Managing director 16 February 1983 1 June 2000
Robert Bellinger President Summer 1996 12 July 2001
Keith Edelman Managing director 1 June 2000 1 May 2008
Clive Carr Life Vice-president 12 July 2001 Summer 2009
Ivan Gazidis Chief Executive 1 January 2009 present
Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith Life Vice-president 1 March 2012 present
Robert Bellinger

Robert Bellinger

The roles of President and Life Vice-president have never held any influence, but have been more figurehead positions.

However, the roles of Managing Director and Chief Executive have held a lot power, and those in these positions have had a very strong influence in the day-to-day running of the club.


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The books…

Woolwich A and Crowd

2 thoughts on “Arsenal’s Post-war Directors

  1. Perfect for my needs – many thanks

  2. John Williamson on 12 December 2014 at 2:15 pm said:

    Richard Carr still has the role of overseeing the youth and academy set-up. I have seen him at Shenley, Hale End and away training grounds watching matches.

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