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Freedom of Islington for Arsenal pair

  • Date: 29 October 2004
  • Author: webteam
Arsène Wenger and Ken Friar were given freedom of the borough at a special ceremony held at Islington Town Hall on Thursday 28 October.
"Arsenal are known across the world and if you say you live near Highbury everyone understands. It is a great honour for Islington to be the home for this great football club. That’s why it’s right for the council to honour two men who have contributed so much in different ways to the Club’s success. Arsène Wenger and Ken Friar have both made significant contributions to Islington over the years and it's a pleasure to recognise what they have done by giving them the highest honour that the council can, freedom of our borough. Arsène and Ken have given us one of the best football teams and the future continues to look bright - playing in a new stadium by 2006 and the other benefits including jobs and homes. I look forward to Arsenal being a part of Islington for many years to come, says Councillor Steve Hitchins leader of Islington Council. Freedom of the borough is awarded for outstanding service to the people of Islington. As part of the special ceremony they will become honorary freepersons of the borough and will receive a framed, hand painted scroll. The title involves no duties and is purely ceremonial; those awarded freedom of the borough are listed in gold lettering on the wooden panels of the council chamber in the town hall. Since arriving in Islington in 1996 as Manager of Arsenal Football Club, Arsène Wenger has led them to win the FA Cup three times, and the Premier League three times, including the unprecedented feat of remaining unbeaten throughout the 2003-04 Premier League season. Respected throughout the game of football, through his ability, integrity and leadership he has helped Arsenal FC to remain at the heart of Islington, and something the whole Islington community is proud of. "I am very proud to have been given the Freedom of the Borough of Islington. Arsenal Football Club plays a significant role in Islington, and in turn, the local community is extremely important to everyone at the Club. During my time at Arsenal, it has become increasingly obvious how significant our links are with the local community. This is why it is so important that Arsenal is building the new stadium in the Borough, in order that we can maintain this special relationship which Arsenal has with the people of Islington. I hope the Club and the Borough of Islington can share more success in the years to come, and continue to build positively on this relationship," says Arsène Wenger. Ken Friar OBE was born in Islington and has worked for Arsenal Football Club for fifty years, including nearly twenty years as Managing Director. As well as helping Arsenal to be successful on the pitch, he has been a pioneer in leading the club’s work with local young people and many other parts of the community. His crowning achievement at Arsenal has been his leading the club’s move from Highbury to Ashburton Grove - and as part of the project, making a major contribution to the regeneration of Islington, and keeping Arsenal in Islington and at the centre of our community. Ken Frair commented: "It is an absolute honour for me to be given the Freedom of the Borough of Islington, an area which has been so important to me throughout my life. I was born in Islington and went to school in the area, where I attended St. John's Highbury Vale and then Highbury County Grammar School. I began working at Arsenal on a part-time basis at the age of 12, and have been with the Club and working in Islington all of my life. Arsenal is an important part of Islington and I just feel honoured to have had an influence in some decisions at the Club which have hopefully made a positive impact on the local community." Ends Notes to editors Photographs are available from Nicola Quinn