How Arsenal test their level of support with six games at Wembley

On this day in 1998 Arsenal’s application to play Champions League games at Wembley was approved.  Arsenal played three group stages matches at Wembley in 1998/9, and again in 1998/2000, and every match saw a crowd of over 70,000 in the ground – although the results were not that positive.

But the experiment proved that Arsenal could attract big crowds, and it was this, as much as anything else, that pushed forward the notion of Arsenal moving.  Whether that would be to Wembley on a permanent basis or to a new stadium on the M25, or (as of course eventually happened) to a new ground almost next door to Highbury was then the point of debate.   But yes, it had been shown.  Despite the downturn in crowds which had seen crowd averages down around the 30,000 mark – often lower – since 1974, Arsenal now did have the sort of support that could fill a 60,000 seater stadium.

Here are the anniversaries.   If you would like to know more about what is on this site, there are full details on our home page, and a list of all our series of articles in the column on the right side of this age.

20 July 1943: Bob McNab born.  From 1963 to 1966 he played 68 games for Huddersfield Town before moving on to Arsenal.

20 July 1977: Australia 3 Arsenal 1 (Armstrong).  The match was notorious for a drinking spree by the players after the game which saw Neill threaten them with expulsion but only one player (Hudson) ultimately was punished and he left the club.  Neill’s authority was seriously diminished by  the event.

20 July 1984: John Kay sold to Wimbledon for £25,000, after 14 games for Arsenal.  After 63 league games for the Dons he went on to Sunderland where he played
over 200 times.  He finished his career in 1999 with Scarborough.

20 July 1991: FC Trollhättan 0 Arsenal 1 (Hillier).  The second of eight pre-season friendlies in the build up to the first ever all-London charity shield match, against Tottenham who had won the FA Cup the previous season.

20 July 1993: Eddie McGoldrick’s first match – a friendly v Orient.  He had played 147 matches for Crystal Palace where he had played alongside Ian Wright and went on to play 57 games for Arsenal.

20 July 1997: Stade Nyon 0 Arsenal 4 (Mendez, Boa Morte, Overmars, Bergkamp..  One of the friendlies before the second double season.

20 July 1998: Uefa approved Arsenal’s application to stage Champions League games at Wembley.  The move allowed over twice as many people to see the games as would be possible at Highbury, and provided proof that the club could draw in enough support to fill the proposed new stadium.

20 July 2003: Gael Clichy signed from Cannes for whom he had played 15 times having graduated to the first team, after two years in the junior teams.  Although the club was also the launch pad for such players as Zinedine Zidane, and Patrick Vieira, it was wound up on July 1st 2014 because of its financial situation.  They are now in the 5th tier of French football.

20 July 2004: Martin Keown sold to Leicester City having won the league and FA Cup three times each plus the Cup Winners Cup.  He played 17 times for Leicester and then five for Reading before retiring.

20 July 2005: SC Weiz 0 Arsenal 5 (Flamini, Henry, Bentley, Bergkamp).  Part of the sequence in which Arsenal won every single pre-season game.

20 July 2009: Adebayor went to Man City for £25m on 20 July.  He had cost just £3m three years earlier, and as a quick profit sale must rank alongside Anelka who moved from £250,000 to £25m also in three years.  Three years after joining City he was told he was not part of their plans and could leave.

20 July 2013: Andre Santos transferred from Arsenal to Flamengo after a short loan spell with Grêmio.  He played 28 times for Flamengo before moving on to Goa.


One Reply to “How Arsenal test their level of support with six games at Wembley”

  1. And what a huge error it was! We could have won the CL if we had kept playing at Highbury ….

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