It obviously seems utterly impossible today, but on this day in 1910 the financial situation at Woolwich Arsenal FC had become so dire that the club’s directors approached other clubs to see if their directors wanted to take over the club, or at least invest in it.
At the time there were no rules against an individual being a director of two clubs at the same time and no regulations to stop one club owning shares in another. But as it happened neither Tottenham nor Chelsea as a club, nor any of their directors, fancied helping Arsenal.
This was particularly galling for Arsenal in the case of Tottenham, as Arsenal had given Tottenham a significant hand just two years earlier, in February 1908 when Tottenham had resigned from the Southern League and made it known that they would apply to join the Football League, despite only being a mid-table Southern League club (Tottenham eventually finishing 7th that season).
The Football League then held its AGM which decided what to do with clubs that had applied to join the League, and also how to treat the bottom clubs who had to apply for re-election. As a result of a re-election process, Lincoln City who had finished bottom were thrown out of the League, and Bradford PA were elected in their place. In the vote Tottenham only finished fifth.
However then in June, Stoke resigned because of financial problems so another round of applications was held. Tottenham applied again, but still didn’t have overwhelming support because there was still unhappiness that they had thrown in their lot with the Southern League, rather than joining the Football League as Arsenal, Clapton Orient and Chelsea had done.
So this left Tottenham without a league to play in. Five teams applied for Stoke’s place and Tottenham and Lincoln (who had just been thrown out in the earlier round) tied in the ballot, so a second vote was held with just these two clubs in contention and again the result was tied. On a third Management committee vote Tottenham won. Arsenal supported Tottenham’s application throughout the whole affair by voting for them each time.
Thus it felt like a slap in the face for Arsenal, that Tottenham would not enter discussions with Arsenal at this time. Fortunately although on this day Fulham turned Arsenal down, one of their directors decided to act independently and opened new discussions with Arsenal which eventually saved the club.
Here are the anniversaries
12 May 1910: Woolwich Arsenal announced that talks with Fulham to rescue the club had come to nothing, and the directors of Woolwich Arsenal FC had opened discussions with Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, to see if their boards wanted to buy all or part of the club.
12 May 1912: Arsenal were engaged in their first overseas tour since 1907 and on this day played Vicktoria 89 Tempelhof of Berlin. The sides drew 2-2. Vicktoria survived until 2013 when it merged with Lichterfelder FC to form a new club, FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin.
12 May 1937: Arsenal had played in the Coronation Cup on 19 April, and there was great excitement on this day as not only was King George VI married to Queen Elizabeth, but the BBC made the event the subject of its first multi-site outside broadcast on TV.
12 May 1945: Alan Ball born. He played for Ashton, Blackpool and Everton before joining Arsenal as Mee sought to strengthen his Double winning team.
12 May 1978: Arsenal returned to Tottenham to round off the season with the John Pratt testimonial. Arsenal lost 5-3 with all three Arsenal goals coming from Fuccillo (presumably the Luton player on loan). McLintock also appeared for Arsenal.
12 May 1979: Arsenal 3 Man United 2 in the FA Cup final. Having been 2-0 up, Man U scored two late on, before Alan Sunderland scored the most dramatic of winners at the death. We win the cup against Man U. The game by game summary is here
12 May 2000: Having beaten Coventry 3-1 in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup final, Arsenal completed the job winning 2-0 at Highbury. Bothroyd and Sidwell scored, but not one of the players in either match went on to a first team career at Arsenal.
12 May 2001: Arsenal lost the cup final 2-1 to Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Ljungberg gave Arsenal the lead on 72 minutes: the first cup final goal scored outside England.
12 May 2013: Arsenal beat Wigan 4-1, the 10th game in an unbeaten run that continued to the end of the season. Podolski got two, Ramsey and Walcott the others. However there was still no certainty that Arsenal would continue their run in the Champions League, as 4th place was now between Arsenal and Tottenham and would be decided in the final game of the season away to Newcastle.