When Arsenal split into two clubs…

It was the research that was undertaken for the writing of the book “Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football” that revealed the previously lost story of Royal Arsenal splitting in two, over a dispute as to who should run the club and whether players should be paid.

From its earliest days the club had been by a committee which was elected from the members of the club, but it was the idea that the players should be paid for their endeavours which was the catalyst for the split.  The majority thought it only right that the men who gave up their time in order to play for the club should be paid for their endeavours, while a minority thought that this should not be the case.

Those men who wanted to retain the amateur status of Royal Arsenal FC players persuaded the club’s landlord to increase the rent the club had to pay to a level where it would have been completely impossible for the club to continue.  Then, according to the plan, with the club unable to continue, the men who wished to keep the amateur status of the club would move in and take over, and negotiate a new lower rent in relation to the Invicta ground.

However these rebels did not get things their own way, and the majority on the committee negotiated to set up a new stadium on the opposite side of the road, leasing that land from a different landlord.

The rebels then attempted to bribe the landlord of the new ground, suggesting to him that he should agree to the lease, but not actually sign it, leaving Arsenal to build their new ground inside, only to find that the lease was invalid.  They would then be left bankrupt.

Fortunately for Arsenal the new landlord was made of different moral fibre from the rebels, and he refused the suggestion, signing the lease and allowing Arsenal to build their new ground – the Manor Ground – and move into the Football League in 1893.

Today we remember the events as this is the anniversary of one of the rebels number coming top of the poll as the club sought to elect a committee to run the club in the coming year.

6 June 1891: Alf Singleton (who was himself a competent referee) was elected top of the poll to the Committee of Royal Arsenal FC.  One year later, as a result of his expression of his views on the future of the club, he lost his place, coming bottom of the poll.  He then became a leader of the rebels who felt that “working men” could not run the club, and was instrumental in the 1893 split of the Royal Arsenal club which led to the ultimate setting up of Royal Ordnance Factories FC, playing in a stadium directly opposite Woolwich Arsenal’s ground.

6 June 1903: At the meeting which created Fulham Football and Athletic Club Company Limited, Henry Norris was elected the company’s first chairman.  He took up the reigns at Arsenal in 1910, but did not break with Fulham until after the first world war, following a dispute over the post-war cup match between Fulham and Arsenal. 

6 June 1906: Archie Low was transferred from Ashfield in Glasgow.  He only went on to play three games for Arsenal before moving back to Scotland.

6 June 1910: At a meeting in Rotherhithe, the supporters’ committee set up to rescue Arsenal resolved not to hand over to Henry Norris any of the money it had raised, pending further developments, but instead they applied for shares in the new limited company set up to rescue Arsenal.

6 June 1930: John Butler (the man who played for Arsenal at the heart of their “WM” tactical revolution in 1925) was sold to Torquay United.

6 June 1937: Final game (v Feyenoord) of Alex James, arguably our greatest ever player.  He played 231 league games as an inside forward scoring 26 goals.  He later became a youth coach but died of cancer aged 51.

6 June 1985: Fifa extended Uefa’s ban on English clubs in Europe to a worldwide ban lasting an indefinite amount of time but excluded from the ban the England national team.

6 June 1990: Gavin Andrew Hoyte was born.  He signed for Arsenal aged nine, and became captain of the under 18 and the reserve teams.  However he only played one senior league game for the club. He was last heard of in 2019 playing for St Ives Town in Cambridgeshire and signing for Maidstone United.

6 June 2002: Henry, Vieira and Wiltord all played for France in  a World Cup game against Uruguay.  The score was 0-0 but Henry was given a red card on 25 minutes.

6 June 2014: Elias Chatzitheodoridis, a defender, joined Arsenal from Mas Kallitheakos for an undisclosed fee.  He was last heard of in 2020 playing for Panathinaikos, Athens.

6 June 2017: Arsenal announced the signing of Sead Kolašinac, on a free transfer from Schalke 04 with whom his contract had expired.

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