12 June: The strangest Arsenal transfer ever.

by Tony Attwood

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Clive Allen was signed by Arsenal from QPR on 12 June 1980 in one of the strangest transfers ever.  He never played for Arsenal in the league (although he played in three pre-season friendlies) and moved to Crystal Palace in a swap deal for Kenny Sansom before the season began.

Allen was Palace’s top scorer for the 1980–81 season with nine goals in the league as Palace finished bottom of the First Division by a long way.  Here’s the final league table…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Aston Villa 42 26 8 8 72 40 32 60
2 Ipswich Town 42 23 10 9 77 43 34 56
3 Arsenal 42 19 15 8 61 45 16 53
4 West Bromwich Albion 42 20 12 10 60 42 18 52
5 Liverpool 42 17 17 8 62 42 20 51
6 Southampton 42 20 10 12 76 56 20 50
7 Nottingham Forest 42 19 12 11 62 44 18 50
8 Manchester United 42 15 18 9 51 36 15 48
9 Leeds United 42 17 10 15 39 47 -8 44
10 Tottenham Hotspur 42 14 15 13 70 68 2 43
11 Stoke City 42 12 18 12 51 60 -9 42
12 Manchester City 42 14 11 17 56 59 -3 39
13 Birmingham City 42 13 12 17 50 61 -11 38
14 Middlesbrough 42 16 5 21 53 61 -8 37
15 Everton 42 13 10 19 55 58 -3 36
16 Coventry City 42 13 10 19 48 68 -20 36
17 Sunderland 42 14 7 21 52 53 -1 35
18 Wolverhampton Wanderers 42 13 9 20 43 55 -12 35
19 Brighton and Hove Albion 42 14 7 21 54 67 -13 35
20 Norwich City 42 13 7 22 49 73 -24 33
21 Leicester City 42 13 6 23 40 67 -27 32
22 Crystal Palace 42 6 7 29 47 83 -36 19

It was Terry Venables who had signed Allen for Palace, and who then signed him again for QPR, where he played in their first-ever cup final.

He then won the second division with QPR and after one season with QPR in the top league he moved to Tottenham, scoring ten goals in 18 games in his first season with them before getting the record for a Tottenham player with 33 league goals in 1986/7.  He moved on to Bordeaux in March 1988, at a time when it was rare for English players to venture overseas.  Later he returned to England playing for Manchester City, Chelsea, and West Ham leaving them in 1994 for Millwall before finishing his English career at Carlisle.

Henry Norris at the Arsenal:  There is a full index to the series here.

Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever

Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.

100 Years: 100 Years in the First Division

Arsenal today: Untold Arsenal 

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