14 May – Arsenal at rock bottom

14 May 1910 was a difficult moment for Arsenal.  The club put out a new share issue, and … it failed.

Share issues then as now had only a limited lifespan.  If you did not complete the sale by the set date, the share issue fell, and the previous share issue still applied.

On 14 May 1910 this is exactly what happened to Woolwich Arsenal.   The club was in financial ruin, following the failure of a policy adopted around 1907/8 in which top players were sold and there was an attempt to replace them with youngsters.   At the same time the armaments factories were being run down, and so Arsenal’s fan base was getting smaller.

At the time of course Arsenal didn’t know that help was close at hand – in fact far closer than anyone could have imagined.  Henry Norris had already attended a fund-holding meeting and had had discussions within the club about a possible takeover.

In four days time Arsenal were due to meet the Football League in order to give assurances that their well-publicised financial issues would not stop them competing in Division 1 the following season.  And at this moment, 102 years ago, it didn’t seem likely.

Two books cover this story.  Making the Arsenal tells the story of 1910  from the point of view of a Fleet Street journalist.   Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed football is the most detailed factual account of Woolwich Arsenal FC ever produced.


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