The Arsenal debt, 100 years ago to the day

100 years ago to the day, Arsenal revealed just how much money was needed to buy the club and pay off the debts in an honourable fashion (rather than go into administration and leave everyone out of pocket – in the style that Leeds did a few years back).

Arsenal’s debt was clocked in at £6200 including £1630 to Mr Leavey, the gentleman’s outfitter who had kept us going all this time, and £1347 to Archie Leitch the architect and ground developer who had designed the Manor Ground’s grandstand.

To put this in perspective a working man’s wage at the time was around £500 per year, so that it about 12 years’ salary.

The bank were not pressing for their money back – they indicated that they were happy to keep going on as before.  But Mr Leavey did not feel he could go on building up any more debts when he had no more money to put into the club.

One other thing emerged this day.  A new company was formed to take the club forward, on the grounds that the old one would go into administration.  It was called Arsenal Football and Athletic Club – a name that very noticeably did not have the word “Woolwich” at the front of it.

The club’s assets were the players (who did not have a value on the books) and the ground, which was valued at £12,000.   This turned out to be hopelessly optimistic, as after Woolwich Arsenal did leave the ground, the area was not used for development, and the ground was simply left to rot, before eventually new housing was built in the area.

Tony Attwood

The full story of Arsenal in 1910, and how it rose from the despair of impending relegation and closure because of debt, is told in Making the Arsenal

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