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Arsenal shares go up in price one million fold.

By Tony Attwood

It may have been the  death of the King that did it, it may have been the  worry over jobs, or it may have been a reaction to a dreadful season, but whatever the  reason, local people failed to buy shares in Woolwich Arsenal FC when it was offered for sale in May 1910.

This was the last throw of  the dice, the last attempt to salvage the club, and it was failing.

Of course it is easy to blame the locals for not buying up shares in the club, but one must remember that earlier in 1910 the torpedo factory had been moved  to the Clyde, and with it 1000 jobs.  Men were leaving to find  new work, and the  future looked grim.

It was not so much that people didn’t believe in the club, they didn’t believe in the future of Woolwich as a thriving employer.  (This is something that is explored in more depth in “Making the Arsenal” – the book about 1910.)

So the owners of the existing club did the only thing they could do.  They swallowed their pride and took  the tram to Fulham, where they met with Henry Norris, and begged him to buy the shares.

Norris  made no immediate offer, because simply owning another club was not his prime interest.  He already had two clubs (Croydon Common and Fulham) and one more didn’t really make much sense – unless he could move his new club to Fulham either for amalgamation or for ground sharing.

So Norris expressed interest, but otherwise kept quiet, as behind the scenes he  started  to put together the plans that he would ultimately put to the Football League at their AGM.

Meanwhile the shares remained largely unsold.  £1 each – and later five for £3.

It is worth noting that these were the self-same shares that change  hands today at £10,000 each.  If we take into account inflation in the past 100 years then the actual equivalent value of today’s shares in the currency of 100 years ago is £1,000,000 each.  Yes, really, £1m a share.

The value of the shares in Woolwich Arsenal have gone up one million times per share in the course of 100 years.  Or basically at a rate of ten thousand times a year.

Not a bad investment really.

Woolwich Arsenal – the full story

Untold Arsenal – the Arsenal today

4 comments to Arsenal shares go up in price one million fold.

  • Ralph

    Are those the same shares that are being sold now as I believe there have been a couple of times where the share numbers have been diluted?

  • Gf60

    Tony. Your inflation figure is surely the wrong way around?

    Say in today’s money, a pound in 1910 was worth 50 quid. 10 000 divided by 50 is only 200…a long way from a million I fear.

  • Tony Attwood

    Gf60 you are right – I got so carried away with the idea, and wrote the piece late at night. That’s why I head the creative department at work, not the accounts.

  • Mike McGovern

    Ralph you are correct,the shares have diluted over the years and a single share from 1910 would now be listed as 8 ordinary shares.

    So £1 becomes £80,000 in todays prices.(and adjusting for inflation 1600 times the original investment)

    a very healthy CAGR (compound annual gain return) of 11.95%

    Probabaly not as good as Coca Cola, but definitely better that woolworths!.

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