As we sit around in 2010 waiting and watching and wondering if Fabregas and Merida are really buzzing off to Spain, 100 years ago to the day those who cared about Woolwich Arsenal wondered about the ownership of the whole club.
There was no official announcement anywhere that Norris had now actually taken the club over, but journalists were suggesting that Norris had his solicitors working on setting up the new company and trying to sell as many shares as he could.
There are no formal records of any of this, but putting the bits and pieces together it looks to me as if Norris underwrote the final share offer in the new company made by the old board, and ended up with pretty much all of it – with just a small minority of shares being sold to local supporters and well-wishers.
In the first statement of ownership that has survived Norris and Hall have 240 shares each with Leavey, the previous owner, having 100 – a minority shareholding that left him involved in the club he had financed for so long, but not liable for any more debts.
Athletic News stated that people locally would not buy shares because of the persistent rumour that Norris was going to move the club – but it must also be remembered that the Woolwich torpedo factory was now closed, and people were looking out for their jobs. If the torpedo factory had gone, what next? It was not the moment to be putting money into a football club.
Norris’ first move was to confirm Morrell as manager – which meant that Norris felt he could control Morrell, and get him to keep pruning the costs of the club. Given that Woolwich Arsenal had only missed out on relegation by one place, selling even more place didn’t look like a good footballing idea.
The local daily – the Kentish Independent – said however that Norris was promising to bring in new players, but it was probable that this was just a ploy by Norris to talk up the club, in the hope of selling more shares.
Where next in 2010: Next Season: a set of articles about the current (2010) squad, the transfers, and who is moving up from the reserves – not to mention a definitive analysis of how the 25 player system works.
The glorious future Everything else from 2010
The adventurous past Everything from 1910