Arsenal Football Club (also known as Arsenal, The
Arsenal or The Gunners) are an English professional football
club based in Holloway, north London. They play in the Premier League
and are one of the most successful clubs in English football, having won
thirteen First Division and Premier League titles and ten FA Cups.
Arsenal were founded in 1886, though they won their first major
trophies in the 1930s, with five League Championship titles and two FA
Cups. After a lean period in the post-war years they became only the
second club of the 20th century to win the Double in 197071, and during
the past twenty years they have been one of the most successful clubs in
English football in this time Arsenal won two further Doubles, the
Premier League in 200304 unbeaten, and in 200506 became the first
London club to reach the UEFA Champions League final.
The club's colours have traditionally been red and white, although
these have evolved through history. Similarly, the club have changed
location over time; the team were initially founded in Woolwich,
south-east London, but in 1913 they moved north across the city to
Arsenal Stadium, Highbury. In 2006 they made a less drastic move to
their current home, the Emirates Stadium in nearby Holloway.
Arsenal have a large fan base, who hold a string of long-standing
rivalries with several other clubs; the most notable of these is with
neighbours Tottenham Hotspur, with whom they regularly contest the North
London derby. Arsenal are one of the richest clubs in English football
(worth over £600m as of 2007), and thanks to their stature, have
regularly featured in portrayals of football in British culture. Arsenal
Ladies are the most successful English club in women's football and are
also affiliated with the club.
Arsenal were founded as Dial Square in 1886 by workers at the
Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, but were renamed Royal Arsenal shortly
afterwards. They renamed themselves again to Woolwich Arsenal
after turning professional in 1891. The club joined the Football League
in 1893, starting out in the Second Division, and won promotion to the
First Division in 1904. However, the club's geographic isolation
resulted in lower attendances than those of other clubs, which led to
the club becoming mired in financial problems and effectively bankrupt
by 1910, when they were taken over by Henry Norris.
Norris sought to move the club elsewhere, and in 1913, soon after
relegation back to the Second Division, Arsenal moved to the new Arsenal
Stadium in Highbury, North London; they dropped "Woolwich" from their
name the following year.
Arsenal only finished in fifth place in 1919, but nevertheless were
elected to rejoin the First Division at the expense of local rivals
Tottenham Hotspur, by reportedly dubious means.
The fact that Arsenal have not been relegated since makes them the only
team currently in the top division whose status is not purely based on
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In 1925, Arsenal appointed Herbert Chapman as manager. Chapman had
already won the league twice with Huddersfield Town in 192324 and
192425, and he brought Arsenal their first period of major success. His
revolutionary tactics and training, along with the signings of star
players such as Alex James and Cliff Bastin, laid the foundations of the
club's domination of English football in the 1930s. Under his guidance
Arsenal won their first major trophies an FA Cup in 192930 and two
League Championships, in 193031 and 193233. In addition, Chapman was
reportedly behind the 1932 renaming of the local London Underground
station from "Gillespie Road" to "Arsenal", making it the only Tube
station to be named specifically after a football club.
Chapman died suddenly of pneumonia in early 1934, but Joe Shaw and
George Allison carried on his successful work. Under their guidance,
Arsenal won three more titles (193334, 193435 and 193738) and an FA
Cup (193536). However Arsenal had started to fade by the decade's end,
when the intervention of World War II meant competitive professional
football in England was suspended.
After the war, under Allison's successor Tom Whittaker, Arsenal
enjoyed a second period of success, winning the league in 194748 and
195253, and the FA Cup in 194950. However, after that their fortunes
waned; unable to attract players of the same calibre as they had in the
1930s, the club spent most of the 1950s and 1960s in trophyless
mediocrity. Even former England captain Billy Wright could not bring the
club any success as manager, in a stint between 1962 and 1966.
Arsenal began winning silverware again with the surprise appointment
of club physiotherapist Bertie Mee as manager in 1966. After losing two
League Cup finals, they won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, their first
European trophy, in 196970. This was followed by an even greater
triumph: their first League and FA Cup double in 197071. However, the
Double-winning side was soon broken up and the following decade was
characterised by a series of near misses. Arsenal finished as First
Division runners-up in 197273, lost three FA Cup finals (197172,
197778 and 197980) and lost the 197980 Cup Winners' Cup final on
penalties. The club's only success during this time was an FA Cup win in
197879, with a last-minute 32 victory over Manchester United that is
widely regarded as a classic.
The return of former player George Graham as manager in 1986 brought
a third period of glory. Arsenal won the League Cup in 198687, Graham's
first season in charge. This was followed by a League title win in
198889, won with a last-minute goal in the final game of the season
against fellow title challengers Liverpool. Graham's Arsenal won another
title in 199091, losing only one match, the FA Cup and League Cup
double in 199293 and a second European trophy, the Cup Winners' Cup, in
199394. However, Graham's reputation was tarnished when it was revealed
that he had taken kickbacks from agent Rune Hauge for signing certain
players, and he was sacked
in 1995. His replacement, Bruce Rioch, lasted for only one season,
leaving the club after a dispute with the board of directors.
The club's success in the late 1990s and 2000s owes a great deal to
the appointment of manager Arsθne Wenger in 1996. Wenger brought new
tactics, a new training regime and several foreign players who
complemented the existing English talent. Arsenal won a second league
and cup double in 199798 and a third in 200102. In addition, the club
reached the final of the 199900 UEFA Cup (losing on penalties to
Galatasaray), were victorious in the 200203 and 200405 FA Cups, and
won the Premier League in 200304 without losing a single match, which
earned the side the nickname "The Invincibles";
in all, the club went 49 league matches unbeaten, a national record.
Arsenal have finished in either first or second place in the league
in eight of Wenger's eleven seasons at the club.
They are one of only four teams (along with Manchester United, Blackburn
Rovers and Chelsea) to have won the Premier League since its formation
in 1993, although they have failed to retain the title each time they
have been champions. Until
recently, Arsenal had never progressed beyond the Champions League
quarter-finals; in 200506 however, they reached the competition's
Final, the first club from London to do so in the competition's
fifty-year history, but were beaten 21 by FC Barcelona.
In July 2006, they moved into their current stadium, the Emirates
Stadium, after 93 years at Highbury.
Royal Arsenal's first crest, unveiled in 1888, featured three cannon
viewed from above, pointing northwards, similar to the crest of the
Borough of Woolwich. These can sometimes be mistaken for chimneys, but
the presence of a carved lion's head and a cascabel on each are clear
indicators that they are cannon.
This was dropped after the moved to Highbury in 1913, but in 1922, the
club adopted their first single-cannon crest, featuring an
eastward-pointing cannon, with the club's nickname, The Gunners,
inscribed along side it; this crest only lasted until 1925, when the
cannon was reversed to point westward and its barrel slimmed down.
In 1949, the club unveiled a modernised crest featuring the same style
of cannon, the club's name set in blackletter above the cannon, and a
scroll inscribed with the club's newly adopted Latin motto, Victoria
Concordia Crescit (meaning "victory comes from harmony"), coined by
Harry Homer, the club's programme editor.
For the first time, the crest was rendered in colour, which varied
slightly over the crest's lifespan, finally becoming red, gold and
Because of the numerous revisions of the crest, Arsenal were unable
to copyright it; although the club had managed to register the crest as
a trademark, and had fought (and eventually won) a long legal battle
with a local street trader who sold 'unofficial' Arsenal merchandise,
Arsenal sought a more comprehensive legal protection. Therefore, in 2002
they introduced a new crest featuring more modern curved lines and a
simplified style, which was copyrightable.
The cannon once again faces east and the club's name is written in a
sans-serif typeface above the cannon. Green was replaced by dark blue.
The new crest received a critical response from some supporters; the
Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association claimed that the club had
ignored much of Arsenal's history and tradition with such a radical
modern design, and that fans had not been properly consulted on the
For much of Arsenal's history, their home colours have been bright
red shirts with white sleeves and white shorts, though this has not
always been the case. The choice of red is in recognition of a
charitable donation from Nottingham Forest, soon after Arsenal's
foundation in 1886. Two of Dial Square's founding members, Fred
Beardsley and Morris Bates, were former Forest players who had moved to
Woolwich for work. As they put together the first team in the area, no
kit could be found, so Beardsley and Bates wrote home for help and
received a set of kit and a ball. The shirt was redcurrant, a dark shade
of red similar to burgundy, and was worn with white shorts and blue
In 1933 Herbert Chapman, wanting his players to be more distinctly
dressed, updated the kit, adding white sleeves and changing the shade to
a brighter pillar box red. The origin of the white sleeves is not
conclusively known, but two possible inspirations have been put forward.
One story reports that Chapman noticed a supporter in the stands wearing
a red sleeveless sweater over a white shirt; another was that he was
inspired by a similar outfit worn by the cartoonist Tom Webster, with
whom Chapman played golf.
Regardless of which story is true, the red and white shirts have come to
define Arsenal and the team have worn the combination ever since, aside
from two seasons. The first was 196667, when Arsenal wore all-red
proved unpopular and the white sleeves returned the following season.
The second was 200506, the last season that Arsenal played at Highbury,
when the team wore one-year commemorative redcurrant shirts similar to
those worn in 1913, their first season in the stadium. The club reverted
to their traditional colours at the start of the 200607 season.
Arsenal's home colours have been the inspiration for at least three
other clubs. In 1909, Sparta Prague adopted a dark red kit like the one
Arsenal wore at the time;
in 1938, Hibernian adopted the design of the Arsenal shirt sleeves in
their own green and white strip.
In the 1930s, Sporting Clube de Braga's coach returned from a game at
Highbury and changed his team's green kit into a duplicate of Arsenal's
red with white sleeves and shorts, giving rise to the team's nickname of
These teams still wear these designs to this day.
Arsenal's away colours are traditionally yellow and blue, although
they wore a green and navy away kit between 1982 and 1984.
Since the early 1990s and the advent of the lucrative replica kit
market, the away colours have been changed regularly; the general rule
currently is that they are changed every season with the outgoing away
kit becoming the third choice kit for the following season.
Generally, the away colours in this period have been either two-tone
blue designs, or variations on the traditional yellow and blue, such as
the metallic gold and navy strip used in the 200102 season,
and the yellow and dark grey used in 200506 and 200607. However,
Arsenal's domestic away colours for the 200708 season are a departure
from the norm, being white shirts with redcurrant shorts and hooped
white and redcurrant socks.
Arsenal's third kit for 200708 consists of redcurrant and obsidian
hoops, and will be used for domestic games where both the first and
second choice colours clash with those of their opponents, as well as
being primary away kit for Champions League matches.
For the majority of their time in south-east London, Arsenal played
at the Manor Ground in Plumstead, a three-year period at the nearby
Invicta Ground between 1890 and 1893 excepted. The Manor Ground was
initially just a field, but the club installed stands and terracing in
time for their first Football League match in September 1893. They
played there for the next twenty years, until the move to north London
Arsenal Stadium, widely referred to as Highbury, was Arsenal's home
from September 1913 until May 2006. The original stadium was designed by
the renowned football architect Archibald Leitch, and had a design
common to many football grounds in the UK at the time, with a single
covered stand and three open-air banks of terracing. In the 1930s, the
entire stadium was given a massive overhaul, with new Art Deco East and
West stands constructed, and roofs added to the North Bank and Clock End
terraces. At its peak, Highbury could hold over 60,000 spectators, and
had a capacity of 57,000 until the early 1990s. The Taylor Report and
Premier League regulations forced Arsenal to convert Highbury into an
all-seater in time for the 199394 season, reducing the capacity to
38,419 seated spectators.
This capacity had to be reduced further during Champions League matches
to accommodate additional advertising hoardings, so much so that for two
seasons (199899 and 199900) Arsenal played Champions League home
matches at Wembley, which could house more than 70,000 spectators.
Expansion of Highbury was restricted because the East Stand had been
designated as a Grade II listed building and the other three stands were
close to residential properties whose owners objected to expansion.
These limitations have prevented the club from maximising the revenue
that their domestic form could have brought in recent seasons. After
considering various options, Arsenal decided in 1999 to build a new
60,000-seater stadium at Ashburton Grove (since renamed the Emirates
Stadium), about 500 metres south-west of Highbury. The project was
initially delayed by red tape and rising costs, but construction was
completed in July 2006, in time for the start of the 200607 season. The
stadium is named after its sponsors, the airline company Emirates, with
whom the club signed the largest sponsorship deal in English football
history, worth approximately £100 million;
however some fans refer to the ground as Ashburton Grove, or the Grove,
as they do not agree with corporate sponsorship of stadium names.
The stadium will be officially known as Emirates Stadium until at least
2012, and the airline will be the club's shirt sponsor until the end of
the 201314 season.
Arsenal's training centre is in Shenley, Hertfordshire, at a
purpose-built facility which opened in 2000. Before that the club shared
training facilities with University College London Student Union nearby,
having trained at Highbury up until 1961.
It is also where Arsenal's Academy teams play their home matches, while
the Reserves play their games at Underhill, home of Barnet FC.
Arsenal have a large and generally loyal fanbase, with virtually all
home matches selling out; in 200607 Arsenal had the second-highest
average League attendance for an English club (60,045, which was 99.8%
of available capacity),
and the fourth-highest all-time average attendance.
Arsenal fans often refer to themselves as "Gooners", the name being
derived from the team's nickname, "The Gunners". The club's location,
adjoining both wealthy areas such as Canonbury and Barnsbury, mixed
areas such as Islington, Holloway and Highbury, and largely working
class areas such as Finsbury Park and Stoke Newington has meant that
Arsenal's supporters have come from across the usual class divides. In
addition, Arsenal have the highest proportion (7.7%) of non-white
attending supporters of any club in English football, according to a
Like all major English football clubs, Arsenal have a number of
domestic supporters' clubs, including the Official Arsenal Football
Supporters Club, which is affiliated with the club, and the Arsenal
Independent Supporters' Association, which maintains an independent
line. The club's supporters also publish fanzines such as The Gooner,
Highbury High, Gunflash and the less cerebral Up The
Arse!. In addition to the usual English football chants, Arsenal's
supporters sing "One-Nil to the Arsenal" (to the tune of "Go West") and
"Boring, Boring Arsenal", which used to be a common taunt from
opposition fans but is now sung ironically by Arsenal supporters when
the team is playing well.
In recent times, a supporter's attachment to a football club has
become less dependent on geography, and Arsenal now have many fans not
just from London but all over England and the world. While there have
always been small pockets of supporters abroad, Arsenal's support base
has widened considerably with the advent of satellite television, and
there are now significant supporters' clubs worldwide. A 2005 report by
Granada Ventures, which at the time owned a 9.9% stake in the club,
estimated Arsenal's global fanbase at 27 million, the third largest in
Arsenal's longest-running and deepest rivalry is with their nearest
major neighbours, Tottenham Hotspur, with matches between the two being
referred to as North London derbies. Matches against other London sides,
such as Chelsea and West Ham United are also derbies, but the rivalry is
not as intense as that between Arsenal and Tottenham. In addition,
Arsenal and Manchester United have had a strong on-pitch rivalry since
the late 1980s, which has intensified in recent years when both clubs
have been competing for the Premier League title.
Ownership and finances
Arsenal's parent company, Arsenal Holdings plc, operates as a
non-quoted public limited company. Arsenal's ownership is considerably
different from that of other football clubs. Only 62,217 shares in
Arsenal have been issued,
and they are not traded on a public exchange such as the FTSE or AIM;
instead, they are traded infrequently on PLUS, a specialist market. As
of December 6, 2007, Arsenal's market capitalisation value is £532m,
and the club made an operating profit (excluding player transfers) of
£51.2m in the year ending May 31, 2007, from a turnover of £200.8m.
As of March 2007, business magazine Forbes ranks Arsenal as third
most valuable team in the world, after Manchester United and Real
Madrid, valuing the club at £495m.
Accountants Deloitte rate Arsenal as ninth in the 2007 Deloitte Football
Money League, a ranking of the world's football clubs in terms of
revenue, with the club earning £133m in the 200506 season.
Arsenal's board of directors hold 45% of the club's shares; the
largest shareholders on the board are Danny Fiszman (a London diamond
dealer) and Nina Bracewell-Smith (wife of the grandson of former
chairman Sir Bracewell Smith), who hold 24.1% and 15.9% respectively.
Fellow director Richard Carr has 4.4% and club chairman Peter Hill-Wood
owns 0.8%, with all the other directors holding nominal amounts.
In recent years, with other major English clubs such as Chelsea,
Liverpool and Manchester United all having been taken over by foreign
investors, Arsenal have been identified as a target for a buyout. The
American sports tycoon Stan Kroenke, via the UK arm of Kroenke Sports
Enterprises, currently owns or controls 7,584 shares or 12.2% of the
bulk of which he bought from Granada Ventures (a subsidiary of ITV plc)
in April 2007. The
largest single stake in the club held by a non-board member is the 23%
owned by the firm Red & White Securities, which is co-owned by Russian
billionaire Alisher Usmanov and London-based financier Farhad Moshiri.
An initial 14.6% was bought in August 2007 from former Arsenal
vice-chairman David Dein, who is now chairman of Red & White Securities,
and was upped to 23% the following month.
Both purchases have led to press speculation of an imminent takeover bid
for the club.
However, Arsenal's board of directors have agreed not to consider a sale
of their shares to non-"permitted persons" until at least April 2009,
and have first option on each others' shares until October 2012.
Arsenal in popular culture
As one of the most successful teams in the country, Arsenal have
often featured when football is depicted in British culture and have
appeared in a number of media "firsts". On January 22, 1927, their match
at Highbury against Sheffield United was the first English League match
to be broadcast live on radio.
A decade later, on September 16, 1937, an exhibition match between
Arsenal's first team and the reserves was the first ever football match
to be televised live.
Arsenal also featured in the first edition of the BBC's Match of the
Day, which screened highlights of their match against Liverpool at
Anfield on August 22, 1964.
Arsenal also formed the backdrop to one of the earliest
football-related films, The Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1939).
The film is centred on a friendly match between Arsenal and an amateur
side, one of whose players is poisoned whilst playing. Many Arsenal
players appeared as themselves, although only manager George Allison was
given a speaking part.
More recently, the book Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby was an
autobiographical account of Hornby's life and relationship with football
and Arsenal in particular. Published in 1992, it formed part of, and may
have played an active part in, the revival and rehabilitation of
football in British society during the 1990s. The book was later made
into a film starring Colin Firth, which centred on the club's 198889
title win. The book also inspired an American film adaptation, about a
fan of Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox.
Arsenal have often been stereotyped as a defensive and "boring" side,
especially during the 1970s and 1980s; many comedians, such as Eric
Morecambe, made jokes about this at the team's expense. The theme was
repeated in the 1997 film The Full Monty, in a scene where the
lead actors move in a line and raise their hands, deliberately mimicking
the Arsenal defence's offside trap, in an attempt to co-ordinate their
Another film reference to the club's defence comes in the film
Plunkett & Macleane, in which there are two characters named Dixon
and Winterburn, named after Arsenal's long serving full backs the
right-sided Lee Dixon and the left-sided Nigel Winterburn.
The club have also been mentioned in several Monty Python's Flying
Circus sketches, and in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to
the Galaxy, where a barman remarks that the impending end of the
world is a "lucky escape" for Arsenal. Additionally, in the 2004 film
Ocean's Twelve, the main characters don Arsenal tracksuits as a
disguise, in order to escape from a hotel during one of their European
Arsenal have featured in popular music as well; Joe Strummer wrote
the song "Tony Adams", dedicated to the then Arsenal captain, which
appeared on his 1999 album Rock Art and the X-Ray Style. Strummer
was also known to wear an Arsenal scarf during gigs despite himself
being a Chelsea fan. Additionally, Arsenal (along with arch-rivals
Tottenham Hotspur) receive a mention in The Pogues song "Billy's Bones",
which appears on the band's second album, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash.
Arsenal Ladies are the women's football club affiliated to Arsenal.
Founded in 1987, they turned semi-professional in 2002 and are managed
by Vic Akers, who is also kit manager for the men's side. Arsenal Ladies
are the most successful team in English women's football today; they are
the current reigning champions of the FA Women's Premier League and
holders of the UEFA Women's Cup, having won both in the 200607 season
as part of a unique quadruple, along with the FA Women's Cup and FA
Women's Premier League Cup. Although the men's and women's clubs are
formally separate they have quite close ties; Arsenal FC's managing
director Keith Edelman is president of Arsenal LFC, a role previously
held by David Dein and Arsenal Ladies are entitled to play once a season
at the Emirates Stadium, though they usually play their home matches at
Statistics and records
David O'Leary holds the record for Arsenal appearances, having played
722 first-team matches between 1975 and 1993. Fellow centre half and
former captain Tony Adams comes second, having played 669 times. The
record for a goalkeeper is held by David Seaman, with 563 appearances.
Thierry Henry is the club's top goalscorer with 226 goals in all
competitions between 1999 and 2007 having surpassed Ian Wright's total
of 185 in October 2005.
Wright's record had stood since September 1997, a feat which overtook
the longstanding total of 178 goals set by winger Cliff Bastin in 1939.
Henry also holds the club record for goals scored in the League 174
a record that had been held by Bastin until February 2006.
Arsenal's record home attendance is 73,707, for a UEFA Champions
League match against RC Lens on November 25, 1998 at Wembley Stadium,
where Arsenal formerly played home European matches because of the
limits on Highbury's capacity. The record attendance for an Arsenal
match at Highbury is 73,295, for a 00 draw against Sunderland on 9
while that at Emirates Stadium is 60,161, for a 22 draw with Manchester
United on November 3, 2007.
Arsenal have also set records in English football, most notably the
most consecutive seasons spent in the top flight (80 as of 200607) and
the longest run of unbeaten League matches (49 between May 2003 and
October 2004). This included all 38 matches of their title-winning
200304 season, making Arsenal only the second club ever to finish a
top-flight campaign unbeaten, after Preston North End (who played only
22 matches) in 188889.
Arsenal also set a UEFA Champions League record during the 200506
season by going ten matches without conceding a goal, beating the
previous best of seven set by A.C. Milan. They went a record total
stretch of 995 minutes without letting an opponent score; the streak
finally ended in the final against FC Barcelona, when Samuel Eto'o
scored Barcelona's equaliser in the 76th minute.
For more details on this topic, see Arsenal F.C. seasons.
- First Division and Premier League
- Winners (13): 193031, 193233, 193334, 193435,
193738, 194748, 195253, 197071, 198889, 199091, 199798,
- Runners-up (8): 192526, 193132, 197273, 199899,
19992000, 200001, 200203, 200405
- Runners-up (1): 190304
- Winners (10): 192930, 193536, 194950, 197071,
197879, 199293, 199798, 200102, 200203, 200405
- Runners-up (7): 192627, 193132, 195152, 197172,
197778, 197980, 200001
- Winners (2): 198687, 199293
- Runners-up (4): 196768, 196869, 198788, 200607
- Charity Shields and Community Shields
- Winners (12): 1930, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1938, 1948, 1953,
1991 (shared), 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004
- Runners-up (7): 1935, 1936, 1979, 1989, 1993, 2003, 2005
- Runners-up (1): 200506
- European Cup Winners' Cup
- Winners (1): 199394
- Runners-up (2): 197980, 199495
- Inter-Cities Fairs Cup / UEFA Cup
- Winners (1): 196970
- Runners-up (1): 19992000
- Runners-up (1): 1994
Arsenal's tally of thirteen League Championships is the third highest
in English football, after Liverpool and Manchester United,
while the total of ten FA Cups is the second highest, after Manchester
United. Arsenal have
achieved three League and FA Cup "Doubles" (in 1971, 1998 and 2002), a
joint record shared with Manchester United,
and were the first side in English football to complete the FA Cup and
League Cup double in 1993.
They were also the first London football club to reach the final of the
UEFA Champions League in 2006.
Arsenal have one of the best top-flight records in history, having
finished below fourteenth only seven times. Arsenal also have the
highest average league finishing position for the period 19001999, with
an average league placing of 8.5.
In addition, they are one of only five clubs to have won the FA Cup
twice in succession, in 2002 and 2003.
Vote on your favourite Arsenal player past or present
and say why if you want
it was really long but fab