Arsenal Football Club is an English professional football club based in Holloway, London, that plays in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. The club has won 12 FA Cups, a joint-record, 13 League titles, two League Cups, 14 FA Community Shields, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and one Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
Arsenal was the first club from the South of England to join The Football League, in 1893. They entered the First Division in 1904, and have since accumulated the second most points. Relegated only once, in 1913, they continue the longest streak in the top division. In the 1930s, Arsenal won five League Championships and two FA Cups, and another FA Cup and two Championships after the war. In 1970-71, they won their first League and FA Cup Double. Between 1989 and 2005, they won five League titles and five FA Cups, including two more Doubles. They completed the 20th century with the highest average league position.
Herbert Chapman won Arsenal's first national trophies, but died prematurely. The WM formation, floodlights, and shirt numbers have all been attributed to him. He added the white sleeves and brighter red to Arsenal's kit. Arsène Wenger has been the longest-serving manager and has won the most trophies. His teams set several English records: the longest win streak; the longest unbeaten run; and the only 38 match season unbeaten.
In 1886, Woolwich munitions workers founded the club as Dial Square. In 1913, the club crossed the city to Arsenal Stadium in Highbury. They became Tottenham Hotspur's nearest club, commencing the North London derby. In 2006, they moved to the Emirates Stadium in nearby Holloway. Arsenal earned €435.5m in 2014-15, with the Emirates Stadium generating the highest revenue in world football. Based on social media activity from 2014-15, Arsenal's fanbase is the fifth largest in the world. In 2016, Forbes estimated the club was the second most valuable in England, worth $2.0 billion.
1886-1919: Changing names
On 1 December 1886, munitions workers in Woolwich, South East London, formed Arsenal as Dial Square, with David Danskin as their first captain. Named after the heart of the Royal Arsenal complex, they took the name of the whole complex a month later. Royal Arsenal F.C.'s first home was Plumstead Common, though they spent most of their time in South East London playing on the other side of Plumstead, at the Manor Ground. Royal Arsenal won Arsenal's first trophies in 1890 and 1891, and these were the only football association trophies Arsenal won during their time in South East London.
Royal Arsenal renamed themselves for a second time upon becoming a limited liability company in 1893. They registered their new name, Woolwich Arsenal, with The Football League when the club ascended later that year. Woolwich Arsenal was the first southern member of The Football League, starting out in the Second Division and winning promotion to the First Division in 1904. Falling attendances, due to financial difficulties among the munitions workers and the arrival of more accessible football clubs elsewhere in the city, led the club close to bankruptcy by 1910. Businessmen Henry Norris and William Hall took the club over, and sought to move them elsewhere.
In 1913, soon after relegation back to the Second Division, Woolwich Arsenal moved to the new Arsenal Stadium in Highbury, North London. This saw their third change of name: the following year, they reduced Woolwich Arsenal to simply The Arsenal. In 1919, The Football League voted to promote The Arsenal, instead of relegated local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, into the newly enlarged First Division, despite only listing the club sixth in the Second Division's last pre-war season of 1914-15. Some books have speculated that the club won this election to division one by dubious means. Later that year, The Arsenal started dropping "The" in official documents, gradually shifting its name for the final time towards Arsenal, as it is generally known today.
1919-1953: The Bank of England Club
With a new home and First Division football, attendances were more than double those at the Manor Ground, and Arsenal's budget grew rapidly. Their location and record-breaking salary offer lured star Huddersfield Town manager Herbert Chapman in 1925. Over the next five years, Chapman built a new Arsenal. He appointed enduring new trainer Tom Whittaker, implemented Charlie Buchan's new twist on the nascent WM formation, captured young players like Cliff Bastin and Eddie Hapgood, and lavished Highbury's income on stars like David Jack and Alex James. With record-breaking spending and gate receipts, Arsenal quickly became known as the Bank of England club.
Transformed, Chapman's Arsenal claimed their first national trophy, the FA Cup, in 1930. Two League Championships followed, in 1930-31 and 1932-33. Chapman also presided over multiple off the pitch changes: white sleeves and shirt numbers were added to the kit;a Tube station was named after the club; and the first of two opulent, Art Deco stands was completed, with some of the first floodlights in English football. Suddenly, in the middle of the 1933-34 season, Chapman died of pneumonia. His work was left to Joe Shaw and George Allison, who saw out a hat-trick with the 1933-34 and 1934-35 titles, and then won the 1936 FA Cup and 1937-38 title.
World War II meant The Football League was suspended for seven years, but Arsenal returned to win it in the second post-war season, 1947-48. This was Tom Whittaker's first season as manager, after his promotion to succeed Allison, and the club had equalled the champions of England record. They won a third FA Cup in 1950, and then won a record-breaking seventh championship in 1952-53. However, the war had taken its toll on Arsenal. The club had had more players killed than any top flight club, and debt from reconstructing the North Bank Stand bled Arsenal's resources.
1953-1986: The long sleep, Mee and Neill
Arsenal were not to win the League or the FA Cup for another 18 years. The '53 Champions squad was old, and the club failed to attract strong enough replacements. Although Arsenal were competitive during these years, their fortunes had waned; the club spent most of the 1950s and 1960s in midleague mediocrity. Even former England captain Billy Wright could not bring the club any success as manager, in a stint between 1962 and 1966.
Arsenal tentatively appointed club physiotherapist Bertie Mee as acting manager in 1966. With new assistant Don Howe and new players such as Bob McNab and George Graham, Mee led Arsenal to their first League Cup finals, in 1967-68 and 1968-69. Next season saw a breakthrough: Arsenal's first competitive European trophy, the 1969-70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. And the season after, an even greater triumph: Arsenal's first League and FA Cup double, and a new champions of England record. This marked a premature high point of the decade; the Double-winning side was soon broken up and the rest of the decade was characterised by a series of near misses, starting with Arsenal finishing as FA Cup runners up in 1972, and First Division runners-up in 1972-73.
Former player Terry Neill succeeded Mee in 1976. At the age of 34, he became the youngest Arsenal manager to date. With new signings like Malcolm Macdonald and Pat Jennings, and a crop of talent in the side such as Liam Brady and Frank Stapleton, the club reached a trio of FA Cup finals (1978, 1979 and 1980), and lost the 1980 European Cup Winners' Cup Final on penalties. The club's only trophy during this time was a last-minute 3-2 victory over Manchester United in the 1979 FA Cup Final, widely regarded as a classic.
1986-present: Graham to Wenger
One of Bertie Mee's double winners, George Graham, returned as manager in 1986. Arsenal won their first League Cup in 1987, Graham's first season in charge. By 1988, new signings Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon and Steve Bould had joined the club to complete the "famous Back Four" led by existing player Tony Adams. They immediately won the 1988-89 Football League, snatched with a last-minute goal in the final game of the season against fellow title challengers Liverpool. Graham's Arsenal won another title in 1990-91, losing only one match, won the FA Cup and League Cup double in 1993, and the European Cup Winners' Cup, in 1994. Graham's reputation was tarnished when he was found to have taken kickbacks from agent Rune Hauge for signing certain players, and he was dismissed in 1995. His permanent replacement, Bruce Rioch, lasted for only one season, leaving the club after a dispute with the board of directors.
The club metamorphosed during the long tenure of manager Arsène Wenger, appointed in 1996. New, attacking football, an overhaul of dietary and fitness practices, and efficiency with money have defined his reign. Accumulating key players from Wenger's homeland, such as Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry, Arsenal won a second League and Cup double in 1997-98 and a third in 2001-02. In addition, the club reached the final of the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup, were victorious in the 2003 and 2005 FA Cups, and won the Premier League in 2003-04 without losing a single match, an achievement which earned the side the nickname "The Invincibles". This latter feat came within a run of 49 league matches unbeaten from 7 May 2003 to 24 October 2004, a national record.
Arsenal finished in either first or second place in the league in eight of Wenger's first nine seasons at the club, although on no occasion were they able to retain the title. The club had never progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the Champions League until 2005-06; in that season they became the first club from London in the competition's fifty-year history to reach the final, in which they were beaten 2-1 by Barcelona. In July 2006, they moved into the Emirates Stadium, after 93 years at Highbury. Arsenal reached the final of the 2007 and 2011 League Cups, losing 2-1 to Chelsea and Birmingham City respectively.
The club had not gained a major trophy since the 2005 FA Cup until 17 May 2014, when Arsenal beat Hull City in the 2014 FA Cup Final, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to win the match 3-2. This qualified them for the 2014 FA Community Shield where they would play Premier League champions Manchester City. They recorded a resounding 3-0 win in the game, winning their second trophy in three months. Nine months after their Community Shield triumph, Arsenal appeared in the FA Cup final for the second year in a row, thrashing Aston Villa 4-0 in the final and becoming the most successful club in the tournament's history with 12 titles. On 2 August 2015, Arsenal beat Chelsea 1-0 at Wembley Stadium to retain the Community Shield and earn their 14th Community Shield title.
Unveiled in 1888, Royal Arsenal's first crest featured three cannons viewed from above, pointing northwards, similar to the coat of arms of the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich (nowadays transferred to the coat of arms of the Royal Borough of Greenwich). 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 cannons. This was dropped after the move to Highbury in 1913, only to be reinstated in 1922, when the club adopted a crest featuring a single cannon, pointing eastwards, with the club's nickname, The Gunners, inscribed alongside 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 below the club's name, set in blackletter, and above the coat of arms of the Metropolitan Borough of Islington and a scroll inscribed with the club's newly adopted Latin motto, Victoria Concordia Crescit - "victory comes from harmony" - coined by the club's programme editor Harry Homer. For the first time, the crest was rendered in colour, which varied slightly over the crest's lifespan, finally becoming red, gold and green. 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 eventually 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 was criticised by 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 issue.
Until the 1960s, a badge was worn on the playing shirt only for high-profile matches such as FA Cup finals, usually in the form of a monogram of the club's initials in red on a white background.
The monogram theme was developed into an Art Deco-style badge on which the letters A and C framed a football rather than the letter F, the whole set within a hexagonal border. This early example of a corporate logo, introduced as part of Herbert Chapman's rebranding of the club in the 1930s, was used not only on Cup Final shirts but as a design feature throughout Highbury Stadium, including above the main entrance and inlaid in the floors. From 1967, a white cannon was regularly worn on the shirts, until replaced by the club crest, sometimes with the addition of the nickname "The Gunners", in the 1990s.
In the 2011-12 season, Arsenal celebrated their 125th year anniversary. The celebrations included a modified version of the current crest worn on their jerseys for the season. The crest was all white, surrounded by 15 oak leaves to the right and 15 laurel leaves to the left. The oak leaves represent the 15 founding members of the club who met at the Royal Oak pub. The 15 laurel leaves represent the design detail on the six pence pieces paid by the founding fathers to establish the club. The laurel leaves also represent strength. To complete the crest, 1886 and 2011 are shown on either sides of the motto "Forward" at the bottom of the crest.
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, and was worn with white shorts and socks with blue and white hoops.
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. Two possibilities have been suggested for the origin of the white sleeves. 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 1966-67, when Arsenal wore all-red shirts; this proved unpopular and the white sleeves returned the following season. The second was 2005-06, the last season that Arsenal played at Highbury, when the team wore commemorative redcurrant shirts similar to those worn in 1913, their first season in the stadium; the club reverted to their normal colours at the start of the next season. In the 2008-09 season, Arsenal replaced the traditional all-white sleeves with red sleeves with a broad white stripe.
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 1920, Sporting Clube de Braga's manager returned from a game at Highbury and changed his team's green kit to a duplicate of Arsenal's red with white sleeves and shorts, giving rise to the team's nickname of Os Arsenalistas. These teams still wear those designs to this day.
For many years Arsenal's away colours were white shirts and either black or white shorts. In the 1969-70 season, Arsenal introduced an away kit of yellow shirts with blue shorts. This kit was worn in the 1971 FA Cup Final as Arsenal beat Liverpool to secure the double for the first time in their history. Arsenal reached the FA Cup final again the following year wearing the red and white home strip and were beaten by Leeds United. Arsenal then competed in three consecutive FA Cup finals between 1978 and 1980 wearing their "lucky" yellow and blue strip, which remained the club's away strip until the release of a green and navy away kit in 1982-83. The following season, Arsenal returned to the yellow and blue scheme, albeit with a darker shade of blue than before.
When Nike took over from Adidas as Arsenal's kit provider in 1994, Arsenal's away colours were again changed to two-tone blue shirts and shorts. Since the advent of the lucrative replica kit market, the away kits have been changed regularly, with Arsenal usually releasing both away and third choice kits. During this period the designs have been either all blue designs, or variations on the traditional yellow and blue, such as the metallic gold and navy strip used in the 2001-02 season, the yellow and dark grey used from 2005 to 2007, and the yellow and maroon of 2010 to 2013. As of 2009, the away kit is changed every season, and the outgoing away kit becomes the third-choice kit if a new home kit is being introduced in the same year.
Kit manufacturers and shirt sponsors
Arsenal's shirts have been made by manufacturers including Bukta (from the 1930s until the early 1970s), Umbro (from the 1970s until 1986), Adidas (1986-1994), Nike (1994-2014), and Puma (from 2014). Like those of most other major football clubs, Arsenal's shirts have featured sponsors' logos since the 1980s; sponsors include JVC (1982-1999), Sega (1999-2002), O2 (2002-2006), and Emirates (from 2006).
For most of their time in south-east London, Arsenal played at the Manor Ground in Plumstead, apart from a three-year period at the nearby Invicta Ground between 1890 and 1893. The Manor Ground was initially just a field, until the club installed stands and terracing for their first Football League match in September 1893. They played their home games there for the next twenty years (with two exceptions in the 1894-95 season), until the move to north London in 1913.
Widely referred to as Highbury, Arsenal Stadium was the club'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. The entire stadium was given a massive overhaul in the 1930s: new Art Deco West and East stands were constructed, opening in 1932 and 1936 respectively, and a roof was added to the North Bank terrace, which was bombed during the Second World War and not restored until 1954.
Highbury could hold more than 60,000 spectators at its peak, and had a capacity of 57,000 until the early 1990s. The Taylor Report and Premier League regulations obliged Arsenal to convert Highbury to an all-seater stadium in time for the 1993-94 season, thus reducing the capacity to 38,419 seated spectators. This capacity had to be reduced further during Champions League matches to accommodate additional advertising boards, so much so that for two seasons, from 1998 to 2000, 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. These limitations prevented the club from maximising matchday revenue during the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century, putting them in danger of being left behind in the football boom of that time. After considering various options, in 2000 Arsenal proposed building a new 60,361-capacity stadium at Ashburton Grove, since named the Emirates Stadium, about 500 metres south-west of Highbury. The project was initially delayed by red tape and rising costs, and construction was completed in July 2006, in time for the start of the 2006-07 season. The stadium was named after its sponsors, the airline company Emirates, with whom the club signed the largest sponsorship deal in English football history, worth around £100 million. Some fans referred to the ground as Ashburton Grove, or the Grove, as they did not agree with corporate sponsorship of stadium names. The stadium will be officially known as Emirates Stadium until at least 2028, and the airline will be the club's shirt sponsor until the end of the 2018-19 season. From the start of the 2010-11 season on, the stands of the stadium have been officially known as North Bank, East Stand, West Stand and Clock end.
Arsenal's players train at the Shenley Training Centre in Hertfordshire, a purpose-built facility which opened in 1999. Before that the club used facilities on a nearby site owned by the University College of London Students' Union. Until 1961 they had trained at Highbury. Arsenal's Academy under-18 teams play their home matches at Shenley, while the reserves play their games at Meadow Park, which is also the home of Boreham Wood F.C..