Arsenal nearly merged with rivals Tottenham and Chelsea due to money troubles

Arsenal have been forced into the unusual position of rooting for Tottenham Hotspur more than once this season.

In their quest to mount a serious title challenge and win their first Premier League trophy since 2004, the Gunners have had to put their hatred towards bitter rivals Spurs to one side momentarily. They first experienced that bizarre position on January 19 when Spurs went 2-0 up at Manchester City, only for City to come back and win 4-2.

Arsenal fans were again left with no choice but to root for their north London neighbours as they took on City on Sunday, with Mikel Arteta’s side desperate to keep a slender five-point lead over their title rivals.

READ MORE: Mikel Arteta was 'forced to drag Oleksandr Zinchenko off pitch' after Arsenal's defeat

But there was a time where, shockingly, Arsenal and Spurs fans could have ended up supporting the same club.

Woolwich Arsenal – then based in south-east London – were stuck in financial turmoil way back in 1910. Businessman and politician Henry Norris bought shares in Arsenal after the side went into voluntary liquidation.

He aimed to form a super-club by merging the Gunners with Fulham, who he also owned. But his ambitious ploy was blocked by the Football League.

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With Arsenal unable to attract interest in shares from locals and desperately needing investment from outside of the Woolwich area, major shareholder George Leavey was reported to have opened discussions with Tottenham and Chelsea to see whether their boards were interested in buying all or part of the club.

Arsenal were just one day away from having to resign from the league when discussions with Spurs began on May 12th. Newspapers in north London quickly began to report that Arsenal’s head of fundraising had claimed Tottenham were looking to buy into the club – which were not openly confirmed by either side.

There was certainly incentive for Tottenham to help Arsenal, who had come to their rescue in 1908 by voting in favour of the White Hart Lane club’s application to the Football League. If not for Arsenal’s vote, Spurs would have been left without a league to compete in, having prematurely resigned from the Southern League.

Tottenham were also believed to be keen to make Arsenal their ‘nursery club’ – a place to bring through young talent before moving them on to the Lilywhites. It was an attractive proposition given Arsenal already had a reputation for bringing talent through their links due to their links with various munitions and armament factories across the country.

But as we know, the story panned out very differently. Norris instead turned his attention to moving Arsenal to a new stadium entirely, settling on Highbury, north London – which opened in 1913.

The decision to move into Tottenham territory proved hugely controversial, while setting up the groundwork for over a century of animosity between the north London clubs.


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