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Norris negotiates top-flight return

Story Highlights
  • North London Derby
  • Controversial event
  • Geographic proximity
  • Footballing history
  • Machinations
  • Uninterrupted top-flight membership

The football rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, two clubs residing in North London, is steeped in geographic proximity and shared footballing history. However, their ongoing face-offs, known as the North London Derby, acquired more profound complexity following a controversial event in 1919.

In the 1914/15 season, just before the First World War, Arsenal found themselves in the middle of the table, finishing fifth in the Second Division. It was a reasonable expectation that they would continue in this tier when football matches resumed after the war. Yet, in a dramatic turn of events, Arsenal were elected to join the top flight, with Tottenham Hotspur losing their spot.

“The Unresolved Controversy: Arsenal’s Controversial Promotion and the Ongoing North London Derby Rivalry”

This decision coincided with the expansion of the First Division from 20 to 22 teams. According to tradition, the two clubs that finished last in the previous season would be re-elected and joined by the top two teams from the Second Division. However, the election of Arsenal over Tottenham disrupted this norm.

“Disruption of Tradition: Arsenal’s Election Over Tottenham and the Expansion of the First Division”

The machinations behind this unexpected development have been attributed to Henry Norris, Arsenal’s chairman at the time. Norris had already left a considerable mark on the club, moving Arsenal to Highbury in 1913 and saving them from voluntary liquidation in 1910. However, his most controversial act was yet to come. It is alleged that Norris influenced John McKenna, the league chairman and owner of Liverpool FC, to advocate for Arsenal’s promotion.

The Persuasive Speech: McKenna’s Argument for Arsenal’s Promotion and the Ten-Vote Victory!

McKenna’s persuasive speech at the Football League’s Annual General Meeting was instrumental. He argued that Arsenal, having been a part of the Football League since 1893 — a full 15 years before Tottenham — was more deserving of the higher standing. The majority agreed, and Arsenal won the election by ten votes.

The rumors surrounding Norris’ involvement remained unresolved until he died in 1934, and to this day, they continue to be an intriguing part of footballing folklore.

Despite the contentious nature of their promotion, Arsenal has carved out a unique place in English football history. As of now, over 90 years after the decision, Arsenal remains the only club with an uninterrupted top-flight membership since the resumption of the Football League. They also stand as the only club promoted not based on their playing merit, a testament to the unusual circumstances of their elevation.”

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