6 August 1923: Arsenal report an annual profit

On 6 August the club published its annual report showing a profit for the year of £5000.  That would be over a third of a million pounds in today’s money just based on inflation.  But we must remember football inflation is way above general inflation.

£5000 in 1923 was about the world record for a transfer.  The world record currently (2018) is over £200m.  I am not saying that Arsenal’s profit was equivalent to £200m, but it was exceptional and what’s more the long running debt to Humphreys Limited (who had built Archibald Leitch’s grandstand at Highbury)  had finally been paid off.

The club was still not debt free, for the accounts show loans of £8510 from Sir Henry Norris and William Hall still on the books, and a further list of other creditors with claims totaling £4344, presumably including the bank.  But one huge debt was out of the way at last.

The point about these figures is that despite the club’s ups and downs in the League, the great gamble that Arsenal would flourish in a large stadium in north London, near to public transport links, surrounded by the homes not of men who worked in factories but the men who worked in the City of London running the Empire, had again been proven to be a valid prediction. 

It had been an incredibly bold move by Henry Norris to suggest this move after his alternative rescue plans had failed to gain support in 1910, but amazingly it had worked. Arsenal were well and truly back in business and paying off their debts.