Arsenal or ‘Spurs for First Division

January 30, 1919
It was assumed yesterday by a contemporary that in the event of the Football League being extended to forty-four clubs Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur would retain their places in the First Division. The “Daily Express” is authoritatively informed, however, that it is the intention of the League management committee to recommend that the two divisions be increased to twenty-two clubs each, and there is solid ground for the belief that this recommendation will be adopted, as this is now the only means by which justice can be done to Chelsea.

The assumption that Tottenham Hotspur would, as a matter of course, also retain their place in the First Division is not warranted by the present position of affairs. As a matter of fact the favourites at the moment are the Arsenal, whose interests are being most energetically pushed forward.

It must not be overlooked that the extension of the League and, if extended, the choice of clubs to fill the two vacancies that would be created in the First Division, are dependent on the votes of the clubs. If they so desired they could pass over Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, and the Arsenal, and select two other clubs from the Second Division.

The strength of the Tottenham Hotspur case consists of the fact that the League is a conservative body, and attaches considerable importance to precedents. When the League was increased in 1898 Blackburn Rovers, who lost their place in the First Division, and Newcastle United, who failed to win their test games, were both voted into the premier division, and when the League was again extended in 1905, Bury and Notts County, who should have been relegated, were retained in the upper circles.

These are the only precedents in the history of the League that have any hearing on the present situation, and they strongly support the Tottenham argument that they have paramount claims to those of any clubs in the Second Division.

With regard to the Arsenal, they do not shirk the precedents, but they contend that they should not govern the present unexplained development of events.

On the other hand, an opportunity present itself to the League to show its appreciation of the unfailing manner in which its interests have always been jealously guarded by the club in the metropolis.

Attention is called to the many occasions on which efforts were made by the Southern League to seduce the Arsenal from their loyalty to the League, but they always failed. For many years the Arsenal were boycotted by Southern League clubs, who would not give them fixtures because of their persistent refusal to desert the League.

The Arsenal argue that these facts give them the right to ask for special consideration. They have no desire to injure Tottenham, but it is in these days a case of every club for itself, and the directors are bound to do everything in their power to secure entrance to the First Division.

Vital interests
Tottenham Hotspur, by the way, have circularised the League clubs, drawing special attention to the precedents mentioned above. The other main points in the circular are as follows: –

“Now that the Football Association has given official sanction to the extension of the League, and in view of the proposed notice of motion to increase its numbers, we feel that while we have hitherto kept silent the time has arrived when our vital interests should be represented to you.

“The rules of the League make no provision for the contingency which arises consequent on extension, but the records show that there exists the next best thing to a rule – precedent.

“Never in the history of the League has a First Division club been relegated to the Second Division when the League has been increased.

“On other grounds we are of opinion that justice is on our side. For instance, voluntary enlistments in the Army during 1914-15 season reduced our playing strength, and, in our opinion, had to a certain extent the effect of losing our position in the First Division.

“After giving these points your consideration we think you will agree in the justice of our claims and we look forward with confidence to your support at the proper time.”
(Daily Express: January 31, 1919)

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