The Scandals That Rocked Arsenal FC

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The Gunners are one of the most successful football clubs in the history of the professional game in England. But even though they have 15 Community Shields, 13 FA Cup trophies, 13 League titles, and a UEFA Cup winner’s trophy, they have not been immune to their share of controversy and scandal. But events range from the mundane to the ridiculous, and we’ve decided to focus on the latter!

George Graham Bung Scandal: 1994/95


Bung allegations and match-fixing rumours plagued English football during the early 1990s. George Graham, manager from 1986 to 1996, was busted accepting an illegal payment of just over £425,000 in 1992 from Rune Hauge, the notorious football agent from Norway. This occurred when Arsenal Football Club signed two of Hauge’s clients, Pal Lydersen and John Jensen.

Graham eventually got fired in February of the 1995/95 season because of this and was also banned from managing the club by the Football Association for a year.

Knighton’s Little Silver Pills: 1924/25


Arsenal Football Club was created in 1886 and somehow remained scandal-free for nearly 40 years from then on. The first one can be traced back to Leslie Knighton’s management days in the season of 1924/25.

Knighton was never the club’s most popular manager, but it was also alleged that he gave his players little silver pills that a doctor from Harley Street prescribed for their FA Cup First Round game against West Ham. After swallowing these illegally obtained pills, the players performed extraordinarily well, and it’s thought that this is the first instance of drug cheating in football. While this is now heavily regulated in every sport, from soccer players to the horses that bettors look for online betting odds for, it wasn’t commonplace in the 1920s!

Mark Arber’s Underhand Bet: (2013/14)


Mark Arber, the Arsenal Academy coach, got into a world of trouble when it came to light that he’d used insider knowledge to win money on a bet concerning Mezut Ozil being signed to Arsenal.

Ozil signed for the side under Arsene Wenger’s management for just over £40 million towards the end of the transfer window in 2013. Arber then posted on Twitter that he had a great bit of 14:1 Mesut. Arber’s father, Bob, was a scout for Arsenal. Accusations then got made that Arber had had some help in placing the bet that Ozil was joining the Gunners. Arber had not been researching odds before the race. His dad had helped him!


FA rules prohibited players and personnel from placing bets on games or markets related to professional football. The FA declined to press charges against Arber for his behaviour, but Arsenal exhibited a zero-tolerance policy and chose to terminate their association with him in light of the available evidence.


Pizzagate (2004/05)


Sometimes referred to as the Battle of the Buffet, Pizzagate occurred when relations between Arsenal and top club Manchester United, their title rivals, were at their lowest point. After a turbulent Old Trafford game in October 2004 that saw United take the game as winners with a final score of 2–0, everything went crazy in the tunnel between the staff of both teams and the players. The incident’s highlight was the allegation that Cesc Febregas from Arsenal threw a slice of pizza at Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of the Red Devils.

Image from: unsplash.com

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