Bank of England club

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The Bank of England club is a nickname in English association football for a football club which has a strong financial backing. It was used to refer to Arsenal F.C. in the 1930s as well as in recent times for being the last of the Premier League's Big Four clubs to be owned primarily by English investors.[1]

Origins and usage[edit]


Highbury's Art Deco east facade

The name "Bank of England club" or "Bank of England team" caught after the record-breaking spending of Arsenal in the 1920s and 1930s. Bernard Joy recalled that people "sneered at the 'Bank of England' methods of team building" after the five-digit figure paid for David Jack.[2] Arsenal continued to spend considerable sums on other players, including Alex James, and, in 1938, broke the English transfer record again with the purchase of Bryn Jones.

Arsenal's new home in Highbury had provided them with considerable resources, such that, in 1935, they became the first club to earn over £100,000 from gate receipts.[3] Accompanied by £2,500 earned from match day programme sales and financial reserves of over £60,000, the "Bank of England club" moniker became regularly used to describe Arsenal.[4] It was also used to refer to the perceived grandeur of Arsenal's surroundings after the 1930s construction of Highbury's Art Deco stands and terrazzo "Marbled Halls".[5]

This lasted until the Second World War, when Arsenal's Highbury stadium was requisitioned as an Air Raid Precautions post and was bombed. The cost of repairing Highbury and gaining no income from being able to play home Wartime League matches eliminated most of Arsenal's cash reserves, which meant that the "Bank of England club" descriptor gradually became less used and redundant.[4]

In 2011, when Stan Kroenke became the majority shareholder of Arsenal, a number of media commentators observed that the "last domino fell" with the original "Bank of England club" becoming majority owned by foreign investors.[6]


The "Bank of England club" has also been used to describe Sunderland in the late 1940s[7] and the 1950s, where they spent large amounts of money intending to win trophies. However, the move was not successful as Sunderland failed to win any trophies during the period and were relegated in 1958.[8]


Everton have also been labelled as the "Bank of England club" in 1970. This came from chairman John Moores giving manager Harry Catterick large amounts of money to spend. This was successful as Everton won the First Division title in 1970. However, a large exodus of players in the months afterwards meant that Everton were unable to continue as they had done in 1970.[9]


  1. ^ "BBC Sport - US businessman Stan Kroenke agrees bid to buy Arsenal". BBC Sport. 2011-04-11. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  2. ^ Joy, Bernard (2009). Forward, Arsenal! (illustrated, reprint ed.). GCR Books Limited. p. 49. ISBN 9780955921117.
  3. ^ Graham Kelly (2005). Terrace Heroes: The Life and Times of the 1930s Professional Footballer. Routledge. p. 26. ISBN 0714653594.
  4. ^ a b Graham Kelly (2005). Terrace Heroes: The Life and Times of the 1930s Professional Footballer. Routledge. p. 82. ISBN 0714653594.
  5. ^ "The takeover of Arsenal: The most English of football clubs goes American". The Economist. 2011-04-12. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  6. ^ Bond, David. "What does Kroenke's purchase mean for Arsenal?". BBC. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  7. ^ "First XI: FA Cup giant-killings". ESPN. 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  8. ^ "Bank of England club should be warning to Real". Shields Gazette. 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  9. ^ "Everton Football Club". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-04-01.