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GCR Books

Arsenal play at Wembley in the Champions League

By Tony Attwood

Arsenal had a number of occasions where they moved out if Highbury to play elsewhere.  During the second world war Highbury was used as an ARP station and was bombed.  Arsenal’s war time league matches were play at White Hart Lane – the reverse of the situation in the first world war when Tottenham moved into Highbury.

In 1998/99 Arsenal played their champions league matches at Wembley.  One reason that has been given is that Uefa demanded higher advertising hoardings and so reduced the number of seats.  But it is also more than likely that the club were looking to prove to their bankers that the Arsenal of the 21st century would be able to attract crowds of 60,000 plus on a regular basis.

During the discussions on Arsenal’s possible move to a new stadium, David Dein was a strong advocate of sharing Wembley stadium and it is likely he was a central advocate of the  move to Wembley for the Champions League matches.

In the end Arsenal moved for only two seasons: 1998/9 and 1999/2000.   After that Arsenal gave up on the experiment.  Wembley was not available anyway, because of its re-development, and there was no need to prove the matter further.  Arsenal had virtually sold out each game, despite a poor showing over both years resulting in a record of two wins, one draw and three defeats.

So it was back to Highbury, and the move to the Emirates was begun.

Here are the details of the two seasons:

1988/9

This was the first Champions League campaign for seven years before. 

  • 16 September 1998: Lens 1 Arsenal 1
  • 30 September 1998: Arsenal 2 Panathinaikos 1
  • 21 October 1998 Arsenal 1 Dynamo Kiev
  • 4 November 1998: Dynamo Kyiv 3 Arsenal 1
  • 25 November 1998: Arsenal 0 Lens 1
  • 9 December 1998: Panathinaikos 1 Arsenal 3

In the following season Arsenal did even worse, only getting one victory in the six games.

  • 14 September 1999: Piorentina 0 Arsenal 0
  • 22 September 1999: Arsenal 3 AIK 1
  • 29 September 1999: Barcelona 1 Arsenal 1
  • 19 October 1999: Arsenal 2 Barcelona 4
  • 27 October 1999: Arsenal 0 Fiorentina 1
  • 2 November 1999: AIK 2 Arsenal 3

Here is a list of Arsenal’s crowds for these games

30 September 1998 Panathinaikos Champions League 2-1 73,455
21 October 1998 Dynamo Kiev Champions League 1-1 73,256
25 November 1998 Racing Club de Lens Champions League 0-1 73,707
22 September 1999 AIK Champions League 3-1 71,227
19 October 1999 Barcelona Champions League 2-4 73,091
27 October 1999 Fiorentina Champions League 0-1 73,336

 

The books…

 

3 comments to Arsenal play at Wembley in the Champions League

  • Tony Hill

    What was the capacity of Wembley for those games? It says Arsenal sold out yet only 73000 attended.

  • I think 73,000 was about the capacity. Wembley was built to hold 100,000 in the days when standing was allowed. They then put benches in on the old terraces when the seater only stadia rule came in, and it took the ground down to around 73,000

  • Josif

    Actually, Tony, we had the same record in both our Wembley seasons (2-2-2). In both seasons we got two victories over one team from the group (Panathinaikos and AIK respectively).

    Our draw in Florence could have been avoided if Kanu had converted a penalty. The game ended 0:0 and with Batistuta wonder-strike at Wembley, we were out of the competition with one game left.

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