Arsenal were founded as Dial Square in 1886 by a group of workers employed by the Dial Square workshop at the Royal Arsenal, an armaments factory in Woolwich, Kent. They were led by a Scotsman, David Danskin, who purchased the club's first football, and Jack Humble. Among their number was the former Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Fred Beardsley, who would later along with Morris Bates obtain a set of red kits from his old club, thus giving Arsenal the colours they still wear today. Dial Square played their first match on 11 December 1886 against Eastern Wanderers on an open field on the Isle of Dogs, which they won 6–0. The club were renamed Royal Arsenal soon after, reportedly on Christmas Day. Initially the club played on Plumstead Common, but soon sought alternative homes, firstly the Sportsman Ground in Plumstead before moving to the adjacent Manor Ground in 1888. Unhappy with the Manor Ground's poor facilities, the club moved to the nearby Invicta Ground in 1890, before returning to the Manor Ground three years later as the Invicta Ground's rent proved too expensive.
During this period, Royal Arsenal started to win local trophies, winning both the Kent Senior Cup and London Charity Cup in 1889–90 and the London Senior Cup in 1890–91; they also entered the FA Cup for the first time in 1889–90. However, the gulf between Arsenal and the professional sides from the North soon became apparent, and Arsenal faced the threat of their amateur players being lured away by the money professional sides could offer. Royal Arsenal's move to professionalism in 1891 was frowned upon by many of the amateur southern clubs, and they were banned from participating in local competitions by the London Football Association. With friendlies and the FA Cup the only matches available for Royal Arsenal, they attempted to set up a southern equivalent of The Football League, but the move failed. The club changed its name to Woolwich Arsenal in 1893 when it formed a limited liability company to raise capital to purchase the Manor Ground. Woolwich Arsenal's future looked bleak until the Football League came to their rescue by inviting them to join in 1893. Arsenal were the first Southern club to enter the League, initially joining the Second Division; in response, some of the club's amateur players who rejected professionalism and wanted a workers' team to represent just the Royal Arsenal, broke away to form a short-lived alternative side, Royal Ordnance Factories. Woolwich Arsenal played in the Second Division for eleven seasons, and generally occupied mid-table before the appointment of Harry Bradshaw as manager in 1899; Bradshaw and his star signings, including goalkeeper Jimmy Ashcroft (Arsenal's first England international) and captain Jimmy Jackson, won promotion to the First Division in 1903–04. However, Bradshaw moved on to Fulham in May 1904, before the Gunners had kicked a ball in the top flight. Despite some strong performances in the FA Cup Arsenal were never able to challenge for the League title, only twice finishing above tenth place in the First Division between 1904 and 1913.
The cause of this decline was the club's ongoing financial problems; despite the boom in football during the early 20th century, the club's geographic isolation, in the relatively underpopulated area of Plumstead, meant attendances and thus income were low. To stay afloat, Woolwich Arsenal were forced to sell their star players (including Ashcroft, as well as Tim Coleman and Bert Freeman), and slowly started to slip down the table, which compounded their financial situation as crowds fell. By the end of the decade the average attendance at Manor Ground was 11,000, a little over half of what it had been in 1904. The club were close to bankruptcy, and in 1910 went into voluntary liquidation before being bought out by a consortium of businessmen; the largest shareholder amongst the new owners was the property magnate Sir Henry Norris, who was also the chairman of Fulham. Norris was acutely aware of the problems associated with Woolwich Arsenal's location, and was desperate to improve the club's income. First, Norris tried to merge Woolwich Arsenal with his other club, Fulham. When that was blocked by the Football League, Norris abandoned the merger and looked to move the club elsewhere, eventually picking a site in Highbury, north London. Despite objections both from Woolwich-based fans and residents of Highbury, Norris tenaciously saw the move through. He reportedly spent £125,000 on building the new stadium, on a divinity college's playing fields. Woolwich Arsenal moved there in the 1913 close season, having finished bottom and relegated to the Second Division in 1912–13. They replaced the "Woolwich" in their name with "The" in April 1914, finally becoming plain "Arsenal" in November 1919, although the press at the time continued to refer to them as "The Arsenal" and some still do. The move to Highbury brought about much larger crowds; the average attendance in Arsenal's first season at the new ground was 23,000 and rose further after promotion in 1919, finally warding off the spectre of financial ruin.
Highbury could hold more than 60,000 spectators at its peak, and had a capacity of 57,000 until the early 1990s. The Taylor Report and Premier League regulations obliged Arsenal to convert Highbury to an all-seater stadium in time for the 1993–94 season, thus reducing the capacity to 38,419 seated spectators. This capacity had to be reduced further during Champions League matches to accommodate additional advertising boards, so much so that for two seasons, from 1998 to 2000, Arsenal played Champions League home matches at Wembley. In 2000 Arsenal proposed building a new 60,361-capacity stadium at Ashburton Grove, since named the Emirates Stadium, about 500 metres south-west of Highbury. The project was initially delayed by red tape and rising costs, and construction was completed in July 2006, in time for the start of the 2006–07 season. The stadium was named after its sponsors, the airline company Emirates, with whom the club signed the largest sponsorship deal in English football history, worth around £100 million; some fans referred to the ground as Ashburton Grove, or the Grove, as they did not agree with corporate sponsorship of stadium names. The stadium will be officially known as Emirates Stadium until at least 2028, and the airline will be the club's shirt sponsor until the end of the 2018–19 season. From the start of the 2010–11 season on, the stands of the stadium have been officially known as North Bank, East Stand, West Stand and Clock end.
For Guide Dog users the stadium provides a guide dog toilet area, with Arsenal being first Premier League club to provide such a facility. The Disabled Supporters Lounge is open for disabled supporters (and their enablers) before every home game at Emirates Stadium, (excluding the Emirates Cup week end and International Friendlies). For week end games the Lounge opens from 2 hours before kick -off and closes 25 minutes before the game starts. For mid-week games the Lounge opens from 6.00pm and closes 25 minutes before the game starts. The Lounge is equipped with two large screen TV’s and there is also free tea and coffee available. A wheelchair accessible toilet facility is also available. Visually impaired supporters can sit anywhere they choose as Emirates Stadium offers free audio. Arsenal F.C. also provide a free podcast service which provides audio commentary of all of their games the day after every match.
They have Self-Guide Audio tours where you can explore areas such as the Directors Box, Home and Away Changing Rooms, Players Tunnel, Pitchside and much more. All visits include free entry to the Arsenal Museum, branded Arsenal headphones and tour certificate. In addition they offer Legend tours for £40.00 where you will be shown around by a hero from the past who will reveal his thoughts on the current team, his playing days and any news from the inner sanctum of Arsenal Football Club. Legends Tours are last 1 hour approx. All tour guests receive complimentary entry to the Arsenal Museum after their tour. There is a museum where you can immerse yourself in the history of Arsenal Football Club and follow the story of the Club's formation in 1886 right through to the present day. Exhibits include Michael Thomas' boots from Anfield '89, Charlie George's 1971 FA Cup Final shirt and Alan Smith's shirt from the 1994 European Cup Winners Cup Final.
Location : Hornsey Road, London N7 7AJ
Transport: Arsenal (Piccadilly) 3 minute walk. Bus Routes: 4, 29, 91, 153, 236, 253, 259 and stop near stadium.
Capacity : 60,260
Stadium Tours: 10.30 to 18.00. Tour Closures
Tickets Stadium Tour: £20.00 adult, £10.00 children, Seniors £15.00
Tickets Museum: £8.00 adult, £5.00 children, Seniors £5.00
Tel: 020 7619 5003