This is the funniest thing I have seen in ages. This newspaper report, found by Arsenal historian Mark Andrews (@RoyalArsenalMRA), is from 1974, shortly after George Armstrong got a testimonial from Arsenal for his 12 years of service to that point, and having just passed the landmark of 500 first team matches.
George made a good profit from his testimonial, at a time when players could not afford to sit on their backsides for the rest of their lives when their careers on the pitch finished.
His organising committee persuaded Barcelona, with Johan Cruyff, probably the best player in the world at that time, to come to Arsenal for expenses only, leaving the vast majority of the gate money for George. Arsenal paid for a reception for the visitors, and though Armstrong had to fork out for policing, gatemen and printing programmes, a crowd of over 36,000 and a programme at 10p, twice the usual price, probably meant he didn’t mind that too much. Regular seat prices at Arsenal were 90p to £1.90, while it was 45p to stand on the terraces.
Compare that with the unfortunate Phil Beal of Tottenham. Beal’s career spanned almost the same years as Armstrong’s. He’d also done 12 years, though 100 games fewer than Geordie, when he got his testimonial in December 1973. His organisers got Bayern Munich over to Tottenham, but agreed to pay the Germans a guaranteed £11,500. Big mistake. Unfortunately only 19,000 turned up to watch, and because of power shortages they needed to pay £500 for a generator, which equates to the gross entrance money for over 1,000 people.
Spurs of course knew afterwards that Beal wasn’t going to profit from the event, but this didn’t stop them charging him a few extras just to add insult to injury. I feel slightly sorry for him, but this really does make me laugh. His own club, knowing he’d lost £1,500 on a testimonial after playing for them for 12 years, charged him £5 for use of the PA system during the game. What were the announcements? “Where are the rest of you?” “This announcement is costing 25p.” Then they charged £41 for Securicor to take the gate money to the bank! Could they really have rubbed that one in any more? He’s lost a few months wages, but they blithely charge him more to carry money around for him. Utterly brilliant. Bravo, Tottenham Hotspur. Alanis Morrisette really should have included this incident in that song of hers.
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