Having secured the League and FA Cup double, Arsenal were intent on maximising their commercial potential. Arranging pre-season friendlies against Benfica – home and away – plus Feyenoord was not exceptional. Refusing to play the traditional pre-season curtain raiser, the FA Charity Shield certainly was.
Since the end of World War II, the Champions had played the FA Cup winners on all but two occasions. The first exception being 1950 when England’s ill-fated World Cup squad played a touring Canadian XI, presumably in the hope that they could prove the defeat to the United States of America earlier in that summer had been a fluke whilst the other was Tottenham’s 1961 double-winning team played an FA XI.
Arsenal started a trend. Leicester City (Second Division champions) took their place and beat Liverpool (FA Cup runners-up) by a single goal at Filbert Street. 1972 and 1973 also saw the champions and FA Cup winners fail to participate. This led the Football Association to revamp the contest, moving it to Wembley and making participation from the Champions and FA Cup winners mandatory.
The first of the new ‘style’ matches in 1974, probably made them wish that they had not bothered with Kevin Keegan and Billy Bremner both dismissed in an ill-tempered match that caused several members of the FA Committee to spontaneously combust. Or at least judging by the media reaction, you would think that is what happened.
So by their actions, Arsenal once more shaped the modern game.