The 1989 League Title Is Handed To Arsenal On This Day, 4th June 1976

Until this rule change, the Football League used Goal Average (goals scored / goals conceded) to decide final positions when points were level. Changing to Goal Difference first and foremost, followed by goals scored was not universally popular with many old hands noting quite correctly that goal average was less likely to have two or more teams finishing with identical records.

Arsenal benefitted from goal average to become Champions. They would benefit 23 years later as the win at Anfield gave them the League title on goals scored. Had goal average been in existence, the 2 – 0 victory would have been heroic failure with Liverpool taking the title. Arsenal would have needed to win 5 – 0 under those rules.

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2 thoughts on “The 1989 League Title Is Handed To Arsenal On This Day, 4th June 1976

  1. My guess is that it was about this time that the error in Arsenal’s league position in 1914-15 was spotted. At the end of that season the official records showed that Birmingham finished fifth in the second division, one place above Arsenal on goal average. However, someone miscalculated the teams’ goal average and Arsenal should have finished fifth above Birmingham. This remained ingrained in the records until some tim in the mid-1970s when someone noticed the error. You can check the old Arsenal handbooks to see this.

    At the time there were two main sports papers: Athletic News and The Sportsman. Strangely, Athletic News showed the final table for 1914-15 with Birmingham fifth and Arsenal sixth whilst The Sportsman had Arsenal fifth and Birmingham sixth. It looks like Athletic News was seen as the newspaper with the most influence (which helped us in 1919 but that is another story!).

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