Frank Stapleton’s Forged Passport Ban Hits Arsenal On This Day, 16th June 1975

Nobody could ever accuse football authorities of a knee-jerk reaction. Violence had marred the Champions Cup Final between Leeds United and Bayern Munich in Paris. The Yorkshire club received a four-year ban for their supporters part in riots before, during and after the match.

Slipped into the Uefa Disciplinary Hearing report is a suspension that could have changed history. The opening goal in the 1979 FA Cup Final would have been scored by someone else. If Arsenal had reached it, of course.

The sentence was commuted. It was irrelevant for Arsenal were concerned – would this have entered into the minds of the suits in their decision? They had missed out on European football for a second consecutive season and would not venture onto foreign fields until the decade drew. The double-era squad and management were all but gone and this was a big club in transition.

Born in July 1956, he was on the verge of his nineteenth birthday so well past the deadline. The Republic of Ireland were still over a decade away from qualifying for a major international competition and the chance for the youngster to play at that level presumably too good an opportunity to resist.

Or perhaps it was just a bloody stupid idea.

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