Arsenal to get a place on the political map
New council voting district near Highbury set to mark importance of historic football club
10 January, 2020 — By Calum Fraser
Arsene Wenger was given the Freedom of Islington in 2004
ARSENAL fans have hailed plans to name a council ward after the club as a “fantastic honour” that recognises the club’s history in Islington.
Plans to redraw the borough’s political map have been submitted to the government by the independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England, with the recommendation that one of the reshaped wards is named simply “Arsenal”.
The proposal has been welcomed by the club and members of the London Arsenal Supporters Club (LASC) who say they are “delighted”.
Steve Kell, who is on the LASC executive committee, said: “I love it. It recognises Arsenal’s importance in the area. What a great thing to be able to say, ‘we have a ward named after us’.”
LASC was formed in 1949 and is based in St Thomas’s Road, a stone’s throw from the old Highbury stadium in Avenell Road and the new Emirates Stadium in Hornsey Road.
Mr Kell added: “I am not a local resident so I don’t know if there are local implications for the boundary move but purely as an Arsenal fan who has supported the club all my life, this is fantastic.”
The Tribune asked the Boundary Commission whether any other football club had had a ward named after them.
A spokesman said: “The names of new council wards in Islington come as a result of two phases of consultation with local people and organisations.
Arsenal was put to us as a name that residents would recognise and is in line with the naming of local transport amenities.
“We are not aware of other wards being named in this specific way recently but it is very common for them to be named after well-known local landmarks as is the case here.”
An Arsenal spokesman said: “Arsenal has been a big part of the local community since 1913. Islington is very much our home and we were proud to keep our new stadium in the local area when we moved from Highbury in 2006.”
He added: “We await the final decision on this but it would clearly be further recognition of our place in the local community.”
Gillespie Road tube station was renamed Arsenal in 1932, in a move that rivals Spurs have been pushing to copy with transport stops at their new stadium.
The Gunners had been formed by ammunitions workers in Woolwich, south-east London, in 1886 before moving to north London just before the outbreak of the First World War.
The Commission’s final recommendations propose that Islington should be represented by 51 councillors in the future, three more than the current arrangement.
The recommendations also propose that those councillors should represent 17 three-councillor wards. All wards except one have been changed with the Highbury West ward being renamed Arsenal.
The club has always taken the time to celebrate its trophy successes at the council, with open top bus parades showing off silverware usually ending at the Town Hall.
In 2004, Arsenal’s most successful manager, Arsene Wenger, was awarded the freedom of the borough in recognition of his achievement – including leading the only team to have gone unbeaten for an entire league season. His line-up was known as “The Invincibles”.
The Commission has also amended its draft proposals to make changes to the boundaries of Hillrise and Junction wards to make the boundary along the rear of Miranda Road.
As the Tribune previously reported, residents between Highbury Grove and Highbury Fields were enraged by plans to move their area into Mildmay ward. The Commission has rolled back this plan.
The proposals will now go before Parliament and if they are approved they will come into force at the next local elections in 2022.