20th November 1990
A week had passed since the Football Association had passed their judgement on the events at Old Trafford the previous month with much said and done about it. Arsenal considered their response quietly; United’s collective knees jerked with a bad case of St Vitus Dance.
The day after the clubs had suffered their points deductions, the then United chairman Martin Edwards, declared that football was “going down a dangerous road”, before adding that they believed it was going to be a slap on the wrist for them as it was a first offence, similar to the £20,000 Arsenal had received the previous season.
Edwards had a tenuous grip on logic though. He questioned whether “an 18-second flare-up” was more of an offence than “a team consistently kicking its way to points or survival throughout the season.” I’m not sure how the two compare but I’m sure Martin did.
He reckoned without the power of television – the game had been beamed live into living rooms around the world – and the determination of the governing body to show everyone they were in charge. Having dealt with hooligans on the terraces, they weren’t about to let ones on the pitch run riot.
The mood at Old Trafford had changed. On the day of Bryan Robson’s testimonial against Celtic, United announced that they were accepting their punishment, following Arsenal’s lead. As Arsenal, United had won comfortably at the weekend which may have influenced their thinking: two points regained seemed to be the mantra.
Arsenal meanwhile hadn’t spoken much since the flurry of fines. Ken Friar noted that the club preferred to deal with matters behind closed doors, despite the very public admonishment of players and manager. Peter Hill-Wood made it abundantly clear that whilst the club didn’t approve or condone either the initial incident or the FA’s punishment, they had “to do the right thing as we see it”.
Jim Kerr’s love wasn’t the only thing alive and kicking; the Establishment Club was still working behind the scenes.