Birth of professionalism

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ScottishFA
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Birth of professionalism

Post by ScottishFA » Mon Sep 14, 2015 2:49 pm

Hopefully someone can help with a query relating to a project I am working on about early professionals. It is well known that professionalism was first accepted in England in 1885 and Scotland in 1893.

But when was professionalism actually outlawed in the first place? In the very early years there was a general understanding that players were amateurs, until a few Scots were tempted south from about 1878 onwards and were (allegedly!) paid money. Legislation must have been introduced by the FA and the SFA after that date, but I haven't found out when this happened.

Any guidance appreciated.

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Re: Birth of professionalism

Post by BMCCOLL » Mon Sep 14, 2015 3:12 pm

I'd believe that it was always was illegal. I don't think the Scots tempted south were officially paid to play, being given 'jobs' in the local works that didn't exert them too much!
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Re: Birth of professionalism

Post by BMCCOLL » Tue Sep 29, 2015 4:14 am

Andy, I think you went some way to answering this in your latest blog...

"Darwen was first to take full advantage, with the club perhaps open minded about the morality of paying footballers (which was not in fact outlawed by the FA until 1882)"

From this it looks as if the paying of players was frowned upon but not illegal. The northern successes probably prompted the southern amateur clubs to to put the brakes on these payments.
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Re: Birth of professionalism

Post by Snuff » Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:35 am

Reading Andy's original post on this topic got me thinking.

Perhaps the Darwen approach was a 19th century version of the manner in which David Murray at MIM and the other Scottish basketball clubs were able to bring in North American players in the late 1970s and 1980s.

These imports could not be imported as "professional basketball players", but, they could be brought in as "basketball development officers" - to coach school kids (some more than others), to give their local clubs a higher profile, oh, and they can play for the clubs who employ them as development officers at the weekend.

Thus, the pretence of amateurism was maintained - sort of.

Without the titles, the same plan probably worked for Darwen and so-forth.

Slightly off-topic: I recall the late Gordon Brown (Broon Frae Troon) telling me about the Barry John Farewell Match in Cardiff, in which he was named Man of the Match. This game, to bid farewell to "King" John, was a sort of last get-together of the legendary 1971 British Lions, so, there was a bit of catching-up to do.

Brown was asking Mervyn Davies what he was doing, "Merv The Swerve" having given-up teaching in London to return to Swansea.

"I'm playing rugby for Swansea", Davies replied.

"Not full-time, you cannot do that", observed Broon.

"True, I am paid as a PR person for a large Swansea company, but, all they ask me to do is train and play for Swansea", Davies replied.

I reckon that's all the "Scotch Professors" were asked to do in Darwen, Preston and elsewhere.
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Re: Birth of professionalism

Post by bluedragon » Tue Sep 29, 2015 10:56 am

BMCCOLL wrote:Andy, I think you went some way to answering this in your latest blog...

"Darwen was first to take full advantage, with the club perhaps open minded about the morality of paying footballers (which was not in fact outlawed by the FA until 1882)"

From this it looks as if the paying of players was frowned upon but not illegal. The northern successes probably prompted the southern amateur clubs to to put the brakes on these payments.
I am wondering about the influence of cricket on football with regard to professionalism? Many East Lancashire towns like Darwen have cricket clubs formed around the 1860's although league cricket did not start until around the early 1890's. I am wondering if these local clubs - most with close connections to football clubs - paid a professional(s) even in the early days? So the footballers in the area did not think it was a big deal paying their players and once one started local rivalry meant other clubs quickly caught on? England Test cricketer Sydney Barnes found it more lucrative to play Lancashire League cricket - and still get selected for England! - than to play County cricket.

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Re: Birth of professionalism

Post by BMCCOLL » Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:40 pm

It's always perplexed me why professionalism in cricket was welcomed but not for football. Class issues considering the FA decree in 1882?
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Re: Birth of professionalism

Post by bluedragon » Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:03 am

BMCCOLL wrote:It's always perplexed me why professionalism in cricket was welcomed but not for football. Class issues considering the FA decree in 1882?
I think money was always part of cricket's fabric from matches played for purses to the paid professional and the gentleman players only playing for expenses. Doctor WG Grace was an amateur but earned more from cricket than any professional of his day. The entrance price for matches when the great Doctor played was increased. However, he recognised his drawing power and going out of his way to play in benefit matches for the professionals to increase receipts. He also recognised that it was a spectator sport. In one game, presumably when the admission fee had been increased, he was given out by the umpire early in his innings. Looking at the umpire but pointing at the crowd he said "they have come to see me bat not him bowl!" The umpire rapidly reversed his decision!

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Re: Birth of professionalism

Post by ScottishFA » Wed Sep 30, 2015 8:17 am

Thanks for the responses so far. Obviously my question related to my research into Partick and Darwen, and it does seem as though professionalism in football was not actually outlawed in England until February 1882 - prompting a furious debate at the FA which was resolved three years later. So, in effect, the early recruiters of paid players like Darwen, Blackburn, Bolton etc were not breaking any football rules although they did upset the amateur ethos of the London-based FA. There were, of course, other restrictions before 1882 such as local residency for county competitions, or being a 'bona fide' member of a club, and it gets a bit complicated working out what was allowed and when.

All that applies to England, however. When did the Scottish FA first specifically ban payment of players?

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Re: Birth of professionalism

Post by BMCCOLL » Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:31 am

Maybe Forrest could enlighten us, although I think that Queen's Park being the most powerful club would have held sway over the rest.
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Re: Birth of professionalism

Post by bluedragon » Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:47 am

This is just an idea but I will offer it up anyway but I am sure Andy will have checked this out. I have come across the SFA's "Business and Professional Committee" from around this time that seemed to have full authority to deal with matters of professionalism. If the SFA set up a committee they would have give them terms of reference that might give some clues? However, in my very limited research the Committee appears to be reactive, i.e. banning Scots returning from England, adjudicating on claims of professionalism, etc. rather than setting policy on professionalism.

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Re: Birth of professionalism

Post by ScottishFA » Thu Oct 01, 2015 10:05 am

I'm getting towards the Scottish answer. The SFA Handbook for 1884/85 has a paragraph headed 'Professionalism' in its annual report. It reads:

This subject has received very earnest consideration from your Committee, who consider that the time has now come for your hearty co-operation with the English Association, for the suppression of this unmitigated evil. A measure dealing with it in the severest manner was drawn up by your Committee, and they recommend it for adoption as a permanent rule.'

And in the SFA Constitution and Rules, it reads: 'All players found guilty of receiving remuneration for their services beyond their reasonable and legitimate expenses shall be disqualified from playing in any Club under the jurisdiction of the Association for a period of two years. The onus of disproving any such charge against him shall rest with the player, who shall be bound to give a clear and satisfactory explanation of all circumstances connected with his case, failing which he shall be held guilty as libelled, and dealt with accordingly. Clubs found guilty of knowingly securing the services of any player under such circumstances, or of admitting any player to their membership during his term of suspension, shall be liable to expulsion from the Association.'

I don't have access to the previous couple of handbooks so can't be sure if this is the first rule, but it is certainly strong stuff - 'unmitigated evil'! And players assumed to be guilty until they can prove their innocence. Yet this was a full two years after the English FA introduced a similar rule, which infers that Scottish clubs were slow to catch on to the idea of paying players, which in turn explains the exodus southwards.

There doesn't seem to be much in the Scottish press about professionalism at that time, so it was very much perceived as an English issue. There was certainly much gnashing of teeth about it in the London area by the early-mid 1880s.

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