The Football League: The annual meeting of 1897

May 24, 1897
The annual meeting of the Football League was held at the Old Boar’s Head, Manchester, yesterday afternoon. Mr. John James Bentley presided, and the agenda contained several important and interesting items to be considered.

In the printed report Aston Villa were once more congratulated on carrying off the championship, and had equalled Sunderland’s achievement in being triple winners of the League Cup. Notts County were also complimented on their success in getting back into the first division.

They had, unfortunately, for the first time, to report a defeat in their Inter-League engagement at Ibrox Park, Glasgow, on April 24, by three goals to nil. The plea for the League team’s non-success against Scotland was to the effect that circumstances rendered it necessary to play the match at a very late date, when most of the English players were out of training. At the same time, in the play Scotland fully deserved her victory.

The balance-sheet showed a surplus in hand of £302 3s. 9d., which obviated the necessity of appealing to the clubs for funds. In considering the agenda it was decided that the last three clubs in the second division of the league should be the retiring clubs. There were twelve applications for the vacancies, including the retiring clubs, viz., Burton Wanderers, Burton Swifts, Lincoln City, Burslem Port Vale, Crewe Alexandra, Fairfield, Glossop North End, Luton Town, Millwall Athletic, Nelson, Long Eaton Rangers, and New Brighton.

Each of the above-mentioned organisations had representatives to plead for them, with the exception of Millwall Athletic and Long Eaton Rangers.

A vote was taken, and Lincoln City, Burton Swifts, and Luton were elected to the second league. The first two were among the retiring clubs so that Luton replace Burton Wanderers.

Mr. J.J. Bentley was re-elected president of the League, and Mr. Haigh (Sheffield United) and Mr. Sydney (Wolverhampton Wanderers) were elected vice-presidents by ballot. The election of the management committee followed, and two members for each division were elected by ballot, viz.;
First Division: Mr. Molineux (Everton) and Mr. Dunkerly (Aston Villa);
Second Division: Mr. Bellamy (Grimsby) and Mr. Parlby (Manchester City).

Mr. Charles Sutcliffe moved a resolution that the Football League should consist of 36 clubs instead of 32, viz., eighteen in each division. The proposal was seconded by Mr. D. Haigh, of Sheffield United.

Mr. Bellamy, of Grimsby, moved an amendment that the Second Division of the League be augmented by two clubs, and test matches should be played by the third and fourth clubs in the Second Division next season, with the 15th and 16th clubs in Division 1, the two first clubs in the Second Division to go into the First Division without playing test matches, and thus make each League into 18 clubs.

The amendment was lost, and the proposal was defeated by 21 votes to 11.

It was decided that any club or player offering or receiving money as a bribe should be guilty of misconduct.

A proposition by Grimsby that goalkeepers should wear a dress which would distinguish them from all the other players, in order to aid referees in case of handling the ball, was lost.

Mr John McKenna, of Liverpool, proposed that the £10 bonus rule be abolished. He said it was one of the rules of the League which was very often broken. Its abolishment would also be beneficial for clubs and players. Mr. Sutcliffe, of Burnley, in seconding the resolution, said the Scottish clubs held a big advantage.

The proposal was defeated.

Another resolution by Liverpool and neighbouring clubs to give a bonus to their old players was also lost.

It was decided that a conference between the Scottish and English Leagues be arranged, in order to discuss the desirability of recognising the registration forms on each side.
(Source: Liverpool Mercury, 25-05-1897)

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