Football League

Football League: The annual meeting of 1898


May 20, 1898
The annual meeting of the English Football League was held at the Old Boar Hotel, Manchester, yesterday. The report showed that financially the season had not been so successful for the League funds. The cash account showed a deficiency of £62 14s 11d.

Mr John James Bentley, who occupied the chair, after congratulating Sheffield United on their success in gaining premier honours, went on to refer to the Players’ Union. He said that the League were not averse to the Union, but, from what he had heard and read, the players seemed to have a tendency to get outside legitimate limits. One club, with which he was at one time connected, paid wages to the extent of £16 per week, but now the same club was paying £80 per week. It seemed to him that if the players could obtain that sum in wages, there was not a great necessity for the Players’ Union.

West Bromwich Albion’s action in refusing to allow Williams to play in the inter-League match was the next matter for discussion. Mr Haven (Albion) replied briefly by stating that the matter had been dealt with in correspondence between his Club and the Management Committee. The matter did not proceed further.

The three retiring Clubs in the Second League were Lincoln City, Loughborough, and Darwen, and they sought readmission. Other applicants were Burslem Port Vale, Bristol City, Nelson, New Brighton, Barnsley St. Peter’s, and Bristol Eastville Rovers. Lincoln City, Burslem Port Vale, and Loughborough were successful in their claims, and were the elected clubs.

The proposed extension of the League was then dealt with. The first proposal was made by Woolwich Arsenal –
That the First Division shall consist of 16 Clubs, and that there be two Second Divisions of 16 Clubs each of the north and south representatives, line being drawn dividing the two districts; that the top two Clubs in each of the Second Divisions shall play test matches with each other, and the two winners shall take the place of the bottom two in Division One.

Burnley proposed that the League should consist of 36 Clubs, divided into two division, 18 Clubs to form the First Division and 18 the Second Division. Mr Ord (Preston North End) seconded this proposal.
Aston Villa proposed that the League consist of 42 Clubs, Division One to consist of 24 Clubs, to be geographically divided into northern and southern sections of twelve Clubs each; that the three Clubs of each sub-section play home-and-home matches to settle their relative positions on the League list; and that the top Clubs replace the two bottom Clubs in Division One; and that, in the event of the previous proposition falling through, the test matches be done away with – the two bottom Clubs in Division One to be replaced by the two top Clubs in Division Two. Mr McKenna, of Liverpool seconded.

The three proposals were then discussed by the meeting. The Burnley proposal was eventually put to the vote, and was accepted, 27 votes being recorded in its favour, the Woolwich Arsenal and Aston Villa propositions being rejected.
Mr Albut (Newton Heath) proposed that the two Clubs to go into the First League be elected there and then. This motion was carried, and several Clubs were nominated for the vacant positions.
The voting by ballot resulted in Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United being elected to the First Division of the League next season. Mr Sutcliffe proposed that the test matches should be abolished, and that the top Clubs in the Second League take the place of the two bottom Clubs in the First League. Mr Whalley, of Derby, seconded the resolution, which was carried unanimously. This was all the business of interest.
(Evening Telegraph: May 21, 1898)

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