Football League: The annual meeting of 1901

May 17, 1901
The annual meeting of the Football League was held yesterday at the Mosley Hotel, Manchester, Mr. John James Bentley, president, in the chair.

Introducing the business of the meeting, Mr. Bentley briefly summed up the events of the season just passes, and after expressing the satisfaction that the transfer business had been arranged so amicably, and that the League had gained its point, referring to the subject of the proposed amalgamation with the Southern League, the President said that nothing definite had been arranged up to the present, but that prospects were much brighter than was the case twelve months ago.

He was fully aware that it would be a good thing if an International League could be formed, and he had hopes that such would be an accomplished fact in another year.

In accordance with notice given, Preston North End, represented by Mr. Houghton, moved an increase in the number of clubs forming the League from 36 to 40, meaning 20 in each division.

Mr. Houghton said he submitted his proposition purely from the point of view that such increase would be beneficial to the League.

Considering their financial positions, League clubs generally could hardly refuse an opportunity of making more money.

There was abundance of proof that the fixtures could be fitted in – the opening night of the season, for instance, when club followers were in a state of expectancy, and when past history adduced the fact that such opening night was almost equivalent to a Saturday.

Then holiday dates could be utilized better than they were – suiting the different localities of course.

Friendly matches were rank failures.

As showing what a club could get through during a season without its vitality being impaired, Tottenham Hotspur had played upwards 50 matches and finished up with a brilliant triumph in the English Cup Competition.

Another matter of importance was that in adding to their number they were making the League more solid.

The League must spread itself further and further, and this would be a step in the right direction. He knew that twenty-four clubs were in favour of the proposed alteration, and if the remaining twelve voted against, it would be a case of “the tail wagging the head.”

Mr. Sutcliffe (Burnley) seconded. All clubs he said had not found the golden opportunity of making both ends meet.

They wanted all possible means of providing money. Unfortunately some of them were very unlucky when it came to Cup-tie – that without necessarily being the worst team.

When a club had done with Cup-ties, its resources were being drained – there no corresponding income.

For that reason he thought the richer clubs should show a consideration for those clubs who needed the fullest opportunities in the way of League matches.

All would be gainers by the new arrangement.

By fixing as many League matches as possible in the early part of the season he was sure the League could be worked with forty clubs.

Mr. John Henry Strawson (Lincoln), in supporting, pointed out the significant fact that while every extension of the League up to the present had been rigidly opposed, those set their face against them were now among the staunchest adherents of such extensions, simply because every extension had been beneficial.

There had been vacant dates with 18 clubs, and that meant loss.

These were ticklish times.

In spite of the diplomacy which had always been exercised by the Management Committee, the League had passed through a somewhat acute crisis. Such crisis would occur again, and the more strength and importance that could be bestowed upon the Football League the less danger there would be when trouble arose again.

Mr. Frederick Rinder (Aston Villa), though somewhat sorry to oppose the proposition, observed that some of the representatives who had apparently promised their votes seemed to lose sight of the fact that football was practically a Saturday afternoon game for the masses, also that there could be too much football, and that there was only a certain amount of money to be spent on football. They could not get people to come and watch games two or three times a week.

Mid-week matches only yielded on the average one-third the money taken on Saturdays. There was a match for every Saturday as it was, and they had had an experience during the past season of the upset occasioned by two week-ends being vacant owing to the death of the Queen.

It was all very well to led away by sympathy, but he believed the loss to the clubs under the rearrangement suggested and playing on week-days would far exceed any benefits hinted at.

On a vote being taken 24 declared for and 13 against the proposed extension, and as the motion failed to gain the requisite two-thirds majority it was lost. The composition of the League accordingly remains unaltered.

Bury moved that: – “Visiting clubs shall take one-third the gross receipts in all League matches, exclusive of the amount taken at the stands.”

Mr. Hamer maintained that the receipts in League matches were not earned solely by the ground club. The visitors had an equal share in the attraction. The few clubs should not be entitled to everything simply because they were more fortunately priced.

The proposal also maintained to some extent the risk attaching to unfavourable weather.

Mr. Houghton seconded, remarking that if things went on as at present League football of the better class would be driven to a few large towns.

Mr. Rinder, Mr. McKenna, and Mr. Heaven each argued that there was no equity in the proposal.

If all League clubs had the same amount of covered accommodation, there would, they said, be no grumbling.

It was also pointed out on behalf of Aston Villa and Liverpool that thousands of pounds had been raised for grand stands by private enterprise, not a penny having come from the public thereto until such stands had been opened.

Mr. Sutcliffe was of opinion that if those clubs who had covered accommodation would vote for the proposal it would enable those who had not such accommodation to properly equip their grounds.

Mr. Hamer said that the capital for building stands which had been raised by private enterprise would not have been forthcoming but for the assurance that the future income would wipe out the liability.

On a vote being taken only 13 hands were held up in favour of the proposal, which was therefore lost.

Walsall, Stockport County, and Burton Swifts were the last three clubs in the Second Division, and, according to rule, dropped out.

They all sought re-election, and the voting with respect to the various applicants resulted as follows: – Burton Swifts, 23; Bristol City, 23; Stockport County, 21; Doncaster Rovers, 13; Stalybridge Celtic, 7; Walsall, 7; Crewe Alexandra, 5; Southport Central, 5; Darwen, 0.

The three clubs first named therefore become members of the Second Division for next season.

The election of officers resulted in Mr. John James Bentley being re-appointed president, Messrs. T.H. Sidney, John Lewis, vice presidents; Messrs. H.S. Radford, W.W.W. Hart, Charles Sutcliffe, and George Leavey, on the Management Committee; and Mr. Harry Lockett, secretary.
(Lancashire Evening Post: May 18, 1901)

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