May 31, 1906
For the second time in three years the Manchester City Football Club has been arraigned and heavily punished by the Football Association in England for contravention of its rules governing the employment of professional players.
At a full council meeting held in London on Thursday, and presided over by Mr. J.C. Clegg (Sheffield), the commission (Messrs. J.C. Clegg, C. Crump, and D.B. Woolfall) reported that, on February 14, 1906, the Manchester City Club addressed a letter to the Football Association complaining of the conduct of Billy Meredith, he having demanded of the club payment of wages whist under suspension, and made threats in consequence of the refusal of the club to comply with his demands.
The council, having appointed the commission to inquire and report upon the matters referred to in the communication from the club, found it necessary not only to make inquiry into the allegations of the club as affecting the conduct of Meredith whilst under suspension, but also the matters relating to the management of the club since 1902.
A commission was appointed in 1905 to inquire into the irregularities in connection with the League match, Aston Villa v. Manchester City, played at Birmingham on April 29, 1905, and in the course of the inquiry statements were made that before the match commenced Billy Meredith, the captain of Manchester City F.C., offered a sum of money to Alex Leake, a player of Aston Villa F.C., to let Manchester City win the match.
The commission having come to the conclusion that the charge was well founded, the council, on August 4, 1905, suspended Billy Meredith from taking any part in football until April 30, 1906. Meredith informed the present commission that it was true he made an offer of £10 to Alex Leake at Birmingham to let his club win the match, and that this offer was made in pursuance of a suggestion by Mr. Tom Maley, the manager, and with approval of other players, Mr. Maley having promised the team a bonus of £100 if they won the League championship or equaled Newcastle United in points.
A scapegoat for others.
The commission is satisfied that Meredith did persistently and improperly demand from the directors of his club, not only the wages to which he would have been entitled had he not been under suspension, but wages at the rate of £6 per week and bonuses for winning and drawing matches. Which the club had agreed and promised to pay him. He said he had allowed himself to be a scapegoat for others, and he expected they would see that he did not suffer monetary loss.
Among other suggestions to this end it was alleged that he asked that a dummy player should be signed on.
In regard to the management of the club, it was admitted that prior to July, 1902 the rules of the association had not been observed. An agreement had been entered into by J.E. Chapman, with Billy Meredith, under which Meredith was to receive £6 per week. Mr. Chapman being desirous of being relieved from his liability obtained the following indemnity from the then chairman and vice-chairman of the club: –
“An agreement made this seventh day of July, 1902, between John Edward Chapman, of Stockport Road, in the city of Manchester, hotel proprietor, on the one part, and Edward Hulton and C. H. Waterhouse for and on behalf of the directors of the Manchester City Football Club Company, Limited, on the other part. Whereas a certain agreement dated April 30, 1902, is in existence relative to services to be rendered the said club by one William Meredith, and whereas the said John Edward Chapman is under certain obligations to the said William Meredith, now it is hereby agreed that the said Edward Hulton and C.H. Waterhouse shall and to take for and on behalf of the said club the said liability under the agreement, and agree to hold the said John Edward Chapman harmless in respect thereof.”
Similar arrangements were made with George Livingston, under which he received £6 10s. per week, and also other players for payment of wages in excess of the maximum allowed by the rules of the association.
It was also admitted that promises had been made to the players of payment of bonuses varying from £1 to £5 for winning and drawing matches.
The following statement was handed to the commission, showing (as the commission was informed) payments amounting to £681 12s 6d as the balance of money paid to players as bonuses for League matches and cup ties in the season of 1903-04, other money having been previously paid to the players: – League matches – Frank Booth, £20 6s 6d; Billy Meredith, £26; James Bannister, £35 1s; George Livingston, £20 9s; Thomas Hynds, £69; Sam Frost, £28 10s; Jack Hillman, £17; William Gillespie, £16; Sandy Turnbull, £21 16s 6d; Herbert Burgess, £27; Johnnny McMahon, £34 4s; William Holmes, £14 5s 9d; Thomas Broad, £5; Robert Dearden, £6; Robert Davidson, £23 10s 6d; William Lyon, £25 – Total, £389 10s 3d. Cup-ties – Meredith, £27; Bannister, £4 2s 3d; Livingston, Hynds, Frost, Gillespie, Turnbull, Burgess, and McMahon, each £27; Homes, £25; Dearden, £27, Sam Ashworth, £10; John Edmondson, £17 – Total, £292 2s 3d.
The council decided that: –
* Mr. W. Forest, the late chairman, and Mr. Tom Maley, the secretary and manager of the club, be not allowed to again act in any capacity in connection with football under the jurisdiction of the Football Association.
* That Mr. John Allison and Mr. J.H. Davies directors of the club, be suspended from taking part in football management until 1st May, 1907.
* The other directors excused themselves from responsibility upon the ground of want of knowledge of the proper management of a football club, or inattention to their duties, and they should be ordered to resign, so as to permit of the appointment of directors qualified to perform the office.
* That the following players be suspended from taking any part in football for football management until January 1, 1907, and that they be fined: – W. Meredith, £100; G.T. Livingston, £100; T. Hynds, £75; J. McMahon, £75; J. Hillman, £50; A. Turnbull, £50; F. Booth, £50; H. Burgess, £50; S. Frost, £50; J. Bannister, £50; R. Dearden, £50; W. Gillespie, £50; W. Holmes, £50; J.H. Edmondson, £25; R. Davidson, £25; W.J. Lyon, £25; and S.B. Ashworth, £25.
* That S.B. Ashworth be declared a professional.
* That all the players dealt with under this report be not allowed to again play for the Manchester City club.
* That the fines be paid before January 1, 1907.
* That the fines, after paying the expenses of the commission, be given to Manchester charities.
(Source: Aberdeen Journal: June 2, 1906)