Meeting of the Football League (January 13, 1919)


January 13, 1919
One of the most important meetings held in the history of the Football League took place in Manchester on Monday Mr. McKenna presided over a full meeting.

A deputation from players of all the League clubs was received for the purpose of laying before it a statement as to the finances of various clubs, with a view to showing that they were not in a position to pay anything like normal wages.

Mr. McKenna pointed out that they had taken an unprecedented step in asking players to meet them, because they wished to allay a feeling of discontent amongst the players. Assuming that all of them joined the organisation recently formed in London, they must remember that if players demanded freedom of contracts the clubs would do the same, and then only a third of the clubs would be able to engage players. By September next they hoped for something like normal times.

Mr. Charles Sutcliffe pointed out that at a low estimate the expenses of the average club were £48 per week, and that on this basis seven clubs in the Midland Section and ten in Lancashire were unable to pay their way.

In reply to Charles Roberts, a former captain of Oldham Athletic, the Chairman said he could not answer the question whether the present system of payment would continue; that was a matter for clubs. Mr. McKenna assured the players that the Management Committee would redeem their promise as soon as clubs were in a position to pay more. Mr. Roberts appealed to the clubs to take a little more risk on behalf of players who had stood loyally by them, and Sir. H.G. Norris, M.P., said that if allowed, the London Combination Clubs could pay more. In answer to Jesse Pennington (West Bromwich Albion), the Chairman said the League would not recognise any Players’ Union as a trade union, whereupon Charles Roberts said the old Players’ Union was in existence, and would deal with the League on constitutional lines. The deputation then withdrew for consultation.

Returning to the meeting, it was stated that they had, at their private meeting, passed a resolution in favour of clubs making weekly payments of £2 to players.  Mr. McKenna said that a meeting of the League would give the matter their serious consideration, and thereupon the clubs proceeded to discuss the matter in private. It is understood that it was suggested that the wealthier clubs should come to help of the poorer ones.

The League then proceeded with other items on the agenda. A latter was received from Mr. Bradshaw, of the Southern League, asking whether the Football League were prepared to support a scheme for fusion of the two Leagues; whether, if the Second Division was enlarged to 40 clubs, the Football League would be in favour of 20 Southern League clubs being elected, if not, how many, and, lastly, if a Third Division was formed, how many Southern League clubs would be included. Mr. McKenna announced that the Management Committee had discussed the proposals, and a majority were in favour of remaining as they were. He moved a resolution to that effect, Mr. Bendle Moore (Derby County) seconded, and the resolution was carried unanimously.

Mr. Barcroft (Blackpool) next moved that the season be extended from August 15th to May 15th. A brief discussion followed, the Chairman stating that the majority of the Management Committee were against the proposal. On a vote being taken 26 voted for and 12 against, the requisite three fourths majority not being obtained.
(Derby Daily Telegraph: January 14, 1919)

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