History of football in England

According to FIFA, the world governing body of football, the contemporary history of the game began in 1863 in England, when rugby football and association football "branched off on their different courses" and the English Football Association (the FA) was formed as the sport's first governing body.[1] Until the 19th century, football had been played in various forms using a multiplicity of rules under the general heading of "folk football". From about the 1820s, efforts were made at public schools and at the University of Cambridge to unify the rules. The split into two codes was caused by the issue of handling the ball.

The world's oldest football clubs were founded in England from 1857 and, in the 1871–72 season, the FA Cup was founded as the world's first organised competition. The first international match took place in November 1872 when England travelled to Glasgow to play Scotland. The quality of Scottish players was such that northern English clubs began offering them professional terms to move south. At first, the FA was strongly opposed to professionalism and that gave rise to a bitter dispute from 1880 until the FA relented and formally legitimised professionalism in 1885. A shortage of competitive matches led to the formation of the Football League by twelve professional clubs in 1888 and the domestic game has ever since then been based on the foundation of league and cup football.

The competitiveness of matches involving professional teams generated widespread interest, especially amongst the working class. Attendances increased significantly through the 1890s and the clubs had to build larger grounds to accommodate them. Typical ground construction was mostly terracing for standing spectators with limited seating provided in a grandstand built centrally alongside one of the pitch touchlines. Through media coverage, football became a main talking point among the population and had overtaken cricket as England's national sport by the early 20th century. The size of the Football League increased from the original twelve clubs in 1888 to 92 in 1950. The clubs were organised by team merit in four divisions with promotion and relegation at the end of each season. Internationally, England hosted and won the 1966 FIFA World Cup but has otherwise been among the also-rans in global terms. English clubs have been a strong presence in European competition with several teams, especially Liverpool and Manchester United winning the major continental trophies.

The sport was beset by hooliganism from the 1960s to the 1980s and this, in conjunction with the impact of rising unemployment, caused a fall in attendances and revenue which plunged several clubs into financial crisis. Following three major stadium disasters in the 1980s, the Taylor Report was commissioned and this resulted in all-seater stadia becoming mandatory for clubs in the top-level divisions. In 1992, the Premier League was founded and its members negotiated a lucrative deal for live television coverage with Sky Sports. Television and marketing revived national interest in the sport and the leading clubs became major financial operations. As the 21st century began, the top players and managers were being paid over £100,000 a week and record-breaking transfer fees were frequently paid.

Early football

All modern forms of football have roots in the "folk football" of pre-industrial English society.[2] This generic form of football was for centuries a chaotic pastime played not so much by teams as by mobs. It was essentially a public holiday event with Shrove Tuesday in particular a traditional day for games across the country. It is generally thought that the games were "free-for-alls" with no holds barred and extremely violent. As for kicking and handling of the ball, it is certain that both means of moving the ball towards the goals were in use.[3] Little is known about football until the nineteenth century and the few surviving references are mostly about attempts at various times to ban it. The FIFA history says "there was scarcely any progress at all in the development of football for hundreds of years but, although it was persistently forbidden, it was never completely suppressed".[4]

Early references (14th to 18th centuries)

The earliest reference to football in England is in a 1314 decree issued by the Lord Mayor of London, Nicholas de Farndone, on behalf of King Edward II. Originally written in Norman French, a translation of the decree includes: "for as much as there is great noise in the city caused by hustling over large footballs in the fields of the public, from which many evils might arise that God forbid: we command and forbid on behalf of the King, on pain of imprisonment, such game to be used in the city in the future".[5] The earliest known reference to football that was written in English is a 1409 proclamation issued by King Henry IV. It imposed a ban on the levying of money for "foteball".[6] It was specific to London, but it is not clear if payments had been claimed from players or spectators or both. The following year, Henry IV imposed fines of 20 shillings on certain mayors and bailiffs who had allowed football and other "misdemeanours" to occur in their towns. This is the earliest documentary evidence of football being played throughout England.[7]

At the end of the sixteenth century, the game was still rough and unsophisticated but, in 1581, the scholar and headmaster Richard Mulcaster provided the earliest account of football as a team sport. He insisted that the game had "a positive educational value as it promoted health and strength". He suggested that it would improve if there were a limited number of participants per team and a referee in full control of proceedings.[4] Until the time of the English Civil War and the Commonwealth in the mid-17th century, opposition to football was mainly due to the public disturbance it allegedly caused. In 1608, for instance, it was banned in Manchester because of broken windows. The Puritans objected to it for a different reason. In their view, it was a "frivolous amusement", as were the theatre and several other sports. The big issue in the Puritan mindset was "violation of the Sabbath" and, once in power, they were able to impose a ban on Sunday entertainment which, in the case of sport, still prevailed for 300 years after the Restoration. Folk football was still played on weekdays, though, especially on holidays. It continued to be disorganised and violent. Despite Mulcaster's proposals, matches involved an indefinite number of players and sometimes whole villages were ranged against each other on a playing area that encompassed fields and streets.[4]

There is mention of football being played at Cambridge University in 1710. A letter from a certain Dr Bentley to the Bishop of Ely on the subject of university statutes includes a complaint about students being "perfectly at Liberty to be absent from Grace", in order to play football (referred to as "Foot-Ball") or cricket, and not being punished for their conduct as prescribed in the statutes.[8] It was at Cambridge University that the first rules of association football were drafted in the nineteenth century. In the meantime, folk football continued to be played according to local rules and customs.[3]

Nature of folk football

More is known about folk football through the 18th and 19th centuries. It was essentially a game for large numbers played over wide distances with goals that were as much as three miles apart, as at Ashbourne. At Whitehaven, the goals were a harbour wall and a wall outside the town. Matches in Derby involved about a thousand players. In all cases, the object of the exercise was to drive a ball of varying size and shape, often a pig's bladder, to a goal. Generally, the ball could be kicked, thrown or carried but it is believed there were some places at which only kicking was allowed. Whatever rules may have been agreed beforehand, there is no doubt at all that folk football was extremely violent, even when relatively well organised. One form of kicking that was common was "shinning", the term for kicking another player's legs, and it was legal even if the ball was hundreds of yards away.[2]

Folk football was essentially rural and matches tended to coincide with country fairs. Change was brought about by industrialisation and the growth of towns as people moved away from the country. The very idea of a game taking several hours over huge areas ran counter to "the discipline, order and organisation necessary for urban capitalism".[9] In 1801, a survey of British sports by Joseph Strutt described football as being "formerly much in vogue among the common people of England".[10] Although Strutt claimed that folk football was in disrepute and was "but little practised", there is no doubt that many games continued well into the nineteenth century before codification took effect.[11]

Codification (1801 to 1891)

Public school football

As the 19th century began, football became increasingly significant in the public schools because it was well suited to the ideals of the "Muscular Christianity" cult. It was, like cricket, perceived to be a "character-building" sport.[12] The trailblazer was Rugby School where the boys began playing the game around 1800, almost certainly inspired by the annual New Year's Eve game played by the people of Rugby, Warwickshire, through the 18th century.[12] The public schools sought to toughen their pupils so that they were fit to rule the British Empire. The policy was in response to widespread belief that past empires had fallen because the ruling class became soft.[12] At Rugby, pupils were encouraged to adopt shinning as a means of toughening up and they renamed the practice "hacking". It became something of an obsession, along with cold showers and punishing cross-country runs (cricket supposedly taught them how to be gentlemen).[13] Hacking was an important issue when the "handling game" split from the "dribbling game" later in the century.[13]

By the 1820s, other public schools began to devise their own versions of football, rules of which were verbally agreed and handed down over many years. Each school (e.g., Eton, Harrow, Shrewsbury and Winchester) had its own variations. Albert Pell, a former Rugby pupil who went to Cambridge University in 1839, began organising football matches there but, because of the different school variations, a compromise set of rules had to be found.[14] By 1843, a set of rules is believed to have been in existence at Eton which allowed handling of the ball to control it, but not running with it in the hand and not passing it by hand. The first known 11–a–side games took place at Eton where the "dribbling game" was popular. The written version of Rugby School Football Rules in 1845 allowed the ball to be carried and passed by hand. The Rugby rules are the earliest that are definitely known to have been written and were a major step in the evolution of Rugby League and Rugby Union.[15]

Eton introduced referees and linesmen, who were at that time called umpires. In 1847, another set of public school rules was created at Harrow which, like Eton, played the "dribbling game". Winchester had yet another version of the game.[16] The original Cambridge University Rules were written in 1848 by students who were still confused by different rules operating at the various schools. This was the first attempt at codifying the rules of association football (i.e., the "dribbling" game) as distinct from rugby football. Unfortunately, no copy of the original Cambridge Rules has survived. The essential difference in the two codes was always that association football did not allow a player to run with the ball in his hands or pass it by hand to a colleague, though players were allowed to touch and control the ball by hand.[16]

Sheffield, Cambridge and FA rules

In the winter of 1855–56, players of Sheffield Cricket Club organised informal football matches to help them retain fitness.[17] On 24 October 1857, they formally created Sheffield Football Club which is now recognised as the world's oldest association football club.[18] On 21 October 1858, at the club's first annual general meeting, the club drafted the Sheffield Rules for use in its matches. Hacking was outlawed but the "fair catch" was allowed, providing the player did not hold onto the ball.[19] Just over a year later, in January 1860, the rules were upgraded to outlaw handling.[20] On 26 December 1860, the world's first inter-club match took place when Sheffield defeated newly-formed Hallam F.C. at Sandygate Road, Hallam's ground.[21] In 1862, an impromptu team formed in Nottingham is understood to have been the original Notts County, which was formally constituted in December 1864 and is the oldest professional association football club in the world.[22] In 1867, the Sheffield and Hallam clubs formed the Sheffield Football Association, which is the oldest County FA. Its members used the Sheffield Rules until 1878 when they agreed to adopt the FA rules.

In October 1863, a revision of the Cambridge Rules was published. This was shortly before a meeting on Monday, 26 October, of twelve clubs and schools at the Freemasons' Tavern on Great Queen Street in London. Eleven of them agreed to form the Football Association (the FA).[16][23] One of them was Blackheath. Sheffield did not officially attend the meeting, but they sent observers and, in November, decided to join the FA. Sheffield immediately petitioned the FA to adopt the Sheffield Rules and the FA debated the subject at a series of meetings over the next six weeks. Sheffield were strongly opposed to hacking and running with the ball, both of which they condemned as "directly opposed to football". The FA voted to adopt parts of both the Cambridge and Sheffield rules. Hacking was outlawed and this caused Blackheath to quit the FA. Running with the ball in hand was also banned but players could still make the "fair catch" to earn a free kick.[24] Blackheath's resignation led directly to the formation of the Rugby Football Union in 1871.

Impact of rule changes (1863 to 1891)

Among other laws in 1863 were the absence of a crossbar, enabling goals to be scored regardless of how high the ball was. There was an offside rule, which originated at Sheffield earlier in 1863, that any player ahead of the kicker was offside (this is still the case in rugby). The throw-in had to be done at right angles to the touchline (like a rugby lineout), except that there was no touchline then with flags marking the boundaries of play. There was no goalkeeper, no referee, no punishment for infringement, no pitch markings, no half-time, no rules about number of players or duration of match. All told, it was a totally different ball game.

Over the years, the laws changed and football gradually acquired the features that are taken for granted today. The game opened up in 1866 when the offside rule was amended to the three-player ruling whereby a player was onside if there were three opponents between him and the goal. Under the 1863 offside rule, any attacking player ahead of the ball was offside and this restricted attacking play to dribbling or scrimmaging, as in rugby, or to "kick and rush", as in mob football.[25] After the three-player rule was introduced, an attacking player could pass the ball forward to a team-mate ahead of him and this allowed the passing game to develop.[26] In 1874, Charles W. Alcock coined the term "combination game" for a style of play that was based on teamwork and co-operation, largely achieved by passing the ball instead of dribbling it. Noted early exponents of the style were Royal Engineers A.F.C. (founded in 1863) and Glasgow-based Queen's Park F.C. (founded in 1867).[27]

Also in 1866, the fair catch was prohibited and the tape between goalposts was introduced to limit the height of the goal. The wooden crossbar was allowed as an optional alternative to tape in 1875. In 1883, it was ruled that the goal must be constructed entirely of wood and the tape option was removed. In the same year, the touchline was introduced in place of the flag markers.

Arguably the most significant change of law ever was the ban in 1870 on all forms of handling, which meant that the ball in play could only be kicked or headed (the ball is technically out of play while a throw-in is completed). In the following year, the goalkeeper was introduced and was allowed to handle the ball "for the protection of his goal". When it was ruled in 1877 that the throw-in could go in any direction, the Sheffield FA clubs agreed to abandon their rules and adopt the FA version.

Until 1891, adjudication was done by two umpires, one per team and both off the field. Captains attempted to settle disputes onfield but appeals could be made to the umpires. That could cause long delays. The referee, as such, was essentially a timekeeper but could be called upon to arbitrate if the umpires were unable to agree. In 1891, following a suggestion made by the Irish FA, the referee was introduced onto the field and was given powers of dismissal and awarding penalties and free kicks. The two umpires became the linesmen.[26]

Competitive, international and professional football (1871 to 1890)

On 20 July 1871, in the offices of The Sportsman newspaper, the FA secretary Charles Alcock proposed to his committee that "it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association for which all clubs belonging to the Association should be invited to compete".[28] The inaugural FA Cup competition began with four matches played on 11 November 1871. Known originally as the "Football Association Challenge Cup", it is the sport's oldest major competition worldwide. All the teams were amateur and mainly from the London area. The first FA Cup Final was held at Kennington Oval on 16 March 1872 and Wanderers (founded in 1859) became the first winners by defeating Royal Engineers 1–0 with a goal scored by Morton Betts. Wanderers retained the trophy the following year and went on to win it five times in all.

International football began in 1872 when the England national team travelled to Glasgow to play the Scotland national team in the first-ever official international match. It was played on 30 November 1872 at Hamilton Crescent, the West of Scotland Cricket Club's ground in the Partick area of Glasgow. It ended in a 0–0 draw and was watched by 4,000 spectators.[29] At the time, there was no Scottish Football Association and the Scottish team was organised by Queen's Park F.C., who were members of the FA. The Scottish FA was officially founded on 13 March 1873. There had been earlier matches in London between teams called England and Scotland but those were not official internationals (i.e., not recognised by FIFA) because the Scottish teams consisted of London-based Scottish expatriates only.

The issue of professionalism arose in 1880 when a dispute began between the FA and Bolton Wanderers (founded in 1874), who had offered professional terms to Scottish players. The subject remained a heated one through the 1880s, directly or indirectly involving many other clubs besides Bolton. Their neighbours, Blackburn Rovers (founded in 1875) and Darwen (founded in 1870) had also signed Scottish players professionally. The FA espoused the ideal of so–called "amateurism" promoted by the likes of Corinthian F.C. from whom the phrase “Corinthian Spirit” came into being.[30] There were constant arguments about broken–time payments, out–of–pocket expenses and what amounted to actual wages. Despite its convictions, the FA had no objection to professional clubs playing in the FA Cup and this may have been a tacit acknowledgement that the growth of professionalism was inevitable, as had long been the case in cricket. Blackburn Rovers established the predominance of professionalism by winning the FA Cup in three successive seasons from 1884 to 1886 and the FA formally legitimised professionalism in 1885.

A key issue facing the professional clubs was the lack of competitive matches. This was especially so for teams that had been knocked out of the FA Cup. It was self–evident that crowds for friendly fixtures were much lower and of course this meant a reduction in revenue and consequent struggle to pay wages. Aston Villa’s Scottish director William McGregor sought a solution by asking the other professional clubs to arrange annual home and away fixtures on a competitive basis, with points to be awarded for winning and drawing. Following a conference between club directors on 23 March 1888, the English Football League was founded on 17 April 1888 as one division of 12 clubs: Accrington (founded in 1876; folded in 1896), Aston Villa (founded in 1874), Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley (founded in 1882), Derby County (founded in 1884), Everton (founded in 1878), Notts County, Preston North End (founded in 1880), Stoke F.C. (founded in 1863; became Stoke City in 1925), West Bromwich Albion (founded in 1878) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (founded in 1877; always commonly known as "Wolves"). Six of the clubs were in Lancashire and six in the Midlands so, at this time, there were none from Yorkshire or the north-east or anywhere south of Birmingham. 1888–89 was the Football League’s inaugural season and Preston North End earned the nickname of “Invincibles” by going through the entire 22–match league competition unbeaten. They also won the FA Cup and so recorded the world's first “double”. Preston retained their league title in 1889–90 and Blackburn won the FA Cup.

Some of English football's most famous venues had been established by 1890. Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield United who were founded in 1889, is the world's oldest football stadium which is still in use a professional match venue. It opened on 30 April 1855 as a cricket ground and first hosted football in 1862. Deepdale, Preston's home ground which opened on 5 October 1878, is the world's oldest football stadium which has been in continuous use by a top-class club. Turf Moor, Burnley's ground, has been their home since 17 February 1883. Anfield opened on 28 September 1884 when the home team was Everton (they moved to Goodison Park in 1892 after a dispute about their lease and Liverpool F.C. was founded on 3 June 1892 to occupy the vacant stadium). Wolves played their first match at Molineux Stadium on 7 September 1889. Blackburn moved to Ewood Park in 1890.

Overview of football from 1889

In 1889, the Football Alliance was founded as a rival to the Football League. It was short–lived and collapsed in 1892 when the Football League expanded. The league's membership doubled from 14 to 28 clubs with divisions introduced for the first time. The original Football League became the new First Division, expanded to 16 teams, and the new Second Division was formed with 12 teams. League football became increasingly popular, especially with the working class, and large stadiums were built to accommodate huge crowds who were mainly packed onto terraces. Competitive football was suspended through World War I and both Football League divisions were expanded to 22 teams when it recommenced in 1919. In 1920, there was a greater expansion with the creation of the original Third Division for another 22 clubs. In 1921, another twenty clubs were admitted to the league and the Third Division was split into North and South sections. Football was again suspended during World War II. It was possible to organise an FA Cup competition in 1945–46 but league football did not restart until 1946–47. In 1950, the Football League reached its current size of 92 clubs when the two Third Division sections were increased to 24 clubs each. In 1958, the 48 Third Division clubs were reorganised nationally on current merit. The top twelve in each of the north and south sections formed a new Third Division while the other 24 formed the new Fourth Division.

During the 1960s, hooliganism emerged as a problem at certain clubs and became widespread through the 1970s and 1980s. Matters came to a head in 1985 when the Heysel Stadium disaster occurred. English hooligans ran amok in a decrepit stadium before the 1985 European Cup final and caused the deaths of 39 Juventus fans. As a result, English teams were banned from European football for five years (six years in the case of Liverpool). Falling attendances were evident throughout the league during these decades. Hooliganism was one cause of this but the main one was unemployment, especially in the north of England. Many clubs faced the possibilities of bankruptcy and closure. The Hillsborough disaster in 1989 was caused by bad policing, an outdated stadium and inappropriate security fences. The government stepped in and ordered an enquiry into the state of football. The outcome was the Taylor Report which enforced the conversion of all top-level grounds to all-seater.

In 1992, the First Division became the FA Premier League and it secured a lucrative contract with Sky Sports for exclusive live TV rights. The clubs received huge TV revenues and wages rose to over £100,000 a week for the leading players and managers. Transfer records were broken on a frequent basis as the clubs grew ever wealthier and the sport's popularity increased. One aspect of the financial boom was an influx of overseas players, including many world-class internationals. The sport has maintained this level of success into the 21st century and BT Sport has become a second major source of TV revenue.

possibly useful points from the old discredited version

In 1892, a new Division Two was added, taking in more clubs from around the country; Woolwich Arsenal became the first League club from the capital in 1893; they were also joined by Liverpool the same year.

By 1898, both divisions had been expanded to eighteen clubs.

At the turn of the 20th century, clubs from Sheffield were particularly successful, with Sheffield United winning a title and two FA Cups, as well as losing to Tottenham in the 1901 final; meanwhile The Wednesday (later Sheffield Wednesday) won two titles and two FA Cups, despite being relegated in 1899 they were promoted the following year.

Clubs in Tyne and Wear were also at the forefront; Sunderland had won four titles between 1892 and 1902, and in the following decade Newcastle United won the title three times, in 1905, 1907 and 1909, and reached five FA Cup finals in seven years between 1905 and 1911, winning just the one.

Bury managed a 6–0 win over Derby County in the 1903 FA Cup Final, a record scoreline that stands to this day.

In 1904 Woolwich Arsenal became the first club from London to be promoted to the First Division. Other London clubs joined the League including Clapton Orient, Chelsea, Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur.

On the international scene, the Home Nations continued to play each other, with Scotland the slightly more successful of the four. When the countries combined to play as Great Britain in the Olympic Games they were unbeatable, winning all three pre-World War I football gold medals. England played their first games against teams outside of the British Isles in 1908.

From 1920 to 1923 the Football League expanded further, gaining a new Third Division (expanding quickly to Division Three South and Division Three North), with all leagues now containing 22 clubs, making 88 in total. In 1923, the original Wembley Stadium opened and hosted its first FA Cup final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United. It is remembered as the "White Horse Final" and Bolton won 2–0.

During the interwar years, Arsenal and Everton were the two most dominant sides in English football, although Huddersfield Town did make history in 1926 by becoming the first team to complete a hat-trick of successive league titles. Arsenal would do the same in 1935. Manager Herbert Chapman was involved with both of these teams. He guided Huddersfield to the first two of their league titles before taking over at Arsenal, where he presided over the first two league titles, but he died just before the third consecutive title was clinched.

Everton had hit the headlines in 1928 by winning the league championship thanks largely to the record breaking 60 league goals of 21-year-old centre-forward Dixie Dean. He was helped by the new rules of the 1920s, including the allowing of goals from a corner kick, and the relaxing of the offside rule. Everton also won the league twice more, in 1932 and 1939, and the FA Cup in 1933. Their neighbours Liverpool had earlier won back-to-back titles in 1922 and 1923, but were unable to sustain this success. Arsenal were the most successful English club of the 1930s, winning a host of league titles and FA Cups with a team featuring players including Alex James, Eddie Hapgood, Joe Hulme, and Cliff Bastin.

Sheffield Wednesday were also successful during the 1930s, winning the 1929–30 title, the FA Cup in 1935 and finishing in the top three in all but one season in the period 1930–1936. In addition, a Welsh club won the FA Cup for the only time when Cardiff City beat Arsenal 1–0 in the 1927 Final.

The 1930s saw the breakthrough of notable players including Stanley Matthews, who was first capped for England in 1934 when playing for Stoke City, and just before the outbreak of war, Tommy Lawton, who succeeded Dixie Dean in attack for Everton and England.

The national team remained strong, but lost their first game to a non-British Isles country in 1929, against Spain in Madrid and refused to compete in the first three World Cups, which were held once every four years from 1930. There was no World Cup in 1942 due to wartime hostilities, and although the war ended in 1945, there was not enough time or funding to organise a World Cup for 1946.

English football reconvened after the end of World War II during which most clubs had closed down for the duration. There had been regional wartime competitions and friendly matches during the hostilities. The league restarted in the 1946–47 season, in which the championship was won by Liverpool.

Manchester United re-emerged as a footballing force under new manager Matt Busby. They won the FA Cup in 1948 and the league title in 1952, the club's first trophies since before the Great War. Busby rebuilt the team using young players who were called the "Busby Babes" who had mostly risen through the club's youth system. They developed into one of England's finest teams ever and won the championship in 1956 and 1957. Manchester United also became the first English team to compete in the new European Cup, contested by champions of European domestic leagues. They reached the semi-finals in 1957 and 1958. The Munich air disaster on 6 February 1958 resulted in the deaths of eight players and ended the careers of two others, while Busby survived with serious injuries.

The other dominant team of the era was Wolves, who had spent most of the inter-war period in the lower divisions. They won three league titles and two FA Cups under manager Stan Cullis and captain Billy Wright. Other Midlands sides also enjoyed success after a barren period, including West Bromwich Albion's FA Cup win in 1954 (their first trophy in 23 years) and Aston Villa matching them with a Cup win in 1957 (their first in 37 years). In 1951, Tottenham Hotspur became the first team to win the league title immediately after being promoted. Chelsea won their only league title of the 20th century in 1955.

One of the most memorable matches of the decade was when Blackpool defeated Bolton Wanderers 4–3 in the 1953 FA Cup Final, a match that is remembered as the "Matthews Final".

English football as a whole, however, began to suffer at this time, with tactical naivety setting in. The national team were humiliated at their first World Cup in 1950, famously losing to the USA 1–0. This was followed by two defeats in 1953 and 1954 to Hungary, who destroyed England 6-3 at home, the first time England had lost at home to a non-British Isles team, and 7–1 in Budapest, England's biggest ever defeat. The early European club competitions also went without much English success, with the FA initially unwilling to allow clubs to compete, and no English team reached a European Cup final until 1968.

In 1958, Divisions Three North and South became the national Division Three and Division Four. In 1960, the League Cup was introduced. Tottenham Hotspur, managed by Bill Nicholson and captained by Danny Blanchflower, became the dominant force in English football in the early 1960s. They won the elusive League and FA Cup double in 1961, retained the FA Cup in 1962 and became the first British team to win a European trophy with a 5–1 victory over Atlético Madrid in the 1963 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final.

The national team showed signs of improvement after Alf Ramsey took over as head coach following a respectable quarter-final appearance at the 1962 FIFA World Cup. Ramsey confidently predicted that, at the next tournament to be held in England, his team would win the trophy. They did so with a controversial 4–2 victory over West Germany at Wembley in 1966.

Domestic football in the 1960s was dominated by Liverpool, managed by Bill Shankly, and Manchester United, managed by Matt Busby. Both teams won two championships each from 1964 to 1967. In 1968, Manchester United became the first English team to win the European Cup with a 4–1 victory over Benfica at Wembley. The new UEFA Cup was introduced in 1971–72 and the inaugural final, played over two legs, was between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

In 1971, Arsenal became the second club to win the double in the 20th century and Derby County won the championship in 1972 under the management of Brian Clough. The 1970s were nevertheless dominated by Liverpool under Bill Shankly and his successor Bob Paisley. They won several trophies including two European Cups. Clough had something of a chequered career through the decade and wound up at Second Division Nottingham Forest. Within the space of four seasons, he achieved promotion, League championship and then two successive European Cups. In contrast to the success of Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in Europe, England had a dismal decade in the 1970s. They failed to qualify for the 1974 and 1978 World Cups and the 1972 and 1976 European Championships.

During the 1970s, transfer fees began to rise rapidly as more money entered the game. Trevor Francis became Britain's first million-pound footballer in February 1979 when he signed for Nottingham Forest. Forest's full-back Viv Anderson became England's first black international player, a landmark selection which reflected the growing number of non-white players in the English game.

Hooliganism blighted English football throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, contributing to a fall in attendances which was accelerated by the recession of the early 1980s. This spelled financial problems for numerous clubs and among those faced with the threat of closure were Blackpool, Chelsea, Derby County, Middlesbrough and Wolves.

The Football Conference was created in 1979 as the first national league to be developed below the Football League. It was the beginning of the English football pyramid, consisting of several tiers based on team merit.

In the 1980s, England staged a recovery and reached both the European Championships in 1980 and the World Cup in 1982. Ipswich Town manager Bobby Robson took over the management of England in July 1982. Liverpool maintained their dominance of English and European football with several trophies including two more European Cups under Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan. Unfortunately for Fagan, his last match in charge was the Heysel Stadium disaster, as a result of which English clubs were banned from European football for five years and Liverpool for six. Attendances fell throughout the league, especially in the north of England. Three famous clubs, Burnley, Preston and Wolves, dropped into the Fourth Division before they were saved from closure. Two more disasters, at Valley Parade and Hillsborough, confirmed the need for modernisation of England's 19th century grounds and the government stepped in to instigate the Taylor Report which recommended that top level clubs must remove terracing and develop all-seater stadiums.

England continued to improve through the 1980s. They lost controversially to Argentina in the 1986 World Cup and were unluckily beaten in a penalty shootout by Germany in the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup. With the national team raising its profile and the grounds being radically improved for spectators, football's popularity was restored and attendances began to rise again as the 1990s began.

The FA Premier League was formed in 1992 by the 22 clubs then in the First Division. Exclusive TV coverage of its matches was bought by Sky Sports and the clubs reaped the benefits of massive TV and marketing investment. As a result, English football grew wealthier and more popular than ever before, with clubs spending tens of millions of pounds on players and on their wages, which rose to over £100,000 a week for the top stars. The size of the Premier League was reduced from 22 to 20 clubs in 1995.

One result of the increased wealth of Premier League clubs was the influx of foreign internationals such as Eric Cantona, Jürgen Klinsmann, Dennis Bergkamp, Gianfranco Zola, Patrick Vieira and Peter Schmeichel. Clubs were soon allowed to field an unlimited number of players from EU member countries in domestic and European competitions. There were cases, especially at Arsenal, of English teams featuring few if any English players.

In the 21st century, the country's richest clubs have continued to grow and the wages of top players and managers have increased further. Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch, bought Chelsea in a £150m takeover in 2003 and raised investment that has turned Chelsea into one of European football's top clubs. Similar takeovers occurred elsewhere, notably at Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United. In the 2010s, BT Sport was created as a rival to Sky Sports and has become a second popular channel with rights to present live football.

See also


  1. "History of Football – The Origins". FIFA.com. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  2. 1 2 Collins, Tony (1998). Rugby's Great Split, page 1. Frank Cass.
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  13. 1 2 Collins, page 5.
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