Then & Now

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The Independent Online
2 March, 1888: A Mr W H Mounsey of Manchester had written to 'The Athletic News' suggesting that a system based on the American baseball league should be adopted by football clubs in England. William McGregor, a director of Aston Villa, took up the suggestion and wrote the following letter to five leading clubs:

'Every year it is becoming more and more difficult for football clubs of any standing to meet their friendly engagements and even arrange friendly matches. The consequence is that at the last moment, through Cup-tie interference, clubs are compelled to take on teams who will not attract the public. I beg to tender the following suggestion as a means of getting over the difficulty - that 10 or 12 of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home and away fixtures each season, the said fixtures to be arranged at a friendly conference about the same time as the International Conference. This combination might be known as the Association Football Union, and could be managed by a representative from each club. Of course this is in no way to interfere with the National Association. Even the suggested matches might be played under Cup-tie rules. However, this is a detail. My object in writing at present is merely to draw attention to the subject and to suggest a friendly conference to discuss the matter more fully. I would take it as a favour if you would kindly think the matter over.'

McGregor's format was agreed and the term Football League was chosen. The system was followed by every other footballing nation.

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