Original newspaper article on football from VE Day 1945 – interesting parallels with the issues now facing sport

Football Article

On the eve of the 75th anniversary of VE Day, here is a fascinating newspaper article on the status of the football league at the end of Second World War (see above).  The article is taken from an original copy of the Daily Herald dated 8 May (VE Day) 1945, held in theThorp/Wakefield family archives. Whilst the current pandemic bears no resemblance to the magnitude of the Second World War, the article reveals some very interesting parallels with current issues facing football and sport more generally.

The 1939/40 football league season had been suspended three games in, the last game being completed one day after Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939.  Blackpool were leading the first division! Amongst other reasons, the football season was suspended as large gatherings of crowds were suspended under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939, which resonates with current lockdown restrictions.

The article states that the football league’s original decision to resume the leagues (First Division, Second Division, Third Division (North) and Third Division (South)) on the same basis as 1939 without promotion and relegation was rescinded. Instead for the 1945-46 season, the First Division and Second Division would be amalgamated and then split in to a North (won by Sheffield United) and South Division (won by Birmingham City) in order to minimise travel. The Article also refers to the withdrawal of the prior proposal for four teams to come up from the Third Division (two from each regional league) and four to go down from the Second Division. We understand that the football leagues eventually reverted to the 1939 model by the 1946/47 season.  Liverpool won the 1946/47 First Division with Manchester City winning the Second Division.

In other parallels with the PL and EFL’s current predicaments, the report refers to the league meeting also being devoted to discussing player wages, bonuses, benefits and “talent money”, but decisions being deferred until finalisation of revised employment regulations.  75 years on football faces some very similar challenges!

Separately, alongside the article on football, it is interesting to see that, as is expected now, horse racing was one of the first sports to return.

Simon Thorp

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