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Context of 'June 1960: Player Leaves Newcastle United over Contract Dispute that Will Alter Transfer System in English Football'

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The midfielder George Eastham leaves Newcastle United and takes work outside football. Eastham has made several transfer requests, but they have been rejected by the club and his contract with it has expired. However, due to the retain-and-transfer system currently in operation, Eastham cannot simply sign for another club, as Newscastle holds his registration. Newcastle will relent and sell Eastham to Arsenal for £47,000 in November. However, at the urging of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Eastham will launch a legal action against Newcastle alleging the retain-and-transfer system is unlawful (see Summer 1963). [McArdle, 2000]

Entity Tags: George Eastham, Newcastle United F.C.

Timeline Tags: Football Business and Politics

Following pressure from players and the threat of a strike, the English Football League agrees to abolish the maximum wage that players can be paid. The wage is substantially below what the market rate would be, and in recent years there have been numerous cases of under-the-table payments being made to players. Immediately after the abolition, Fulham announces it intends to pay its star player, Johnny Haynes, £100 per week. This is five times more than the previous maximum wage and seven times more than the current average manual wage. [McArdle, 2000]

Entity Tags: Football League, Johnny Haynes, Fulham F.C.

Timeline Tags: Football Business and Politics

George Eastham.George Eastham. [Source: BBC]Former Newcastle United midfielder George Eastham wins the Eastham v Newcastle United court case against the club (see June 1960). The case significantly changes the “retain-and-transfer” system that bound footballers to their clubs even when there was no contract between them. Essentially, the judge, Mr. Justice Wilberforce, finds that the system is an unreasonable restraint of trade and goes far beyond what is necessary to ensure clubs are able to protect their legitimate interests. The Football League argues that the retention provisions are necessary to stop the richer clubs signing all the best players, which helps maintain interest in the spectator sport. However, Wilberforce finds that this argument does not justify the mechanisms used by clubs to retain players and that it is unfair that players cannot get a job with a different club at a time when they are no longer employees of their old club and are not being paid by it. “The system is an employers’ system,” Wilberforce comments, “set up in an industry where the employers have succeeded in establishing a united monolithic front all over the world, and where it is clear that for the purpose of negotiation the employers are vastly more strongly organised than the employees. No doubt the employers all over the world consider this system to be a good system, but this does not prevent the court from considering whether it goes further than is reasonably necessary to protect their legitimate interest.” Despite Eastham’s victory, only the “retain” element of the retain-and-transfer system is abolished and a new transfer system is constructed. Every player’s contract is now a matter of free negotiation between him and the club, without the binds of the maximum wage (see 1961). Once a contract has expired, the club can only renew it on terms that are no less advantageous to the player than the old ones had been, and the new contract has to last for at least the same time period (unless both parties agree otherwise). If the club is unwilling to do this, the player is entitled to a free transfer; if the club decides to get rid of the player, the original contract will continue to run until he is transferred. Disputes will be referred to the League Management Committee and then to an independent tribunal incorporating league and players’ union representatives. [McArdle, 2000]

Entity Tags: Richard Orme Wilberforce, George Eastham, Newcastle United F.C.

Timeline Tags: Football Business and Politics

Deloitte publishes its Football Money League rankings for the 2006-2007 season. The rankings of the top 20 European clubs and their football earnings are:
(1) Real Madrid (€351.0m)
(2) Manchester United (€315.2m)
(3) FC Barcelona (€290.1m)
(4) Chelsea (€283.0m)
(5) Arsenal (€263.9m)
(6) AC Milan (€227.2m)
(7) Bayern Munich (€223.3m)
(8) Liverpool (€198.9m)
(9) Internazionale (€195.0m)
(10) AS Roma (€157.6m)
(11) Tottenham Hotspur (€153.1m)
(12) Juventus (€145.2m)
(13) Olympique Lyonnais (€140.6m)
(14) Newcastle United (€129.4m)
(15) Hamburg SV (€120.4m)
(16) Schalke 04 (€114.3m)
(17) Celtic (€111.8m)
(18) Valencia (€107.6m)
(19) Olympique de Marseille (€99.0m)
(20) Werder Bremen (€97.3m) [Deloitte, 2/14/2008 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Roma, Tottenham Hotspur F.C., Valencia, Celtic F.C., FC Barcelona, Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, Bayern Munich, Arsenal F.C., Olympique de Marseille, Fussball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04, Milan, Hamburg SV, Newcastle United F.C., Chelsea F.C., Internazionale, Deloitte, Liverpool F.C., Manchester United F.C., Olympique Lyonnais, Juventus

Timeline Tags: Football Business and Politics


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