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COMMUNITY POLITICS IN LIVERPOOL AND THE GOVERNANCE OF PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL IN THE LATE NINETEENTH CENTURY

  • DAVID KENNEDY (a1) and MICHAEL COLLINS (a2)
Abstract

This article studies the political significance of the schism that occurred at Liverpool's single professional football club in 1892 and which led to the incorporation of two clubs, Everton FC and Liverpool FC. Significantly, the management and direction of professional football had become bound up with community politics and identity at a time of important change in municipal politics when the tories' ascendancy faced a Liberal challenge partly predicated on the success of a virulent moral crusade over the influence of alcohol, social decay, and corruption in local government. At its simplest, the dispute at the club concerned allegations of commercial exploitation by the largest financial stakeholder. More fundamentally, rival factions were championing competing models for the role they believed a successful football club should be performing within the community which, in turn, embraced attempts by the political parties to engage male, working-class voters. Interestingly, the schism was within Protestant ranks for, despite the prominence often assigned to the role of sectarianism in Liverpool politics, differences between Catholics and Protestants played very little part in the dispute. This case study highlights the complexity of Liverpool political activities and alliances and reveals the importance of a multi-layered interplay of local and national issues.

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Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT mc@lubs.leeds.ac.uk
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We are particularly grateful for comments from John Chartres, Richard Whiting, John Belchem, and an anonymous referee.
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The Historical Journal
  • ISSN: 0018-246X
  • EISSN: 1469-5103
  • URL: /core/journals/historical-journal
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