Posted by: Bescot Banter


In the latest of his regular Blogs. Hillary Street-Ender takes a look at corruption in Football, and considers how the old 're-election' system may have been open to manipulation.
In the latest of his regular Blogs. Hillary Street-Ender takes a look at corruption in Football, and considers how the old 're-election' system may have been open to manipulation...

The subject of corruption in football has been pushed onto a back burner somewhat of late, with the World Cup taking centre stage and with attention now focusing on the coming new English season. People have received various bans and plenty more must now be sitting very uneasily in this era where it’s very difficult to do anything iffy without someone knowing about it. The FIFA investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will now report later than expected and the report, apparently, will not be made public. You’re all free to draw conclusions of your own……

What intrigues me is what might/must have gone on in the distant past because it would be naive in the extreme to assume that dodgy dealings within the game are a modern phenomenon. The period I wonder about most is one to which WFC was very strongly connected. While not wishing to accuse any particular club or person of anything specific the process of re-election must have been rife with unwritten agreements and school tie connections. For all you young un’s, way back in the day before the introduction of automatic promotion and relegation  between Division Four (or whatever it’s called now) and the Conference (or whatever it’s called now) the teams finishing in the bottom four places of division four would have to go cap-in-hand to the other teams to ask to be voted back into the Football League, with a small handful of the top non-league clubs throwing their names into the equation for good measure. It was by this what’s-in-it-for-me route that Wimbledon and Wigan Athletic were accepted into the professional game at the expense of Workington and Southport respectively. Before the creation of the fourth division there were division three (south) and division three (north) with, I think but please feel free to correct me, the bottom two in each having to beg to avoid being booted out. Now, if you’re going to finish so close to the bottom then you’ll have more than an inkling that it might happen a good few weeks before the end of the campaign so can you imagine the flurry of telegram traffic, telephone calls and pleading letters that must have gone back and forth as the season entered it’s last month? The Saddlers had a terrible run during the early 1950s that saw us finish bottom (24th) in third south for three consecutive seasons beginning in 1951/2, rising to the dizzy heights of 23rd at the end 1954/5 meaning the club had a vested interest in the whole process at the time, so wouldn’t you love to know exactly what went on? Dropping into non-league football these days isn’t necessarily the end of the world but back then it would have meant instant oblivion and was to be avoided at all costs, certainly I can’t think of a case of a club being voted back in after being jettisoned so the potential for all kinds of skulduggery to be involved is pretty obvious. It’s not difficult to imagine blackmail, bribery, threats of violence and good old freemasonry all playing their part and if you’d gone into a director’s lounge at any game in those days you’d likely have found yourself amid a sea of rolled up trouser legs and silly handshakes and the whole process would probably have been a whole lot more interesting than what goes on today.

‘SuchAndSuch Rovers are definitely going to vote for us. We can rely on them because I’ve had a word with their chairman, Peregrine Parker. We went to Harrow together and he’s assured me we can rely on their support. He’s as good as gold, old Nosey, so we’ve no worries there’. Were the process still in place transparency would be insisted upon but back then the football authorities here would have been about as transparent as FIFA is in modern times. Perhaps someone ought to write one of those old-type Whitehall farces, sending the whole thing up like the brilliant Yes, Minister did with the 1980s political system.

Admit it, you’d love to know what went on.

By: Hillary Street-Ender.

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