In this recent post, I said:
After 1910, in any case, the Southern League and the Football League came to an agreement which regularised retain-and-transfer across both organisations. Had that not happened, it is interesting to speculate that a post-1918 Southern League might not have taken advantage of depression in the north of England and become the gameâ€™s dominant force, with players able to earn their market worth and that outside of the working class bondsmanâ€™s ghetto that the Football League had become.
Somehow or other I have overlooked the rather important point that the Southern League was annexed by the Football League in 1919 to become Division 3 (after 1920 and the League’s sweeping-up of a ragbag of impoverished northern clubs, Division 3 (South)).
In other words:
- The same economic forces that led the Football League to adopt retain-and-transfer and the maximum wage also applied to the Southern League clubs, and I’d overlooked that.
- That being the case, and in view of the strength of Southern League clubs in footballing terms, union with the Football League was the obvious step to take. In any case, a national league that was restricted to clubs north of Birmingham plus Woolwich Arsenal was not a national league.
- Bringing the story up to date, it seems inevitable that football will, in time, have to apply to itself the same employment rules as other EU industries. How the traditional idea of competing clubs can survive that is an interesting question. You can’t build a side AND have free movement of footballers, unless you can restrict the size of squads, which you can’t.