The legalisation of the professional footballer : a study of some aspects of the legal status and employment conditions of association football players in England and Wales from the late nineteenth century to the present day
The argument in this thesis maintains that despite the official recognition of professional football players in England by the highest law-making body within the sport (the Football Association) in 1885, it can be seen with the benefit of a century of hindsight that this act of legislation was merely a step towards legal rights for footballers which are more generally recognised in other branches of industry. It is further argued that the history of the legal status of professional footballers cannot be adequately conceptualised by the frequently employed schema 'illegality - legality - freedom', representing a three stage teleological evolution of the professional player as outhw prior to 1885, then as legitimate and respectable between 1885 and 1963 and finally as free and bourgeois from 1963 onwards. The denial of such a fictitious history involves the detailed historical and sociological investigation of the various, often contradictory, legal and social statuses of the professional footballer since his initial constitution as a legal subject in the late nineteenth century. Such investigation involves the major theoretical question in the study of law, that is, what exactly it is that is involved in legal 'recognition': in other words in being, or not being, a legal subject or legal 'person'. It is hoped that this thesis sheds some light on this question from a general and specific viewpoint.