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Professional Footballers' Association

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The aims of the PFA are to protect, improve and negotiate the conditions, rights and status of all professional players by collective bargaining agreements1

The PFA is affiliated with the Professional Footballers' Association Scotland The Northern Ireland PFA disbanded in 19952


  • 1 History
    • 11 The Players' Union
    • 12 Threatened strike action in 1909
    • 13 Continuing battles with the Football League
    • 14 Modernisation
    • 15 Sexism Controversy
  • 2 PFA Awards
  • 3 Present day objectives
  • 4 Centenary
  • 5 Key personnel
    • 51 Management committee
      • 511 Past Chairmen
    • 52 Chief Executives
    • 53 PFA Executives
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 Further reading
  • 9 External links


The Players' Unionedit

"Outcasts FC" photograph taken before the 1909–10 season

The PFA was formed on 2 December 1907 as the Association of Football Players' and Trainers' Union the AFPTU, commonly referred to at the time as the Players' Union On that date, Charlie Roberts and Billy Meredith who had been involved in the AFU, both of Manchester United, convened the Players' Union at Manchester’s Imperial Hotel

This was the second attempt to organise a union of professional footballers in England, after the Association Footballers' Union the "AFU", formed in 1898, had been dissolved in 1901 The AFU had failed in its objectives of bringing about a relaxation of the restrictions on the movement of players from one club to another in the Football League and preventing the introduction of a maximum wage of £4 per week for players in the Football League

Like the AFU before it, the Players' Union intended to challenge the maximum wage and the restriction on transfers, in the form of the "retain and transfer" system

Threatened strike action in 1909edit

When the Players' Union made its objectives clear in 1909, the Football Association withdrew its recognition of the Union, which at that time was seeking to join the UK's General Federation of Trade Unions ‘GFTU’

In response, the Union threatened strike action The Football Association in turn banned players affiliated with the AFPTU before the start of the 1909–10 season The ban saw membership of the Union fall However, players from Manchester United refused to relinquish their membership League clubs turned to amateur players to replace players that had been banned, but Manchester United were not able to find enough replacements, risking the cancellation of their opening fixture at home to Bradford City The Manchester United players were called "Outcasts FC"3

The deadlock swung in favour of the Union when Tim Coleman of Everton came out in support of the Union Coleman's intervention resuscitated support for the Union, which regained its strength of numbers Agreement was reached on official recognition for the Union in exchange for allowing bonus payments to be made to players to supplement the maximum wage The maximum wage remained for more than another half century4

Continuing battles with the Football Leagueedit

The 1910s saw the Union backing a challenge by Herbert Kingaby against the retain and transfer system in the courts Kingaby brought legal proceedings against his former employers, Aston Villa, for preventing him from playing The Players' Union funded the proceedings Erroneous strategy by Kingaby's counsel resulted in the suit ending disastrously for the Union5 The Union were almost ruined financially and membership fell drastically

Although membership increased from 300 in 1915 to well over 1000 by 1920 this did not herald a new era of radicalism among the rank-and-file Widespread unemployment heralded declines in attendance at Football League matches at a time when many clubs had, once again, committed themselves to expensive ground improvement programmes in the expectation that the post-war spectator boom would continue indefinitely Inevitably, this caused financial difficulties at many clubs Clubs believed their problems were due to players' excessive wages rather than over-expansion In the spring of 1922, they persuaded the League authorities to arbitrarily impose a £1 cut to the maximum wage £9 a week at that time and force clubs to reduce the wages of players who were on less than the maximum Legal proceedings backed by the Players' Union this time established that clubs could not unilaterally impose a cut in players' contracted wages5

Between 1946 and 1957 the Chairman of the Union was former Portsmouth captain Jimmy Guthrie His book Soccer Rebel, published in 1976, documents his chairmanship and the struggle of the Union to improve the lot of professional footballers in the years preceding the abolition of the maximum wage

In 1955, the union affiliated to the Trades Union Congress TUC6


In 1956, Jimmy Hill became secretary of the Players' Union He soon changed the union's name to the Professional Footballers' Association the "PFA", changing a blue collar image to one in keeping with the new wave of working-class actors and entertainers7

In 1957, Jimmy Hill became chairman of the PFA and campaigned to have the Football League's £20 maximum wage scrapped, which he achieved in January 19618 His Fulham teammate Johnny Haynes became the first £100 player

The PFA also backed George Eastham in his legal action against the retain and transfer system, providing him with £15,000 to pay for his legal fees The case was brought against his former club, Newcastle United, in the High Court In 1963, The Court held that the retain and transfer system was an unreasonable restraint of trade

From 1960, the union began representing trainers, and for a time was known as the "Professional Footballers' and Trainers' Association"6

The union decided to register under the Industrial Relations Act 1971, something the TUC opposed As a result, it left the TUC in 1973, finally rejoining in 19956

Sexism Controversyedit

In 1997 some Sheffield United players invited their agent, Rachel Anderson, to the annual awards dinner9 Anderson was turned away by then PFA Deputy Chief Executive Brendon Batson because she is a woman10

The following year, when West Ham United FC player Julian Dicks invited Anderson to attend the dinner,10 Anderson contacted the PFA to find out what their reaction would be9 On receiving a response that she would indeed be banned Anderson decided to go public and take the PFA to court10 As a result, the Minister for Sport, Tony Banks, and the Chief Executive of The Football Association, Graham Kelly boycotted the event11

Anderson won in court and the financial cost to the PFA was considerable, Anderson suggests "over £200,000",9 of which she received £7,500 for "hurt feelings" and an undisclosed amount for "reasonable costs"10

In 2013 the PFA instituted awards for the PFA Women's Players' Player of the Year Kim Little was the recipient in the first year12

PFA Awardsedit

In 1974, the PFA created three awards to be given to players – or people who have contributed a lot to the game – every yearcitation needed

  • Players' Player of the Year award: Given to the player voted the best of the season by his fellow players
  • Young Player of the Year award: Given to the young player voted the best of the season by the PFA
  • Merit Award: Given to the person who has contributed the most to football over the season, as voted for by the PFA

In 1974 they introduced the first team based award:

  • Team of the Year award: Given to eleven players in each league forty-four players in total who are deemed the best of the season by the PFA

In 2001, they created another award:citation needed

  • Fans' Player of the Year award: Given to the player voted the best of the season by the fans

In 2013 and 2014 respectively, the PFA instituted the first female awards:

  • PFA Women's Players' Player of the Year award: Given to the female player voted the best of the season by her fellow players12
  • PFA Young Women's Player of the Year award: Given to the young female player voted the best of the season by the PFA13

At this time the PFA Player of the Year award was renamed Men's PFA Player of the Year14 and the PFA Young Player of the Year was renamed Men's PFA Young Player of the Year15

Present day objectivesedit

In association with other football bodies, the PFA are the managing agents for the "Football Scholarship Programme" and the "Football in the Community Programme"

It is a member of the Institute of Professional Sport and FIFPro – the confederation of international football players' unions – as well as the Trades Union Congress Its current chief executive is Gordon Taylor, a former player with Blackburn Rovers Many of the key personnel within the PFA are also ex-professionals, including Deputy Chief Executives John Bramhall and Bobby Barnes16

The PFA also fund various education programmes for ex and current players The oldest is a link with the University of Salford which has been running since 1991 and which by 2007 had seen over 70 players complete degrees in Physiotherapy Additionally players complete Sports Science degrees from Manchester Metropolitan University and Professional Sports Writing and Broadcasting degrees at Staffordshire University,1718 in addition to other programmes including fitness training, training to become driving instructors and various other initiatives

From 2001/02 season, the PFA worked closely with the Press Association as part of the Football Live project, to manage a team of up to 80 ex-professional footballers to provide statistical information live from all English Football Matches This agreement switched to OPTA when they successfully took over the supply of data from 2012/13 season

The PFA also funds a residential rehabilitation scheme that allows any injured member to attend the Lilleshall Sports Injury Rehabilitation centre for physiotherapy and sports injury treatment free of charge to the player or club The scheme is designed to complement the medical care available at the players own club Many club Physios refer their players to Lilleshall with the intention of providing a change of environment This helps to maintain the motivation & interest of long term injured players The free sports injury and physiotherapy services are based at the Lilleshall Hall National Sports Centre in Shropshire1920


2007 brought along the 100th year since the foundation of The Players Union, and to commemorate the centenary year, the PFA launched their "One Goal One Million" campaign The campaign involved a whole year of celebratory fund-raising activities with the aim of raising £1 million to fully fund a new children's rehabilitation and physiotherapy unit at the University Children’s Hospital, Manchester Throughout the year the PFA ran a number of high-profile events involving current and former players and managers with the sole purpose of reaching the £1 million target21 Events included a pro-celebrity golf event, race days and initiatives involving younger supporters On the day that the PFA was formed in 1907 – 2 December – there was a match between an England Legends XI – captained by Alan Shearer and managed by Terry Venables – and a World Legends XI – captained by Gianfranco Zola and managed by Jürgen Klinsmann – culminating in a gala dinner in the evening involving a host of top entertainers

In December of the centenary year, the PFA issued Fans' Favourites; a list of the favourite players at each Football League club In making the selection, the PFA canvassed the opinions of the supporters of present, and some former, League clubs about their favourite player22

Key personneledit

Management committeeedit

  • Chairman: Ritchie Humphreys Chesterfield, League One
  • Adam Barrett Southend United, League One
  • Peter Clarke Oldham Athletic, League One
  • Stephen Darby Bradford City, League One
  • Andy Frampton
  • George Friend Middlesbrough, Premier League
  • Lee Grant Stoke City, Premier League
  • Brede Hangeland
  • Grant Holt Hibs, Scottish Championship
  • Matt Jarvis Norwich City, Championship
  • Ben Purkiss Port Vale, League One
  • Paul Rachubka Bury, League One
  • Casey Stoney Liverpool Ladies, FA WSL 1
  • Kolo Touré Celtic, Scottish Premiership
  • Peter Vincenti Rochdale, League One
  • Jonathan Walters Stoke City, Premier League
  • Ashley Williams Everton, Premier League

Past Chairmenedit

  • Jimmy Guthrie
  • Jimmy Hill
  • Gordon Taylor
  • Brian Marwood
  • Derek Dougan
  • Garth Crooks 1988–1990
  • Pat Nevin 1993–1997
  • Barry Horne 1997–2001
  • Nick Cusack 2001–200223
  • Richard Jobson 2002–2003
  • Dean Holdsworth 2003–2005
  • Chris Powell 2005–2010
  • Clarke Carlisle 2010–2013

Chief Executivesedit

  • Chief Executive: Gordon Taylor
  • Deputy Chief Executive: Bobby Barnes
  • Deputy Chief Executive: John Bramhall

PFA Executivesedit

  • Richard Jobson
  • Martin Buchan
  • Nick Cusack

See alsoedit

  • The Players' Union
  • The Football Association
  • Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland
  • Football Writers' Association


  1. ^ The Professional Footballers' Association – About the PFA
  2. ^ "Irish League Footballing Greats, Northern Ireland PFA Player Of The Year" 
  3. ^ A forgotten part of Manchester United's history
  4. ^ How players won football's 100 years war, Independentcouk
  5. ^ a b McArdle, 'One Hundred Years of Servitude: Contractual Conflict in English Professional Football before Bosman'
  6. ^ a b c Arthur Marsh and John B Smethurst, Historical Directory of Trade Unions, vol5, p326
  7. ^ "From Meredith to Powell: 100 years of PFA chairmen" Professional Footballers' Association Retrieved 5 June 2010 
  8. ^ Harding, John 2009 Behind The Glory 100 Years Of The PFA pp 141–145 ISBN 978-1-85983-682-8 
  9. ^ a b c http://www1skysportscom/watch/video/9161156/anderson-backs-women-in-sport
  10. ^ a b c d https://wwwtheguardiancom/football/2013/apr/27/rachel-anderson-pfa-football
  11. ^ http://wwwindependentcouk/sport/football-banks-and-kelly-boycott-menonly-date-1153800html
  12. ^ a b http://wwwthepfacom/thepfa/pfaawards/winners
  13. ^ http://wwwthepfacom/thepfa/pfaawards/martha-harris-wypoty,
  14. ^ http://wwwthepfacom/thepfa/pfaawards/luis-suarez-poty
  15. ^ http://wwwthepfacom/thepfa/pfaawards/eden-hazard-ypoty
  16. ^ Key Personnel in the PFA
  17. ^ Hats off to our super students
  18. ^ PFA Feature
  19. ^ Lilleshall Sports Injury Rehab Limited - Rehab Program Provider
  20. ^ Turn2Us Listing Regarding PFA Rehabilitation Scheme at Lilleshall
  21. ^ The Professional Footballers' Association – Introduction
  22. ^ Smith, Martin 19 December 2007 "Best footballers: Shearer a hero on two fronts" Daily Telegraph London Retrieved 22 May 2010 
  23. ^ "Cusack in the PFA chair" BBC Sort 7 November 2001 

Further readingedit

  • Jimmy Guthrie 1976 Soccer Rebel: The Evolution of the Professional Footballer Pentagon Books ISBN 0-904288-08-0 
  • John Harding 2014 Behind The Glory The Official History of the Professional Footballers Association DB Publishing ISBN 978-1780913865
  • Jimmy Hill 1961 Striking for Soccer Peter Davies, London & Sportsmans Book Club, London 1963

External linksedit

  • The Official website of the Professional Footballers' Association

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