Thursday, September 13, 2012

Talkin' 'bout a revolution

So, after the usual bout of frantic activity, the transfer window closed on 31st August. We may not have made waves ourselves this time around, but it's an interesting fact that we were a key player in the landmark test case that revolutionised the transfer system and helped to make it what it is today.

Before Jean-Marc Bosman there was George Eastham, a midfielder/forward on our books from 1956 until 1960 who went on to play for England and feature in the World Cup-winning squad. By 1959 Eastham was disgruntled with the club for a variety of reasons: the quality of the accommodation we were providing for him, the second job we'd fixed him up with (not something today's players are likely to complain about...) and our extreme reluctance to allow him to turn out for England U23s. As a result he refused to sign a new contract and asked for a transfer, only for the club to deny him a move - something they could do under the then-existent retain and transfer system by keeping hold of his registration.

Eastham finally got his move (to Arsenal) in late 1960, but felt sufficiently passionate about the injustice of having been denied freedom of movement to continue pursuing the case, backed by the support of the PFA. It eventually reached the High Court in 1963, when the ruling came the following year, it went against the club, finding us guilty of unfairly restricting trade and thereby handing unprecedented power to players to determine their own destinations and futures.

So, it's largely thanks to George Eastham's determination that those customary flurries of summer deals are possible at all. And next time you read about a pampered millionaire footballer complaining about being a slave, take it with more than a pinch of salt and politely suggest to the complainant that things would be much worse were it not for Eastham.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:04 p.m.  
Blogger Ben said...

Cheers - you mean photos, or graphics in the side bar? Not sure why that would be, though we've been having a few formatting problems with the new Blogger interface. A case of cursing them for fixing something that wasn't broken!

1:07 p.m.  

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