The Birth of Professional Football

The first cup of the Football Association was organised in the 1871-1872 football season. The full name of the cup was the Football Association Challenge Cup. Because the Football Association is the oldest in the world, there is no word “English” in its title or the title of the cup itself. There were simply no other football associations in the world and so the founders of the association didn’t feel the need to include the words “English” or “British” in the name of the association.

By the time the association created the cup, it had about fifty members. Only fifteen members decided that they wanted to compete in the first cup. As years passed by, the cup became more and more popular. By 1883, it had over 100 participants.

For the first twelve years of the existence of the cup, one team was killing it every year. It was a team of amateur players from the South. However, in 1883 they were beaten by Blackburn Olympic because one of the sponsors of the team paid the players to take a week off work to focus on preparing for the cup.

This was the rudimentary beginning of the professional football even though the official rules of the Football Association banned professional playing. Nobody complained about people taking time off work until 1884 when a team of amateurs called Upton Park played against a professional team called Preston North End. The amateur players felt that their opponents had an unfair advantage, which is why they decided to complain. As a result of this complaint, the Football Association banned Preston North End and some other teams from competing in the cup. In response, the banned teams threatened to form their own association.

The FA considered the situation and decided to allow professional football. 1882 was the last year when an amateur team won the association cup.

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