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Business in Britain in the Twentieth CenturyDecline and Renaissance?$

Richard Coopey and Peter Lyth

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199226009

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226009.001.0001

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British Sport Transformed: Sport, Business, and the Media since 1960

British Sport Transformed: Sport, Business, and the Media since 1960

Chapter:
(p.330) Chapter 17 British Sport Transformed: Sport, Business, and the Media since 1960
Source:
Business in Britain in the Twentieth Century
Author(s):

Dilwyn Porter (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226009.003.0018

Abstract and Keywords

Sport in Britain, especially elite sport, has been transformed over the period since 1960, increasingly taking on the appearance and attributes of big business. This chapter discusses three important aspects of this transformation. Firstly, the institutions governing British sport, most of them dating from the era of amateur hegemony, which began in the mid 19th century, were subject to a long drawn-out process of modernization, starting in the early 1960s when the distinction between ‘gentlemen’ and ‘players’ was abandoned in English cricket and ending with the arrival of ‘open’ rugby union in 1995. Secondly, as the constraints on commercialism dating from the amateur era were progressively abandoned, sport and business became more closely related as companies began to view sports sponsorship as a cost-effective way of raising consumer awareness of the goods and services that they offered. It is argued that the demands of building relationships with sponsors helped to change the way that sports businesses were run, as the stadium gradually made way for the ‘tradium’. Thirdly, it is clear that business sponsorship, the effectiveness of which was determined by the level of television exposure, helped to push sport into an ever-closer relationship with the media, especially television. The part played by the media, especially BSkyB, in bringing about structural changes in English football and rugby league since the 1990s are explored against this backdrop.

Keywords:   sports, cricket, football, rugby football, snooker, business, advertising, sponsorship, media, BBC

Sport is not a game. It is a business. (Financial Times, 21 Jul. 1997)

If there was ever any doubt that football was more than a game, the press coverage generated by England's failure to qualify for the final stages of Euro 2008 would have settled the issue. While the sports pages criticized a disappointing performance against Croatia, there was an abundance of news and comment reflecting the relationship between sport, business, and the media. The Football Association (FA) was said to have missed out on £150 million in revenue to have been derived from licenses to manufacture and sell endorsed products – items ranging from replica shirts to inflatable hands, soft toys, and beer – that would not now be taken up. The negative impact of England's defeat on consumer spending was estimated to be over £1 billion. At Independent Television (ITV), which had bought the rights to screen the tournament, England's exit was estimated to have cost between £10 and £12 million in lost advertising revenue, perhaps £14 million if England had reached the final. Some consolation, however, could be derived from the news that a better than expected World Cup performance by England's rugby union team a few months earlier along with Lewis Hamilton's bid for the Formula One drivers’ championship had generated huge viewing figures for ITV so that advertising revenues still showed an increase over the previous year.1

Thus the events of a single year in modern sport demonstrate how a goalkeeping error, a refereeing decision, or a mechanical failure can impact on businesses located well beyond the boundaries of sport itself. They are also indicative of the way in which sport in Britain has been transformed since 1960. There is, of course, a long‐standing relationship between sport and business. What has happened since sport established itself as a form of commercialized entertainment in the late nineteenth century is that this relationship has become progressively more structured and more visible, a process in which the growth of business sponsorship has played a major part. In the 1930s, according to the FA's Sir Frederick Wall, the ‘financial side’ of the game was likely to arise wherever football was discussed. By the end of the twentieth century, its importance was such that it had changed the way in which football was talked about. ‘Gone were (p.331) the game's familiar terms and phrases’, observed James Walvin. ‘The game which had for a century been the people's game was now discussed as an ‘investment vehicle’.2 There was an element of hyperbole here – excusable on account of the rapidity with which change had occurred in the 1990s and the relatively new phenomenon of an active market in the shares of leading clubs – but there was certainly an increasing tendency to discuss football and other sports as if they were branches of commerce. ‘What newspapers call sports sections nowadays’, one journalist recently observed, ‘often look as though they should be tacked onto the financial page’.3

If its relationship with business has changed sport and the way we think about it, so too has its relationship with the media. Again, the connection goes back a long way. Sport and the media have had a symbiotic relationship since the late nineteenth century. ‘There was never any doubt in the minds of both newspaper proprietors and editors that racing results and tips sold newspapers’, Tony Mason has argued. ‘Football coverage probably helped too’.4 The rapid transmission of sports news was the activity on which the British sporting press was founded. Results, statistics, match reports, and transfer gossip – the formula popularized by the newspaper industry's sporting ‘pinks’ and ‘greens’ – now constitute the stock‐in‐trade of Sky Sports News, their direct descendant. The advent of radio and then television changed the relationship between sport and the media and eventually raised it to a new level of interdependence. Whereas the publicity provided by the press was an unqualified benefit in that it generated and sustained public interest in the entertainment on offer, coverage by the broadcast media (especially live coverage) was more problematic in that it offered new ways of consuming sport without the inconvenience of leaving home and having to pay for entrance. Though there was variation from sport to sport, the relationship with television evolved gradually up to the 1980s. ‘After at first being barred from many sports events because of its likely impact on crowd attendances’, one media historian has observed, ‘and then admitted only on the strictest conditions, television has gradually begun to take them over, in some instances adapting them to its own particular requirements by changing the way in which they are played’.5 It is commonplace, for example, for major sporting events to be timed to meet the requirements of television, rather than for the convenience of paying spectators. It is often argued now that the relationship with the media has effectively changed the nature of sport itself. ‘For many people’, as Garry Crawford has suggested, ‘(and for most of the time) sport is television sport’. This fusion of sport and communications has led some social scientists to refer to ‘a new genetic strain called MediaSport’.6

Though there are difficulties in defining the limits of the sports business, it is clear that consumer spending on sport and sports‐related goods and services grew steadily through the twentieth century, accelerating rapidly from the mid‐1980s. John Benson has estimated that expenditure by active participants in sport was four times greater in real terms at the start of the 1980s than it had been in the 1920s while non‐participant expenditure doubled over the same period. He concludes that ‘as players, spectators and as gamblers, those interested in sport (p.332) became active, and often enthusiastic consumers of the sporting and sports‐related goods and services made available to them’.7 The Leisure Industries Research Centre noted that consumer expenditure on sport surged by 30 per cent in real terms between 1985 and 1995 when it reached a total of £10.4 billion, 2.33 per cent of total consumer expenditure. Over the same period, the number employed in sport and sports‐related services grew from 324,470 to 415,000, 1.61 per cent of total employment. Total consumer expenditure on sport stood at £15.2 billion by 2000, its high rate of growth in the late 1990s being in part attributable to a surge in satellite television subscriptions.8 The sustained long‐term growth indicated generally benign market conditions across the twentieth century. During the last two decades, when sports‐related expenditure grew faster than the economy of the United Kingdom as a whole, they were especially favourable as consumers were in a position to spend more on ‘luxuries’ than on ‘essentials’.9 Another way of looking at this is to view expenditure on sport as a function of ongoing developments in modern consumer societies. When people define themselves by what they consume rather than by what they produce an increasing proportion of income is spent on ‘experiential commodities’, such as holidays, leisure activities, and sport.

This suggests that it is best to work with broad rather than narrow definitions of the sports business. ‘Sport’ straddles a wide range of competitive and recreational activities in the market and non‐market sectors of the economy. In addition, it tends to spill over from one business sector to another, blurring the boundaries by which they might otherwise be recognized. The line between sportswear and fashion is increasingly hard to discern.10 Stephen Hardy has provided a way of negotiating this territory by defining sport as ‘a three‐part commodity’. ‘These parts’, he explains, ‘which can exist in isolation but which reach full expression in combination, are as follows: the activity or game form, the service, and the goods’. Once a game form with recognized rules has become established, it is subject to a ‘period of discovery’ when the willingness of consumers to pay in order to play, watch, or otherwise engage in it – ‘in essence exchanging money to derive their personal use‐value from their own form of involvement’ – is determined. This phase in the economic development of sport is characterized by the emergence of a variety of sports‐related services, including the media. Finally, having argued that sport is commodified via the development of related services, ‘sports goods’ are defined rather narrowly as ‘the physical objects necessary to the game form’ (e.g. balls, bats, sports clothing) that are indicated by the rules’.11 British sport in the second half of the twentieth century saw significant developments in game forms, as it adapted to an increasingly competitive commercial climate; it saw a huge development of sports services for participants and spectators, most evident in golf courses, sports centres, fitness clubs, new stadia, and the broadcast media. Finally, the manufacture and sale of equipment and clothing have grown enormously. Hardy's definition of the sports product is helpful; it recognizes a dynamic relationship with the market and embraces both competitive and recreational sport. This is important when considering an era that saw darts, once a recreational game played in (p.333) pubs, acquire a world championship, a commercially sponsored professional circuit and a substantial television audience.

The intention here is to focus on the way in which sport has been transformed since the early 1960s. During this period, the bodies governing British sport were subject to pressures that led them to abandon the amateur, anti‐commercial ethos that had shaped their activities since the mid‐nineteenth century, thus removing many of the constraints that had inhibited the development of sports business. Though modernization was slow and uneven – arguably it was incomplete until rugby union went ‘open’ in 1995 – the institutional changes that occurred made it possible for sport to benefit from a closer relationship with business, to become more businesslike in the way it conducted its affairs and eventually to be recognized as a business in itself. Aside from the stimulus of competition with other forms of entertainment, the process of transformation in British sport was shaped by two external influences – business sponsorship and television, the latter being the most powerful factor determining the nature of the sports product by the end of the century. At the same time, it is important to recognize that the growth of the sports business reflects long‐term trends in consumer expenditure. In the ten years after 1985, the era which saw the advent of football's Premier League and open rugby, the fastest growing areas of consumer expenditure on sport were participants’ fees and club subscriptions (up 115 per cent) and spending on clothes and footwear (both up 105 per cent).12 Selling recreational sport and leisure services, along with associated sportswear and equipment, to recreational joggers or to women keeping fit and losing weight at local sports centres, was as important a feature of sports business as the much publicized corporate romance between the Premier League and British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB).

Opening up: British sport in the 1960s

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Britain succumbed to anxious introspection. Readers were submerged under a wave of ‘state‐of‐the‐nation’ literature; a series of Penguin ‘specials’ asked ‘What's Wrong with Britain?’ If a unifying theme was discernible, it was that the people running the country were out‐of‐touch and that its institutions were out‐of‐date: ‘the fusty Establishment, with its Victorian views and standards of judgement, must be destroyed’.13 The institutions that had governed British sport since the middle of the nineteenth century were also called to account. Most of them appeared to be the very embodiment of Victorianism, not least in the importance they assigned to amateurism and the anti‐commercial ethos that it encompassed. ‘Even sports in which professionals played a prominent part’, as Richard Holt has noted, ‘were frequently run by amateurs’.14 It did not help that British sportsmen and women often appeared to underperform in international competition or that sports which had once attracted large crowds were losing their appeal.

(p.334) In these circumstances the ‘amateurs’ who governed British sport were fair game. According to an Economist survey of the state of British sport in 1960, cricket's governing body, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) ‘did very much as it likes’, even if it was not always in the best long‐term interests of the game. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) – ‘old farts’ many years before Will Carling applied the label – was condemned for its continuing vendetta against rugby league and the Football League, where England's ninety‐two full‐time professional clubs were located, for looking inwards and backwards at the same time.

The League's objective is the familiar one of many small trade associations (once very prevalent in manufacturing but now declining there thanks to the Restrictive Trades Practices Act) – that of keeping as many small and inefficient firms as possible in being. To this end it operates a rigid system of dividend limitation (which prevents any dynamic commercial types coming into the business and building attractive new stadia) and an even more rigid system of wage limitation (which keeps bright young men out of professional football and is one reason why England nowadays is beaten by teams like Brazil, who do not have to rely on the typically bovine ‘failed eleven‐plus’ types that League football so largely depends on).15 Like the MCC and the RFU, the football authorities – both the Football League and the FA – had autocratic tendencies. Critics were subject to ‘a dubious form of censorship’ and disciplined if they spoke out.16

These criticisms seemed especially relevant at a time when many British sports, especially those that relied heavily on gate receipts, appeared to be failing. Attendances at Football League matches fell from forty‐one million in 1948–9 to twenty‐eight million in 1961–2; ‘Soccer's Missing Millions’ became a sports page cliché. Some other sports fared even worse. Rugby league attendances declined even more dramatically from 6.8 million in 1949–50 to below three million in 1959–60. Clubs struggled to find the money for wages, ground maintenance and, until they were mercifully released from the burden in 1957, a 16 per cent Entertainment Tax on their declining gate receipts. They increasingly depended on funds raised by supporters’ clubs through football pools, lotteries, and raffles.17 Greyhound racing, another working‐class entertainment that enjoyed a boom in the immediate post‐war period, also suffered declining attendances in the 1950s and 1960s. Here the downward trend was accentuated by the impact of the 1960 Betting and Gaming Act which legalized off‐course betting.18

The problem was especially evident in the lower reaches of the Football League, though here the clubs were offered a degree of protection by the imposition of a maximum wage. ‘The real hope of the smaller clubs at present’, noted the Economist, ‘is to discover a youthful star, and sell him for a large transfer fee to a bigger’. If a percentage of the transfer fee was paid to footballers, as their union was demanding, ‘or if higher clubs were allowed to lure players away by the offer of higher maximum wages, this system of finance would collapse’. With two‐thirds of the ninety‐two League clubs in the red, the situation was indeed precarious as Accrington Stanley was to discover when its cash flow dried up (p.335) during the grim winter of 1961–2 leading to its resignation from the competition in midseason. ‘The existing organisation and wage restrictions’, the Economist had observed earlier, ‘…are designed to keep a host of small clubs in small towns like Accrington barely alive’. Now, it seemed, the achievement of even this modest objective could not be guaranteed and the football authorities were advised to embrace rationalization before market forces made it inevitable.19

The suggestion was sometimes made that winter‐season sports businesses, should switch to summer so as to take advantage of lighter evenings and warmer weather, but the experience of county cricket clubs during this period was hardly encouraging. In English cricket, cash‐strapped clubs were playing in front of dwindling crowds from May to September, down from two million in 1950 to 750,000 in 1960. It did not help that summer was the time of year when opportunities to pursue other leisure activities were maximized. ‘Accepting the principle that cricket never has and never will be a money‐making concern’, the Essex and England all‐rounder Trevor Bailey wrote in 1961, ‘there is every reason to suppose that the game in its present form will continue for years to come’.20 As it turned out, he was wrong, but his attitude of resignation was illuminating for it seemed that many had given up any hope of making first‐class cricket pay. Significantly, Warwickshire's reputation as the most enterprising of the seventeen first‐class county clubs in the 1950s was due largely to its success in developing a weekly football pool.21

The crisis conditions that many sports were experiencing by the early 1960s did generate a series of reforms which were of long‐term significance for the business development of sport, even though they were often undertaken reluctantly. Where reform was most radical, as in cricket and tennis, it involved a decisive breach with the amateur traditions that had kept commerce at a distance. In this respect the symbolic significance of the MCC's abandonment of the class‐based distinction between gentlemen (amateurs) and players (professionals) in 1962 was hugely important even though it might be seen simply as a rational response to a decline in the number of cricketers with sufficient time, money and talent to play as amateurs at the top level. ‘At the time’, as Derek Birley has argued, ‘the outside world, on the brink of the Beatles era, no doubt regarded it as a sign that even the MCC saw the need for change. In fact, their pre‐occupation, then as afterwards, was for the preservation of the obsolete pattern of county cricket’.22 Within these constraints the professionalization of county cricket's labour force helped to underpin the era of commercialization that was to follow. In order that the game form to which traditionalists were devoted (three‐day county matches) might continue, it was necessary to subsidize it via the revenue that could be derived from what was often referred to as ‘instant cricket’; firstly the Gillette Cup (1963) and later the John Player League (1969) and the Benson and Hedges Cup (1972), each offering a variety of ‘limited‐overs’ matches that guaranteed a result at the end of a single day's play. Professionalization facilitated the transition to a regime which imposed new and greater demands on cricketers as they travelled the county circuit, often having to adapt to two or three versions of the game within a week, which included play on Sundays from 1966. It was, in the (p.336) parlance of the trade, ‘a lot of hard yakka’, a working life rather than a gentlemanly pursuit.23

The arrival of open tennis at Wimbledon a few years later supplied another symbolic breach with sport's amateur past. As in cricket, tennis was subject to the overriding influence of a private members’ club, the All England Tennis and Croquet Club, whose annual tournament at Wimbledon was a money‐spinner. At the start of the 1960s, Wimbledon was an amateur tournament. This meant that many of the world's best players were excluded. Paying spectators and a growing television audience continued to find it attractive – perhaps as much for its social ambience as for the tennis – and this helped to sustain elements within the game resistant to change. The pressure of external competition appears to have been critical here. The International Lawn Tennis Federation had come very close to sanctioning open tennis in 1960; major championships in the United States, Australia, and France were considering moving in that direction. ‘If Wimbledon does not follow them’, noted The Economist, ‘it could then no longer claim to be one of the top tournaments of the world’.24 By 1967, the steady drift of top amateurs into the professional ranks proved decisive. Disguised payments in the form of generous allowances for expenses were proving insufficiently attractive. When the All England Club announced that the 1968 tournament would be open, it was in the knowledge that ‘not merely the reigning Wimbledon champion (John Newcombe) but an entire supporting cast [was] disappearing into the professional ranks’.25 That this represented ‘game, set and match’ for professionalism and the intensified commercialism that came with it was evident by 1972 when Lamar Hunt's World Championship Tennis demanded a fee for its contracted players to participate at Wimbledon. Thereafter the commercial success enjoyed by professional tennis ensured that it was sometimes singled out as an example for other sports businesses to follow. In a highly competitive climate its tournament promoters were driven to exploit all available sources of revenue – paying spectators, sales of television rights, advertising, and sponsorship.26

While cricket abandoned the ‘gentlemen’ and tennis went open, football's symbolic breach with the past came when the Football League, under pressure from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), agreed to abolish the maximum wage system in 1961. It is possible to overstate the backwardness of British football at the start of the 1960s. Top clubs, with Hibernian leading the way in 1956 and Manchester United following in 1957, now engaged in European competition; the two‐legged ties played under floodlights in mid‐week offering an exotic variation on the customary domestic game. Floodlights were an important innovation enabling matches to kick‐off at times that spectators might find more convenient. Most professional football clubs in England and Scotland installed them between 1958 and 1961, often using funds supplied by supporters’ clubs. There was some resistance; ‘I don't think there is any future in it at all’, complained Gillingham's chairman. Other clubs saw it as a marketing opportunity: at Stockport County, where fans might be tempted by a short trip to see one of the Manchester clubs on a Saturday afternoon, the local club relaunched itself (p.337) with floodlights under the slogan ‘Friday Night is County Night’.27 Rebranding and a greater attention to customer care was especially evident at Coventry City whose enterprising chairman, Derek Robins, and manager, Jimmy Hill, promoted the ‘Sky Blue Revolution’, transforming the club's fortunes on and off the field in the process.28

Yet, despite these signs of enterprise, the structures that had characterized professional football since the late nineteenth century remained unchanged. This was especially evident in the League's determination to defend its maximum wage regulations along with terms of employment (‘retain and transfer’) weighted heavily in favour of the employers. ‘It is not too fanciful’, Dave Russell has observed, ‘to argue that football symbolised the world of industrial relations as the businessmen who largely ran the clubs would have liked it to be’.29 As the League's dispute with the players’ trade union came to a head in 1960–1, the abandonment of its restrictive practices was often regarded as a test of football's willingness to modernize. With strike action threatened by the PFA, the Economist came down firmly on the side of reform, linking the maximum wage to wider issues of competitiveness and changing consumer expectations:

…professional football is no longer a sport, it is an entertainment. To keep star players’ wages artificially low is to condemn this entertainment to remain at the level of a third‐rate repertory performance rather than where it should be, on the level of high‐class West End (or Eurovision) drama. The day of the cloth‐capped, faithful supporter of the local professional team has passed. Now that he can afford to travel to the nearest city to see a really good game – or to watch one on television (screening of star matches for a fat fee should be part of the League's reform) – the old‐fashioned fan has not so much died as been transported to a higher sphere.30

It was also clear that the labour market for star footballers was now international. The wage ceiling, which applied in both the Football League (England) and the Scottish League, increased the possibility that the best players would be tempted by the salaries and non‐wage benefits on offer in Italy, following the example set by John Charles, who had moved from Leeds United to Juventus in 1957. Thus when the PFA secured an agreement to end the maximum wage, it seemed an especially significant breakthrough. The Economist welcomed the news that England captain Johnny Haynes was to earn £7,000 a year playing for Fulham, ‘just like any other valuable entertainer’.31 The future of retain and transfer took longer to resolve and the PFA was reluctant to push the outcome of the case brought by George Eastham against Newcastle United in 1963 to its logical conclusion. Thus, though the courts ruled that it was ‘unreasonable and therefore illegal’ for a club to retain a player's registration at the end of his contract, a compromise was reached allowing them to protect their financial interest in transfer values while mitigating the hardships of ‘soccer slavery’. This was not the freedom of movement later achieved via the Bosman ruling of 1995 but, as John Harding has argued, ‘the professional player was now in a significantly better position vis‐à‐vis his employer than he had been all century’.32 The collection of mainly small businesses huddling under the protective umbrellas provided by the Football (p.338) and Scottish Leagues were thereafter less likely – and less able – to retain players against their will than before.

By the 1970s British sport had begun to shake off its nineteenth‐century legacy. The transition, however, was incomplete and the pattern of development uneven. Motor racing, where the commercialization of sport was most advanced, was something of a special case on account of the level of investment required to design, build, and race Formula One cars. It was already a sport dominated by manufacturers: cars were plastered with advertisements, mainly for oils and other motoring‐related products. The demise of Hesketh Racing in 1975 marked the end of sponsorship by the wealthy ‘amateur’ at this level. Lord Hesketh's ambitions to win the world championship with an all‐British car had foundered ‘on the costly realities of Grand Prix racing’.33 Some sports, especially tennis and golf, had been revolutionized and, at least in terms of elite performers and tournaments, were highly commercialized. Wimbledon, it was noted in 1979, eleven years after the first open tournament, was ‘an incongruously amateur shrine for the sport which can boast the largest number of teenage millionaires. In fact, it is run as an extremely successful business’.34 British golf followed a similar route in 1971 via the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) whose tournament director, Eric Jacobs, raised the prize money available on the professional circuit by determining which days of the golfing calendar were most valuable and stipulating that tournaments played on them should offer at least £15,000. ‘The business point of view has moved into British golf’, purred the Economist approvingly, ‘and the results are spectacular’. By 1976, the PGA had established a separate Tournament Players’ Division, under Jacobs's direction, with a remit to promote all professional golf tournaments in Britain.35 This strategy was designed to ensure that top players committed themselves to the British tournament circuit thus making it more attractive for spectators, viewers, and sponsors alike.

There was, it seems, more awareness than before of the need to make the sports product attractive to newly affluent consumers who might now be inclined spend their leisure time in other ways. From 1965, it was the policy of the Jockey Club, long regarded as a citadel of diehard conservatism, to promote horse racing ‘by making the spectator once more the focus of the sport’. Improving facilities for spectators became important. The British tendency to see sport as ‘character‐building’, The Economist observed dryly in 1973, was because facilities for players and spectators were ‘invariably so primitive that only the strongest characters could survive them’. It went on to praise the facilities offered by the new grandstand at Sandown Park which recognized ‘that the trend in leisure activities is for people to trade up’.36 In rugby league the mid‐1960s had seen ‘probably the biggest collective investment in stadia since the 1890s’.37 Modifying the basic game form was another sign of a more consumer‐aware attitude. This was, perhaps, most evident with one‐day cricket but there were changes elsewhere designed to enhance spectator appeal. Allowing substitutes (rugby league 1964; football 1965), for example, reduced the incidence of one‐sided contests when players were injured. The repeal of the Sunday Observance Act in 1969, though (p.339) some restrictions remained in place, opened the way for more sport to be played on what was becoming an increasingly secularized Sabbath. Football took a step in this direction by sanctioning Sunday matches for the first time during the fuel crisis of 1974, an initiative that enjoyed a good deal of popular support that was reflected in higher attendances.38

Elsewhere amateurism, and the indifference to business that went with it, remained relatively intact. Major Olympic sports, like athletics and swimming, were reluctant to abandon the amateur ideal though it was increasingly compromised; The Economist urged them to take ‘the tennis‐golf route’.39 Rugby union, whose officials lived and died by the amateur code, continued to resist modernization across the board. In Wales, where leading players were nominally amateur but ‘blindside remuneration’ was an open secret, clubs worked their way through a time‐honoured fixture list comprised largely of friendly matches against each other. There were as yet no knock‐out cup and no leagues. The ‘friendly match’, as D. J. Taylor has recently observed, remained ‘the locus classicus of the amateur ethic’.40 In England, the RFU remained attached to it, thus keeping professionalization, commerce, and the late twentieth century at a distance. ‘We were’, former Bedford and England international Derek Wyatt later recalled while reflecting on rugby union the mid‐1970s, ‘…happy in the tradition of the game. Coaching was still a dirty word; training was largely unscientific and progress something that happened in America’.41 Likewise, professional football, despite the changes that had occurred in the 1960s, was still in the age of maximizing utility rather than profit. FA regulations dating from the era of amateur hegemony, especially rule 43 which limited dividends to 7.5 per cent before tax and outlawed the direct remuneration of club directors, were said to ‘show a distaste for anyone seeking as a director to make a profit out of professional soccer’.42 The end of the maximum wage may have changed the environment in which football's small businesses operated but ‘Victorian views and standards of judgement’ lingered.

Agents of transformation: Business sponsorship and the media

Though the process of change was uneven and protracted it was sufficient to allow sport to develop closer links with business and to become more businesslike in the way that it conducted its affairs. This connection was especially clear in cricket where the abolition of status distinctions was quickly followed by deal with the razor and men's grooming product manufacturer Gillette to sponsor a new one‐day knock‐out competition from 1963. The phenomenal growth of commercial sponsorship in British sport since the 1960s has proved an especially important agent of transformation. While sports sponsorship ‘hardly existed’ before 1970, by 1999 it was estimated to be worth around £350 million annually.43 (p.340) Indeed, this figure was an underestimate in that it failed to capture arrangements between small businesses and local clubs which may account for as much as a quarter of the total. A recent history of a local table tennis association recalled such an arrangement with a local firm in the 1970s; ‘they gave us a new table, a good room and paid our registration fees the only proviso being that we played under their name’.44 A glance at junior football coverage in any local newspaper indicates that no self‐respecting parks side takes to the pitch these days in an unsponsored shirt. In addition, available estimates tend to measure only what is visible. Firms have often allocated significant time and human resources to servicing their sponsorship activities. Indeed, in some circumstances, it may well have been a major aspect of the work undertaken in relation to promotions and advertising. This would have applied especially to cigarette manufacturers forced to turn their attentions to sports sponsorship when they were prohibited from direct advertising on television in 1965.

British companies had long been alive to the advantages of associating themselves with sport, not least because of its appeal to male consumers. In both football and rugby league it was commonplace for beer to be advertised on perimeter fences and in match programmes as local suppliers ‘aimed to secure the same allegiance to their brews as to the team on the field’.45 Product endorsements by sports personalities also had a long history. Stanley Matthews, then England's most famous footballer, was paid £15 a week in the early 1950s (‘more than I earned with Blackpool’) to advertise the Cooperative Wholesale Society's football boots. Cricketer Denis Compton's relationship with Brylcreem has been well documented.46 Sponsorship, however, has generally involved a systematic rather than an opportunistic business relationship with sport. It has proved especially attractive to companies seeking to improve their image by association with a healthy activity that attracts public attention or to increase brand awareness with a view to securing improved market share. The ‘name awareness’ of Cornhill Insurance rose by 18 per cent in four years after the company began sponsoring test cricket in 1977. Sponsorship might also be used to enhance the appeal of a product by association with a particular sport. Gillette's investment in county cricket was designed to overcome consumer resistance to the company's ‘American’ image by linking it with a sporting activity deemed quintessentially ‘English’. In addition, there were companies that sought links with particular sports in order to secure their position in a niche market. Beefeater Gin's sponsorship of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, an event with an elite social cachet, seemed to fall into this category, along with Sanatogen's sponsorship of bowls, where elderly participants were deemed to be in particular need of cod liver oil and other dietary supplements.47

Although it is difficult to quantify precisely the benefits derived from sponsorship, it is clear that the business community learned to regard them as useful and significant. The trickle of money into sport – only £2.5 million according to the Sports Council in 1971 – had become a hugely important revenue stream by the end of the 1980s when sponsorship was running at over £200 million annually. Not all sports were equally favoured. ‘Small events’, it was noted in (p.341) 1971, ‘usually have to go looking for sponsors. Big events, with mass interest, have sponsors looking for them’. Thus the British Show Jumping Association, with their ‘big TV appeal’, could ‘dictate terms’ to potential sponsors while other governing bodies were ‘glad to take what they can get’. The Amateur Wrestling Association was reported to have approached thirty firms when seeking sponsorship for an international match but its efforts had produced only a bottle of whisky.48 The exposure offered by television was recognized as critical. Colonel Whitbread, brewer and former National Hunt rider, was one of the first to recognize the importance of this connection when he chose to sponsor a Gold Cup at Sandown Park rather than buy airtime on commercial television in 1957.49 This established an important trend. Companies increasingly viewed sports sponsorship ‘as a more effective way of reaching their desired audience than plain advertising’.50

By the 1980s, sponsorship had become ubiquitous in British sport. The Sports Council, which set up a Sports Sponsorship Advisory Service in 1981, identified 714 active commercial sponsors in 1981, 927 in 1982, and 1,067 by mid‐1983.51 Though a few diehard amateur sports remained aloof, most were prepared to reach some accommodation with the new paymasters. The RFU, along with its Welsh counterpart, had argued in 1971 that ‘commercial sponsorship is contrary to amateur principles’; by 1975, however, it had sold its new knock‐out competition to John Player for £100,000.52 The Jockey Club was moving decisively in the same direction, changing its rules in 1975 so that companies could own racehorses and advertise themselves by racing them under company names. Over 450 firms had taken advantage of this dispensation by 1979.53 By the mid‐1980s, it was commonplace for a sponsor's name to be linked to classic races such as the Holsten Pils St Leger and the Ever Ready Derby. The development of cricket sponsorship had been especially striking. The initial £6,500 invested by Gillette in 1963 had marked ‘the beginning of formal modern cricket sponsorship and the rebirth of active public interest in the sport’. When Gillette relinquished its sponsorship of the major one‐day knock‐out competition in 1981, the National Westminster Bank took over, agreeing to pay an index‐linked £250,000 a year for the privilege. The bank added a further £25,000 in 1982 to help cover the cost of extending the competition to the top thirteen minor counties, Scotland and Ireland. Yet the Nat West Bank Trophy was only one of six sponsored competitions in English first‐class cricket by 1982. In addition to test matches and one‐day internationals sponsored by Cornhill (£255,000) and Prudential Assurance (£120,000) respectively, there was a fifty‐five‐over, early season cup competition sponsored by Benson and Hedges (£207,000), a forty‐over league competition sponsored by John Player (£300,000), along with the traditional three‐day County Championship sponsored by Schweppes (£218,000).54

This trend accelerated throughout the 1980s. The unique status of the FA Cup, the oldest competition of its kind in the world, ensured that it remained unsponsored until 1994 but the Football League Cup, dating only from 1960, was renamed the Milk Cup in 1982 in recognition of its first sponsors, the Milk Marketing Board. The Football League accepted sponsorship from office (p.342) equipment manufacturers Canon in 1983; the Scottish League from supermarket chain Finefare two years later. For spectators, one of the most obvious changes was that players were increasingly likely to wear the name of the club sponsor on their shirts. This was permitted in rugby league from 1974 and arrived in the Football League in 1979, though the growth of this practice was inhibited by the BBC's insistence that the advertisements be removed if a match was to be televised, a somewhat perverse requirement in view of the free airtime it made available to sponsors of sports events, notably test cricket and snooker. Despite this constraint, removed in 1984, it was still possible to raise some useful money in this way. Hitachi paid £50,000 in 1979 to sponsor Liverpool's shirts. As The Economist commented, they were buying, ‘mobile billboards closely observed by 30,000 people for 90 minutes each week’.55 At club level sponsorship helped to compensate for diminishing revenue from gate receipts as attendances continued their downward trend, accelerated in the 1980s by the impact of recession and the perception that there were safer places to spend a Saturday afternoon than at a football stadium in the company of hooligans. It was, however, increasingly possible for corporate sponsors to insulate themselves and their match‐day guests from these grim realities in private boxes, first introduced by Manchester United at Old Trafford in 1964, and a feature at thirty‐four British club grounds by 1986.56 The proliferation of such facilities was an indication of the increasing importance of corporate hospitality, a development that was closely linked to business sponsorship of sport. The Sports Council noted that one company that allocated £50,000 annually to sports sponsorship – a major commitment in 1971 – dedicated half of this sum to entertaining customers.57 In this context, it made sense for sports businesses to supply these facilities themselves. At Wimbledon, the All England Club, recognizing that ‘companies are an important source of cash’, was soon providing BP, IBM, Barclays Bank, and other corporate clients with ‘up‐market entertainment in the shape of hospitality marquees plus tickets’.58

When, some years later, the Financial Times declared unequivocally that sport was a business, it was prompted by the news that Merchant Asset Management (MAM), the United Kingdom's largest fund‐management group, were sponsoring cricketer Brian Lara who had just scored a world‐record 501 for Warwickshire against Durham. MAM was seeking ‘to draw a connection between the excellence at sport of Lara…[and] its fund management skills’. It was also using cricket to target potential clients; 31.7 per cent of the television audience for cricket, it was noted, were classified in the socioeconomic group AB.59 This underlined the nature of sponsorship as a hard‐nosed commercial transaction. As far as British sport was concerned, it undoubtedly made a difference and cash was not the only consideration; there were perceived benefits ‘in associating with experience, know‐how and p.r.’ (sic).60 Given the importance of sponsorship as a lifeline, sports became more attuned to the requirements of business; it was important ‘to produce an idea – a product – worthy of the sponsor's money’.61 If this meant changing the game form, then so be it. In yachting, where powerful organizations like the Royal Ocean Racing Club were ‘sniffy’ about commerce, Admiral's Cup (p.343) competitors were prohibited from any kind of advertising display while racing. ‘Sponsors’, it was reported, ‘trust that such pettifogging restrictions will soon be swept away’. Frustrated race organizers circumvented these constraints in 1985, upstaging the main event by a race for ‘maxis’, replete with sponsors’ logos. ‘By starting the big boats 10 minutes earlier than the rest of the fleet, it was noted, “the organisers sidestepped the ban on advertising under existing rules” ’.62 Arguably, sponsorship encouraged enterprising behaviour of this kind. It was also clear that seeking, securing, and sustaining relationships with businesses imposed important disciplines. At county cricket clubs like Surrey, where even the drains were sponsored by the early 1980s, it was reported that ‘the need for cricket to go commercial and adopt business procedures is not in dispute’.63

Yet, though the impact of commercial sponsorship on British sport since the 1960s was financially beneficial, it was insufficient in itself to bring about the structural changes that have created the modern sports business. It became clear in the 1970s and 1980s that the sporting revolution, such as it was, was incomplete. Indeed, there was something to be said for the argument that sponsorship, by offering sports a lifeline, had sometimes perpetuated inefficiency and died‐in‐the‐wool conservatism. In English cricket, despite injections of sponsor's cash and the introduction of various forms of ‘instant’ cricket, the sums still did not add up, especially at county level. Reviewing the 1974 season Wisden's Cricketer's Almanack noted that several county clubs were ‘in serious financial difficulties’.64 Their precarious financial circumstances were indicative of a sport that was still walking backwards into the future. The announcement, in 1977, that Australian entrepreneur Kerry Packer had contracted fifty‐one test cricketers (including the England captain, and three of his colleagues) for his World Series Cricket (WSC) organization, administered a profound external shock. The prospect of alternative, ‘unofficial’, test and one‐day international matches, threatened an important revenue stream, especially as star players contracted to Packer would be unavailable for England. The Test and County Cricket Board (TCCB), responsible for the administration of first‐class cricket since 1968, responded by threatening any player who signed for WSC with a ban, a stance which proved unsustainable (and expensive) when it was challenged in court as an unreasonable restraint of trade.65

Throughout this affair, which might be seen as something of a watershed in the development of modern British sport, The Economist threw its weight behind Packer. This was consistent with its support for free markets where inefficient industries would be exposed to the discipline of competition. Cricket's Establishment came under renewed attack. It seemed that the arguments of the 1960s still applied:

…committees of gentlemen have proved the wrong bodies to seize sport's new financial bonanza. Big money does not now come mainly from gate receipts…; nor from television fees (although gentlemanly committees can kill the golden goose by demanding too large ones.) But when millions of like‐minded people all over the world are gazing fixedly at internationally televised sport, there is a huge market for all sorts of advertising: whether (p.344) by direct television advertisements, or placards on the grounds, or sponsorship, or by saying that folk‐hero Fred bowls faster because he eats shredded wheat.66

The outcome of the affair seemed to justify this stance. In need of cash to outbid Packer in the market for elite cricketing talent the TCCB was forced to seek sponsorship for the traditional version of test cricket that it valued so highly. Before the close of the 1977 season, it had secured a lucrative deal with Cornhill and with it the future of test cricket in its traditional form. ‘Once there was front‐page publicity about competition between “respectable” and “commercial” cricket’, The Economist crowed, ‘the sponsorship of respectable cricket was bound to become more attractive to those seeking the image of the respectable establishment's St George’.67 Test cricket, it should be noted, had previously been deemed too prestigious to sell to a commercial sponsor.

One aspect of the Packer affair that did not attract much comment at the time was that it illustrated the capacity of the media to transform sport. As Graeme Wright has observed, the TCCB was certainly alive to the commercial opportunities generated by their sport ‘but whereas for them the business was cricket, for Packer the business was commercial television’.68 The origins of the episode that wrought such profound change in cricket could be traced to the commercial rivalry between Packer and Rupert Murdoch, and the respective television channels that they owned in Australia. There was soon evidence from closer to home of the way in which television could make or break modern sport. Professional snooker, a downmarket entertainment with a limited audience, had entered a new era with the spread of colour television in the 1970s. Suddenly, as the telegenic properties of coloured balls on green baize became apparent, snooker began to attract major sponsors. ‘Only Wimbledon and the World Cup’, noted the Economist, can now compete as television sports with snooker’; scheduled television coverage rose by around 80 per cent, from 120 to 218 hours between 1980 and 1982.69 Snooker and other popular television sports provided companies with opportunities to expose their products to a mass audience at a relatively low cost. Wills Embassy cigarettes, sponsors of the World Professional Snooker Championship from 1976, according to one contemporary estimate, achieved media coverage in 1982 – the tournament was covered for eighty‐one hours over a seventeen‐day period – that would have cost £68 million at average television advertising rates for an outlay of only £200,000.70 Ironically, this was delivered by the BBC whose public‐service remit precluded advertising. Television coverage and the sponsorship opportunities it generated helped snooker move upmarket, from small halls to prestige venues; from modest winnings (£6,000 for the world championship winner in 1979) to prize money comparable to tennis or golf (£105,000 in 1989). Enhanced levels of competition underpinned snooker's popularity with television audiences, thus helping to attract more sponsors. The audience of 18.5 million viewers for the final frame of the 1985 World Championship was at the time the largest ever British audience for any programme screened after midnight. It helped to secure the Embassy connection until 2005, when sponsorship of sporting events by tobacco companies was (p.345) prohibited. Sports promoters, fearing that it would cause attendances to fall, had once sought to restrict television coverage; they now complained if they did not get enough of it.71

Rapid development of media technology ensured that the media, and television in particular, was powerfully placed to bring about a further instalment of major structural change in British sport by the early 1990s. Cable TV, a beneficiary of the development of fibre optics from the late 1970s, was widely available as an alternative to terrestrial broadcasting from 1983, offering up to twenty additional channels, though take‐up was relatively slow. In part this was because of parallel developments in Direct Broadcasting by Satellite (DBS) pioneered by Sky from 1989 and British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) from April 1990. Huge start‐up costs coupled with the initial reluctance of British consumers to buy satellite TV led to a restructuring of provision with Sky absorbing BSB when it collapsed in November 1990 to form BSkyB. By the end of 1991, BSkyB was offering six channels to subscribers. It soon became clear that sport was a highly significant commodity as terrestrial, cable, and satellite channels competed for viewers and advertising revenue in an increasingly competitive market. Sky Sports investment in exclusive rights to screen cricket's 1992 World Cup generated increased sales of satellite dishes. ‘Ever since England beat India in the first match…’, it was noted, ‘installation has grown dramatically’; the monthly sales figure of 78,000 was almost double the 41,000 bought in the corresponding month a year earlier; the 94,000 dishes bought the following month simply underlined the point that sport could play an important strategic role as rival channels competed for market share. ‘The availability of cricket’, the FT Satellite Monitor reported, ‘increased dish sales among the over 45s and the AB social group of managers and professionals – groups which were less likely in the past to install satellite television’.72

Sport had established a significant place in television programming during the 1960s, especially after 1964 when BBC's Grandstand and ITV's World of Sport were scheduled against each other on Saturday afternoons and Match of the Day made its debut on BBC2. Though this may now be seen as a critical phase in the transition of elite sport into an experience most often encountered at home via television the limited number of channels inevitably imposed constraints. By 1992, these had largely disappeared. Christopher Dunkley, television critic of the Financial Times, supplied a powerful impression of the sporting feast on offer to armchair spectators.

The amount of sport now being delivered to British sitting rooms by television is unprecedented. This is particularly noticeable, of course, for those with satellite dishes since there are three entire channels dedicated to sport. Eurosport, running 24 hours a day; Screensport, which provides 18 hours a day during the week and 24 hours at weekends; and Sky Sports which is on screen for about 20 hours virtually every day. True, most viewers have no dish but even they can find more sport than ever before, delivered by the terrestrial channels. The BBC alone in the next couple of months will be showing, in addition to its routine sports programmes, the rest of the Five Nations Championship, the fifth and sixth rounds of the FA Cup, the European Indoor Athletics Championship, the World Figure Skating Championship, the Grand National, the Boat Race, the start of a new season of (p.346) Grand Prix motor racing, the US Masters, the women's hockey cup final, and the London Marathon.

What this indicated, apart from a high level of consumer demand, was the arrival of a sports product shaped to meet the requirements of sponsors (and other advertisers) and media interests. ‘As with every other aspect of life touched by television’, Dunkley concluded, ‘sport is not merely conveyed to us by the medium, it is changed by it’.73

The transforming power of the media became increasingly clear during the 1990s as the process of sports modernization begun in the 1960s was completed. This was especially evident in the radical structural change experienced by professional football, rugby league, and rugby union. Professional football had seen some important changes since the 1960s, not least with the advent of sponsorship, yet by the 1980s it was widely perceived to be in a state of crisis. After rallying briefly to reach thirty million after England's World Cup win of 1966, Football League match attendances declined steadily to an all‐time low of 16.4 million in 1985–6. In view of the disasters at the end of the previous season – notably a fire at Bradford City (fifty‐six fatalities) and the disturbances involving Liverpool fans at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels (thirty‐eight fatalities) – and the negative publicity that had long been generated by football‐related hooliganism, this was hardly surprising. Though it remained by some distance the country's most popular spectator sport, football's image was badly damaged. It was, according to one press critic at the time, ‘a slum sport, played in slum stadiums, increasingly watched by slum people, who deter decent folk from turning up.’74 What is noticeable when revisiting the ‘state of the game’ analyses that inevitably followed is the extent to which they echo criticisms that had been made in the 1960s.75 These were repeated, with minor variations, after the Hillsborough disaster (ninty five fatalities) in 1989. ‘For complacency and incompetence there is nothing like a cartel; and of Britain's surviving cartels, the Football League is one of the smuggest and the slackest’, thundered the The Economist; its ninety‐two clubs comprised ‘a gazetteer of Victorian industrial England’. Football's biggest liability, however, was ‘rank bad management’ which had failed to capitalize on a huge fan base and world famous brand names, like ‘Liverpool’ and ‘Manchester United’.76 It was even suggested that the basic requirements of sound financial management – being able to provide an account of current income, expenses, liabilities, and assets – were beyond the capacity of most football clubs.77

Though the denouement, when it arrived in 1992, was sudden, these circumstances ensured that the League's historic cartel was under severe pressure throughout the 1980s. In retrospect, the FA's decision in 1982 to abandon the 7.5 per cent limit on dividends payable to club shareholders, was an indication of the growing severity of the crisis and the need to bring new ideas, as well as new money into the professional game. When Irving Scholar, the kind of profit‐driven entrepreneur that the FA were now anxious to attract, floated Tottenham Hotspur on the Stock Exchange in 1983, it seemed that a new era might have arrived with (p.347) clubs looking to the capital markets to finance their ambitions rather than to ‘businessmen keen to be associated with the local team’. Six years later, as soccer's fortunes plunged again after Hillsborough, Spurs shares were trading at only 18 per cent of their flotation price.78 Launching football clubs as public companies was, however, an important development in that it represented a decision to transfer ownership to people primarily interested in financial performance rather than performance on the pitch’.79 Other professional clubs, albeit a minority, later followed Tottenham's lead, especially as football's fortunes revived in the 1990s, thus subjecting themselves to the disciplines imposed on companies by Stock Exchange regulation. In a sector where the payment of dividends to shareholders had been an infrequent occurrence, this was a significant change.

It was during this period that ‘new directors’, like Scholar and Martin Edwards at Manchester United, began to pull their clubs away from their partners in the Football League and draw closer to those media interests that seemed to offer the best prospect of restoring the cash flows that had dried up when top English clubs were banned from competing in Europe after the Heysel Stadium incident. England's ‘Big Five’ (Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton, Liverpool, and Manchester United) – seen at the time as the core of any prospective ‘Superleague’ – successfully used the threat of secession in 1981, 1985, and 1988; first bringing to an end the time‐honoured arrangement by which gate receipts were equally shared between home and away teams; then securing for First Division clubs 50 per cent of the money derived from sponsorship and television and a reduction in the end of season levy on gate receipts; and finally securing a live television deal with ITV worth £44 million over four years. As Scholar explained:

We wanted to be able to compete in Europe and build our clubs up without being constantly held back by the rest of the Football League.80

Most of all, they wanted to engineer a decisive shift towards profit maximization, a change that became imperative for all First Division clubs as they contemplated the cost of the transition to all‐seat stadia required by the 1990 Taylor Report on ground safety.

‘The pressure within the League has been building up for years’, noted The Economist, as England's First Division clubs, aided and abetted by the FA, prepared to break away to form the Premier League in 1992. The secessionists were seeking ‘to squeeze more out of television contracts, advertising royalties and sponsorship’.81 It was fortunate that the hour of their greatest need coincided with the beginning of serious competition between BSkyB and the terrestrial broadcasters after 1990 and Rupert Murdoch's decision to use sport to persuade British viewers, who had proved somewhat reluctant to buy satellite dishes, to become subscribers. After years of dealing with what was effectively a BBC/ITV cartel, the clubs were now faced with two suitors determined to outbid each other for exclusive rights to screen live Premiership football for the next four years; ITV's £262 million being trumped at the eleventh hour by a bid of £304 million from BSkyB (including £4.5 million from the BBC for the rights to screen highlights on Match of the Day). As far as the top twenty clubs and those (p.348) who aspired to join them were concerned, the sudden availability of this kind of money – the 1997–2001 deal was worth £743 million – justified the decision to break up the organization that had underpinned the professional game since 1888.82

Arguably, Rupert Murdoch's decision to use televised sport as a ‘battering ram’ as he sought to expand News Corporation's global network had an even profounder impact on rugby league which had experienced similar tensions to football in the 1980s as the more successful clubs, like Wigan, sought a larger share of the money coming into the game at the expense of the league's minnows. Rugby league's relationship with television had been problematic. Eddie Waring's match commentaries on BBC's Grandstand had exposed the game to a national television audience while simultaneously emphasizing a rather dated, ‘northern’ image that many rugby league insiders considered unhelpful.83 Yet, arguably, rugby league had shown itself more willing to accommodate the media than many other sports. Television had already influenced the basic game form when the four‐tackle rule (later changed to six) had been introduced to encourage attacking play in the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy in 1966.84 BSkyB's offer of a five‐year deal worth £77 million in 1995 initiated even more fundamental changes – a fourteen‐team European Super League which would play in the summer rather than the winter. Faced, like their counterparts in soccer, with the expense of modernizing stadia to meet the requirements of the Taylor Report, this was an offer that hard‐pressed club chairmen could hardly refuse. They were dazzled by the sums on offer. ‘I believe’, wrote one journalist, ‘that they would have agreed to anything – indeed, several of them voted for things with which, it later emerged, they profoundly disagreed’.85 Thus another Victorian institution, in this case dating from 1895, was abandoned.

Almost simultaneously, rugby union, a sport steeped in the amateur tradition went open. Amateurism, at the highest levels of the game, had long threatened to expire, crushed by the weight of its own contradictions.86 Given the increasing demands on top players as rugby union began to market itself as a global game after its first World Cup competition in 1987 the diehard stance of the RFU Establishment became increasingly difficult to defend, especially when they were failing to maximize potential revenue. ‘The old Freddies who still dominate England's rugby bureaucracy’, The Economist noted in 1987, ‘insist that players should make sacrifices for the love of the game’. They were proposing to pay a miserly £15 a day to players on World Cup duty in Australia and New Zealand at a time when the potential revenue from international matches at Twickenham was unrealized because tickets were underpriced.87 As in football and rugby league, media money underwrote the transformation, the contest between BBC and ITV for the UK rights to screen the 1991 World Cup – won by ITV with a bid of £3 million – marking a watershed in this respect. The cost to ITV was minimized by a secondary arrangement with Sony to sponsor its coverage, an early example of what became known as ‘ambush marketing’ that irritated the tournament's eight official sponsors. ‘The reason we went after the sponsorship’, explained Sony's project sponsorship manager, ‘is the same as why ITV went after the (p.349) rugby – to reach the notoriously light‐viewing ABC1 males’.88 The most important – and most controversial – deal, however, was struck in 1996 when BSkyB agreed to pay £87.5 million for exclusive rights to cover England's rugby internationals for the next five years, leading to a temporary rift between England and its opponents in the Five Nations championship (France, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales). As in football and rugby league, the RFU was in no position to resist Murdoch's advances having taken on a £34 million loan to redevelop its stadium at Twickenham. The other home nations subsequently made their own arrangements with the BBC and ITV/S4C.89 The revenue from television, along with money derived from the sponsorship of domestic and European club competitions, helped the game negotiate a somewhat disorderly transition to professionalism over the next five years. This marked the completion of the modernization of British sports institutions that had begun in the 1960s.

In conclusion

While this process of transformation was under way consumption of sports‐related goods and services expanded rapidly and it may be useful to conclude by touching on the links between sport as commercialized entertainment and the wider sport/leisure market. Key long‐term trends supported the growth of this sector in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond. Britain's population, it has been observed, ‘benefited from significant increases in the resources needed to enjoy leisure – more free time, higher real incomes, and improved access to leisure enhancing equipment such as the motor car, the television set and the washing machine’. This led to wider participation in sport generally with one estimate for 1983 indicating that 21.5 million adults and seven million children participated in some kind of sporting activity at least once a month.90 The number of people playing squash regularly grew from around one million in 1975 to three million in 1985; it was now ‘a mature market wherein clubs must compete for members in the same manner as supermarkets compete for shoppers’.91 This reminds us that consumers in this sector, as in others, exercise choice and it is here that the change from utility‐ to profit‐maximization in the commercialized sports sector has been influential. Business sponsorship and the media, by sustaining a wide range of sports activities and making them more widely accessible via television have a significant impact on consumer choice. This is especially evident in areas such as the consumption of sports leisurewear where brands effectively advertised by sports personalities as they go about their work, are critical. ‘We will never sell anything other than brands’, explained David Whelan, chairman of sports goods retailers JJB. ‘It's what people want’.92

The metamorphosis of sportswear into various forms of fashionwear implies that sport itself is fashionable, an assessment that reflects simultaneously the successful marketing campaigns of its various sponsors and the power of media communication. Profit‐maximizing sports businesses have increasingly sought (p.350) to influence consumer behaviour outside the realm of sport itself, especially via merchandising. Manchester United (‘Merchandise United’) sold 850,000 replica shirts in 1996, 250,000 more than any other club and 200,000 more than England. The growth of this market indicated that consumers had come to see football in a new light since the dark days of hooliganism, Heysel and Hillsborough. ‘Demand’, it was noted, ‘has been further fuelled by increased media coverage, with the birth of satellite TV channels dedicated to sports and a rise in coverage by other media’.93 All this suggests a business sector with ever‐expanding boundaries where the stadium, the traditional location is giving way to the ‘tradium’, a commercialized space in which sport, sports‐related business, and consumers interact and where leisure is linked to spending.94 The chief executive of Coventry's Ricoh Arena explained it neatly:

Our main selling point is our versatility because guests can say in our high‐quality hotel, watch Coventry City in action or attend a trade exhibition or conference, eat in the restaurant, enjoy a concert and then try their luck in the casino – without leaving the Ricoh.95

Over the forty years or so since the 1960s Britain's sports businesses had learned from their relationship with sponsors to become more businesslike. The timing of Kevin Keegan's exit as Newcastle United's manager in 1997 was dictated not by what was happening on the pitch but by the need to ensure a successful stock market flotation. It was an episode indicative of ‘a degree of convergence between the worlds of football and business’.96 At the same time sport was learning to adapt to the requirements of a market the limits of which were largely determined by the media, especially television. Such developments underpinned the location of commercialized sport within an increasingly integrated sports‐leisure sector.

Notes

(1) ‘£2.5m Payoff for McClaren and a 1bn Hit for Leisure Industry’, Guardian, 23 Nov. 2007: 2; ‘Phone‐ins and Footie put the Boot into Grade's ITV’, Business and Media, Observer, 25 Nov. 2007: 11.

(2) Sir F. Wall, Fifty Years of Football, 1884–1934, Soccer Books Ltd, Cleethorpes, 2006: 105 (first published in 1935); J. Walvin, The Only Game: Football in Our Times, Longman: London, 2000: 200. See also Alan Sugar's comments on Tottenham D. Hotspur in Conn, The Football Business: The Modern Football Classic, Mainstream, Edinburgh, 1997: 31.

(3) ‘A Dirty Old Game’, Guardian, 18 Sept. 2007: 38. For coverage of football in the business press, see S. Morrow, The New Business of Football: Accountability and Finance in Football, Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1999: 1–2.

(4) T. Mason, Association Football and English Society 1863–1915, Harvester Press, Brighton, 1981: 194–5; see also M. Huggins, The Victorians and Sport Hambledon and London, London, 2004: 141–66.

(p.351)

(5) A. Crisell, An Introductory History of British Broadcasting, Routledge, London, 1997: 164; see also J. Williams, Entertaining the Nation: A Social History of British Television, Sutton Publishing: Stroud, 214–5.

(6) G. Crawford, Consuming Sport: Fans, Sport and Culture, Routledge, London, 2004: 8; L. Wenner, ed., ‘Preface’, MediaSport Routledge, London, 1998: xiii. See also the perceptive overview of the relationship between sport and the media in G. Jarvie, Sport, Culture and Society: An Introduction Routledge, London, 2006: 138–41.

(7) J. Benson, The Rise of Consumer Society in Britain, 1880–1980, Longman, Harlow, 1994: tables 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3, pp. 112–14, p. 135.

(8) C. Gratton, and P. Taylor, Economics of Sport and Recreation Spon Press, London, 2000: 19–20; J. Horne, Sport in Consumer Culture, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2006: 24–7.

(9) See Henley Centre, The Economic Impact of Sport in the United Kingdom in 1990, Sports Council, London, 1992: 33.

(10) ‘There's No Business Like Sports Business’, Financial Times, 23 Sept. 1996: 14. ‘Sports apparel’, it notes while reflecting on the range of product groups, ‘includes obviously common or garden sportswear (soccerwear, cricketwear, swimwear) but also aerobicswear, dancewear, beachwear, surfwear, sports fashionwear, fitnesswear, activewear, musclewear, bodywear, many types of leisurewear…and – for the cool – various types of streetwear’.

(11) S. Hardy, ‘Entrepreneurs, Organizations and the Sports Marketplace: Subjects in Search of Historians’, Journal of Sports History, 13, 1, 1986: 17–9.

(12) Gratton and Taylor, Economics of Sport: table 2.2, p. 20.

(13) H. Thomas, ‘The Establishment and Society’, in H. Thomas, The Establishment, Anthony Blond, London, 1959: 18; see also M. Grant, ‘Historians, Penguin Specials and State‐of‐the‐Nation Literature, 1958–64’, Contemporary British History, 17, 3, 2003: 29–54.

(14) R. Holt, ‘Amateurism and its Interpretation: The Social Origins of British Sport’, Innovation, 5, 4, 1992: 19.

(15) ‘Sporting Offer?’, Economist, 1 Oct. 1960: 21–2.

(16) Sunderland's ‘clown prince’, Len Shackleton, had been punished in 1955 for a blank page in his autobiography headed ‘The Average Director's Knowledge of Football’. See L. Shackleton, Clown Prince of Soccer, Nicholas Kaye, London, 1955: 78.

(17) For falling attendances generally in this period see T. Collins, Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain: A Social and Cultural History, London, Routledge, 2006: 87–100; D. Russell, Football and the English: A Social History of Association Football in England, 1863–1995, Carnegie Publishing, Preston, 1997: 131–6.

(18) See K. Laybourn, Working‐Class Gambling in Britain, c.1906–1960s: The Stages of the Political Debate, Edwin Mellen Press, Lampeter, 2007: 205–6.

(19) ‘Angry Young Men’, Economist, 19 Nov. 1960: 69.

(20) T. Bailey, Championship Cricket: A Review of County Cricket since 1945. Sportsmans Book Club, London, 1962: 12 and 214–5; for the problems afflicting the county game generally at this time see D. Birley, A Social History of English Cricket, Aurum Press, London, 1999: 292–3.

(21) L. Duckworth, The Story of Warwickshire Cricket, Stanley Paul, London, 1974:338–44.

(22) D. Birley, The Willow Wand: Some Cricket Myths Explored, Aurum Press, London, 2000: 149. See also S. Wagg, ‘“Time Gentlemen Please”: The Decline of Amateur (p.352) Captaincy in English County Cricket’, Contemporary British History, 14, 2, 2000: 54–6.

(23) For the working life of the modern professional cricketer see H. Blofeld, The Packer Affair, Collins, London, 1978; 96–8; R. Sissons, The Players: A Social History of the Professional Cricketer, Kingswood Press, London, 1988, 303–5; S. Hughes, A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment in a County Cricketer's Life, Headline, London, 1997: 191.

(24) ‘No Love Match’, Economist, 2 Jul. 1960: 24.

(25) R. Evans, Open Tennis: The First Twenty Years, Bloomsbury, London, 1988: 13.

(26) See, for example, ‘The Last Judgement?’, The Economist, 3 Dec. 1977: 28. For a succinct account of these developments see R. Holt, and T. Mason, Sport in Britain 1945–2000, Blackwell, Oxford, 2000: 78–80.

(27) S. Inglis, The Football Grounds of Great Britain, Willow Books, London, 1987: 43–5; ‘Go, Go, Go County!!! Victor Bernard and the Rise of Stockport County in the 1960s’, Soccer History, 19, Spring 2008: 32–3.

(28) See ‘Coventry City's Sky Blue Revolution’, Soccer History, 18, Winter 2008: 3–6.

(29) Russell, Football and the English: 151. The Football League, supported by the FA, appealed directly to club supporters in setting out its case for the maximum wage. See, for example, the ‘Special Notice’, signed by Joe Richards of the League and Arthur Drewry of the FA, Leyton Orient v. Brighton and Hove Albion match programme, 14 Mar. 1959. It argued, somewhat perversely, that players had opportunities to earn beyond the £20 a week maximum.

(30) ‘Up the Strikers’, The Economist, 31 Dec. 1960: 1374.

(31) ‘Offside’, The Economist, 22 Apr. 1961: 305–6.

(32) J. Harding, For the Good of the Game: The Official History of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Robson Books, London, 1991: 276–88. For the Eastham case and its consequences see ‘Mr Wilberforce frees the slaves’, The Economist, 13 Jul. 1963: 142–5; ‘Back to the Slave Market?’, The Economist, 9 Nov. 1963: 571.

(33) ‘Farewell Lap’, The Economist, 22 Nov. 1975: 37.

(34) ‘Wimbledon's Money Machine’, The Economist, 23 Jun. 1979: 120–1.

(35) ‘Prize Results’, The Economist, 25 Dec. 1971: 75; R. Physick, and R. Holt, ‘Big Money: The Tournament Player and the PGA, 1945–75’, Contemporary British History, 14, 2, 2000: 76–7.

(36) Cited in M. Polley, Moving the Goalposts: A History of Sport and Society since 1945, Routledge, London, 1998: 77; ‘Half a Revolution’, The Economist, 15 Sept. 1973: 38–9.

(37) Collins, Rugby League: 92.

(38) See C. Field, ‘“The Secularized Sabbath Revisited”: Opinion Polls as Sources for Sunday Observance in Contemporary Britain’, Contemporary British History, 15, 1, 2001: 6. A survey at the time indicated that 60 per cent of the public were in favour of having the option of Sunday football ‘even when there is no energy crisis’. ‘The Fans Say it Again’, The Economist, 2 Feb. 1974: 26.

(39) ‘The Games They Play’, The Economist, 9 Aug. 1980: 13–4.

(40) D. J. Taylor, On the Corinthian Spirit: The Decline of Amateurism in Sport, Yellow Jersey Press, London, 2006: 50–1.

(41) H. Richards, A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union, Mainstream, Edinburgh, 2007, 14; D. Wyatt, Rugby DisUnion: The Making of Three World Cups: 17.

(p.353)

(42) ‘Soccer's Financial Score’, The Economist, 9 May 1981: 116–17.

(43) Gratton and Taylor, Economics of Sport: 163–6; for a succinct survey of the growth of sports sponsorship in Britain see Polley, Moving the Goalposts: 67–84.

(44) J. Bromhead, Bromsgrove, Redditch & District Table Tennis Association: The First Fifty Years, Bromsgrove, Redditch & District TTA, Redditch, 2002: 98.

(45) N. Macrae, ‘Football and Beer in the 1960s: Transformation of the British Brewing Industry and its Impact on Local Identity’, Sport in History, 28, 2, 2008: 236–7; see also Horne, Sport in Consumer Culture: 22.

(46) S. Matthews, My Autobiography: The Way It Was, Headline, London, 2000: 337–8; T. Heald, Denis Compton, The Life of a Sporting Hero, Aurum Press, London, 2006: 135–7; P. Hennessy, Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties, Allen Lane, London, 2006: 92–3.

(47) Polley, Moving the Goalposts: 73–5; Horne, Sport in Consumer Culture: 91.

(48) An Inquiry into Sponsorship, The Sports Council: London, 1971: 8.

(49) See the comments on the beginnings of sponsorship in Birley, English Cricket: 294.

(50) ‘Sports Sponsors to Weather the Gloom?’ BBC News Online, 12 February 2002, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1814335.stm accessed 26 Jun. 2008.

(51) Committee of Inquiry into Sports Sponsorship (CISS), The Howell Report Central Council of Physical Recreation, London, 1983: para. 2.11, p. 13.

(52) CISS, Howell Report: 6–7; Polley, Moving the Goalposts: 69.

(53) ‘Horse Sense’, The Economist, 4 Jun. 1977: 127.

(54) CISS, Howell Report: table headed ‘First Class Cricket Sponsorship in 1982’, p. 78.

(55) ‘Here Come the Sponsors’, The Economist, 11 Aug. 1979: 20. See also Collins, Rugby League: 173.

(56) Inglis, Football Grounds: 20–1.

(57) CISS, Howell Report: 6.

(58) ‘Wimbledon's Money Machine’, The Economist, 23 Jun. 1979: 120–1.

(59) ‘Game of Sponsorship’, Financial Times, 21 Jul. 1994: 17.

(60) This was the view of the Amateur Swimming Association; CISS, Howell Report: 9.

(61) Ibid.: 5.

(62) ‘A Hull of a Place to Advertise’, The Economist, 17 Aug. 1985: 58.

(63) CISS, Howell Report, paras. 10.38–10.39, p. 7.

(64) ‘Notes by the Editor’, Wisden's Cricketer's Almanack, Sporting Handbooks Ltd, London, 1975: 99. Middlesex had asked each of its 7,000 members for a donation of at least £10 in order to avoid bankruptcy.

(65) For a contemporary account of the affair see Blofeld, Packer Affair; see also Birley, English Cricket: 316–20; M. Marquese, Anyone but England: An Outsider Looks at English Cricket, Aurum Press, London, 2005: 122–8; G. Wright, Betrayal: The Struggle for English Cricket's Soul, H. F. & G. Wetherby, London, 1994: 113–8.

(66) ‘Gentlemen v. Players’, The Economist, 6 Aug. 1977: 18–9.

(67) ‘Er, That Dragon is St Kerry’, The Economist, 3 Sept. 1977: 13.

(68) G. Wright, Betrayal: 114.

(69) ‘Balls on the Green Baize’, The Economist, 22 May 1980: 32; CISS Howell Report: table 10.2, p. 72.

(70) See Gratton and Taylor, Economics of Sport: 171 and 174. For a more conservative estimate of the value of the time bought by sports sponsors see Williams, Entertaining the Nation: 222.

(71) Williams, Entertaining the Nation: 214–15.

(p.354)

(72) ‘Cricket Helps to Boost Dish Installations’, Financial Times, 19 Mar. 1992: 8; ‘Cricket Boosts Dish Sales’, Financial Times, 6 Apr. 1992: 9.

(73) ‘Sport of a Sort – But it May Not Sound Like Cricket’, Financial Times, 19 Feb. 1992: 17.

(74) Sunday Times, 19 May 1985, quoted in A. King, The End of the Terraces: The Transformation of English Football in the 1990s, Leicester University Press, London, 1998: 93. For declining match attendances and British football's mid‐1980s nadir see J. Walvin, Football and the Decline of Britain, Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1985: 6–11; D. Conn, The Beautiful Game? Searching for the Soul of Football, Yellow Jersey Press, London, 2004: 150–74; M. Taylor, The Association Game: A History of British Football, Pearson Education, Harlow, 2008: 318–19.

(75) See, for example, ‘New Rules, New Ref?’, The Economist, 18 May 1985: 32, which described the Football League as ‘a self‐perpetuating, ossified elite of 92 clubs, of which a third are technically bankrupt and all but a handful nearly so’.

(76) ‘Beleaguered’, ‘Playing at Management’, The Economist, 22 Apr. 1989: 28–32; for a summary of these critiques see especially King, End of the Terraces: 88–96.

(77) Walvin, Football and Decline: 20–4.

(78) ‘Spurred on to Market’, ‘Playing at Management’, The Economist, 18 Jun. 1983: 86; 22 Apr. 1989: 29–32. For the ‘new directors’ of the 1980s see King, End of the Terraces: 120–32; see also the comments on Martin Edwards of Manchester United in Conn, Football Business: 143–4.

(79) S. Szymanski, and T. Kuypers, Winners and Losers, Penguin, London, 1999: 73–4.

(80) Quoted in Conn, Football Business: 144–5.

(81) ‘There They Go, There They Go’, The Economist, 18 Jan. 1992: 31–2. For an account of the tensions that led to the restructuring of professional football in Scotland, see Morrow, New Business of Football: 25–7.

(82) See Szymanski and Kuypers, Winners and Losers: 55–67; see also R. Nash, ‘Television’, in R. Cox, D. Russell, and W. Vamplew, eds., Encyclopedia of British Football, Frank Cass, London, 2002: 301–3.

(83) J. Williams, ‘“Up and Under”: Eddie Waring, Television and the Image of Rugby League’, The Sports Historian, 22, 1, 2002: 115–37.

(84) Collins, Rugby League: 113.

(85) Ibid.: 181–4.

(86) For a sense of these contradictions see especially the account of the evidence given by Dudley Wood, secretary of the RFU, to the National Heritage Select Committee inquiry in 1995 in D. Hinchcliffe, Rugby's Class War: Bans, Boot Money and Parliamentary Battles, London League Publications Ltd: London, 2000: 80–4.

(87) ‘Pay the Game’, The Economist, 24 Jan. 1987: 30.

(88) Wyatt, Rugby DisUnion: 72–3; for ‘ambush marketing’, see Gratton and Taylor, Economics of Sport: 168–70.

(89) Richards, Game for Hooligans: 256–7; for the relationship between the television companies and rugby in this period generally, see A. Smith, ‘Civil War in England: The Clubs, the RFU, and the Impact of Professionalism on Rugby Union, 1995–99’, Contemporary British History, 14, 2, 2000: 152–8.

(90) C. Brackenridge, and D. Woodward, ‘Gender Inequalities in Leisure and Sport in Post‐War Britain’, in J. Obelkevich, and P. Catterall, eds., Understanding Post‐war British Society, Routledge, London, 1994: 193, 196–7.

(p.355)

(91) Squash Participation Survey, Squash Rackets Association, London, 1985: 4; ‘Slimming Off the Pounds’, Economist, 20 Jul. 1985: 32.

(92) ‘City Awards Gold to Sporting Heroes’, Financial Times, 17 Oct. 1996: 24.

(93) C. Brick, ‘Misers, Merchandise and Manchester United: The Peculiar Paradox of the Political Economy of Consumption’, in D. Andrews, ed., Manchester United: A Thematic Study, Routledge, London, 2004: 103–4; ‘City Awards Gold to Sporting Heroes’, Financial Times, 17 Oct. 1996: 24.

(94) J. Bale, ‘The Changing Place of Football, Stadiums and Communities’, in J. Garland, D. Malcolm and M. Rowe, eds., The Future of Football: Challenges for the Twenty‐First Century, Frank Cass, London, 2000: 93.

(95) ‘Why is it the Mix that Matters’, Birmingham Post, Business of Sport Supplement, 20 Aug. 2007: 2.

(96) ‘Newcastle and the City Mourn King Kevin's Exit’, Financial Times, 9 Jan. 1997: 1; ‘Just Another Game’, Financial Times, 10 Jan. 1997: 12.

Notes:

(1) ‘£2.5m Payoff for McClaren and a 1bn Hit for Leisure Industry’, Guardian, 23 Nov. 2007: 2; ‘Phone‐ins and Footie put the Boot into Grade's ITV’, Business and Media, Observer, 25 Nov. 2007: 11.

(2) Sir F. Wall, Fifty Years of Football, 1884–1934, Soccer Books Ltd, Cleethorpes, 2006: 105 (first published in 1935); J. Walvin, The Only Game: Football in Our Times, Longman: London, 2000: 200. See also Alan Sugar's comments on Tottenham D. Hotspur in Conn, The Football Business: The Modern Football Classic, Mainstream, Edinburgh, 1997: 31.

(3) ‘A Dirty Old Game’, Guardian, 18 Sept. 2007: 38. For coverage of football in the business press, see S. Morrow, The New Business of Football: Accountability and Finance in Football, Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1999: 1–2.

(4) T. Mason, Association Football and English Society 1863–1915, Harvester Press, Brighton, 1981: 194–5; see also M. Huggins, The Victorians and Sport Hambledon and London, London, 2004: 141–66.

(5) A. Crisell, An Introductory History of British Broadcasting, Routledge, London, 1997: 164; see also J. Williams, Entertaining the Nation: A Social History of British Television, Sutton Publishing: Stroud, 214–5.

(6) G. Crawford, Consuming Sport: Fans, Sport and Culture, Routledge, London, 2004: 8; L. Wenner, ed., ‘Preface’, MediaSport Routledge, London, 1998: xiii. See also the perceptive overview of the relationship between sport and the media in G. Jarvie, Sport, Culture and Society: An Introduction Routledge, London, 2006: 138–41.

(7) J. Benson, The Rise of Consumer Society in Britain, 1880–1980, Longman, Harlow, 1994: tables 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3, pp. 112–14, p. 135.

(8) C. Gratton, and P. Taylor, Economics of Sport and Recreation Spon Press, London, 2000: 19–20; J. Horne, Sport in Consumer Culture, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2006: 24–7.

(9) See Henley Centre, The Economic Impact of Sport in the United Kingdom in 1990, Sports Council, London, 1992: 33.

(10) ‘There's No Business Like Sports Business’, Financial Times, 23 Sept. 1996: 14. ‘Sports apparel’, it notes while reflecting on the range of product groups, ‘includes obviously common or garden sportswear (soccerwear, cricketwear, swimwear) but also aerobicswear, dancewear, beachwear, surfwear, sports fashionwear, fitnesswear, activewear, musclewear, bodywear, many types of leisurewear…and – for the cool – various types of streetwear’.

(11) S. Hardy, ‘Entrepreneurs, Organizations and the Sports Marketplace: Subjects in Search of Historians’, Journal of Sports History, 13, 1, 1986: 17–9.

(12) Gratton and Taylor, Economics of Sport: table 2.2, p. 20.

(13) H. Thomas, ‘The Establishment and Society’, in H. Thomas, The Establishment, Anthony Blond, London, 1959: 18; see also M. Grant, ‘Historians, Penguin Specials and State‐of‐the‐Nation Literature, 1958–64’, Contemporary British History, 17, 3, 2003: 29–54.

(14) R. Holt, ‘Amateurism and its Interpretation: The Social Origins of British Sport’, Innovation, 5, 4, 1992: 19.

(15) ‘Sporting Offer?’, Economist, 1 Oct. 1960: 21–2.

(16) Sunderland's ‘clown prince’, Len Shackleton, had been punished in 1955 for a blank page in his autobiography headed ‘The Average Director's Knowledge of Football’. See L. Shackleton, Clown Prince of Soccer, Nicholas Kaye, London, 1955: 78.

(17) For falling attendances generally in this period see T. Collins, Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain: A Social and Cultural History, London, Routledge, 2006: 87–100; D. Russell, Football and the English: A Social History of Association Football in England, 1863–1995, Carnegie Publishing, Preston, 1997: 131–6.

(18) See K. Laybourn, Working‐Class Gambling in Britain, c.1906–1960s: The Stages of the Political Debate, Edwin Mellen Press, Lampeter, 2007: 205–6.

(19) ‘Angry Young Men’, Economist, 19 Nov. 1960: 69.

(20) T. Bailey, Championship Cricket: A Review of County Cricket since 1945. Sportsmans Book Club, London, 1962: 12 and 214–5; for the problems afflicting the county game generally at this time see D. Birley, A Social History of English Cricket, Aurum Press, London, 1999: 292–3.

(21) L. Duckworth, The Story of Warwickshire Cricket, Stanley Paul, London, 1974:338–44.

(22) D. Birley, The Willow Wand: Some Cricket Myths Explored, Aurum Press, London, 2000: 149. See also S. Wagg, ‘“Time Gentlemen Please”: The Decline of Amateur (p.352) Captaincy in English County Cricket’, Contemporary British History, 14, 2, 2000: 54–6.

(23) For the working life of the modern professional cricketer see H. Blofeld, The Packer Affair, Collins, London, 1978; 96–8; R. Sissons, The Players: A Social History of the Professional Cricketer, Kingswood Press, London, 1988, 303–5; S. Hughes, A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment in a County Cricketer's Life, Headline, London, 1997: 191.

(24) ‘No Love Match’, Economist, 2 Jul. 1960: 24.

(25) R. Evans, Open Tennis: The First Twenty Years, Bloomsbury, London, 1988: 13.

(26) See, for example, ‘The Last Judgement?’, The Economist, 3 Dec. 1977: 28. For a succinct account of these developments see R. Holt, and T. Mason, Sport in Britain 1945–2000, Blackwell, Oxford, 2000: 78–80.

(27) S. Inglis, The Football Grounds of Great Britain, Willow Books, London, 1987: 43–5; ‘Go, Go, Go County!!! Victor Bernard and the Rise of Stockport County in the 1960s’, Soccer History, 19, Spring 2008: 32–3.

(28) See ‘Coventry City's Sky Blue Revolution’, Soccer History, 18, Winter 2008: 3–6.

(29) Russell, Football and the English: 151. The Football League, supported by the FA, appealed directly to club supporters in setting out its case for the maximum wage. See, for example, the ‘Special Notice’, signed by Joe Richards of the League and Arthur Drewry of the FA, Leyton Orient v. Brighton and Hove Albion match programme, 14 Mar. 1959. It argued, somewhat perversely, that players had opportunities to earn beyond the £20 a week maximum.

(30) ‘Up the Strikers’, The Economist, 31 Dec. 1960: 1374.

(31) ‘Offside’, The Economist, 22 Apr. 1961: 305–6.

(32) J. Harding, For the Good of the Game: The Official History of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Robson Books, London, 1991: 276–88. For the Eastham case and its consequences see ‘Mr Wilberforce frees the slaves’, The Economist, 13 Jul. 1963: 142–5; ‘Back to the Slave Market?’, The Economist, 9 Nov. 1963: 571.

(33) ‘Farewell Lap’, The Economist, 22 Nov. 1975: 37.

(34) ‘Wimbledon's Money Machine’, The Economist, 23 Jun. 1979: 120–1.

(35) ‘Prize Results’, The Economist, 25 Dec. 1971: 75; R. Physick, and R. Holt, ‘Big Money: The Tournament Player and the PGA, 1945–75’, Contemporary British History, 14, 2, 2000: 76–7.

(36) Cited in M. Polley, Moving the Goalposts: A History of Sport and Society since 1945, Routledge, London, 1998: 77; ‘Half a Revolution’, The Economist, 15 Sept. 1973: 38–9.

(37) Collins, Rugby League: 92.

(38) See C. Field, ‘“The Secularized Sabbath Revisited”: Opinion Polls as Sources for Sunday Observance in Contemporary Britain’, Contemporary British History, 15, 1, 2001: 6. A survey at the time indicated that 60 per cent of the public were in favour of having the option of Sunday football ‘even when there is no energy crisis’. ‘The Fans Say it Again’, The Economist, 2 Feb. 1974: 26.

(39) ‘The Games They Play’, The Economist, 9 Aug. 1980: 13–4.

(40) D. J. Taylor, On the Corinthian Spirit: The Decline of Amateurism in Sport, Yellow Jersey Press, London, 2006: 50–1.

(41) H. Richards, A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union, Mainstream, Edinburgh, 2007, 14; D. Wyatt, Rugby DisUnion: The Making of Three World Cups: 17.

(42) ‘Soccer's Financial Score’, The Economist, 9 May 1981: 116–17.

(43) Gratton and Taylor, Economics of Sport: 163–6; for a succinct survey of the growth of sports sponsorship in Britain see Polley, Moving the Goalposts: 67–84.

(44) J. Bromhead, Bromsgrove, Redditch & District Table Tennis Association: The First Fifty Years, Bromsgrove, Redditch & District TTA, Redditch, 2002: 98.

(45) N. Macrae, ‘Football and Beer in the 1960s: Transformation of the British Brewing Industry and its Impact on Local Identity’, Sport in History, 28, 2, 2008: 236–7; see also Horne, Sport in Consumer Culture: 22.

(46) S. Matthews, My Autobiography: The Way It Was, Headline, London, 2000: 337–8; T. Heald, Denis Compton, The Life of a Sporting Hero, Aurum Press, London, 2006: 135–7; P. Hennessy, Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties, Allen Lane, London, 2006: 92–3.

(47) Polley, Moving the Goalposts: 73–5; Horne, Sport in Consumer Culture: 91.

(48) An Inquiry into Sponsorship, The Sports Council: London, 1971: 8.

(49) See the comments on the beginnings of sponsorship in Birley, English Cricket: 294.

(50) ‘Sports Sponsors to Weather the Gloom?’ BBC News Online, 12 February 2002, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1814335.stm accessed 26 Jun. 2008.

(51) Committee of Inquiry into Sports Sponsorship (CISS), The Howell Report Central Council of Physical Recreation, London, 1983: para. 2.11, p. 13.

(52) CISS, Howell Report: 6–7; Polley, Moving the Goalposts: 69.

(53) ‘Horse Sense’, The Economist, 4 Jun. 1977: 127.

(54) CISS, Howell Report: table headed ‘First Class Cricket Sponsorship in 1982’, p. 78.

(55) ‘Here Come the Sponsors’, The Economist, 11 Aug. 1979: 20. See also Collins, Rugby League: 173.

(56) Inglis, Football Grounds: 20–1.

(57) CISS, Howell Report: 6.

(58) ‘Wimbledon's Money Machine’, The Economist, 23 Jun. 1979: 120–1.

(59) ‘Game of Sponsorship’, Financial Times, 21 Jul. 1994: 17.

(60) This was the view of the Amateur Swimming Association; CISS, Howell Report: 9.

(61) Ibid.: 5.

(62) ‘A Hull of a Place to Advertise’, The Economist, 17 Aug. 1985: 58.

(63) CISS, Howell Report, paras. 10.38–10.39, p. 7.

(64) ‘Notes by the Editor’, Wisden's Cricketer's Almanack, Sporting Handbooks Ltd, London, 1975: 99. Middlesex had asked each of its 7,000 members for a donation of at least £10 in order to avoid bankruptcy.

(65) For a contemporary account of the affair see Blofeld, Packer Affair; see also Birley, English Cricket: 316–20; M. Marquese, Anyone but England: An Outsider Looks at English Cricket, Aurum Press, London, 2005: 122–8; G. Wright, Betrayal: The Struggle for English Cricket's Soul, H. F. & G. Wetherby, London, 1994: 113–8.

(66) ‘Gentlemen v. Players’, The Economist, 6 Aug. 1977: 18–9.

(67) ‘Er, That Dragon is St Kerry’, The Economist, 3 Sept. 1977: 13.

(68) G. Wright, Betrayal: 114.

(69) ‘Balls on the Green Baize’, The Economist, 22 May 1980: 32; CISS Howell Report: table 10.2, p. 72.

(70) See Gratton and Taylor, Economics of Sport: 171 and 174. For a more conservative estimate of the value of the time bought by sports sponsors see Williams, Entertaining the Nation: 222.

(71) Williams, Entertaining the Nation: 214–15.

(72) ‘Cricket Helps to Boost Dish Installations’, Financial Times, 19 Mar. 1992: 8; ‘Cricket Boosts Dish Sales’, Financial Times, 6 Apr. 1992: 9.

(73) ‘Sport of a Sort – But it May Not Sound Like Cricket’, Financial Times, 19 Feb. 1992: 17.

(74) Sunday Times, 19 May 1985, quoted in A. King, The End of the Terraces: The Transformation of English Football in the 1990s, Leicester University Press, London, 1998: 93. For declining match attendances and British football's mid‐1980s nadir see J. Walvin, Football and the Decline of Britain, Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1985: 6–11; D. Conn, The Beautiful Game? Searching for the Soul of Football, Yellow Jersey Press, London, 2004: 150–74; M. Taylor, The Association Game: A History of British Football, Pearson Education, Harlow, 2008: 318–19.

(75) See, for example, ‘New Rules, New Ref?’, The Economist, 18 May 1985: 32, which described the Football League as ‘a self‐perpetuating, ossified elite of 92 clubs, of which a third are technically bankrupt and all but a handful nearly so’.

(76) ‘Beleaguered’, ‘Playing at Management’, The Economist, 22 Apr. 1989: 28–32; for a summary of these critiques see especially King, End of the Terraces: 88–96.

(77) Walvin, Football and Decline: 20–4.

(78) ‘Spurred on to Market’, ‘Playing at Management’, The Economist, 18 Jun. 1983: 86; 22 Apr. 1989: 29–32. For the ‘new directors’ of the 1980s see King, End of the Terraces: 120–32; see also the comments on Martin Edwards of Manchester United in Conn, Football Business: 143–4.

(79) S. Szymanski, and T. Kuypers, Winners and Losers, Penguin, London, 1999: 73–4.

(80) Quoted in Conn, Football Business: 144–5.

(81) ‘There They Go, There They Go’, The Economist, 18 Jan. 1992: 31–2. For an account of the tensions that led to the restructuring of professional football in Scotland, see Morrow, New Business of Football: 25–7.

(82) See Szymanski and Kuypers, Winners and Losers: 55–67; see also R. Nash, ‘Television’, in R. Cox, D. Russell, and W. Vamplew, eds., Encyclopedia of British Football, Frank Cass, London, 2002: 301–3.

(83) J. Williams, ‘“Up and Under”: Eddie Waring, Television and the Image of Rugby League’, The Sports Historian, 22, 1, 2002: 115–37.

(84) Collins, Rugby League: 113.

(85) Ibid.: 181–4.

(86) For a sense of these contradictions see especially the account of the evidence given by Dudley Wood, secretary of the RFU, to the National Heritage Select Committee inquiry in 1995 in D. Hinchcliffe, Rugby's Class War: Bans, Boot Money and Parliamentary Battles, London League Publications Ltd: London, 2000: 80–4.

(87) ‘Pay the Game’, The Economist, 24 Jan. 1987: 30.

(88) Wyatt, Rugby DisUnion: 72–3; for ‘ambush marketing’, see Gratton and Taylor, Economics of Sport: 168–70.

(89) Richards, Game for Hooligans: 256–7; for the relationship between the television companies and rugby in this period generally, see A. Smith, ‘Civil War in England: The Clubs, the RFU, and the Impact of Professionalism on Rugby Union, 1995–99’, Contemporary British History, 14, 2, 2000: 152–8.

(90) C. Brackenridge, and D. Woodward, ‘Gender Inequalities in Leisure and Sport in Post‐War Britain’, in J. Obelkevich, and P. Catterall, eds., Understanding Post‐war British Society, Routledge, London, 1994: 193, 196–7.

(91) Squash Participation Survey, Squash Rackets Association, London, 1985: 4; ‘Slimming Off the Pounds’, Economist, 20 Jul. 1985: 32.

(92) ‘City Awards Gold to Sporting Heroes’, Financial Times, 17 Oct. 1996: 24.

(93) C. Brick, ‘Misers, Merchandise and Manchester United: The Peculiar Paradox of the Political Economy of Consumption’, in D. Andrews, ed., Manchester United: A Thematic Study, Routledge, London, 2004: 103–4; ‘City Awards Gold to Sporting Heroes’, Financial Times, 17 Oct. 1996: 24.

(94) J. Bale, ‘The Changing Place of Football, Stadiums and Communities’, in J. Garland, D. Malcolm and M. Rowe, eds., The Future of Football: Challenges for the Twenty‐First Century, Frank Cass, London, 2000: 93.

(95) ‘Why is it the Mix that Matters’, Birmingham Post, Business of Sport Supplement, 20 Aug. 2007: 2.

(96) ‘Newcastle and the City Mourn King Kevin's Exit’, Financial Times, 9 Jan. 1997: 1; ‘Just Another Game’, Financial Times, 10 Jan. 1997: 12.