Inspiring Innovator

Premier League football. Thanks to this man.

Embracing the Can-Dhu-Spirit
since 1888
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Football in the nineteenth century was a shambolic affair. William McGregor turned it from an amateur pastime into a professional endeavour. He founded the football league - and changed the game forever.

A most persistent problem: during the nineteenth century, the noble game of football was a spectacle more loved by the players than by the general populace.


There was seemingly no end to the myriad of cups that could be won – and no logic to decide which of the many teams should play one another. Without a practicable system, scorelines were often excruciatingly one-sided. Unsurprisingly, the public was unprepared to attend such humiliating defeats.


Another issue: a woeful lack of order and discipline. Fixtures between clubs were routinely cancelled just minutes before the ball was due to be kicked. Aston Villa suffered a not uncommon problem – their matches were cancelled five Saturdays in a row.


William McGregor, a committee member of the Birmingham-based club, knew that something needed to be done to put the game on a more orderly standing.

With a spark of optimism, Mr McGregor wrote a letter to the heads of other leading clubs and changed the sporting world forever. His suggestion? The elite teams should convene a pre-determined programme of home and away fixtures. A football league, if you will.


Unknowingly, McGregor had conceived the world’s very first sporting arrangement of this type – one which spawned a series of imitators in almost every other discipline.


At home, McGregor’s league transformed football from amateur pastime to professional endeavour – and to the multi-billion pound global industry it has become today. Soon after, his idea travelled around the world.


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