On this day in 1907, the Professional Footballers’ Association was formed at the Imperial Hotel in Manchester as the Association of Football Players’ and Trainers’ Union.
This was the successor to the Association Footballers Union which was founded in 1898 in Liverpool. The Union’s primary objective was to look after the interests of the players and to combat the FA’s ludicrous wage cap policy.
But in 1901, the Football League imposed the wage cap and even abolished end of season bonuses which prompted the AFU to dissolve shortly afterwards after failing to achieve its objectives.
The following year, Welsh international and Manchester City full back Di Jones cut his knee on a shard of glass in a pre-season friendly. The wound festered and Jones died of blood poisoning and lockjaw. With no insurance in place and the game being a friendly, City did not accept the costs or liabilities as the said player was “not working”.
Jones’ City teammate Billy Meredith, now at Manchester United, along with other United players including Sandy Turnbull, Herbert Broomfield, Charlie Roberts, Herbert Burgess and Charlie Sagar decided to form a new Players’ Union. The first meeting was held on 2 December, 1907 at the Imperial Hotel in Manchester. Players from many other clubs attended including from City, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion.
Now, more than a hundred years old, the PFA is closely involved in community outreach, education and scholarship programs while continuing to be a major figure in English football. The PFA also hands out three annual awards – the Players’ Player of the Year, the Young Player of the Year, and the Fans’ Player of the Year.