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British Football Association

The British Football Association was a short lived ruling body for the game of football. It was set up in 1884 in response to the attitude of the Football Association to the issue of professionalism.


Until the employment of professionals by Darwen and their success in reaching the quarter finals of the FA Cup in 1879, all teams had been amateur. There was a proposal by a London club before the match that any side not consisting entirely of amateurs should be barred from the Cup.

Professionalism spread throughout the northern clubs with Blackburn Olympic winning the Cup in 1883 and Blackburn Rovers the following three years.

In 1883 Accrington were expelled from the FA for paying players and in 1884 Preston North End were suspended for one year from the Cup for openly admitting to payments in order to compete with Blackburn Rovers.

Many rules were now introduced to restrict professionalism, such as only Englishmen being allowed to play in the Cup, many professionals being from Scotland. These restrictions led to the formation of the British Football Association in Manchester in 1884 by 37 clubs as a rival to the FA. This threat of secession was to lead to the legalisation of professionalism on 20 July 1885 by the FA making the new body redundant. This action by the FA was eventually to lead to the break away and formation of the Amateur Football Association in 1907.

A similar split in rugby led to the separate sports of rugby union and rugby league.


  • Butler, Bryon (1991). The Official History of The Football Association. London: Queen Anne Press. p. 30. ISBN 0-356-19145-1.