Earliest rules of club soccer to go under hammer

Tue May 3, 2011 9:38am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Sotheby's will auction the oldest rules of club soccer in July as part of an historic archive that is expected to fetch 800,000 - 1.2 million pounds ($1.3-2.0 million).

The collection is being offered by Britain's Sheffield Football Club, the world's oldest, and includes the original handwritten draft rules dating from 1858 and the only known surviving copy of the printed "Rules, Regulations, & Laws of the Sheffield Foot-Ball Club" produced the following year.

"These documents are an enormously important part of the story of football," said Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby's senior specialist in the books and manuscripts department.

"They are a crucial strand that led to the creation of the modern game, and many of the aspects of football that we today take for granted come from Sheffield," he told Reuters.

"Many of the things like football strips, the idea of football as a spectator sport, the idea of inter-club matches with those powerful rivalries which we take for granted were all first experienced in Sheffield."

Sheffield Football Club chairman Richard Tims said the club was selling its archive in order to fund new facilities and "secure its future as the home of grassroots football."

Heaton said the Sheffield rules were part of a broader development of the game which was played in differing versions at Cambridge University and some English schools.

PUSHING ALLOWED   Continued...

<p>The Rules, Regulations, &amp; Laws of the Sheffield Foot-Ball Club (1859) in an image courtesy of Sotheby's. REUTERS/Handout</p>