Oldest football rule book sells for 881,250 pounds

BY foxsports • July 14, 2011

While English Premier League clubs splash their cash on high-profile players in the offseason transfer window, one buyer has spent almost a million pounds on a veteran of world football.

The sport's oldest rule book, dating from 1857, was sold at auction in London on Thursday for 881,250 pounds ($1.42 million).

The handwritten pamphlet was sold to a telephone bidder at Sotheby's auction house as part of an archive of Sheffield FC, the world's oldest football club.

Sheffield FC sold the 154-year-old document to raise money for the amateur club, which plays seven tiers below the Premier League.

''There was huge international interest, reflecting the truly global appeal of both the game itself and its remarkable evolution,'' Sheffield FC chairman Richard Tims said. ''We are delighted with the sale of this extraordinary piece of sporting history, the proceeds of which will allow Sheffield Football Club to develop its facilities and secure its future as the home of grass roots football.''

The rule book contains many innovations by Sheffield FC that are still part of the modern game, such as the corner kick, crossbar and indirect free kick. Also included are many other elements still familiar to current fans, such as throws, goal kicks and restrictions on handling the ball.

Just as modern greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo enjoy protection from the attentions of burly opposition defenders, players in the 19th century were also shielded from the worst excesses by restrictions on fouls.

But things were still a lot more physical back then.

''Pushing with the hands is allowed but no hacking or tripping is fair under any circumstances whatsoever,'' the rule book states.


Stuart Condie can be reached at http://twitter.com/StuartCondieAP