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FL 125th Anniversary Exhibition

17 April 2013

Football League & National Football Museum Launch 125th Anniversary Exhibition

The Football League and the National Football Museum (NFM) are to mark the 125th Anniversary of the world’s original league football competition with a major new exhibition featuring some of professional football’s most iconic and historic items.

The exhibition, which will be free to all visitors, will run from September 2013 to April 2014, the same duration as The Football League’s inaugural season (1888/89) and fill a dedicated exhibition space in the museum’s stunning new Manchester home. 

Manchester played a notable role in the formation of The Football League, with today (April 17) marking the 125th anniversary of the meeting of founder members at the city’s Royal Hotel – just 500m from where the National Football Museum is now located.  At that meeting, clubs agreed to call their new competition ‘The Football League’ with the first season kicking-off on September 8, 1888.

Having begun sourcing items of historical interest from clubs, its own archives and those of the National Football Museum, The Football League is also asking supporters to play their part in telling the story of 125 years of football history.  The Football League’s Head of Communications, John Nagle said: 

“Across the country there will be items of historical interest that have pride of place in supporters’ homes or are just gathering dust in their lofts.  

“If it’s part of our competition’s history we’d love to know about it, so that we can put it on display for football supporters everywhere to enjoy.”

Anyone that would like to put forward an item of historical significance for the exhibition are asked to email details to, including where possible an image and contact details.
The Football League 125th Anniversary Exhibition will be the museum’s 4th temporary exhibition since it opened in July 2012.  David Pearson, Deputy Director of the National Football Museum said: “The Football League is at the heart of the game’s history and this is a wonderful opportunity to display some of the objects that have touched the lives of millions of football supporters.

It will provide an insight into the impact league football has had on society and feature some of the game’s famous figures, including a special section dedicated to George Best that celebrates 50 years since he made his Football League debut.” 

The exhibition will also be an inspiration for an ambitious National Football Museum visual arts programme funded by the Arts Council England through its Renaissance strategic support fund.

For more information on The Football League’s 125th anniversary visit or search for #FL125 on Twitter.  For more information about the National Football Museum visit

About The Football League’s 125th Anniversary
The Football League is the world’s original league football competition and celebrates its 125th anniversary during 2013.  

The anniversary period began on Saturday 2nd March which marked 125 years since League founder, William McGregor, sent his letter to clubs suggesting “that ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home-and-away fixtures each season.”  McGregor’s letter was the catalyst for the beginning of league football, which 125 years later still dominates the sporting landscape in countries throughout the world.

Three weeks after McGregor sent his letter (March 22) clubs met at Anderton’s Hotel on Fleet Street in London to discuss McGregor’s idea.  This was followed by a further meeting on April 17 at the Royal Hotel, Manchester at which the name ‘The Football League’ was agreed.

The first season of The Football League kicked-off on 8th September 1888 with McGregor as its first Chairman.  The 12 founder members of The Football League were Accrington, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion, and Wolverhampton Wanderers.  The first champions were Preston’s ‘Invincibles’ who won 18 and drew 4 of their 22 league matches.

The Football League will hold further celebrations of its 125th anniversary with its clubs and their supporters at the beginning of the 2013/14 season.

About the National Football Museum
The National Football Museum is a registered Charity Number: 1050792

The National Football Museum was established and its collection acquired thanks to £9.3m investment by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The National Football Museum is a registered charity overseen by a board of trustees, and also counts notable names amongst its honorary positions, including Museum President Sir Bobby Charlton, Museum Vice Presidents Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Tom Finney, Sir Trevor Brooking and Sir Geoff Hurst, plus Museum Special Ambassador Mark Lawrenson.
Opening Times: 
Monday-Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday 11am – 5pm
Open Every Day excluding Christmas Eve, Christmas day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday
The venue is fully accessible for wheelchair access

Entrance is free. To enhance the Museum experience, there are some additional exclusive paid-for interactive exhibits ‘Football Plus+’ to help ensure that visitors enjoy one of the best days out in the city. Kaleido restaurant is located on the 5th and 6th floors of the museum.

Head to to vote for the National Football Museum for the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award 2013.

Arts Council Renaissance Strategic Support Fund
For more information about the Arts Council Renaissance Strategic Support Fund visit

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