How player power became a 'thing' – and why it's now terrifyingly acceptable in football

Player power Koscielny Griezmann Neymar

By 1959, George Eastham’s grievances were multiplying. He was dissatisfied with his contract at Newcastle United and unhappy with the condition of his club house. He wasn’t too keen on the nature of his second job either, and bristled at being told by Newcastle that he couldn’t represent England’s U23s. Frustrated, he informed the club that he wanted to join Arsenal. 

Newcastle denied his request. This was still the age of the ‘retain and transfer’ system, meaning that clubs could hold the registration of players even if they were out of contract. As long as he'd been offered ‘reasonable’ terms to renew, the player remained club property and his career at their mercy. 

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