Clubs Re-Named, Re-Formed Or Merged, Or New Clubs?Thu, 23 April 2009
There are a few cases in which it’s arguable whether or not one club is or is not the same club as another. For instance, you’ve taken the view that the Accrington Stanley which is now in League Two is the same club as the one which withdrew from the league in 1962; strictly legally that isn’t the case, but purely from an emotional / footballing point of view it could be argued either way. Similar arises with Stoke / Stoke City, and with Aldershot / Aldershot Town. I don’t think Leeds City can really be regarded as the same club as Leeds United.
Whether Milton Keynes Dons is the same club as Wimbledon is one of those subjects that must never be discussed in the pub, along with religion and politics, and I see that the way you’ve worded things nods to both positions. But if you consider for these purposes that it is, then South Shields and Gateshead are the same club. (It was a broadly comparable situation. In the summer of 1930, South Shields FC was broke and decided to relocate in the hope of drawing bigger crowds.)
Wasn’t the change from Stoke to Stoke City simply a change of name?
Looking at the list of clubs that are no longer in the Football League, several of them were re-formed, some after several years, including:
- Bradford Park Avenue, re-formed in 1988 after 14 years.
- New Brighton, re-formed in 1993 after 7 years.
- Durham City, re-formed in 1950 after 12 years (before discounting the 7-year interruption of World War II)
As I take a broader sociological approach, I tend to look at other factors, in particular:
- The intention of those who form the new club.
- The fan base.
For my website, I also consider whether there is a sufficient causal connection between the demise of the old club and the formation of the new club to treat the latter as a continuation of the former.
In each of the above examples, Wikipedia refers to the old club in the same article as the new club, which I assume represents the views of the fans. The same is true of the other examples of re-formed clubs.
On the other hand, whether Burton Albion is the continuation of the older Burton clubs is stated much more equivocally on Wikipedia. The confusion appears to be that there were three older Burton clubs, not just one, but it could easily have been resolved by looking at the three old clubs in the way it is expressed on Wikipedia – Burton Wanderers merged with Burton Swift to form Burton United.
The fan base argument might hold for looking at Burton Albion as a continuation of Burton United, but it doesn’t appear to have been the intention of those who formed Burton Albion. The choice of a different name can be a significant factor in trying to discern “intention”.
There are a lot more in non-league football. Sometimes, it’s obvious from the name of the new club, for example Havant & Waterlooville, Rushden & Diamonds, Hayes & Yeading United, Tooting & Mitcham United, and Wingate & Finchley and Walton & Hersham. On the other hand, Hampton changed its name to Hampton & Richmond Borough in 1999 “in an attempt to draw a wider support base from around the Borough”.
A complete listing would be interesting.
Maidenhead United are particularly interesting, as the “The Football Association have acknowledged that this is the oldest continuously used senior football ground in the world”, even though the ground was first used by Maidenhead in 1871, and Maidenhead merged with Maidenhead Norfolkians in 1919 to form Maidenhead Town (changed to Maidenhead United in 1920).
In the case of Burton, the break in continuity is between United and Albion.