The Football Pools and the British Working Class: A Political, Social and Cultural History 0367701723, 9780367701727

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Table of contents :
Cover
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Dedication
Contents
List of tables
Acknowledgements
List of abbreviations
1. Introduction and overview: Debates and argument on working-class leisure, gambling and the football pools
2. The emergence of the football pools c.1870s–c.1945: From bookmaker to the modern football pool company
3. The politics of the football pools 1918–1945: The opposition of the Chadbards, Sabbatarians, the National Anti-Gambling League, the Football League and the Football Association
4. The recovery, evolution and decline of the pools 1945–1990s
5. The politics of the pools since 1945: Conflict and acceptance of ‘the ranks of high super-spivery’
6. Employment, process and changing industrial relations in the football pool companies 1945–1990s
7. An integral part of working-class life: Was the pools worth ‘the candle’ in the culture of the working class?
8. Challenge, decline and the restructuring of the pools: The challenge of the national lottery ‘for good causes’
9. The globalisation of the football pools
10. Conclusion
Bibliography
Index
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Routledge Studies in Modern British History

THE FOOTBALL POOLS AND THE BRITISH WORKING CLASS A POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY Keith Laybourn

The Football Pools and the British Working Class

This book is the first national study of the football pools in Britain which examines the politics and culture of the gambling on the football pools. It charts the rise of the football pools, focusing upon its rapid growth from the 1920s and its prolonged decline in British culture from the 1990s, partly as a result of the National Lottery. The book explores how this new gambling activity became a significant leisure opportunity for the working class – a way to feel that the individual skill of the punter could lead to the winning of some life-changing jackpot cheque being presented by a sporting personality of celebrity. Dominated by Littlewoods, and other large commercial companies, the weekly filling-in of the coupons was considered to be a safe form of investment, guaranteed by the integrity of the pool companies, rather than some seedy gambling operation. The Football Pools and the British Working Class looks at different elements of the football pools from what attracted people to this form of gambling to how the industry developed and adjusted to the suspension of the football fixtures in 1936, and the bad winter of 1962–1963. Above all, it examines the deep hostility that surrounded the filling in of the football pools arising from the National Anti-Gambling League, religious groups, the football authorities and MPs. This book will appeal to all those interested in the history of British football and 20th century British working-class culture. Keith Laybourn is Diamond Jubilee Professor Emeritus at the University of Huddersfield. His main research interests are labour history and gambling, and he is President of the Society for the Study of Labour History. He has recently published Going to the Dogs (2019).

Routledge Studies in Modern British History

Diplomatic Identity in Postwar Britain The Deconstruction of the Foreign Office “Type”, 1945–1997 James Southern The Development of British Naval Aviation, 1914–1918 Alexander Howlett Britain and the Puzzle of European Union Andrew Duff The British Aircraft Industry and American-led Globalisation 1943–1982 Takeshi Sakade British Responses to Genocide The British Foreign Office and Humanitarianism in the Ottoman Empire, 1918–1923 Amy E. Grubb and Elisabeth Hope Murray The British Jesus, 1850–1970 Meredith Veldman The Rise and Decline of England’s Watchmaking Industry, 1550–1930 Alun C. Davies The Football Pools and the British Working Class A Political, Social and Cultural History Keith Laybourn For more information about this series, please visit: https://www.routledge. com/history/series/RSMBH

The Football Pools and the British Working Class

A Political, Social and Cultural History

Keith Laybourn

First published 2023 by Routledge 4 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2023 Keith Laybourn The right of Keith Laybourn to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-0-367-70172-7 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-70173-4 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-003-14490-8 (ebk) DOI: 10.4324/9781003144908 Typeset in Times New Roman by KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd.

To my father, Donald Laybourn, a Barnsley miner who filled in the football pools in hope.

Contents

List of tablesix Acknowledgementsxi List of abbreviationsxiii 1 Introduction and overview: Debates and argument on working-class leisure, gambling and the football pools

1

2 The emergence of the football pools c.1870s–c.1945: From bookmaker to the modern football pool company

25

3 The politics of the football pools 1918–1945: The opposition of the Chadbards, Sabbatarians, the National Anti-Gambling League, the Football League and the Football Association

63

4 The recovery, evolution and decline of the pools 1945–1990s91 5 The politics of the pools since 1945: Conflict and acceptance of ‘the ranks of high super-spivery’

115

6 Employment, process and changing industrial relations in the football pool companies 1945–1990s

133

7 An integral part of working-class life: Was the pools worth ‘the candle’ in the culture of the working class?

161

8 Challenge, decline and the restructuring of the pools: The challenge of the national lottery ‘for good causes’

179

viii  Contents

9 The globalisation of the football pools

199

10 Conclusion 

213

Bibliography Index

217 225

Tables

2.1 Sales of postal orders in Britain, 1929–1937 36 2.2 The number of football coupons submitted in the season and per week, 1935–1946 52 2.3 The total stakes on the football pools and the value of postal orders, 1935–1946 53 2.4 Average stakes on the pools, 1935–1950 54 4.1 The number of football pool coupons being sent by post with postal orders, 1946–1950 92 4.2 Football pool, annual stakes and postal orders, 1946–1950 92 4.3 The three top first dividends, after deductions, on the penny Pool and the treble chance for Littlewoods and Vernons, 1950 95 4.4 The turnover of the football pools 1947 to 1953 98 4.5 Popularity of different types of Vernon pools (£) 99 4.6 Vernons pools and prizes for November 1950 99 4.7 Calculations of the total amount available for distribution by Shermans December 1949 and January 1950 100 4.8 Shermans total stakes on individual pools, 1949–1950 102 4.9 The turnover of Littlewoods’ coupon income, 1959–1973 105 4.10 Turnover, tax, expenses and dividends at Littlewoods, 1967–1968 to 1972–1973 106 4.11 Littlewoods’ dividends paid for each £Stake (new pence), 1967–1973106 6.1 The number of people employed by the eight main pool companies c. 1950 135 6.2 Reduction in staff numbers at Littlewoods 1986–1987 152 6.3 Office staff employed at Littlewoods in 1986 and 1987: Reductions in higher grade and expansion of lower grades 152 6.4 The fall in full-time and part-time employment and the increase in casual employment at Littlewoods in 1986 and 1987 153 6.5 The reduction in the total number of hours paid for grade 2 workers at Littlewoods 1986 and 1987 153

x  Tables 7.1 Football pools: Average staked on coupons by individual participants. Analysis submitted by Sherman Pool Ltd survey and the social survey 7.2 Football pools: Variations in weekly stakes by income groups of men and women 7.3 Survey of the age distribution of Pool punters for the United Kingdom for 1951, 1972 and 1976, in years 7.4 Proportions of different age groups filling in football coupons in 1950, 1968, 1972 and 1976 in percentage terms 8.1 International lotto in 1978

173 174 174 175 182

Acknowledgements

The generosity of others is vital to the preparation and publication of any book, and this book is no exception to that rule. My colleagues and excolleagues at the University of Huddersfield have been supportive and these include Sarah Bastow, Barry Doyle, Rob Ellis, Rebecca Gill, Katherine Lewis, John Shepherd, David Taylor and Paul Ward. I would also like to thank Brendan Evans, Chris Ellis, Neil Pye and Martyn Richardson for their encouragement. A considerable amount of research took place at the National Football Museum, at Deepdale in Preston, and I would particularly like to thank Alex Jackson and Peter Holme for their immense help and consideration in working way through the Littlewoods’ Collection and for giving me permission to publish from the collection. Darren Treadwell, of the Labour History Archive & Study Centre of the People’s History, Manchester, was particularly attentive in guiding me through the gaming, small lottery and gambling records of the Labour Party, and giving permission to use the records. Martin Sanders, Senior Assistant Archivist, of the Modern Records Centre, of the University of Warwick, also gave me permission to use some of the trade unions records of its collection, and particularly the George Woodcock papers, that related to the organisation of trade unions in the football pool firms. Last, but not least, I would like to thank the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationary Office (Norwich) for permission to quote from government records deposited in The National Archives at Kew, the right being automatic under the rules of Government Open Licence, which merely requires proper attribution to be made. I would also like to thank the Controller of the HMSO for permission to quote from crown copyright publications, which are subject to the same rules, Every effort has been made to avoid any infringement of copyright, and the publishers’ guidelines on secondary printed works have been observed. However, I apologise unreservedly to any copyright owners whose permission has been inadvertently overlooked. Finally, my dedication is to my father, who spent his working life as a miner in the Barnsley at Monk Bretton pit for thirty-two years until he was

xii  Acknowledgements transferred to Darfield Main and Grimethorpe for the last thirteen years of his working life. He was a lifelong gambler of the horses and a lifetime devotee of the football pools. He died in March 1989 but, were he still alive, he would have been alarmed at the decline of the pools which provided a lifetime of hope and enjoyment every Saturday afternoon, although he never won more than derisory amounts.

List of abbreviations

AUEW BBC CAWU FL FGIT FIFA FPPA NUMGW PPA PPP SOGAT SATA TGWU TNA TUC USDAW

Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers British Broadcasting Corporation Clerical and Workers’ Union Football League Football Ground Improvement Trust Federation International Football Association Football Pools Promoters’ Association National Union of General and Municipal Workers’ Union Pool Promoters’ Association The Punters’ Popular Paper Society of Graphical and Allied Trades Supervisory, Administrative and Technical Association Transport and General Workers’ Union The National Archives Trades Unions Congress Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers

1

Introduction and overview Debates and argument on working-class leisure, gambling and the football pools

In the years between 1948 and the early 1990s, for up to half the nation, and possibly two-thirds of the working class, Saturday afternoons between 4.30 pm and 5.15 pm in the football season were the high point of radio listening and television watching as the English and Scottish Football League and Cup results were read out by newsreaders, most prominently James Alexander Gordon, ‘the voice of football’ for 40 years (1972–2013). Indeed, Mr. Keenan, MP for Liverpool Kirkdale, reflected, in the House of Commons on 22 June 1949, that ‘I bet that the most popular broadcast in the week, from September to April, is half-past four on a Saturday’. The punters would then be the anxious wait as the results were read and the pools companies declared whether a jackpot had been won with eight draws, and there may have been reference 12 results, homes, aways or fixed odds betting. The Treble Chance, started in 1946, became the classic football pools game for punters, offering players the pick of 10, 11 or 12 football games from the offered fixtures to finish as a draw which, in later years, each team had to score at least one goal – the score draw for three points. Thus, the football pools came directly into the home. Between 5 pm and 6 pm, this would often be followed by a visit to the local newsagents as football punters sought copies of the local Green Un or Pink Un, The Buff or The Pink Final, to obtain printed evidence and confirmation of the results. Feverishly, those with eight draws and more, or some different pool arrangement combination, would compare their results against lines of numbers, draws, homes and aways, to see if they had come up with what was required for a jackpot win that could have typically been £20,000 in the late 1920s, £30,000 in the 1930s, £40,000 or more in the 1950s, and occasionally £1 million or £2 million by the 1990s. Every Saturday in the nine-month football season was preceded by this rhythm of filling in of the pools, which normally occurred on a Thursday night, or sometimes, which was established as the most popular night for this action by the Mass Observation’s study of Worktown (Bolton), in the late 1930, as the pools needed to be posted or collected on the Friday.1 Such was the new gambling pattern the football pools imposed upon the working-class gambler, filling in the pools on a Thursday night, checking DOI: 10.4324/9781003144908-1

2  Introduction and overview the results on a Saturday and, hopefully, receiving winnings on a Monday or Tuesday. Given that skill was judged to have been involved in the selection of matches, this was not an illegal lot, or a public lottery, of chance but a legal pool, selections based upon some skill and judgement being used, and one which offered the biggest gambling returns for a relatively small outlay. The football pools attracted up to 14 million and, allegedly, even 16 or 17 million, coupons at its peak in the 1970s and 1980s, though this figure had fallen dramatically to about 9 million by the beginning of the 1990s. In the twentieth century, it declined even more rapidly, to little more than 200,000 by 2020, because of the introduction of The National Lottery in November 1994. In the 1920s, and catering to this demand, were several hundred small football pools companies, often run by bookmakers, although by the 1930s, a small number of large companies – such as Littlewoods (of Liverpool), Vernons (Liverpool), Zetters (London), Shermans (Cardiff), Bonds (Liverpool) and Copes (London) – had become more visible in advertising their jackpots and their successes, giving them the appearance of respectability and legitimacy by having a celebrity present the prizes, and advertising the large wins as they broke record after record pay-outs.2 Littlewoods published their ‘Bigger Winner Poster’, containing a picture of Cecil Moores in 1937, and Bonds, owned by the Moores brothers, announced in their circulars that ‘Our Word is Our Bond’ and ‘Invest in Bonds the Best Nothing Barred List’.3 In the late 1930s, the freely distributed The Littlewood Sports Log constantly advertised that Littlewood’s Pools (normally appearing as Littlewoods Pools without the apostrophe after the 1930s) paid out more than 80 per cent of the pool to winners in a season and that Littlewoods Pools was ‘The largest Football Pools in the World’.4 Miss Jean Botten, a world-record breaking aviator, presented a cheque for £22,200 for 1d on the penny pool in November 1937; Sir Malcolm Campbell, famous motorist and holder of the World Water Speed record, presented a cheque for £139,818, the World’s Largest Penny Pool win, in January 1938. Sir Seymour Hicks presented a cheque to Mr. G. Thom for £12,301 for 1d in September 1938. Much later, and more famously, the Leeds factory worker Viv Nicholson, and her husband Keith, promised to ‘spend, spend, spend’ after winning £152,319, the cheque presented to them by the comedian Bruce Forsyth, in a 1961 pools win which would be well over £3 million pounds at today’s values, and captured the spirit of the new consumer age, promoting a tabloid frenzy. Eventually, in 1986, 11 nurses from Devizes, in Wiltshire, broke the million-pound barrier with a win of £1,007,890. By the 1990s, however, the football pools were on the wane, down from 14 million in the mid-1980s to about 9 million players by 1994, because of other competing gambling interests, such as the formation of the Premier League in 1992 which led gambling firms such as Ladbrokes, William Hill, Mecca and Coral to offer betting on half-time scores, the first to score and several other options. This was followed by the introduction of The National

Introduction and overview 3 Lottery in November 1994, which led to the rapid decline of the pools, to about 700,000 players in 2007 and a mere 300,000 at the beginning of 2020. In the process of decline, Sportstech, a technologically based gaming and sports company, bought Littlewoods Gaming, which included the pools, in 2000 and acquired Vernons and Zetters in 2002 – the Zetters Group selling its Zetters International Pools Ltd to Littlewood’s Promotions Ltd, a subsidiary of Sportstech for £1.35 million. Combining the three pools organisations was meant to strengthen the game to compete with The National Lottery. Sportstech then sold its interests in the football pools in September 2016, to Football Pools, run by Conleth Byrne, managing director, and Carl Linn, its finance director, although ownership appears to have been passed on to the private equity firm OpCapita in 2017. However, the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 stopped the English Football League fixtures being played and may well have effectively killed off what was left of the pools. What was once a way of life and leisure for most of the English class had now disappeared, like snow in summer, as greyhound racing, the other major development of gambling in the inter-war years, has done. The football pools emerged and declined in about 70 years, from a position of being the dominant working-class leisure gambling activity, in which ‘the ordinary man of the street would not want to be deprived of his weekly flutter’, to that of being so obscure that few people born after 1990 are aware that the football pools ever existed.5 Nevertheless, the pools exerted an enormous, if contested, impact upon working-class life, leisure and social habits, for much of the twentieth century in Britain.

Debates The rapid emergence, dominance and subsequent sharp decline of the football pools resonates in the wider debates about nineteenth- and twentiethcentury British working-class leisure, which has had a protracted and contentious history, often based upon the themes of class, social control and consumer demand. Historians once routinely assumed that the leisure, gambling and sporting pursuits of the working classes were suppressed as a result of the rise of middle-class dominance during the Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.6 In 1980, this view was challenged by Hugh Cunningham’s book Leisure in the Industrial Revolution, which argued that there was a fundamental change in working-class leisure resulting from the middle-class desire to impose only respectable and rational recreation on British society.7 Indeed, Cunningham revealed that many traditional working-class leisure activities survived well into the industrial age, often getting stronger as consumer demand increased. Post-modernist, and critical of sweeping generalisations, Cunningham emphasised the need to view working-class leisure as pluralistic, with broad strategies of a vigorous commercial popular culture (usually run by working-class entrepreneurs) surviving alongside a religious culture

4  Introduction and overview (often dominated by Methodism) and a radical culture (a minority culture of Owenism and Chartism). In essence, he argued that working-class leisure was diverse and usually survived attempts at suppressing it. The survival of these traditional working-class leisure pursuits, according to Cunningham8, and indeed other authors9, raised moral panic amongst the middle classes in the mid-nineteenth century, particularly at a time of radical disturbance and Chartism. As a result, Cunningham argues that the middle-class sponsored ‘rational recreation’, guiding the working classes to leisure activities that were controlled, ordered and uplifting, rather than attempting to ban their leisure activities.10 In a similar vein, P. C. Bailey has suggested that the rough and bawdy entertainment of the Music Hall was increasingly subject to control.11 Indeed, rational recreation may have led to some working-class leisure pursuits, including the initially ill-disciplined sport of football, to become increasingly codified from the 1850s onwards.12 Nevertheless, whilst the middle classes may have battled to control working-class leisure and sport, the argument developed by Cunningham and Bailey also assumes that with the pluralism of working-class leisure came a broad mass working-class culture which resisted such social control.13 Such views have been widely supported by historians such as Stephen G. Jones and Ross McKibbin, who view sport as battlegrounds of competing authority largely differentiated along class lines.14 Indeed, Jones suggests that sport and leisure often helped to unite members of the same class and, whilst liberalising commercial opportunities for the entrepreneurial middle classes, produced deep class and gender divisions and a resistance to middle-class control. As a result, there were asymmetrical gains made by the working classes and the middle classes, including the improvement of sport facilities. This meant that some games, including football, were often regulated by the late nineteenth century but that there was a conflict so that the inter-war period, in particular, the game of football and the gambling associated with it was ‘a site of constant class struggle and continuous debate’ in which the working classes were not unheard, or ineffective, voices.15 In other words, the middle classes continued to assert social control in shaping the working class in the nature of their access to leisure but were faced with a major battle from a more widely democratised working-class electorate, who were the recipients of the 1918 Franchise Act and subsequent franchise legislation. Thus, an obvious question arises – how long did this attempt to control working-class leisure last and how important was it in determining the evolution of class leisure activities? Indeed, did the attempt to impose rational recreation on the working classes expire in the 1920s and 1930s, as some authors suggest, or did it last into the 1960s and beyond? Several subsidiary questions also emerge. What decided the emergence and decline of workingclass leisure, or different forms of working-class leisure? Was it political factors, such as the balance of political opinion in Parliament, and legislation, or were the factors primarily economic and social? Additionally, did class

Introduction and overview 5 define leisure or was leisure more pluralistic, determined by gender, generational or regional factors? Steve Jones and Ross McKibbin feel that social control clearly persisted from the nineteenth century into the twentieth century, and well beyond the Second World War, possibly into the 1960s. Their views are supported by Carl Chinn, Mark Clapson and Roger Munting, who maintain that hostility to gambling, for instance, persisted long into the twentieth century, and they defend working-class gambling by arguing that it was ‘a bit of a flutter’, rather than the deeply impoverishing activity that National AntiGambling League (NAGL) saw it to be.16 They point to the activities of the anti-gamblers and the legislation, whether it be the 1906 Street Betting Act, the Betting and Lotteries Act of 1934, with its restrictions on greyhound racing, or the legislation imposing taxation on the greyhound tote and the football pools in the late 1940s. Their argument contrasts sharply with the views of Mike Huggins, Norman Baker and Gary Cross, who play down the existence of class as a major factor in sporting activity – suggesting that gender, ethnicity and community may be more important – and feel that the hostility to working-class gambling declined sharply in the inter-war period.17 Indeed, Huggins argues that there was an increased democratisation of British society from 1918 onwards, and that an easing of hostility to gambling may, as Cross also suggests, have begun during the First World War, followed by a rapid decline of opposition in and after the Second World War.18 To Huggins, there had been a decline in hostility towards gambling in the Betting and Lotteries Act of 1934, and most obviously as a result of the failed attempt of the Football League (FL), and the Football Association (FA), to prevent the use of League fixtures by the pool companies: ‘Paradoxically, while the League Management Committee had set out to destroy the pools, the result of the ‘pool war’ was to secure their enhanced status in wider society’.19 Huggins also challenges the views of McKibbin and Jones that leisure is differentiated on grounds of class, suggesting that there is extensive evidence that bodies, such as The Select Committee of 1923, saw gambling as a source of lower-middle class, not just working-class, dishonesty. Indeed, he writes that ‘increased betting in general, particularly into investigation into it, the resulting legislation, and the new betting forms emerging between the wars all indicated a slow increase in acceptance of betting in British society’.20 Baker goes further and argues that the Attlee Labour governments’ (1945–1951) taxation of greyhound racing was not inspired by government or official political opposition to the new working-class gambling sports but by the desire to ensure that there was no interruption with the post-war economic and industrial revival. Yet, Baker’s views seem highly implausible given the limited impact, for instance, of greyhound racing tracks, faced with a new tax on the Tote, on working hours, electricity consumption and the taxation of gambling activities compared with the rising and popular speedway riding, which often used greyhound tracks without legal, financial

6  Introduction and overview and tax impediments. Also, one might note that the Football Pools Betting Duty was also introduced on the football pools in 1948, imposing a 20 per cent tax of turnover, rising to 30 per cent within the year, before peaking at 42.5 per cent in the 1980s. This went beyond any desire to protect industrial recovery since the football pools presented no threat to the resources for industrial production. Nevertheless, Baker’s views still retain some resonance in the debate. Nonetheless, in the new age of democracy and modernity of the inter-war years, the opportunities for working-class gambling, and particularly on the football pools, proved irresistible. Indeed, the roots for changing attitudes and the growth of the football pools were in place – the organised football leagues of (initially) 88 clubs playing on a Saturday, the development of a press reporting on football matches, the rapid development of radio from 1922 onwards and the ubiquitous newsreels at the rapidly growing cinema industry (30 per cent of which were on sporting events) were present.21 However, these developments, if anything, may also have fuelled the general and persistent resistance to gambling amongst church groups and the organised middle classes who were able to pressure Parliament and the government. Indeed, such opposition was particularly marked in the case of the football pools, and greyhound racing, up to the 1960s, and beyond. In 2004, Brad Beaven took the middle-class control debate further, in his book Leisure, Citizenship and Working-Class Men in Britain 1850–1945.22 Essentially, a revisionist and post-modernist work denying many broad-sweeping statements about working-class leisure and sport pursuits, Beaven firmly states that this conflict, between gamblers and anti-gamblers, persisted well beyond the Second World War. Class, he felt, was important and he argued that one must not exaggerate the differences between the various sections of the working classes or underestimate the participation of the poorer workers in the institutions of commercial leisure. He further maintained that there was considerable interaction between working-class leisure and middle-class reformers about the quality and meaning of citizenship, though successive middle-class campaigns for rational recreation failed. Indeed, Beaven argues that working-class leisure maintained its distinctiveness, even as mass culture emerged. He also argued that commercial leisure activities adapted to the needs of the working class. Whereas some historians have seen the demise of traditional working-class culture, from nineteenth-century commercialisation or inter-war suburbanisation, Beaven stressed continuity rather than change, and working-class participation rather than passivity. Essentially, he viewed the working classes as participants in the creation of their own culture even as they interacted with the middle classes because of the porous nature of class boundaries. Though Beaven’s work is heavily based upon a regional study of the Midlands, it establishes that the middle classes were concerned with ‘the quality of citizenship and felt that the hedonistic nature of popular leisure and culture made some of the working class unfit to play their full and proper part in the

Introduction and overview 7 community’.23 Yet, he argued that whilst the middle classes were powerless to prevent the continuation of popular working-class leisure they sought to delay the full rights of social and economic citizenship to the working classes, one presumes from their political power through their representation in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Robert Colls’s recent work This Sporting Life: Sport and Liberty in England, endorses Beaven’s approach, whilst largely ignoring gambling. Through eight loosely related chapters, in what is effectively a post-modernist interpretation, Colls asserts that the ‘liberty of the individual is a natural impulse in England’ and that it is most effectively represented through sport, leisure and custom.24 Gambling was one of these customs and instincts. This, of course, raises the question of how relevant was the concept of class in leisure, sport and gambling activities? Douglas Reid, Peter Borsey and, most obviously, Patrick Joyce have rejected the pre-eminence of class in favour of work, gender, ethnicity, age and community. Indeed, Joyce’s book Work, and his articles on the same subject, argue that whilst there may be some consciousness of class in working-class leisure there is no evidence of class consciousness, for the varying experiences of workers does not necessarily constitute a class culture as such. Joyce further argues that work, religion and other factors might well have more resonance than class in all aspects of working-class life.25 Joyce’s assumption of the relative insignificance or non-existence of class in Britain has been partly supported by Andrew Davies in his study of the declining importance of class leisure in Manchester and Salford, where he suggested that gender and generational and regional differences cut across the dominance of class in leisure.26 To Davies, the diversity of leisure in working-class communities has ‘reinforced a growing recognition of the limitations of a class-centred approach’.27 Other work has also suggested that class by itself did not necessarily dominate leisure. Even the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, in his study of the differences in suburbs, casts doubt on the exclusivity of class in defining leisure and this has been further emphasised by Mike Savage who questioned the social homogeneity of the working classes following his study of a Trade Enquiry by the Board of Trade which indicated that outside London, uniform single-class communities were not the norm and that most communities were marked by urban and suburban differences.28 Savage, in his work on British working-class identities, has also emphasised that class may be more about structure than culture; more about income than cultural ties and that the 1960s sociological research into working-class attitudes revealed that working-class interviewees in the ‘Affluent worker’ survey of John Goldthorpe, David Lockwood and others were more intent on they being seen as ordinary in comparison to the upper classes than in their cultural ties and continuities in popular identity.29 In other words, there was, in the context of the football pools, no reason why the working classes should see the pools as their exclusive and dedicated leisure and gambling activity

8  Introduction and overview when their real driving force was inequality produced by differences in income and their personal ambition was to win money. Perhaps, this possible lack of cultural attachment, which may have been accelerating in the late twentieth century, explains both the rise and fall of the football pools, offering the best rewards for little outlay between the 1920s and the 1990s, and the rapid loss of interest from the 1980s onwards when other forms of gambling, and The National Lottery, became more cheaply and readily available. Nevertheless, most historians accept that class, however, porous, did exist and it is only Joyce who has totally rejected any notion of the importance of class. Indeed, after much debate, by the beginning of the twenty-first century most historians accept that class was of some significance and could accept three main points: that the working class was enduring and resistant to change, that it was pluralistic rather than homogeneous and that it was defiant against continuing attempts at social control. If class was not necessarily, and always, the dominating influence, as Savage suggests, it can be argued that it remained a potent force in determining how some observers viewed the leisure of the lower orders, although perhaps not a determining factor in culturally uniting the varied working-class communities to the football pools – which was their choice and may have been driven by money rather than a sense of cultural unity. Despite many competing interests some leisure activities, such as gambling, were overwhelmingly dominated by class issues, if not necessarily a sense of class consciousness because of the plurality of working-class leisure interests. There was a constant reference to the working classes and the need to control their lives, in the language of the day whether in anti-gambling tracts or parliamentary speeches, and those who wrote and spoke on these matters knew who they were referring to, for the language of class existed. And there was clearly significant conflict between the middle classes and the working classes in the nineteenth century that continued throughout the inter-war years and well into the immediate post-Second World War years on issues of leisure, poverty and politics. The conflict of opinion and action, between working-class gambling and the demand for rational recreation, is particularly evident in the debate about gambling where the overarching emphasis is placed upon the economic and social impacts of gambling on the working classes. Many contemporary figures30 of the early twentieth century, and particularly Seebohm Rowntree, the York businessman and philanthropist, felt that gambling had increased in the twentieth century and had exerted a deleterious impact upon workingclass lives, particularly regarding gambling on the football pools and horse racing.31 Nonetheless, the numerous surveys of the 1930s and 1940s indicated that the average bet for the working class, in all gambling forms, was relatively low, probably as low as 2s 6d (10p) to 3s (15p) in the late 1940s compared to twice that level by the middle classes.32 It is certainly the case that the NAGL and religious groups were fearful of the social and economic

Introduction and overview 9 costs of working-class gambling. Yet, there are no accurate figures about the exact scale of gambling. Indeed, during the inter-war years gambling estimates varied widely, and it was often inaccurately assumed that most stakes were lost. The Spectator of 16 April 1923 estimated gambling turnover at £450 million per year. W. J. Randall, of the Turf Guardians, suggested about £100 million in the mid-1920s.33 Evidence presented to the Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming (1949–1951), the Willink Commission, speculatively suggested an annual turnover of between £200 million and £400 million per year. However, since so much of gambling was illegal, there are no verifiable figures for gambling in Britain and particularly so for working-class gambling, other than for legal gambling which is recorded and may be subject to tax.34 Whatever the estimates, the institutional middle-class view was that gambling was not appropriate to the relatively impoverished and economically marginalised working class. Opponents of gambling put forward an argument for their opposition to working-class gambling: that the ‘profligate’, ‘indigent’ and ‘feckless’ working class could not afford to gamble, that it would corrupt women and children and that it would create ‘a something for nothing’ culture. The NAGL had initiated the Street Betting Act of 1906, which made street betting a criminal offence as an addition to the nineteenth-century legislation against gaming houses. Off-course readymoney gambling of the working classes was made illegal whilst the legal-on course and off-course credit betting of the middle class remained legal and untouched.35 The radical weekly Truth made much of this class division in the treatment of gambling and, in October 1938, wrote that ‘The man of means can back his fancy with a starting price office if he is unable to go to the racecourse but Alf the Tried and Trusted, the bookie of the street, is harried by the police’.36 In essence, the development of working-class leisure is open to at least three alternative shades of opinion. First, that it was subject to some type of middle-class control until well into the second half of the twentieth century, impinging upon the rights of the working classes as citizens even if the political powers of constraint were limited. Secondly, that the middle-class attempts at political and social control existed but declined rapidly during the 1920s and 1930s. Thirdly, that attempted political and social control never existed at all because class did not exist in any unified form, and because regional, urban, suburban, age, work and gender issues were more important than an amorphous thing called class. The first two schools of thought assume class existed because the institutions of class, such as trade union organisations, existed and because there were social and political differences within society based upon economic position, income and wealth. The third school rejects class and seems to ignore economic differences in favour of social gender and locational issues. Thus, the issue of social control is vital to understanding the history of the football pools, although the work on the football pools has raised other issues of its rise and fall and the

10  Introduction and overview competing importance of political, economic and social issues, along with the extent to which the working class was driven by the desire to win money rather than any cultural attachment.

Historiography of the football pools It is surprising that there is only one substantial book on the English football pools, Graham Sharpe’s, Gambling on Goals: A Century of Football Betting (1997), although it primarily deals with the story of the large bets from ‘big winners and big losers, bizarre bets, celebrity punters and crooked games’.37 It offers no analysis of the impact of the football pools upon British society. Beyond this, only Mike Huggins and Keith Laybourn have produced short histories of the growth of the pools within the widest contexts of gambling and football.38 There are few publications which specifically deal with the main football pool companies of Littlewoods, Vernons, Shermans and Zetters, and their founders, such as John Moores and Vernon Sangster, and they tend to be based upon an uncritical acceptance of the views and literature of these companies. There is, for instance, Leonard Reginald Gribble’s Inside Littlewoods, Norman Price’s How to Become a Millionaire by John and Cecil Moores and Phil Reed’s edited collection Football and Fortunes: The Inside Story of Littlewoods Football Pools 1923–2003,39 which is essentially a picture book of winners of ‘When the Stars came out for Littlewoods’, published by Littlewoods Football Pools.40 Offering a brief insight into the early days of Littlewoods in its early pages, there is also Barbara Clegg’s biography of Sir John Moores entitled The Man Who Made Littlewoods: The Story of Sir John Moores.41 Gribble, a thriller writer, based his book on a highly controlled one-day visit to Littlewoods’ Edge Lane complex, in Liverpool, shortly after the Second World War. Price’s book was based upon a collection of interviews with the Moores’ brothers, and Reid’s book was specifically commissioned by Littlewoods, and though dominated by photos, does contain some basic information on the growth of the company, the pools winners and the formal process of checking and investigating pools claims. Much of the Clegg book, on the life of John Moores between 1925 and 1985, draws from Price’s book. The main, uncritical message, of all four books is that the success of Littlewoods football pools was down to the intelligence and drive of the Moores brothers, and their propensity to publicise their success and security, which might be partly true though there were clearly other factors at play. Hagiographies, of this type, are essentially a form of fiction which, by omitting and glossing over inconvenient truths, put the subject and the pool companies in the best light and presents the employees as satisfied, and the system and process as fair, just, reasonable and charitable rather than self-serving. This was clearly not the case at Littlewoods, and the industry, which faced conflict over the ownership of the football fixtures. This conflict saw English Football League and the pools promoters in dispute from the

Introduction and overview 11 1930s until the late 1950s before the issue was resolved by the pool promoters paying the FL for the use of its fixtures, and some funds to the FA. Also, the impression of good relations is clearly not the case, as evidenced in the employment and discarding of the workforce, mainly women, and in their dealings with trade unionism. The closure of Littlewood’s Irlam Street Road Building in 1963, with the loss of 852 jobs, because of both the bad winter of 1962/3 and the refusal of the workers to prioritize pools that were collected by agents rather than posted, was clear evidence of the power of employers to dictate, rather than discuss, in disputes. Littlewoods emerged from this affair far from the image of being the paternalistic employer it often portrayed itself as being. Examining the pools’ bettors, a vital source of debate, John Hilton, a Cambridge academic, investigated why people played the pools and published Why I Go in for the Pools by Tom, Dick and Harry, based upon a survey of pools’ bettors. He suggested that the bettors were drawn by the jackpot prize which would allow the purchase of the new technologies and white goods of the inter-war years.42 He followed this up in 1944, in wartime Britain, with Rich Man, Poor Man, which suggested that the working class invested in the pools because it offered them one of the few opportunities to win a lump sum to really change their lives, which is what Mike Savage and Ross McKibbin have suggested in rejecting a cultural tie to the pools.43 This fits well into the argument presented by Ross McKibbin in his wide-ranging article on working-class gambling between 1880 and 1939, where he suggested that gambling provided a potential outlet for the working class to escape their often impoverished and humdrum existence.44 There has, inevitably, been a thriving ancillary business in advising punters how to win on the pools, although this raises little debate. Tom Anichini, Win that Pool: Your Starting Perfect for Winning Office Football Pools, David Duncan, Betting Systems that Win Football Pools and, more recently, The Definitive Guide to Betting on Football, Betting Systems that Win, a distillation of articles giving advice to the punters on how to be successful on the pools. There is also Keith Pullein’s extensive advice on how to make money when betting on the football evident in the Racing Post, 11 September 2009. Even more recently, Tom Erwood has prepared The Ultimate Guide to Winning Sports Pools: The Strategy for Dominating Football Pools (independently published, 29 October 2018). There were many of this type of publication, including ‘Prof’ Frank George’s, Football Pools and How to Win and Dennis Jones’s, Bread and Butter Pools.45 The football pools had become so popular by the mid-1930s that George Orwell, in his book The Road to Wigan Pier, reflected upon the dramatic increase in the interest of the Yorkshire working class in the pools and that that the whole of Yorkshire was in a turmoil when the Football Authority, the governing body of the game, blocked the early publications of football fixtures for two weeks in 1936, attempting to prevent them being used for the football pools.

12  Introduction and overview Another debate has therefore emerged around the issue of when the hostility to the football began to disappear. Was this occurring in the inter-war years, as Mike Huggins and others suggest, or with the failure to ban the football pools in the 1934 Betting and Lotteries Act of 1934, because of the ‘Pools War’ of February and March 1936, when the FL, with the support of the FA, attempted to prevent the football fixtures being used by the pool companies? Huggins concludes his important article on the ‘Pools War’ by stating that ‘Paradoxically, while the League Management Committee had set out to destroy the pools, the result of the ‘pools war’ was to secure their enhanced status wider society’.46 Other authors, and particularly Brad Beaven, throw doubt on this easing of hostility and feel that the full citizenship in leisure and consumption was denied to the working classes until much later, from the 1950s and 1960s onwards.47 Whilst the ‘Battle for the Pools’ has drawn attention there is remarkably little on many other issues and debates relating to the development of the football pools.48 There is almost nothing on the women who formed upwards of 90 per cent of the permanent staff employed by the pools companies, and most of the part-time staff, although the current work on the iconic Edge Lane headquarters of Littlewoods may well produce insights into their memories and treatment.49 The relationship between the trade unions, which many of these women had joined by the 1970s, and the companies has also been ignored. Connected with the questions of rise or fall, and central to the growth of the pools, is also the relationship of the football pools with working-class consumers. Was the demand for the pools artificially created by the pool companies or by the consumer? This is a particular concern of historians of consumer history, and particularly the focus of Peter Gurney’s recent monograph, The Making of Consumer Culture in Modern Britain.50 Although the football pools do not specifically figure in his book, Gurney’s overarching theme is that from the late nineteenth century, consumer culture has taken the centre stage in modern Britain from the workers and the producer, although Gurney feels that the power of the ‘citizen-consumer’ is greatly exaggerated and that the idea of ‘consumer sovereignty’ reeks with dishonesty. He suggests that the need of the consumer is vital to the development of demand but allows for the fact that much of this culture is, and has been, manufactured. To what extent then was the development of the pools a product of the publicity of the pools, and the local employment it offered, working towards a general trend of the liberalising of gambling in a widening and more democratic society? In other words, did the commitment to the pools come from the working classes, and perhaps from Savage’s suggestion that they were driven by the desire to win money, or did it, and its fuller demand for social citizenship, come at the behest of the pools’ promoters? Also, where does the growth of consumption of the pools as leisure, and the ideas of Gurney, fit into the overarching debate about social control? If Gurney is right, social control through political power may have partly conditioned the trajectory of the history of the football pools. If wrong, then

Introduction and overview 13 the consumer might be conditioned but, perhaps, only as far as the rewards of success determined where they gambled. Some ambivalence towards controls of the football pools in the inter-war years, the Pools Betting Duty of 1948, and the decision of Parliament to allow the formation of The National Lottery in 1994, may be vital factors in defining the history of the football pools in Britain. Indeed, the recent work on the importance of emotions in history may offer explanations of the rise of the football pools and, perhaps, their rapid fall. Developed, first in the 1990s by William M. Reddy, the idea that emotions shape history culminated in his book The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions, in 2001. Here, he drew upon his work on sexuality, and upon his work on French Revolutionary, Napoleonic and early nineteenth society which suggested that the experience of liberty changed the political attitudes and culture of French society because of the emotions that it engendered.51 Peter M. Stearn’s work on ‘American Cool’, chilling out, has taken this study of emotions even further, as has his work with Jan Lewis on the emotional history of the United States.52 Barbara H. Rosenwein and Riccardo Cristiani have also sought to explain how emotions influence politics, culture, religion and how they change over time.53 More recently, Yaara Benger Alaluf’s study, of mass holidays and leisure in Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, examines the notion of the emotional commitment to holidays – through the idea of relaxation, health values and memory – and links it with the commodification of that experience by entrepreneurs cashing in on the relationship. Indeed, she writes, in conclusion, on the information that produces: ‘The information will immediately be turned into data. The data will be used by advertisers, travel agencies, and resorts to adjust their product to trend in consumers’ emotional demand. This is the emotional economy of holidaymaking’.54 Is this so different from gambling, to gain some financial advantage from a stake, and the emotional capitalism manipulating the consumer emotions in the case of the football pools by the offer of large winnings, for a small stake, achieved using the skill and judgement of the punter who is regarded, by Littlewoods at least, as part of a ‘Happy Circle’ of friends? The pools did well when the pools could offer that financial and emotional bond, but when it failed, as it did in the late twentieth, that motional capitalist bond faded quickly. Equally, as new generations became familiar with new types of culture and new types of gambling did their emotional experiences also change? In more recent years, Geoffrey Kohe has focused on the attempt of the football pools to limit their decline and to legitimise their activities with Parliament and governments, and through charitable work.55 Indeed, the Football Trust was formed in the wake of the Ibrox disaster of 2 January 1971, when 66 fans were crushed to death and more than 200 fans were injured when Rangers played Celtic and the subsequent report by Sir Norman Wheatley, in 1972, led to the Safety of Sports Ground Act of 1975.

14  Introduction and overview The Football Trust was given the task of improving the safety of football grounds at all levels of the sport, and its job was enhanced with the Bradford fire and Heysel disaster of 1988 and the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, and the Taylor Report on ground safety. Whilst the focus of this work is on the Football Trust, it should not be forgotten that much of the money for its activities came from the Football Betting Duty, first imposed in 1948, and from the charitable contribution of the FPPA, which represented the pools companies though it was dominated by Littlewoods and operated from Liverpool.56 Although essentially about the Football Trust, it reveals how the FPPA used their charitable contributions to the Football Trust as the basis for pressuring governments to reduce the Football Betting Duty on the pools and how they sought to use this pressure to ward off the challenge of the National Lottery, which they felt would offer unfair competition, ruin the pools and reduce the contributions of the pools companies to improving the safety of league and non-league grounds. It worked to a degree but in the end, the Conservative government of John Major pushed ahead with The National Lottery and, whilst at first offering a lifeline to the pools industry, the centralizing Labour government of Tony Blair put paid to the Football Fund and the football pools. All this raises the issue of the on-going relationships between British governments and the football pools companies. Indeed, to what extent was the survival of the pool’s dependent upon government decisions and how had the distribution of pro-gambling and anti-gambling forces in Parliament changed? Indeed, this takes us back to the issues raised by Peter Gurney. Ironically, numerous charities emerged after the 1950s, including both sporting charities, such as Celtic Football Club, and non-sporting charities, such as the Spastics Society, the National Foundation for Research into Crippling Diseases and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. The former group were known as the ‘Sports Pools’ and the latter group were often known as the ‘Health Pools’, and they earned substantial amount of money for the charities involved. The Spastics Society was often receiving up to £800,000, of its £6 million income from the pools, for its charitable activity and the other foundations mentioned were often earning more than £400,000 per year, through their football pools, for their charitable activities.57 Because these foundations allowed their bettors to select their games through fixed numbers each week, and were thus effectively illegal lotteries, Parliament passed the Pools’ Competition Act on 27 July 1971 to last five years, after which Parliament announced several Continuation acts to continue to make them legal. Andrew Douglas has examined the connections between charity and gambling, or God and Mammon, in his book on British Charitable Gambling, 1956–1994: Towards a National Lottery, in which he argues that psychological and sociological dimensions prepared the way for the acceptance of the idea of The National Lottery ‘for good causes’.58

Introduction and overview 15

Questions There are thus at least nine intertwined and important questions, or issues, that drive this book in explaining why the football pools became one of the dominant forms of working-class gambling in Britain for nearly 70 years of the twentieth century. First, why did the football pool emerge so quickly during the inter-war years, in the face of intense opposition to working-class gambling, to become an accepted and legitimate form of gambling within less than 50 years? Was it a product of entrepreneurial skills, historical timing or working-class consumer demand? Related to this is the second question of how did the pool companies operate and control their workforces? Were they based upon Taylorism or Fordism, and how effective were they in maintaining a contented, largely female, workforce? A third issue concerns the great hostility to the new opportunities that emerged for working-class gambling in the twentieth century, and particularly the opposition of anti-gambling groups and religious denominations convinced that gambling on the football pools was not a rational recreation and the fear that the pools would cause poverty, immorality and dissipation. Why did such opposition emerge? Was it a spin-off from the religious denunciation of gambling? Why was it so virulently opposed to the pools? Fourthly, when did this hostility begin to decline? Was this occurring in the 1930s, as Mike Huggins and others have suggested, or after the Second World, and in the 1960s, as Brad Beaven and others have implied? Huggins concludes his article on the ‘Pools War’ by stating that ‘Paradoxically, while the League Management Committee had set out to destroy the pools, the result of the ‘pools war’ was to secure their enhanced status wider society’.59 Beaven throws doubt on this easing of hostility and feels that the full citizenship in leisure and consumption was denied to the working classes until much later.60 Connected with these questions, and central to the growth of the pools, is a fifth one – What was the relationship of the football pools with workingclass consumers? This is a particular concern of historians of consumer history, and particularly the focus of Peter Gurney’s doubts about consumer sovereignty. This raises two main sub-questions. Did the commitment to the pools come from the working classes or did it, and indeed fuller social citizenship, come at the behest of the pools’ promoters? Also, sixthly, how important was the political powers exerted by the pools’ promoters as compared with those of the anti-gambling organisations? Indeed, how did the working-class view the football pools? Were they driven on by the large sums to be won, using their skill and judgement, or were they simply drawn into the Littlewoods ‘Happy Circle’ of punters, and similar activities organised by Vernons, Zetters and other pool companies? Did Littlewoods, and the other large pool companies, effectively present the pools as a harmless hobby to be enjoyed by the whole family, legitimising what was still considered an irrational activity, or was the desire for some financial success,

16  Introduction and overview in some senses, innate to the working class? Indeed, why did most of the working class, for 70 years, legally gamble more money on the pools than on any other sporting activity? Was there a developing emotional attachment to the pools, as Yaara Benger Alaluf suggests for mass holidays and leisure, which allowed the pool firms to adjust their product to the emotional demands of the working-class consumer?61 Did the need to fill in a coupon on a Thursday night and the desire to listen to the results on late Saturday afternoon create an emotional attachment, which the pool companies could turn into information that the promoters could use to emphasise the emotional attachment to the pools through the ‘Happy Circle’, and the sense of belonging to a like-minded set of punters? Indeed, did Littlewoods create this new working-class ‘tradition’ of the pools. Seventhly, how was the football pools industry organised? Indeed, why did it fall into the hands of a few large firms? Eighthly, why did the football pools decline to obscurity within five or six years of the start of The National Lottery in 1994, and almost to oblivion by 2020, undermining the idea of it being some type of permanent working-class traditional activity? In the end, did the political will of Parliament, now devoid of powerful anti-gambling and pro-football pools lobbies, and driven by a group of MPs intent on providing a national lottery, along the Lotto lines of many other countries, exceed the declining political power and influence of the pool promoters? Ninth, and last, how significant were the British football pools in relation with those operated throughout the world, where they were organised by entrepreneurs and the state?

Primary sources The best records of a football pool company are those for Littlewoods, which survive in 91 boxes at the National Football Museum Archive, at Deepdale, Preston, currently being renumbered and re-organised. A third of these boxes contain football coupons, largely from the 1930s to the 1970s, with a few scattered examples of coupons for the later years. The rest contain copies of The Littlewood Sports Log, The Littlewood Review, papers and reports connected with industrial issues and the operation of the firm. Though extensive, it is evident that much of the material is repetitive, much is missing from this collection and that there is little in the way of business records. Yet, it is easily the most valuable surviving collection of records from a pool company, and it includes the records of Bond pools, which was almost entirely owned by the Moores’ brothers and seems to have been absorbed into Littlewoods in the late 1940s or early 1950s. There is a small number of records of Shermans, which Littlewoods absorbed in 1961, and occasionally minutes from the Football Pool Promoters’ Association (FPPA) and the Pool Promoters’ Association (PPA). In comparison, there are only a few skeletal remains for other pool companies. Hundreds of small bookmakers ran football pools as a small part

Introduction and overview 17 of their business, but nothing of their records appears to survive. The situation is similar for many other, larger, pool firms. There are a few items, often films of someone filling in a coupon or family outings, for Murphys, Strangs, Shermans, Zetters and Vernons, and occasional advertising material, cards of film stars, cards that turn up for sale on internet sites. A similar situation arises in connection with the FPPA, formed in 1934 by the large firms, disbanded in 1946, reformed in 1947, disbanded and then reformed as the PPA at the end of 1947. Though the FPPA and the PPA were based in Liverpool, their minutes do not seem to have survived, although, as just indicated, there are occasional copies in the Littlewoods Collection, and in government papers. One historian who used the minutes of the PPA for the 1980s thinks he borrowed copies of their minutes from a private individual but cannot recall from who. Despite this sparsity of material from the firms themselves, there is a substantial supply of primary material in The National Archives at Kew. There are about 20 files and boxes, some of them large, dealing with the direct evidence offered by Littlewoods, Vernons, Zetters, Shermans, the PPA and other pool companies to the Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming (1949–1951), better known as the Willink Commission, and to the Royal Commission on Gambling (1976–1978), better known as the Rothschild Commission. In addition, there are many files on the evidence of foreign lotteries, when the idea of a lottery ‘for good causes’ was being explored by the governments of the 1970s, and files on the Ladbrokes bid to organise any lottery that emerges, alongside a similar bid by the PPA between 1976 and 1978. Customs and excise files provide the turnover and taxation details of the firms. This material is supplemented by published government and parliamentary reports and records. Most obviously, there are the reports of the three royal commissions on gambling – the Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting (1932–1933), better known as the Rowlatt Commission, and Willink (1949–1951) and Rothschild (1976–1978) commissions, already mentioned. In addition, there is extensive evidence of the concerns, for and against, football in the Parliamentary Debates, The Times and the Manchester Guardian. Many national and local newspapers provide an immensely vital source for reports, adverts and articles in football, although syndication means that there is much repetition between them and often, indeed, the perpetuation of inaccurate information and myths. These sources are further supplemented by the minutes of the FL, held at Lancashire Record Office, at Preston and the FA, held at the National Football Museum. Deepdale, Preston. Other personal or institutional collections of papers provide some evidence and insight. The trade union records of disputes between the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT) and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), for representation at Vernons in 1970, are to be found in the Modern Records Centre of Warwick University. The same archives contain the Liverpool Trades Council correspondence on the

18  Introduction and overview organisation of workers at Littlewoods and Vernons in 1939, and the George Woodcock Papers, which have some of the records of the Committee on Industrial Relations on industrial relations at Littlewoods for 1972–1973. Finally, there are numerous pamphlets, for and against the football pools, published by the National Anti-Gambling League (NAGL), the pool companies and the ancillary services providing advice to the punter. There are also contemporary publications reflecting upon the reason why people ‘invested’, ‘punted’ or ‘bet’ on the pools. Most obviously there is John Hilton’s Why I Go in for the Pools by Tom, Dick and Harry (1936) and his Rich Man, Poor Man, London (1945).

Argument There is no definitive independent study of how and why the pools, and indeed Littlewoods and Vernons, developed rapidly in the inter-war years, stalled during the Second World War, survived as the unified Unity Pools and prospered after the Second World War, despite the crippling level of the post-war Betting Pool Duty. There is little on the post-war growth of the pools. There is little analysis on how pool promoters became increasingly involved in making charitable contributions, or on how they lost out to the National Lottery, which was taxed more favourably than the pools, from 1994. Through a comparative historical analysis of primary evidence, alongside secondary material, this book tackles this lacuna and examines how the industry developed, with the alternative business models, and why the football pools became so popular so quickly amongst the working classes. It examines the relationship between the pools’ companies and their workforce, and the emotional attachment they tried to create. It further examines how the pools briefly became an integral part of working-class life, with its high jackpots and the emotional and comforting appeal it offered for a better style of life, though it was never a culturally based activity. It examines how it was opposed in Parliament and the country by anti-gambling organisations. It further examines why the pools were not considered to be a rational recreation and why it was not until the 1960s and 1970s that such hostility began to decline, perhaps because of the legalisation of off-course ready-money betting in 1961. Despite this, the excitement of the pools, the large wins and the association with celebrities and national events quite clearly attracted a rapidly growing number of punters. It will also reveal how the business models of the pools provided a surface impression of equanimity and a happy family, presented through the publications of the pools companies themselves, such as The Littlewood Sports Review, though this was illusory as was evidenced by the anti-trade union attitudes of the pools’ managements, the closure of the Littlewoods Irlam Building, with the loss of 852 jobs, in 1963. The main argument presented is that the football pools developed as a dominant form of working-class gambling because of the business acumen

Introduction and overview 19 of a small group of pools promoters who were able to fight off attempts to control the forces of anti-gambling and create the image of growing and respectable family gambling pursuit, which had an emotional appeal to the working class. They were lucky, and privileged, to be able to attract widespread consumer interests through the large prizes they offered at the same time as they were able to discourage Parliament from passing restrictive legislation. The crux of the argument is that the pool promoters were able to fend off criticism in Parliament where their supporters numbered about a third of MPs, as opposed to a similar number of anti-gamblers, and a similar proportion of neutrals and, in the House of Lords they carried much support. Effectively, there was a standoff which allowed them to resist the intense criticism of the NAGL and the various anti-gambling church organisations, although they did not fully defeat these forces until the 1960s and 1970s. This allowed the pools companies to create a consumer demand and to legitimise the pools as a rational recreation and, in the process, confer fuller citizenship on the working-class pool punter, to present themselves as reliable, safe and, even, charitable towards the national game of football. Much of this was to do with the enormous publicity machine of the pools companies, and particularly of Littlewoods, dominated by John Moores and Cecil Moores, ‘the Chief’, who were always sensitive to the need for good publicity through newspapers, radio and television, and the need to embrace football – despite the hostility of the football authorities as evidenced in the 1936 ‘Pools Crisis’ when the Football League suspended the publication of League fixtures for two weeks. Through their entrepreneurial skills, they were able to attract the working classes with big jackpots, celebrity publicity and with employment opportunities in both their buildings and through a structure of commission agents who operated throughout the country to gather in coupons from those who did not send them in by post. In the end, the pools became so endemic to British society that, by the 1960s, they were no longer seen as dangerous to working-class life, except by the Churches Council [sometimes known as Committee], on Gambling which continued its campaign of opposition well into the 1970s. Yet the football pools, having established their respectability and acceptance, in the more liberal age for gambling, began to decline along with the carefully crafted publicity of Littlewoods Pools. The licencing of off-course bookmakers from April 1961, the mushrooming success of Bingo from the 1960s, the winter of 1962/3 and the emergence of many other forms of gambling began to reduce the potency of the pools, which lost about a third of its market between the early 1970s and 1990s. The dominating emotional appeal of the pools to the working class declined, as their consumer interest altered. Indeed, in the end the football pools gave way to other gambling opportunities and, above all, the big challenge to its authority and control was the establishing of The National Lottery in 1994. Because the working classes were most interested in winning money than any cultural connections, as Mike Savage suggests, the move to the higher jackpots of

20  Introduction and overview The National Lottery proved to be a watershed. It replaced the pools in the national psyche as the main form of relatively cheap, easy to enter, constant of mass gambling for the nation. The decline of the football pools was swift. In the end, the working-class punter was as fickle to the football pools as it was to greyhound racing, the other major gambling development of the inter-war years. Perhaps it is the gambling instinct itself, rather than the form of gambling, that was the driving force of the emotional appeal of the football pools, and the football pools was just one of the temporary cultural forms it has taken in Britain. The business models of the pools provided a surface impression of equanimity and a ‘Happy Circle’ of friends, presented through the publications of the pools companies themselves via, for instance The Littlewood Sports Review, though this was illusory as was evidenced by the anti-trade union attitudes of the pools managements, the closure of the Littlewoods’ Irlam Building in 1963. Their poor industrial relations record, and the intolerance of management, did not help matters. Indeed, the way in which Cecil Moores and Littlewoods Pools handled the closure of the Irlam Street Building in the early 1960s, and the threatening nature of the how the management dealt with the case, suggests that this was the case. The force of Cecil Moores, ‘The Chief’s’, own bluster was sufficient to force the Littlewood’s workers at its other buildings into line and revealed the extent to which the pools’ business was run as a benevolent dictatorship. This may have been one of the many factors in its ultimate decline, which was occurring from the 1980s when, having won the battle for legitimacy, and citizenship for gamblers, its political power was waning as it began to lose out to other gambling activities that probably benefited by its success. This suggests that the football pools were not the workingclass tradition that they made themselves out to be and that working-class interest was, indeed, temporary and transient. And, indeed, in their moment of triumph and unrivalled dominance in the 1970s, the political mood moved against them as international developments towards organising national lotteries built up the momentum for the formation of the National Lottery in 1994. Perhaps, as Peter Gurney has argued, politics was a major factor in the formation of consumer demand and workingclass traditions. It would certainly account for the rise and the fall of the British football pools, no matter how deeply they seeped into the life of their British working-class customers for more than three-quarters of a century, and even as they helped in the extension of citizenship. This was a remarkably fast decline because having expropriated most of the small companies, the large pool companies and particularly Littlewoods, were immensely vulnerable to a sharp loss of consumer demand and income. Culture, even working-class culture, can change quickly and the Littlewoods ‘Happy Family’ proved contrived and not as deeply rooted within the British working class as has been suggested in the face of the driving demand to win money.

Introduction and overview 21

Notes













1. The Worktown Project of 1937 to 1940 consisted of social investigations into Bolton and Blackpool by Mass Observation to examine the life of the working class. There were numerous publications that emanated from it, including C. Madge and T. H. Harrisson, Mass Observation, London, Frederick Muller Ltd, 1937, and The Pub and the People: A Worktown Study by Mass Observation, London, Gollancz, 1943. 2. Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming, Report, March 1951, Cmd 8190, p. 167. In many cases, their actual names were completed with an s, Littlewood becoming Littlewoods, Sherman becoming Shermans, and, therefore, this form of name will be used except where there is a particular title to be used. 3. This material is to be found in the Littlewoods Collection at the National Football Museum Archives, Deepdale, Preston, in Box 1, particularly Bond’s Pools volume of circulated material, 29 August 1937 and broadsheets circulated by Liverpool, also in Box 1, November 1936. 4. To be found in the Littlewoods Collection, Box 1, on the numerous coupons displayed and in The Littlewood Sports Log, 28 November 1936, and 17 September 1938. 5. Hansardmillbank, Parliamentary Debates (hereafter, Parliamentary Debates), HC Deb. 22 June 1949, cc. 354–411, particularly 400 in a speech by Mr. Howarth (Walton). 6. Harold J. Perkin, The Origins of Modern English Society, London, Routledge, 1969, rather summarises many of these views in his assumption of the rise of the middle classes and his theory of the benefits of industrialisation being passed down to the emergent working class who aspired to social emulation. 7. Hugh Cunningham, Leisure in the Industrial Revolution, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 1980. 8. Geoffrey Best, Mid-Victorian Britain, 1851–1875, London, Littlehampton Book Service, 1971. 9. Ibid. 10. Cunningham, Leisure in the Industrial Revolution, p. 90. 11. Peter C. Bailey, Music Hall: The Business of Pleasure, Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1981; Peter Bailey, ‘Leisure, Culture and the Historian: reviewing the first generation of leisure historiography in Britain’, Leisure Studies, 1989, vol. 8, 2, 107–27. 12. Peter Bailey, ‘“Will the real Bill Banks Please Stand Up”: Towards a Real Analysis of Mid-Victorian Respectability’, Journal of Social History, 12 (1979), 336–53. 13. Keith Laybourn, Going to the Dogs: A History of Greyhound Racing in Britain, 1916–2017, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2019, p. 7. 14. Stephen. G. Jones, Workers at Play: A Social and Economic History of Leisure, 1918–1939, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986; Stephen G. Jones, Sports, Politics and the Working Class: Organised Labour and Sport in interwar Britain, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1992; Ross McKibbin, Classes and Cultures: England 1918–195, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998; Ross McKibbin, ‘Working-class gambling in Britain 1880–1939’, Past & Present (1979), 82 (1), 147–78. 15. Jones, Sports, Politics and the Working Class, p. 10. 16. Carl Chinn, Better Betting with a Decent Feller: A Social History of Bookmaking, London, Aurum 2004 edition; Mark Clapson, A Bit of a Flutter: Popular Gambling and English Society, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1992; Roger Munting, ‘Social opposition to gambling: An historical overview’, The International Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 10, 1993, issue 3, 295–312.

22  Introduction and overview 17. Mike Huggins, ‘Betting, Sports and the British, 1918–1939’, Journal of Social History, 41.2 (2007), 283–306, particularly 284–5; Norman Baker, ‘Going to the Dogs – Hostility to Greyhound Racing in Britain: Puritanism, Socialism and Pragmatism’, Journal of Sports History, 23 (1996), 97–119; Gary S. Cross, A Social History of Leisure since 1600, Pennsylvania, Ventura, 1990. 18. Mike Huggins, ‘Betting, Sport and the British, 1918–1939’, Journal of Social History, vol. 41, No. 2 (Winter 2007), 283–30. 19. Mike Huggins, ‘Association Football, Betting and British Society in the 1930s: The Strange Case of the 1936 “Pool War” ’, Sport History Review, vol. 44, issue 2 (2013), 99–119, particularly the concluding remarks. 20. Ibid., p. 290. 21. Chris Jones, ‘The Development of the Football Pools in the Inter-War Period’, MA by Research, the University of Huddersfield, 2019, Chapter 2 on ‘The emergence of football promoted by the press and the wireless but opposed by the forces of anti-gambling’. 22. Brad Beaven, Leisure, Citizenship and Working-Class Men in Britain, 1850– 1945, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2004. 23. Laybourn, Going to the Dogs, p. 8. 24. Robert Colls, This Sporting Life: Sport & Liberty in England, 1760–1960, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2020, p. 2. 25. Patrick Joyce, Work, Society and Politics: The Culture of the Factory in Late Victorian Britain, Brighton, Harvester Press, 1980; The Historical meaning of Work, edited by Patrick Joyce, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989, Patrick Joyce, Vision of the People: Industrial England and the Question of Class, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991. 26. Andrew Davies, Leisure, Gender and Poverty: Working-Class Culture in Salford and Manchester, 1990–1939, Buckingham and Philadelphia, Open University Press, 1992. He argues that there were gender differences that teenagers often did not follow the leisure habits of their fathers, and that variations in regional policy cut across any notion of a class-centres leisure for the working class. 27. Andrew Davies and Stephen Fielding (eds), Workers’ Worlds. Culture and Communities in Manchester and Salford 1880–1939, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1992, p. 10. 28. A. Miles and Mike Savage, The Remaking of the British Working Class, 1840 to 1940, London, Routledge, 1994; Jon Lawrence, Speaking for the People: Party, Language and Popular Politics in England, 1867–1914, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998; J. Lawrence, ‘The British sense of class’, Journal of Contemporary History, 35 (2000), 307–18. 29. Mike Savage, ‘Working-Class Identities in the 1960s: Revisiting the Affluent Worker Study’, Sociology, vol. 39 (5), (2005), 929–945. 30. Rev. J. Glass, Gambling and Religion, London, Longman, Green and Co., 1924; Green, The fight against the betting evil; MacDonald, Gambling and Citizenship; J. L. Paton, The Rights and Wrongs of Gambling, London, NAGL, n.d.; Rev. E. Benson Perkins, The Problem of Gambling, London, Epworth Press, 1919; Carl Chinn, Better Betting with a Decent Feller: A Social History of Bookmaking, London: Aurum, 2004 edition. 31. B. Seebohm Rowntree, Poverty and Progress: A Second Survey of York, London, Longman, Green & Co, 1941, p. 403. 32. Keith Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling in Britain, c.1906–1960s: The Stages of Political Debate, Lampeter, Edwin Mellen, 2007, pp. 162–163; Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming (Willink Commission) (1949– 1951), Final Report, pp. 36–37. The Hulton Readership Survey of 1949–1950,

Introduction and overview 23











the Social Survey on Betting, the Sherman Survey submitted to the Royal Commission, and others, offered slightly different figures but were broadly within the range indicated in the main text. The Social Survey suggested a weekly stake of about 2s 6d whilst the Hulton Readership Survey suggested than men staked about 3s 10d (19p) and women about 2s (10p). 33. Rev. E. B. Perkins, Betting Fact: Being an Account of the Facts on Betting Given in Evidence before the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Betting Duty, London, Wesleyan Methodist Church, 1925. 34. The National Archives, HO 335/29, HO 335/52. 35. Gerda Reith, The Age of Chance: Gambling in Western Culture, London, Routledge, 2002; Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling in Britain, p. 34; D. Dixon, From Prohibition to Regulation, Bookmaking, Anti-Gambling and the Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1991, pp. 56–59. 36. The Truth, 13 October 1938. 37. Graham Sharpe, Gambling on Goals. A Century of Football Betting, Edinburgh, Mainstream, 1997, back page and p. 1. 38. Mike Huggins, chapter in John Hughson, Kevin J. Moore, Joseph Maguire and Ramao Spaaij, Routledge Handbook of Football Studies, London, Taylor & Francis, 2016. The chapter by Mike Huggins is on ‘Football and Gambling’, and starts at page 63; Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling in Britain, pp. 151–168. 39. Jones, ‘The Development of the Football Pools’, p. 11. 40. Phil Reed (ed.), Football & Fortunes: The Inside Story of Littlewoods Football Pools 1923–2003, Liverpool, Littlewoods Promotions, Brahm, 2003, pp. 44–45. 41. Leonard Reginald Gribble, Inside Littlewoods, London, Axtell, 1950; N. Price, How to Become a Millionaire by John and Cecil Moores, Liverpool, Empire News, 1955; The Man Who Made Littlewoods: The Story of John Moores, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1993. 42. R. McKibbin, Classes and Cultures in England 1918–1951, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 375. 43. J. Hilton, Rich Man, Poor Man, London, George Allen & Unwin, p. 160. 44. Ross McKibbin, ‘Working-Class Gambling in Britain 1880–1939’, Past & Present, vol. 82, issue 1, February 1979, 147–178. 45. These Frank George books was published by Frank George and the Dennis Jones book by Rosters. The Daily Express published Philip Osborne’s Poolbuster: Guide to Winning a Fortune; Gwilym Roberts published Perms that Win the Pools with XT Raceform; Statistician wrote Betting Systems that Win, published by W. Foulsham and David Duncan, Betting Systems that Win Pools, Marlow, W. Foulsham, 1991; G. B. Stone published How to Win the Pools by Really Trying, published by Quiller; Simon Carrley wrote How to Win the Pools by Really Trying, published by Quiller; Perman published Planning a Pools Win; Gerry Skinner published How to Win the Pools, published by Sun/ Invincible; and there is the excellent book by Drakin & Forsyth, The Punters’ Revenge published by Chapman & Hall, which uses computers in gambling on horses and the pools. There are many more occasional publications of this type. 46. Mike Huggins, ‘Association Football, Betting and British Society in the 1930s: The Strange Case of the 1936 ‘Pools War’, Sport History Review, vol. 44 (2013), issue 2, 99–119, the quote appears on 115–116. 47. Brad Beaven, Leisure, Citizenship and Working-Class Men in Britain, 1850– 1945, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2004. 48. Huggins, ‘Association Football, Betting and British Society in the 1930s’.

24  Introduction and overview 49. Ruth Doughty and the Film Department of Liverpool John Moores University have secured a National Lottery grant to research the history of the iconic Edge Lane Building, Liverpool, the one-time headquarters of the Littlewood Pools Company, interviewing the people who worked there, looking into the site and its gambling activity. This work has been held up by the COVID-19 pandemic but will presumably continue in its endeavour to provide a snapshot of an institution which shaped the lives of many millions of people from the 1930s to the 1990s. 50. Peter Gurney, The Making of Consumer Culture in Modern Britain, London, Bloomsbury, 2017. 51. William M. Reddy, The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001. 52. Peter M. Stearns, American Cool and Constructing a Twentieth-Century Emotional Style, New York, NYU Press, 1994; Peter M. Stearns and Jan Lewis (eds), An Emotional History of the United States, New York, NYU Press, 1998. 53. Barbara H. Rosenwein and Riccardo Cristiani, What is the History of Emotions (What is History?), Cambridge, Polity, 2017. 54. Yaara Benger Alaluf, The Emotional Economy of Holidaymaking: Health, Pleasure, and Class in Britain, 1870–1918, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2021, p. 16, 169. 55. Geoffrey Kohe, ‘For the Good of the Game? The Legacy of the Football Trust, the Football Pools, and the Dangerous Sedition of Political Promise; The International Journal of the History of Sport, 32 (11–12) (2015), 1378–1394. 56. Ibid. 57. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 25 June 1971 and 11 July 1984, when a Continuance Act was being discussed. 58. Andrew Douglas, British Charitable Gambling, 1956–1994: Towards a National Lottery, London, Athlone Press, 1995. 59. Mike Huggins, ‘Association Football, Betting and British Society in the 1930s: The Strange Case of the 1936 “Pools War”’, Sport History Review, vol. 44 (2013), issue 2, 99–119, the quote appearing on 115–116. 60. Brad Beaven, Leisure, Citizenship and Working-Class Men in Britain, 1850–1945, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2004. 61. Alaluf, The Emotional Economy of Holidaymaking. p. 16, 169.

2

The emergence of the football pools c.1870s–c.1945 From bookmaker to the modern football pool company

The football pools, initially based upon the selection of results from a combination of football matches and known as combination football pools, emerged in Britain in the early 1870s, as football became increasingly codified and organised into league fixtures and was boosted by the Football Challenge Cup, first played in 1872. At first, football pool betting, based upon Saturday football matches, was a minority gambling activity, confined largely to the industrial belts of Lancashire, the Midlands, and Scotland, though after the First World it developed quickly from the hundreds of small bookmakers to larger, more dedicated, firms. It was ultimately these larger companies – Littlewoods, Vernons, Zetters, Shermans, Copes, Bonds, Strangs, Murphys and Empire – who came to dominate the business with substantial jackpot winnings and effective publicity to stoke up consumer demand. Littlewoods, the largest of these firms, developed a low-cost business model, combining the socially controlling model of Fordism with the specialised division of labour of Taylorism, in an economic and political climate largely free from effective legislative control. These larger companies also operated a form of emotional capitalism, based upon offering potentially large prizes, to win and maintain their clientele. Despite strong hostility from anti-gambling organisations in the inter-war years, the football pools boomed – saved from the illegality of being a lottery by the fact that some skill and judgement was claimed to be involved in the selection of the football results, even though many punters selected the same numbers on their coupon every week. Their entrepreneurial promoters – John and Cecil Moores, Vernon Sangster, Harry Sherman, Thomas Strang and W. S. Murphy – were largely responsible for the immense success of the pools in fending off the attempts to ban or control them, and in imposing upon society what was often referred to as a ‘traditional’ working-class activity. The Second World War reduced the pools business to less than a quarter of its previous size. From the beginning of 1940 – though Strangs and Murphys, operated independently during wartime – the football pool business was largely operated as the Unity Pools which was set up by nine, rather than the oft-quoted eight, major pools’ companies for the duration – Shermans often being excluded from the list because it was a member that barely operated in wartime.1 DOI: 10.4324/9781003144908-2

26  Emergence of the football pools Despite this setback, the demand for the football pools recovered quickly in the late 1940s after the Second World War, with the introduction of the Treble Chance based upon the results of a combination of matches and winning drawn from the pool of money accumulated from the bets. Up to that point, and essentially from small beginnings before the First World War, the pools business had grown rapidly in the inter-war years because of the ability of a small, imaginative and determined group of entrepreneurs. They saw the possibility of a gambling market based upon small stakes from a working-class clientele, who came to regard the football pools as a relatively safe, legal and acceptable social activity cultivated in such thoughts by the emotional capitalism of the pool promoters.

The emergence of the football pools: Newspapers, local bookmakers, Lancashire, the Midlands and Scotland, 1870s–1922 Evidence of the existence and activities of the football pools before the First World War is plentiful, spasmodic, confusing, vague and often misleading. Sir Frederick Wall, Secretary of the Football Association between 1895 and 1934, expressed his dismay that betting odds were being quoted at the first Football Association Challenge Cup final in 1872, in the evidence he presented to the Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting of 1932–1933, (hereafter the Rowlatt Commission).2 Almost certainly, he was referring to the Hutton’s Press normal fixed-odds betting coupons based upon the results of a combination of football matches. Graham Sharpe has also observed that coupon betting was well established by about 1877, as an extension of the normal betting practice of bookmakers.3 Tony Mason suggested that it was the local sporting press of Lancashire which first offered their members fixed odds in the 1880s.4 Football Field of Bolton offered fixed odds to a maximum of twenty-two shillings (£1–10p) winnings. Lantern, of St. Helens, offered odds of ten shillings, and the Hutton’s Press’s Athletic News, of Manchester, offered fixed odds betting up to a £5 limit. The Sporting Chronicle and Sporting Luck did much the same. The latter paper, run by Stoddarts of Manchester, was a penny weekly started in March 1890. It contained coupons for predicting the results of a combination of football matches as well as tips for horses. There were attempts to stop its activities, but in 1895 the NAGL (National Anti-Gambling League) failed in its attempt to do so when it brought a legal case to stop Stoddarts from accepting stake money in defiance of the Betting Housing Act of 1853, which did not allow off-course ready-money betting to occur in any building, which would be regarded as a betting house if it occurred. However, the NAGL reversed the decision in a similar case in 1900. The NAGL solicited the help of Ainslie J. Robertson to study the way in which the Liverpool bookmakers were distributing fixed-odds combination coupons. Robertson noted that three large bookmaking firms employed

Emergence of the football pools 27 43 agents and that ‘perhaps 140,000 monetary deposits’ were received by these three bookmakers per year. He estimated that about £8,000, in 1s (2.5p) or 2s 6d (12.5p) bets, were being taken, with little return to their clients, suggesting that some pool betting was involved.5 He further noted that a survey of Liverpool in 1907 revealed that 250,000 coupons were collected in a single week, a worrying, if possibly exaggerated, level of activity from a survey for which the detailed evidence seems not to survive. Such evidence, fragmentary though it may be, points to the existence of a high level of betting on the fixed odds combination coupons of bookmakers and newspapers, mainly in Lancashire, before the First World War. An increasing number of papers published football pool competitions to boost newspapers sales, with the winnings drawn from the pool income drawn from bets. The Cricket and Football Field newspaper, published in Bolton on a Saturday evening, on 10 September 1887, offered a prize of one guinea to ‘the competitor who produced the results of four football matches to be played the following Saturday’. 6 The coupon had to be in the newspaper office by the Friday before the match. There was no charge for the entry and the idea was to sell newspapers, and punters could put as many entries in as they wished but would have to purchase extra papers to submit extra coupons. In 1910, The Umpire, the first penny provincial Sunday newspaper published in Manchester, was offering a first prize of £300 for predicting the results of a combination of football matches.7 At the national level, The Daily Mail, was organising competitions based upon football matches at least from 1907, and up to 1920 when the Ready Money Football Act made it impossible to do so since it banned the publishing of coupons in newspapers and emphasised the illegality of ready money betting, cash, as opposed to legal credit betting.8 Hundreds of bookmakers extended their normal business on horse racing to include fixed-odds and pool betting. In the early 1930s, the Rowlatt Commission, reflected that ‘The professional bookmaker saw that this [betting on the football results] offered a method of betting which could be successfully exploited and it has now become a large and lucrative trade’.9 It also endorsed the view that football coupons ‘originated in prize offers by newspapers for the most successful of the results of groups of matches.10 It also noted that many bookmakers had become involved in the Football Combination business and that this was focused more upon the North of England and Scotland than the South.11 The business model of many of the bookmakers was very simple; gather in money from various forms of betting on a list or combination of football matches. At first, this was on fixed-odds betting, but it gradually moved to combination betting based upon a pool of money, over which there was more control when dedicated commercial football pool companies emerged. As a result, many of the smaller companies could take up to 80 per cent of the total amount of the cash pool for expenses and profits, leaving 20 per cent, or less, for the punter. The money gained by the bookmaker, and early

28  Emergence of the football pools promoters, would be merged with that taken from horse racing. Many small bookmakers would thus rake in a pool of say £20 or £30 and pay out only £4 to £6. Small pools, with a small prize and a big rake-off, was the style of these bookmakers. This was to contrast with the larger pools companies, emerging in the 1920s, who considerably reduced their take from the money of both fixed odds and pool betting, for expenses and profits, offered much larger jackpots and attracted more punters from throughout Britain, rather than local areas, for more turnover and profits. Indeed, as indicated in the Littlewoods’ ‘Happy Circle’ column in The Littlewood Sports Log, in August 1938, Littlewood’s pools, the largest football pools company in the world, paid more than 80 per cent of the total paid into the pool throughout the season.12 Not surprisingly, there is little evidence of the activities of the early bookmakers who developed the football pools to complement their regular betting business, because of the secretive and often illegal nature of their activities. However, one of those early bookmakers was John Jervis Barnard, of Birmingham, who ran a football pool with little success. According to Phil Reid, It was whilst looking for a new money-making idea that John Moores came across John Jervis Barnard, a Birmingham man who had latched onto the public’s growing passion for two things: football and betting. Barnard had devised a ‘football pool’, where punters would bet on the outcome of football matches.13 John Moores, one of the three founders of Littlewoods, had come across Barnard’s coupons in December 1922.14 There is practically no evidence of Barnard’s activities but, whilst accepting his inspiration, it is inconceivable that John Moores, and his fellow directors of Littlewoods, were totally unaware of the Umpire, and other newspapers publishing football coupons, since they lived, for a time, in Manchester where gambling on the football pools had been rife in the press until the Ready Money Betting Act of 1920, which restricted pool betting in newspapers by enforcing the need for legal credit betting. Barnard’s business venture may have been unsuccessful, but others were ready to make their own place in gambling on football. Three Croydon (London) men were fined £10 for operating a football pool arrangement in 1919.15 Sidney John Pithouse found himself at the North London Police Court in May 1924 for allegedly printing 6,000 football coupons, advertising winnings of £5 for 6d, that were deemed to be distributed and gathered in public houses for ready-money cash, although his defence was that he had printed the word ‘credit’ on the coupon. Nevertheless, the offence stood and Pithouse was fined two guineas and charged one guinea costs.16 In Scotland, two pools companies – Strangs and Murphys – emerged in the early 1920s in Edinburgh, with offices in Glasgow. Thomas Strang was

Emergence of the football pools 29 a footballer who played for Celtic, Bolton Wanderers, and at Aberdeen, as captain, between 1904 and 1907, before finally playing for Bristol Rovers. He returned to Scotland, at the end of his playing career, to work as a miner before he set up his football pools firm in 1922.17 William Scott Murphy, a Turf Commission Agent (a bookmaker, or someone working for a bookmaker) also started using competitions based upon combination pools. The business started in Clyde Street, Edinburgh, in the 1920s before moving to the Staunch Buildings in Albany Street, Edinburgh, in 1933, remaining there until 1946. Murphy’s Pools regularly advertised for agents who would go round businesses and neighbourhoods collecting coupons and cash from punters and continued in business, along with Strangs, throughout the Second World War independently of the Unity Pools.18 In Wales, the main pools’ promoter was Harry Sherman, the son of an Eastern European Jewish tailor who came to Britain in the 1880s. Harry, who had three brothers and four sisters, was born in Cardiff, in 1887 and began as a bookmaker in Cardiff before the First World War. He, and his brother Jack, went off to the United States during the First World War but returned when it ended. Harry then re-established his bookmaking business, with his brother Abraham (Abe). Like many other bookmakers of the time, they took bets on football combinations, and this gradually took over from his normal horse racing business, in two offices in Cardiff and Merthyr. It was out of the growth of pools in the 1920s that Harry moved his pools business to Albany Street, Cardiff, in 1933, whilst retaining a bookmaking business, which operated largely from an office in Merthyr.19 Like many of the other emerging firms, Shermans publicised their presence by issuing football cards of the famous footballers of the day, such as Bobby Gurney a Sunderland goal-scoring phenomenon who scored 227 goals in 390 appearances.20 Clearly, there was a well-established pattern of newspapers and bookmakers operating coupon pool betting before 1923. The main centres of activity were south Lancashire, the Midlands and Scotland, although many bookmakers throughout Britain would have taken fixed-rate bets of football results and may have run their own football coupons.

Littlewoods and the growth of the football pools from 1923 to 1939 For many, it was the formation of Littlewood’s Pools on 1 February 1923 that saw the real beginning of the football pools in Britain.21 In essence, three Manchester friends, all clerks employed by the Commercial Cable Company, set up the Littlewood’s Football Pool unknown to their employers. They were John Moores, Bill Hughes and Colin Askham, who had been born Colin Henry Littlewood, who all put £50 of their money into the company, Moores recalling that ‘As I signed my own cheque at the bank, my hands were damp. It seemed such a lot of money to be risking’.22 Littlewood’s

30  Emergence of the football pools Football Pool operated from a small office in Church Street, Liverpool and, using a cheap printer, produced 4,000 coupons which they distributed outside Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground. Only 35 coupons were returned, with a return of £4 7s 6d (£4.37.5p), the 10 per cent deducted from the pool of money gathered not even covering the expenses of the three partners. They then printed 10,000 coupons for a match at Hull, with the return of only one coupon. The venture seemed doomed and by midway through the 1924–1925 season the partners had lost £200 each. At this point, Moores bought out his two partners at £200 each and brought in his brother Cecil Moores to help run the firm, Cecil taking over as ‘The Chief’ in 1932 when John set up his Littlewoods mail order firm. At first, the Moores brothers had struggled but the situation improved throughout 1924/1925 when John and Cecil were, themselves, marking the 5,000 to 7,000 coupons they were receiving each week. At the beginning of that season, they were receiving gross receipts of £37 per week but this had risen to about £258 per week by the end.23 As a result, they were able to employ office girls to help process and check the coupons. The company was finally incorporated with Moores brothers, and John and Ruby Moores, in 1928, as ‘racing and football accountant’.24 The business objective of this new company was to run a football pool coupon and to take only 20 per cent in profits and expenses. Growing rapidly from 1926, Littlewoods drew criticism from a powerful anti-gambling lobby. Indeed, in 1927, Littlewoods was prosecuted, and found guilty, of breaching both the Ready Money Football Pools Act of 1920 and the Street Betting Act of 1906, but successfully appealed against the judgement. The publicity drew further attention to the football pools and boosted interest in this form of gambling. At the start of the football season, in August 1926, the weekly gross receipts of Littlewoods had fallen to £158 but had increased to more than £2,000, and 20,000 coupons, at the end of the 1926/7 season. By the end of the 1927–1928 season, both these figures had more than doubled. It was at this stage that the football pools began to draw some attention alongside the mushrooming, and more physically visible, growth of greyhound racing. To cover the summer months, Littlewoods began a horse racing coupon, on selected horse races, a business that continued and developed throughout the inter-war years.25 Indeed, Littlewoods produced many coupons for the racing season, offering the ‘Littlewood’s Good Saturday Pool’ at Kempton Park, the horse racing track, on 4 June 1938 and the ‘Littlewood’s Forecast Pool’ for the Derby on 1 June 1939.26 The surviving Littlewoods’ football coupons, which emphasised the ‘skill and judgment’ of the punter, start on 25 August 1928, at the beginning of the 1928/9 football season. They provided a summary of the average odds for the season 1927–1928 for each of its four lists of football combinations: 82–1 for List 1, 268–1 for List 2, 167–1 for List 3 and 100–1 for List 4. List 1 required the forecasting of seven correct results, homes, aways or draws; List 2 required the forecasting of four correct away results; List 3 the

Emergence of the football pools 31 forecasting of four correct halftime, homes and always but not draws; and List 4 required the forecasting of one correct home results and two correct away teams.27 It noted ‘What the Football Punter is looking for: GOOD ODDs and NO RISK of non-payment’.28 The Moores brothers set up the Mersey Totaliser Football Pools Company which was certainly active in the 1928–1929 football season.29 Shortly afterwards it seems to have become Bond’s Pools Ltd, of 64 Stanley Street. Liverpool. It was owned by John Moores, with 369 shares, Cecil Moores with 130 shares, and L. Brierley-Jones, with one share, and described as a ‘racing and football accountant’.30 Bonds was run by L. Brierley-Jones, who was also a director at Littlewoods. Its coupons were advertised with the pun ‘Our Word is our Bond’, and offered a regular £500 pool, ‘The Popular Penny Pool’, ‘The Football Select Sweep’. Its coupon of 29 August 1936 advertised ‘Our Great New Pool the Select Seven: Join this fascinating Pool NOW and share BOND’S Sensational Dividends: Famous 5 Complete League NOTHING BARRED LIST and PENNY POINTS POOL 12 Results Only’.31 The coupons normally contained 54 fixtures, including the 44 English Football League Fixtures and ten Scottish League fixtures, alongside. Pool 1 invited the Punter to Forecast 10 results, Pool 2 asks the punter to forecast 8 results, and Pool 3 asks them to forecast 4 aways. The advertising in the following week had a cartoon of a well-dressed gentleman advertising the Select Seven (Popular) and 1d Points Pools 12 Results Only, and asked the reader to ‘TURN OVER A NEW LEAF INVEST IN BOND’S THE BEST NOTHING BARRED LIST’.32 It even competed with Littlewoods, its parent company, in publicity by publishing Bond’s Football Annual for 1934–1935.33 By 1936, it adopted the approach of Littlewoods and Vernons in cultivating the social life of their workers, and even voting each year for a Miss Bond from amongst its employees.34 The firm was one of the eight or nine companies drawn into Unity Pools at the beginning of the Second World War, but then returned to its normal independent business, except that it moved its headquarters to 24–28 Queen Street, Glasgow in 1949, when Managing Director was still L. Brierley Jones, who continued to be a director with the Moores brothers at Littlewoods. Its small leaflet adverts were still claiming that Bond’s Pools ‘Were the Greatest Nothing Barred Pools. The Sweetest Road to Frequent Wins’.35 There were still invites to ‘Introduce two Friends to Bonds’ in return for ‘4s for yourself’. It even attempted to invite its clients to establish Bonds of Friendship in a bright red leaflet in which it was stated that ‘We invite you as a winner – to forge further links in BONDS ever-growing chain of Members by introducing your Friends’. There is no evidence of when Bonds ceased to exist, but it appears to have been finally absorbed into Littlewoods at the beginning of the 1950s. Other large companies also began to emerge on similar lines. Vernon Edmund Sangster (1899–1986), the son of Alfred Edmund Sangster a wholesale draper, founded Vernons, which soon became the second-largest

32  Emergence of the football pools football pool firm, after Littlewoods.36 In 1923, Vernon and Alfred set up their football coupons firm in Manchester, offering large prizes for a small outlay from their punters. It proved successful and, in 1925, they moved to Aintree, near Liverpool, and officially formed Vernons, operating with parttime, seasonal, female labour. By the late 1930s, Vernon, who lived in West Lodge, Kirby, held 93 shares, J. A. Moody had seven shares, and the Finmere Trust Ltd, of which Vernons was the main owner, held 100 shares, and the official headquarters for the firm was 52 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London.37 Vernon, known as the ‘Guvnor’, took charge and fought off the attacks of the anti-gambling lobby throughout the 1930s to form a successful business, which ultimately employed a workforce of 6,000 people in the 1950s, second in size to Littlewoods, who employed about twice as many staff at that time. Vernons built up his business through George Randall Kennerley, who developed the business in clubs in Liverpool, and the surrounding area, and into a national company during the 1930s. He became managing director of Vernons, still running the firm into the late 1970s, and was chairman of the post-war PPA.38 But that was in the future and, in 1925, Vernons were the chief rivals of Littlewoods, both in Liverpool and nationally. The success and attractiveness of Littlewoods and Vernons coupons encouraged the formation of new companies. Empire Pools, one of the most successful firms, was formed in Blackpool in 1936 by Joseph Hosking Edwards, a successful northern businessman, who died a millionaire because of the success of his firm. He was born in Frizington, Cumbria, in 1893 but lived in Huddersfield in the 1920s where he became ‘The Puzzle King’. With five full-time staff and 21 casual typists, his firm worked out puzzles in newspapers for clients, who he would charge a percentage of any winnings over £5. This business declined, and he moved to Blackpool and set up Empire Pools with only 3s 6d (17.5p) to his name. The company prospered until at least 1978 when it was one of the last four commercial football pool companies in operation, alongside Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters.39 Numerous other companies, usually locally based, had also emerged by the mid-1930s. There were, for instance, Gordon Mackay of Leeds, the United Kingdom Totalisator, of Chancery Lane, London, and Lawson Pools, of Wolverhampton.40 Soccer pools were founded in Leicester in 1932, Cope’s Pools was founded in London in 1932. Zetters also emerged in London in 1933, again from a bookmaking background of the 1920s.41 This growth certainly alarmed some MPs, and it is almost certainly Murphys, who, in February 1930, was being referred to in the House of Commons by one MP as a firm prosecuted in 1920 under the Ready Money Act and which collected 110,000 coupons in two consecutive weeks and then 116,000 and 118,000 coupons in the third and fourth week.42 Indeed, by the early 1930s, the football pools could not escape the attention of government, which set up the Rowlatt Commission to examine the recent growth in working-class gambling, and particularly greyhound racing, which, from nothing in early 1926, had risen to more than 200 greyhound tracks

Emergence of the football pools 33 and more than 32 million attendances by 1932. Yet the football pools, in comparison, was a modest concern, amounting to only about £8 million in 1933.43 And, in contrast to the tainted world of the illegal ready-money street bookie, the pools were presented as, a less challenging and more respectable form of betting.44 Indeed, the Rowlatt Commission played scant attention to ‘Football Combination’, most of the commissioners suggesting that it was a less objectionable than both horse racing and greyhound racing because it only occurred once per week, on a Saturday.45 Yet it also made some acute comments on the football coupons, based upon the evidence that it received from witnesses, particularly regarding the illegality of much of the activity. It observed how the business had developed, and its undercurrent of illegality. As stated in paragraph 129 many bookmakers who engage in street betting on horse racing during the flat season, do a considerable amount of ready money betting during the winter months. The coupons are distributed and collected by bookmakers and agents, runners in the street, the owners of small shops, and agents in works and factories.46 It also observed the new trend of the larger companies to conduct business on a wider level, outside their immediate areas, noting that, A considerable amount of football combination betting is conducted by post, especially by bookmakers with premises in Scotland. Such businesses are built up, either by advertisements in sporting newspapers of by the employment of a commission of agents in factories and institutions, who distribute the coupons, collect when completed and sent by post to the bookmakers.47 Indeed, Coupons have to be sent bearing a postmark not later than 2 pm on the Saturday in which the matches are played and losers must forward their stakes on the same day as soon as the matches are over, and the results known.48 And, Another expedient adopted (on the legality of which we offer no observation) is that the bettor is required to send his money, win or lose, by 5 pm on the afternoon of the matches, as to furnish with his coupon for the matches are played the counterfoil of the postal order he proposes to send in respect of his stake. It is clear that in many cases bookmakers insist on receiving the stakes with the coupon before the matches are played, and the law is often disregarded.49

34  Emergence of the football pools Indeed, the evidence submitted to the Rowlatt Commission indicated that local bookmakers were clearly running their own small businesses, through local agents, runners and shops, where they were taking money on, an illegal, ready money basis. This scenario may have been the case for the small bookmakers, and some of the small and medium-sized companies, but was not so for the larger companies, mainly because they had come to an agreement in 1928 that they would draw up a list of non-payers, or ‘debtors’, to deny payment. Littlewoods, Vernons and other large firms, therefore emblazoned on their coupons ‘Credit Only’ and that ‘Debtors will not be paid’.50 These companies were clearly attracting bets from throughout Britain, through the post or through commission agents, maintaining the legal credit nature of the business. In fact, they probably did not need to do so as the Ready Money Betting Football Act of 1920 could not be enforced, and it was alleged that money was still being demanded at the moment, or shortly after, of betting. Indeed, Sir Sidney Arthur Taylor Rowlatt, chairman of the Commission, observed that the Act ‘made no provision to assist the police in its enforcement (for instance, no power of search of suspected premises) and offences are only detected when premises are searched for other reasons’.51 On balance, though, the Rowlatt Commission felt no need to ban the football pools, although three dissenting members wished to do so, but felt the need to ensure that all football coupons forms and bookmakers were properly licensed.52 Nevertheless, House of Commons debates on the football pools, particularly on the 6 and 12 November 1934, and later reports to the Willink Commission (1949–1951) shows the rapidly increasing realisation of how far the football pools had come since the early 1920s, and which firms were beginning to dominate the market. By the early 1930s, the two main Scottish firms of Murphy’s Pools and Strang’s Pools were employing just under 100 people each in their offices – when combined in the late 1940s they only employed 340 workers – but Littlewoods were employing at least 6,000 employees in the mid-1930s, and about 10,000 by the late 1930s 53 By the late 1930s, Vernons employed about half the number of staff as Littlewoods. At that time, the larger firms were also beginning to operate engaging selfemployed collecting commission agents to gather the coupons. The industry was growing rapidly. By 1934, even the smaller of the larger firms were expanding quickly. Indeed, Murphys was advertising a jackpot pool of £8,584.54 It was also alleged that one Scottish firm, almost certainly Murphys, invested £10,000 in its business, £3,500 of which went to the Commission agents, £1,500 in advertising, some in expenses and profits, and left only £3,600 for the punter, about seven shilling in the £.55 In a House of Commons debate, on 12 November 1934, Richard John Russell, Liberal MP for the rural constituency of Eddisbury in Cheshire and fierce opponent of gambling and the secularisation of Sunday, suggested that the largest pools win (for Murphys) in 1934, was £10,020, and that the total was the 3 November was £9,821–10s. In addition, he stated that the largest pool for T.

Emergence of the football pools 35 Strang in 1933 was £5,683 and £10,051 in 1934.56 He added that the average pool of only five firms that advertised the size of their pools was £6,183, and that that 63 firms who advertised free winning competitions paid £11,450, or an average of £458; the same 63 firms also advertising between them winnings of £146,915 per week.57 In this personal survey by Russell, it would appear that one firm advertised that it was taking off 15 per cent before advertising the size of the pool, that four others (almost certainly including Littlewoods and Vernons) were advertising 5 per cent plus expenses. It was also asserted, though only 10 were advertising, that 28 pools companies were operating in Liverpool, that there were at least 100 companies, on which there were few details, and that the 63 surveyed by the MP had gross weekly receipts of £209,878, reflecting a one shilling stake per person by 4,197,560 people, and that there was a 30 per cent rake-off, although it was probably 50 per cent in many cases.58 Much of this information was probably generalised and speculative, but Russell was attempting to reveal the growth, variation and lack of control of a rapidly growing industry. The essential point was that the football pools business was growing fast, and Russell felt dangerously fast and without control as he suggested in his pamphlet The Perils of the Pools, based upon his speeches in the House of Commons. It is estimated that by 1934 about 9,000,000 people, mainly male heads of households from the working class, were submitting coupons each week. This led to a turnover of £8 million from 1933 to 1934, although Russell suggested to the House of Commons that the true figure was much higher. The Liverpool Echo and Russell suggested that the 28 Liverpool firms alone were attracting five million punters betting £350,000 per week and that in a 39-week season this meant at least £9,000,000, taking at least £2,700,000 in expenses and £1 million in profits.59 Indeed, the subsequent rapid growth and development of the business is reflected in the rapid sale of postal orders. Seebohm Rowntree indicated in Poverty and Progress, his second study of poverty in York conducted in 1936, suggesting that at least 48,000 pool promoters’ circulars are delivered through the post to houses in York. This is the equivalent to an average of nearly two to every house. Of course, some houses receive no circulars, while others receive more than two. One house where there are several lodgers, received seventeen in a week! Of course, all the circulars do not result in bets,…60 His survey of the number of postal orders sent by the working-class punters in York each week in the football season suggested that there were an average of 5,315 per week out of season, and the 17,828 in the football season, meaning that about 12,513 on average were being sent to pay for pools’ coupons.61 Indeed, this level of activity, and its growth, is effectively seen in a survey of 6d (2.5 p), 1 shilling (5p), and 2s 5d (12.5p) postal orders that were issued

36  Emergence of the football pools Table 2.1  Sales of postal orders in Britain, 1929–1937 Value of postal order Date

6d

1s

2s 6d

1929–1930 1934–1935 1936–1937

20,797,080 31,804,495 30,586,335

13,023,610 31,959,050 48,826,415

11,804,190 20,882,580 29,143,425

Source: Mike Huggins ‘Betting, Sports and the British, 1918–1939’, Journal of Social History, 41.2 (2007), 296, and drawn from the Daily Telegraph and Morning Star, ‘An Enquiry into the Pool and Football Pools’, p. 2.

between 1929 and 1936, as indicated in Table 2.1. Although some of this was for different purposes, the Rowntree survey would suggest that, by the mid1930s, two-thirds related to payment for submitted coupons on the pools. Pools company takings rose to between £600,000 and £800,000 per week, and to between £24 million and £30 million a year, by the late 1930s, and possibly up to £40 million – an enormous three-fold to fivefold growth between 1933 and 1939. Apart from many bookmakers, who often did fixed-odds pool betting, there were probably between 100 and 200 football pools firms. Littlewoods, Vernons and Liverpool Tote operated from Liverpool, the centre of the business, but Shermans in Cardiff and Merthyr, Strangs and Murphys in Edinburgh, and ITP, Frederick Jervis & Co. Ltd and London & Provincial Soccer pools were established in London. Apart from the companies, already mentioned, there was Gamico Football Pools, which operated a points system with its retail business in Leeds. Others included Everyman Pools and HP Football Pools. For many of these, and even some of the larger companies, little of their activities survives, other than advertising in newspapers and home movies of their family activities.62 Equally, little survives on Strangs and Murphys, who were absorbed into Littlewoods in 1946, and the same can be said of Shermans, the pools side of the business of which was absorbed into Littlewoods in 1961. Bond’s Pools, Littlewood’s sister company, was absorbed in the early 1950s. Because of the lack of records, it is only possible to establish how Littlewoods operated, and its business model, although there are occasional glimpses of how Vernons, Bonds and Shermans operated.

The business strategy of Littlewoods, Vernons and the larger pools companies The football pools increasingly operated a combination, or pool, arrangement of football matches whereby all the bets went into a financial pool from which winnings were paid, after deductions for costs and profits. Before the Second World War this was normally a fixed-odd betting system, based upon selections from lists of matches, but after the war it was

Emergence of the football pools 37 increasingly based upon a financial pool associated with the Treble Chance, based upon the size of the financial pool. Littlewoods and the larger companies, as already indicated, prided themselves on giving back to the punter a very large percentage of the pool and thus drawing in more business as the punter was attracted by the bigger prizes. Indeed, Littlewoods took only 5 per cent for profit, plus the expenses, and in April and August 1938 claimed that it paid ‘more than 80 per cent back throughout the season’.63 Regularly, on its coupons, it advertised itself as the ‘World’s largest pool’, or as the ‘largest pool of its kind in the world’. 64 In October 1938, the very month in which it made that claim, Malcom Campbell, the World Water speed champion, handed over the World’s Largest Penny Pool prize-winning cheque of £139,818 to a Mrs. A. Hirst, of Leeds, and her husband, on behalf of Littlewoods.65 The coupon system they operated followed the nine-month football season, and the coupons contained a list of upcoming football matches. The punter made a limited number of choices for drawn matches or even lists of wins. They could have many attempts at predicting results by paying for extra lines. The fewer draws, or wins, there were, depending upon what was being bet upon, could lead to big pay-outs. The betting ‘investments’, were paid by the punters on a credit basis, in order not to contravene the Ready Money Football Betting Act of 1920, which, as already seen, led to the prosecution of Littlewoods in 1926/7. There were numerous pools available. Littlewoods offered a Fixed Odds Coupon, with odds of 12,000 to 1 on its ‘Twelve Results’, and a ‘Spot the Ball’ competition at the beginning of the Second World War.66 The Littlewood’s Fixed Odds Coupon of 1 November 1939 offered different lists of fixtures in which Cecil Moores invited his punters to ‘invest’, offering his clients to ‘enjoy a worthwhile win on Littlewoods. I would particularly draw your attention to the attractive “Twelve Results” which included with many other interesting features our Fixed Odds Coupon. Here is a splendid opportunity for a good win. Odds of 12,000 to 1 for an all-correct forecast, and even with one mistake you receive 800 to 1. Don’t miss this great new attraction, Fill in this Coupon NOW’. One of the lists gave 7 to 1 for 6 results and 66–1 for 12 results, Another 10–1 for six results and 100–1 for 12 results. These varied, according to the amount that the clients ‘invested’. Led by Littlewoods, and the major firms, the pools’ industry focussed upon four main business and political strategies in this period. First, Littlewoods increasingly used advertising and promotional literature to extend its customer base and to appeal to the loyalty of its staff. Secondly, it instigated modern business techniques such as Taylorism and Fordism to organise its staff. Thirdly, it placed importance on the integrity and security of the business, in an age which was suspicious of gambling. Fourthly, it focused upon exerting political and economic representation through the Football Pools Promoters’ Association (FPPA), formed in 1934 by the largest companies.67

38  Emergence of the football pools Littlewoods was led by two innovative brothers who used modern advertising and promotional techniques to outmanoeuvre both their competitors and the anti-gambling movement, the NAGL, and the hierarchy of the Football League (FL). To do this, they sought to establish strong relationship with their ever-expanding customer base. Keen on the new business management, they sought to maximize the potential of their workforce. The way they did this was to create a close relationship with both their punters and their staff through were two company magazines – The Littlewood Sports Log, for punters, and The Littlewood Review, for staff, both of which presented the firm’s commitment to hard work, common sense and strong Northern values.68 Both aimed to produce friendly and beguiling information on sport, leisure and entertainment for their respective customers. The early issues of The Littlewood Sports Log usually started with a cartoon of an old man, referred to as ‘The Little Ol’ Man O’ the Woods’, an imparter of mystic old-time wisdom, and representing the reliability and sturdiness of the English Oak. The aim was to relax into the regular message from ‘The Chief’ on the wisdom on ‘investing’ in the pools.69 Each issue contained a short piece appealing to the Littlewood clients to collectively work with Littlewoods. The message on 29 October 1938 was to ‘Pull Together’. Cecil Moores, ‘The Chief’, argued that this was required in a football team and added that The team spirit had been equally vital in the rapid progress of our pool during sixteen seasons. In our vast offices careful planning and sound organisation ensures that every cog in the great Littlewood Machine runs smoothly. Our millions of good friends, who are members of the Littlewood Happy Circle, have also showed loyalty and goodwill. The third issue of The Littlewood Sports Log, apart from commenting upon the sale of a Blackpool player, and Irish international, to Manchester City for £9,500, included a humorous cartoon of a lion on the back of an Elephant, with the blurb. HAS HE DONE HIS LITTLEWOOD’S THIS WEEK?70 At first, in the 1920s and early 1930s, the only serious advertising was through the plain black and white coupons. The 1928 coupons had no pictures had just consisted of multiple grids to complete and a personal details box. By 1934, the Littlewoods approach was more sophisticated and the company had more money to spend on the publicity, and this is when the stylised cheque presentation began and was reported in The Littlewood Sports Log.71 The staged scene of a public figure or popular celebrity and an elated winner was repeated constantly from the mid-1930s onwards in The

Emergence of the football pools 39 Littlewood Sports Log, which was probably first published on 28 February 1935, and on individual coupons and publicity posters.72 Indeed, it became the basic tool of Littlewoods and the other large companies. Several of the earlier winners’ photographs were taken with the aristocracy or prominent foreign princes.73 In April 1938, His Serene Highness the Ranee of Sarawak presented a cheque for £4,018 for 2d, a record amount on the 12 results Pool to six winners, the man and wife winners, the Pearsons from Washington, Durham, the Burrells from Liverpool and the Tomlinsons from Fleetwood, Lancashire.74 In October 1938, Lord Apsley presented cheques for £10,752 for 2d to some winners in the ‘World’s Largest’ 12 Results Pool. And cheques were presented to the winners of £8,771 for 1d in the ‘World’s Largest’ Penny Pool, and to 15-second dividend winners of £1,063 for 1d in the same pool.75 The prime tool of this advertising was the photographing and publicising of their pool’s winners, often with famous celebrities of the day. From 1936, the trend was to hold cheque presentations with someone more recognisable to most working-class punters. These were mostly film stars, comedians, variety stars, world records speed holders of land, sea and air.76 Nationally famous music hall acts, such as Flanagan and Allen, Ivy St. Helier and Stan Lupino were all used in 1936 to connect the winner, and the observing punters, with the celebrities of the age.77 Reed concludes that Littlewoods understood the value of publicity from the beginning of their business enterprise.78 The winners’ photographs were, indeed, given increased prominence from the Flanagan and Allen picture onwards.79 In September 1937 Malcolm Campbell, the holder of the land speed record, was seen presenting a cheque to a winner.80 At the end of that year, and advertising through The Littlewood Sports Log and the Sunday Dispatch and Sunday Express, Flying Officer A. E. Clouston and Mrs. Betty Kirby-Green, who had flown from Croydon Airport to the Cape and back in five days and seventeen and a half hours, were pictured with their plane and then ‘visited Littlewood’s and during their tour of our offices presented the cheques to some of the First Dividend Winners on the World’s Largest Penny Pool’. All the winners of the first Dividend had received £5,409 for 1d.81 The pool winners’ photographs became a popular and iconic representation of the pools’ successes and an incentive to ‘invest’. The football pools therefore offered the, mainly working-class, punter a visual image of the only legal way in which they could win a life-changing amount of money for a small and affordable stake. This became the main selling point of the pools and Littlewoods, Vernons, Shermans and the other large companies quickly realised this and shamelessly publicised this point. It offered the emotional picture of comfort to the relatively impoverished working-class punter and was couched in the language of emotional economy that Alaluf has written about. Winners’ photographs were used to further legitimise the pools business by describing an individual’s background and poor circumstances and contrasting these with the prospect of comfort and safety offered by a pool’s

40  Emergence of the football pools victory. Indeed, Littlewoods carefully constructed an image of the responsible winner who used his/her windfall in a positive and worthwhile manner. An early, and much used, example of this construct was the situation of Mr. Edwin Dodd, a badly paid pottery worker from Stoke-on-Trent, who won £1,000 on Littlewood pools. Recovering from a serious operation, and against medical advice, he returned to work until the pools win offered him, and his young family, an alternative and enhanced life opportunity. Apparently, he used his money rationally, and sensibly, to buy a family home and a newsagent’s business, and gave the remainder to his family and a local church.82 The Moores brothers stressed that their responsibility to their clients did not end with them handing over a large cheque. Indeed, from the 1930s, they offered all big winners a professional service to explain stocks, shares, annuities, debentures, how to buy a house or business and how to use a bank account.83 Littlewoods was later to issue its Guide to Investment in the 1960s, advising customers not to be hasty in spending and to follow the guidance of the booklet ‘in a friendly gesture of hope that its contents may provide some guidance in making your financial arrangements for the future’.84 Publicity was used by Littlewoods to increase the number of pool punters and, therefore, the turnover and profits of the company. The Moores brothers and senior managers, such as E. Lennox Figgis, used multiple types of publicity and ever-developing modern techniques at their disposal, in addition to the cheque presentation was the core creation and management of the ‘Happy Circle’ club of bettors. This was further developed by Cecil Moores, ‘The Chief’. The fundamental aim was to organise a club with a specific membership and to establish a clear and recognizable image.85 The Littlewoods senior management constantly aimed to present the pools as a hobby or interest that was part of the new democratic leisure and entertainment options of the inter-war years. In November 1938, The Littlewood Sports Log presented a sketch of a family completing the weekly coupon together.86 In effect, they were offering their business as some type of rational recreation. It was a clear attempt to remove the pools from the established negative image of urban working class gambling being connected with a seedy atmosphere of illegality. The Littlewood Sports Log was constantly used to re-emphasize this approach. In one edition, in January 1939, an article presented Littlewoods’ winners as being responsible with their money. ‘John ‘and ‘Mary’ discuss taking a holiday with their winnings but, instead, accepting the advice of Littlewoods to large winners, bought a new home and organised an investment plan.87 Although their main clients were working class, Littlewoods sought to establish itself as a business that transcended class, perhaps in the desire to further legitimise the act of gambling to the middle classes. The proof of an advert, aimed to be produced in the Sunday Express of 29 August 1937, headed by a line of drawings of ten people, including a lawyer, a toff,

Emergence of the football pools 41 a fashionable woman, a soldier, a sailor, a worker and a golfer, and ran as follows. IN EVERY WALK OF LIFE, YOU, WILL FIND Littlewood Clients and the reason? Millions of winners. Dividends which have created the world records and a friendly personal service that has never been equalled. Littlewood Happy Circle comprises men and women of every class, the greatest co-partnership of fellow sportsmen ever known. You too can share the thrills – and winning opportunities – offered by the World’s Largest Football Pool. Why not post the coupon below TO-DAY?88 The anti-gambling movement was clearly driving Littlewoods into promoting this responsible image of their winners, and the firm sought to cultivate this responsible attitude and immerse punters in a responsible and safe family atmosphere through the Happy Circle. Described as a sports club, its aim was to get their punters to emotionally attach themselves to Littlewoods through some type of brotherhood of interests to thwart not only the anti-gambling movement but also their large competitors. The issue of integrity and trust were at the core of this promotional activity. The symbol of the Happy Circle, and the direct message of ‘The Chief’ were crucial in setting the framework. It was purposely designed and then placed on millions of Littlewoods pools coupon, copies of The Littlewood Sports Log and leaflets to constantly re-emphasize the trust and friendship of Littlewoods.89 The Happy Circle symbol was of two stylised male hands shaking firmly, encircled in what was a double bond. The image encapsulated the main features of the Littlewoods business model – respect, trust and honesty. Formed in 1935, by early 1937, the Happy Circle symbol had become established and was present on a weekly basis on most Littlewoods publicity material.90 The Littlewood Sports Log and the Happy Circle were platforms for a weekly in-season message from ‘The Chief’ to the millions of Littlewood’s pool punters. By 1936, the style of the message by ‘The Chief’ had been clearly established. In June 1936, Cecil Moores addressed his ‘old friends’ and followed this by the revealing statement that ‘I should like, first of all, to express my sincere appreciation of the enthusiastic way in which the big army of old and valued clients have again rallied to the Littlewoods banner this season’.91 This pattern was repeated in issue after issue and, as a reflection of the pressure of the anti-gambling organisations, in none of this publicity were the words, ‘gambling’, ‘betting’ or ‘betting stake’, ever used. The fact is that Littlewoods aimed to give the impression that their clients did not perceive themselves as gambling at all, just as the participation of people in a village tombola was never seen as such. The Happy Circle was represented as a ‘sports club’ and a ‘fellowship’ with a ‘membership’, though it was quite clearly a club for gamblers.92 ‘The Chief’ was ‘friends’ with his

42  Emergence of the football pools ‘valued clients’ providing a smokescreen to the fact that he was in fact an astute, patriarchal, dominating and self-made, millionaire who ran a large and successful capitalist organisation. By late 1937, the Happy Circle had extended its role to incorporate celebrities who, allegedly, regularly completed a Littlewoods football coupon.93 The aim was, as with the presentation of cheques, to combine the glamour of celebrity with the Happy Circle, thus connecting these high-profile celebrities with the millions of urban working-class punters who ‘invested’ in Littlewoods. These celebrities were of who handed out cheques, and ‘included Henry Roy and Billy Cotton, both famous dance leaders, the comedian Max Miller, and the comedy duo of Misses Elsie and Doris Walters’.94 Indeed, Flanagan and Allen declared that ‘We’re members of the Happy Littlewoods Circle’.95 The language of ‘The Chief’ in The Littlewood Sport Log was one of brotherhoods and association of the Happy Circle in a modern age, in a modern business venture, with modern business techniques. It appealed to a mass co-operative collective in the new venture, as indicated in one column in April 1938. Three more weeks to go (of the football season) and with the continued friendly co-operation of circle members we are going to see the most successful closing weeks ever recorded…. I admire the splendid pull together spirit which has been so much in evidence right through the season. I know that every member of our colossal sports fellowship will join in this final drive.96 Embedded in the first page of every Sports Log was the perception that Littlewoods wished to convey; friendly co-operation was the theme and temperament of the Happy Circle, rather than the gambling that was the reality. The continuity of the message was maintained by the fact that the Sports Log was an in-house production, for in 1928 Littlewoods had set up their own printing company, J.& C. Moores Printing, giving them complete control, over all the printed and advertising matters connected with Littlewoods. The photographic representation of celebrity cheque presentations and the Happy Circle were but two aspects of the creation of the Littlewoods image of a cheery, friendly, and potentially very profitable and beneficial association for the working-class punter with Littlewoods. The third aspect of their image, which secured its bond with its punters, was security. Littlewoods prided itself on the integrity of its security and, in December 1936, announced that ‘Universal public confidence has made Littlewoods a household name through the length and breadth of the land. The reason for this colossal popularity is efficient and dependable service’.97 To Littlewoods, the integrity of the product, secure from fraud or theft, was paramount in its attempt to distance itself from the illegal ready-money

Emergence of the football pools 43 street betting, which was so much a target of the anti-gamblers. ‘The Chief’ often emphasised the security of the punter’s investments, not stakes, in his regular weekly column in The Littlewood Sports Log. This approach came together in March 1936 when, Littlewoods, through the Sports Log, declared themselves ‘Littlewoods House of Integrity’, and in the following August declared. Honesty, Simplicity, Strength! There-in lies the reason for the outstanding popularity of the famous village smithy – and there-in lies the reason for the outstanding popularity of the famous Littlewoods Pools, Like the smithy’s – their business rings true’.98 This was indeed, a very clever blending of the message of honesty with perception of Stanley Baldwin, the then Conservative Prime Minister of the National Government, whose appeal to revive Englishness had focused upon the mythical high age, or ‘Golden Age’, of Englishness with the reassuring image of the cow in the meadow, and the sounds of the corncrake in the field, and the sound of the hammer on the anvil. It was, indeed, a return to mythical Arcadian, of which Littlewoods was a part. In December, it was further announced that ‘Littlewoods have the finest and most up-to-date system and football pool organisation in the United Kingdom, and your investments are protected by scrupulous integrity and a guarantee of fair play for all’.99 In the event, Littlewoods was offering itself as a new and clean business and, in September 1936, presented a pseudo accountants certificate in the Sporting Log, claiming to be signed by an incorporated and chartered accountant.100 To justify their claims, and to galvanise the impression of trustworthiness, Littlewoods created a special investigations system in 1926, as the business expanded from a few thousand to millions of coupons and postal orders being checked and processed within a seven-day window per week throughout the season. These systems became more sophisticated as time went on and ranged from the employment of ex-police detectives, a special relationship with Royal Mail, time locks on reinforced bags and specially built franking machine, and were regularly promoted in The Littlewood Sports Log.101 The Moores brothers also visited the United States to keep abreast of the latest technological developments.102 This was particularly important to the pools industry which was a technology-based industry, which did not produce anything concrete, but processed millions of pieces of information in a very short-time window.103 Indeed, the pools coupons were produced on a weekly basis for a season of 38 weeks and a highly developed logistical season was vital for the business to function effectively and grow.104 Both staff and punters were major sources of potential fraud, and a strict supervisory system was developed at each individual checking station to prevent staff from taking fraudulent action to secure a life-changing amount of money.105 The commitment to security and the vigilance of Littlewoods

44  Emergence of the football pools is recorded by Clegg, Reed and Price, in their respective studies, and relates to an incident in 1928. John Moores found a coupon lying on the floor in a marking room in the presence of fifty young women. This was a ‘winning ‘coupon which had somehow come astray from the collective tagging systems in place. On checking, Moores found that the coupon bore none of the specific security markings on the coupon’s top left corner that would have signalled a correct passage through the internal security structure.106 It transpired that some female employees had been forced to smuggle in a blank coupon and to fill it in retrospectively, after the football scores were in. Littlewoods publicised this incident widely to establish its integrity and the hands-on approach of John Moores himself. In the wake of this event, the Moores brothers also upgraded their security. The postal mail was no longer sent directly to Littlewoods but to the postal sorting office.107 At the postal depots, every item was fed through a special machine, allegedly designed by Cecil Moores, which indented the time, date and registration, not only on to the sealed envelope but also on to the coupon and the postal order inside.108 The coupons were locked away in specially reinforced postal bags with the neck entirely sealed in a solid steel clamp and a time lock.109 Once this process had been completed, the mail was collected by Littlewoods staff and the individual bag opened. In addition, Littlewoods introduced in the period up to 1940, electrified security checkpoints, guard posts and patrols. A specific investigation department was developed, where all the staff were ex-policemen, particularly detective sergeants and an inspector.110 The investigation department was formed to focus on fraudulent claims, examining the original coupon, interviewing individuals and investigating the big wins to establish whether their valid. This emphasis upon security even extended to the collection and issue, of a photographic album on ‘How the Pools Industry is Organised’, which contained considerable photographic evidence of the security measures at Littlewoods for 1967, the details of which will be emerge later.111 Littlewoods, having established their honesty, integrity and safety, also swaddled their clients in the sense one being part of a wide, but unified, footballing community, by reporting on prominent footballers, interviewing those involved in managing the clubs, reporting upon Scottish and Welsh football, as well as English football, and organising football games through the Sports Log. The issue for 20 March 1937 was typical.112 Allegedly produced by ‘The Little Ol Man O’ The Wood’ there was a frontpage article ‘Meet the Non-Stop Man’ on George Allison, the manager of Arsenal, followed by an analysis of Joseph Loughran of Birmingham, a small wing-half with a future. ‘The Third Division Prove their Capable’, appeared as a report based on the skills of a centre forward, in an article entitled ‘The Man they All Must Have’, and in ‘Scottish Notes’ there was a piece on ‘Soldier Jones’, an Irish international playing for Hibs (Hibernian), and a piece on the skills of avoiding the offside trap. It also offered ‘Keep

Emergence of the football pools 45 Fit at Home No. 8 by Fred Dyer’. There was a ‘Can Your Score a Goal No 6, based upon a board arrangement in which there were players placed whereby some dice were thrown and the participants tried to score a goal by avoiding the players on the board. There were always the photos, names and amounts won by the big winners of the previous week. The Littlewood Sports Log of the 18 December 1937 offered Xmas greetings, ‘Ideas for Your Xmas Party’, the Xmas greetings of celebrities, as well as the usual cornucopia of football information and games.113 The Littlewood Sports Log became the main medium through which Littlewoods was able to convey its business, a sense of unity amongst its clientele, an informed and cultural link to football and a sense of belonging to a happy responsible investing community. This was further endorsed by the new medium of wireless, or radio, to advertise the pools. By the late 1930s, BBC Radio was reporting upon the football results at about 6 pm. There was advertising in newspapers, as already indicated, and ‘Poste Parisien, Radio Luxembourg, and Radio Normandie’ were used by the larger firms. ‘Saturdays, Sundays, and Thursdays being the days upon which the broadcasts are usually made’.114

The business employment practice of Littlewoods pools John Moores was an avid reader of modernist business management techniques and particularly focused upon two which developed in the United States in the first three decades of the twentieth century – Taylorism and Fordism. F. W. Taylor had written The Principles of Scientific Management in 1911.115 In the Taylor system, also known as the Bedaux system, the idea was to break down production into a series of smaller, specialised and interconnected, tasks. Although Littlewoods, and the football pools industry, was not generating anything tangible, the company focused upon a tightly bound set of sub-processes under Cecil Moores, driven by time and motion experts, efficiency experts and psychology advisers, who aimed to remove any perceived ‘waste’.116 However, Littlewoods combined the data recording of Taylorism with the more sophisticated approach of Fordism. Based upon the car manufacturing facility of Henry Ford at Highland Park, Detroit, it envisaged that both work and leisure were part of the management process, and C. Rojek, a Marxist writer, suggests that the prime aim of Fordism was to create a focused and dedicated workforce, who were also pliable.117 Each worker was a unit that was trained to perform a singular specialised task within a large-scale mass system, as will emerge more clearly later, but the social activities and concerns of the firm were designed to ensure a continuing commitment and loyalty to the firm by its employees. Littlewoods published The Littlewood Review to foster an obedient and deferential, largely female, workforce. This was a free in-house magazine

46  Emergence of the football pools of up to 24 pages which was launched in 1937, probably on 1 August, although it is not dated, and three issues appear to have been published throughout the 1937–1938 season, and seven issues in the 1938–1939 season, before the onset of the Second World War.118 Its aims were clearly set out by Cecil Moores and Mr. L. Brierley-Jones, who was also the manager of Bond’s pools, which was almost entirely owned by the Moores brothers.119 They were the two senior managers of Littlewood pools. Cecil Moores saw the magazine as a link between all sections of the organisation, for it was ‘Our New Office Magazine’ which aimed to ‘enhance harmony in all our offices and extend the happy association which exists in social activities’.120 Brierley-Jones elaborated: ‘The review will undoubtedly foster that friendly mutually helpful spirit which I am pleased to say is such a strong keynote in all branches of our business’.121 Indeed, in line with this family atmosphere, the new magazine contained an article on the illness of Miss D. Pallister, supervisor of the Complaints Department at Hood Street, and there were then, and subsequently articles on ‘It’s a grand old world’, ‘Wonderful Wales, ‘Sports Day’, ‘Holiday Memories’ and the issues in volume 2, refer to 13,000 members of a sport and social club, puzzles, sports, carols and pieces on the Cup Final; Victory for Littlewoods Pools Athletic.122 The Littlewood Sports Log made much the same point about the closeness of the Liverpool staff when, in October 1938, it commented about its 10,000 staff and the ‘camaraderie and unity of which the principal of any business would be proud’.123 The firm was thus engendering a paternalistic approach to relations between the firm and its employees. The emphasis was upon being in it together, but Littlewoods was a deeply competitive capitalist organisation and not a co-operative venture, in which the profits of the venture went to the brothers who quickly became millionaires. The Littlewood Review avoided industrial conflict issues, which did not emerge until the 1960s onwards when the management blatantly threatened their workforce and, instead, emphasised hobbies, gossip, personal and social interests.124 Since most of the factory workforce were female, The Littlewood Review appealed for them to submit stories, articles, sketches and specific items of interest for publication. Therefore, the publication took on the appearance of personal events, engagements, weddings, horoscopes and personal health matters.125 It also offered details on the sport clubs of badminton, ladies’ cricket, football, golf and netball.126 These were extended out to include swimming, bowls, rounders and the company choir – the Littlewoods Songsters. There was penned poetry and an article by Iris Charles, Littlewood’s own film star.127 When George Elrick, a film star, came to Littlewoods he was photographed with female staff with autograph books.128 The magazine also served to the perceived needs of its female staff by advising how to buy the correct wedding gift and the advice of ‘Feminina’, a nom de plume for an agony aunt who wrote advice on relationships and life issues in a ‘Confidence Corner’.129

Emergence of the football pools 47 Cecil Moores set his mark on the magazine with his regular one-page comments, reflecting the mindset of ‘The Chief’. One such column suggested that ‘Every individual who plays even the smallest part in our achievement has the satisfaction of participating in a big task which is being successfully accomplished’.130 The emphasis was upon team effort for a ‘big task’, which remained undefined, based upon a business flat structure for Littlewoods when, in fact, it was highly hierarchical. Whilst about 90 per cent of the workforce at Littlewoods was female, there were also clear gender differences as they were never employed in the senior supervisory posts. The Littlewood Review confirmed this with profiles of the five, male, division managers and a facing piece of short profiles of five ‘supers’, the grade below manager, who are all women.131 Indeed, there was to be little, or no, gender equality at Littlewoods, rather gender-specific roles. Littlewoods largely employed women as pool checkers, a crucial role in its operation since, by the late 1930s, millions of pools had to be checked quickly and efficiently once the results appeared on Saturday afternoon. In the 1930s, Littlewoods operated on several sites, which was part of the reason for it sought to produce a corporate spirit through the publication of The Littlewood Review, but centralised much of its activity at its Edge Lane headquarters, opened in 1938, to ensure the maximum in efficiency and security.132 Edge Lane, which became an iconic building, was designed in a box formation to maximize work performance, with huge internal spaces and, thus, the capability of easily altering work areas as business needs changes. The Edge Lane building was the epitome of the modernist approach of Littlewoods, designed for functionality and lacking ostentation. The surviving photographs of the huge central hall Edge Lane are filled with lines of women checking the pools, with the ‘supers’ there to check the results and to ensure that everything was secure and in order. No man ever appears as checkers, and no man appears in the post-1945 lists of employed checkers at Liverpool, which will be discussed later. These checkers were largely permanent, although some were part-time, on a weekly arrangement, normally on a four or five-day week, working on groups of coupons previously arranged at workstation by full-time male, though sometimes female, employees. Checking was monotonous work, considered to be best done by the nimble-fingered young women, and Littlewoods seem to have set up The Littlewood Review to counter any negativity by their female employees to the work they were doing. Indeed, images and stories of such work began to appear in the magazine. ‘The Chief’ stated in 1937 that ‘I know you will appreciate the amount of thought devoted to the welfare of employees for I, personally, believe the greatest efficiency can only be assumed where there is a happy and contented staff’.133 Littlewoods also claimed that they paid above average wages for clerical staff.134 In effect, Littlewoods adopted the style of a benevolent dictator interested more in the efficiency of their staff than their leisure and wellbeing. The aim was to build up a business,

48  Emergence of the football pools without staff difficulties. Indeed, it worked in the inter-war years, and ‘The Chief’ stated in his introduction to the Happy Circle in The Littlewood Review that ‘Our friends, the members of the sporting public, have shown their ready appreciation of our service by rallying to the Littlewoods banner in ever-increasing numbers’.135 Indeed, the message to the punter was ‘Wheels run smoothly at Littlewoods’ and that ‘staff maintain the highest degree of efficiency’.136 The Log and the Review were clearly two vital organs in creating the sense that Littlewood’s pools were an agency for sensible and sound investment, not gambling, facilitated by a Happy Circle of friends, and for the purpose of creating the view, Littlewoods was a happy and contented firm interested in family values. It briefly extended this approach with its ‘Friendship Service’, on 26 August 1939 which offered advice and help to the punter through The Littlewoods Sports Council, chaired by Lord Tennyson, a former England and Hampshire cricketer, and a body of five sportsmen, or ex-sportsmen, including Jack Lovelock, the athlete, Charles Gordon, the darts player, and Len Harvey, the heavyweight and cruiser weight champion of Britain.137 However, the Second World nipped this initiative in the bud. The reality of the Littlewood’s warm and friendly approach was quite different, for it was, in fact, a ruthlessly efficient modern business machine based upon a blend of Taylorism division of work and Fordist concern to offer facilities to produce a contented workforce, although there is some evidence that once women reached forty their pool counting finger abilities declined and they lost their jobs.138 It was only in the 1960s that this model and vision was challenged. Indeed, Littlewoods attempted to control the lives of their workforce – offering good wages to their, largely, female staff and organising their social and leisure activities, with trips to Blackpool, social meetings, long-services awards, and an inter-building Miss Littlewood contest.139 There was a clear Fordist approach in dealing with the workforce which was designed to compensate the workers for the modest wages they received for their essentially monotonous activity. Indeed, this was designed to keep the workforce focused upon, and loyal to the firm and to keep trade unionism at bay, which it succeeded in doing until the 1960s, when the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), and other unions, infiltrated Littlewoods, and indeed Vernons, and began to demand much better conditions for their workers. Effectively, during the inter-war years regarding its workforce, Littlewoods was acting as a corporate form of benevolent dictator. Yet this was only part of the story, indeed the end part, because Littlewoods increasingly depended upon the collection of coupons – which came from the posting of coupons but also through the collection of coupons, which began to emerge in the 1930s but became increasingly important from the Second World War onwards, because of the difficulties faced in not being able to have access to postal deliveries in wartime Britain. Indeed, in 1936

Emergence of the football pools 49 John and Cecil Moores, although the pools business was being run issued a broadsheet asking those, largely men as it proved, to use their spare time for homework, and become a collector, or as they described it, ‘a Leader’. Dated September 1936, it read, Dear Sir, Have you ever wondered how you could turn a few threads of your spare time to profitable account – turns that into solid cash without much trouble to yourself? If you have, please read the enclosed Broadsheet – it solves your problem. It offers you a fine opportunity to add to your income and your happiness by means of a plain dignified hobby. I wish you could see my personal album containing hundreds of photographs or organisers, and read the honest, homely expressions of satisfaction in the testimonials that come to me in a never-ending stream. My offer to you has nothing to do with ‘canvassing’ or laborious, heart-breaking ‘homework’. It is sensible, practical, and worth-while, as people just like you are proving for themselves every day. Reading this Broadsheet what the Littlewoods Plan can mean for you. Yours for success John Moores Managing Director.140 The collection of pools by commission agents was well established by the mid-1930s, although the posting of coupons remained more common until the early 1960s, after which it was the collectors who supplied most of the coupons to the pool firms. Most pool companies seem to have employed agents at 3 shillings and 4 shillings in the pound of turnover, and some at 30 per cent and a bonus, before the post-Second World War betting tax produced smaller margins and, temporarily, reduced the importance of the commission to agents.141

Vernons, Shermans, bonds and other large pool companies Although the small pools companies were too small to develop such strategies, Vernons, Shermans, Bonds and some of the other large pool companies followed a similar general strategy as Littlewoods, if on a much smaller scale. Bond’s Pools was producing Bond’s Football Annual from at least 1934 onwards, copies of which still find their way on to eBay and other internet sale sites. In other words, it was clearly establishing a loyal customer base from which to advertise its wares. To establish the integrity of their business, Bond’s Pools displayed the slogan that ‘Our Word is our Bond’, and suggested that their dividends to the punters were large, ‘And Remember our great £500 weekly competition’.142 It also offered many other competitions, as already outlined.143 These coupons were invariably lively

50  Emergence of the football pools and colourful, and festooned with cartoons of punters anxiously filling in their coupons so as not to miss the chance to win the substantial jackpots on offer. From 1936 Bonds was producing its own paper for the punters, referred to as the PPP, its full name being The Punters Popular Paper.144 Bonds also published photos of young scantily attired ladies, who they described as the ‘Bond Girls’, for the edification of their punters and staff, often on their ‘Simpler Coupons’, and in association with ‘The People’s Popular Pools’. Sherman’s Pools produced cards of film starts, such as Errol Flynn, Joan Crawford, Spencer Tracy and Robert Young in their ‘Collectors Universe’ collection by 1939 and were still producing in 1940, and these occasionally appear for sale or bidding on internet websites. Cope’s Pools Ltd also did much the same, producing its own black and white silent film of a man filling in a Cope’s coupon and film of a football match.145 Vernons produced similar material, including cards on the famous film stars of the day. They also produced a weekly Bulletin between 1935 and 1939, which, like The Littlewood Sports Log, never mentioned gambling or betting but offered insight on football, advice from Bill Tilden on tennis, and keep fit advice for women.146 There are thus snippets of evidence that other larger companies were doing similar things as Littlewoods to promote interest in their pool competitions and to maintain some control over their workforce. Surviving evidence suggests that some relatively large firms attempted to compete with Littlewoods by adopting their publicity style, as well as advertising their prizes, as previously indicated.

The Football Pool Promoters’ Association The Rowlatt Commission rejected the banning of the football pools in favour of the registration of the bookmakers who operated it, but there were subsequent attempts in Parliament to introduce banning legislation in 1934. As a result, the large football companies formed the Football Pool Promoters’ Association (FPPA) in 1934. It originally consisted of eight members – Littlewoods (Liverpool), Vernons (Liverpool), W. S. Murphy (Edinburgh), Strangs (Edinburgh), ITP (London), often referred to as Screen, Copes (London), Frederick Jervis (London), and London and Provincial Soccer Pools (London). Soon afterwards, Shermans (Cardiff) and Bonds (Liverpool) joined. In 1939, there were ten firms represented by the FPPA, dealing with more than 80 per cent of the football pool business.147 Shermans, often excluded from the list, were members of the various versions of the FPPA until 1947. Indeed, only Zetters, of the main firms, was not a member.148 The FPPA object was the ‘safeguarding of the business and protecting the interests alike of the Football Pool Promoters’.149 Obviously, the real power of the FPPA resided in the hands of Littlewoods, Vernons and Copes, who had ‘subsidiaries’– in Bonds, Screen, and Jervis, in respective order. It was they who, much to the chagrin of Shermans, lay down the

Emergence of the football pools 51 rules and regulations ‘with a view to restricting the activities of individual members.150 Indeed, the Sherman version of events was that The Secretary and Solicitor to the Association as from its inception was, and still is [1950], Mr. Holland Hughes, a Solicitor, a partner in the firm of Messrs. North, Kirk & Co., Solicitors, Liverpool. In addition to acting as Solicitor to the Association, Mr. Hughes also acted for many years and so far as we know still acts as Solicitor to Littlewoods Pools and their various associated companies, …. Without going into voluminous detail, it is sufficient to say that prior to the war there was by no means harmony amongst the members.151 Harry Sherman was never happy with the way in which Littlewoods dominated the football pools industry but accepted that there needed to be a FPPA, and his firm was a member between 1934 and 1947. One reason for the formation of this association was the need to formalize an arrangement between the larger companies, which had emerged around 1928 of building up a blacklist of debtors who did not pay for their bets, and Littlewoods, Vernons and the other major companies often had a reminder on their coupon that ‘Debtors will not be paid’. The second main reason was to ward off the challenge of the NAGL, and other anti-gambling organisations, the battle between them being discussed in the next chapter and epitomised in the 1936 dispute which led to the two-week suspension of the football fixtures. The FPPA drew up a code of conduct which distanced itself from the smaller, more financially exploitive, football pool companies. Their code limited it affiliates to a 5 to 7 per cent profit margin and 15 per cent of revenue for expenses, including employee wages. This was much lower than the 70 or 80 per cent profits and expenses deducted by many of the small pool companies. The FPPA remained in existence until June 1946, when it was disbanded, reformed on 18 February 1947, for one year, disbanded and then reformed was as the Pool Promoters’ Association, (PPA) in June 1948, except for Shermans from the companies it had formerly represented.152

Unity Pools The outbreak of the Second World War brought the growth of the pools industry to a shuddering halt and changed much of the way it operated. The various pools companies continued to issue football coupons and Littlewoods, as previously indicated, was still offering a Fixed Odds Coupon, with odds of 12,000 to 1 on its ‘Twelve Results’, and a ‘Spot the Ball’ competition on 11 November 1939.153 Indeed, this continued until the end of December 1939, with Father Christmas depicted on the coupon.154 However, the FPPA formed the Unity Pools, with eight companies – Littlewoods, Vernons, Zetters, Copes, Shermans, Socopools, Bonds, Jervis and Screen – on

52  Emergence of the football pools the 18th November 1939 until the end of June 1946, along with inactive Shermans. There was some overlap for a week or two at the beginning whereby its member companies continued to advertise and circulate coupons.155 The Unity Pools headquarters became the iconic Littlewoods Office Art Deco office at Edge Lane, Liverpool. Ostensibly, formed at the request of the Government, Unity Pools coupons were printed in newspapers, to save on paper, and there is a surviving photograph on an artist designing a Unity Pools coupon, dated 28 December 1939.156 The coupons were returned in the post in re-usable, but soon very filthy, envelopes, and by the increasing use of commission agents to gather in the coupons for a collective return to Unity Pools. The business was, effectively run by Littlewoods, initially at about one-sixth of the pre-war levels as indicated by the postal order sales and money staked of the pools indicated in Table 2.2 and Table 2.3, although there was a significant recovery in business as the war continued. Sherman’s Pools was a member of the Unity Pools, though it ceased functioning during the war. Murphys operated independently of Unity Pools throughout the war and were offering dividends of £43 8s 0d for 20 points for its Penny Point Pool on 11 October 1941, referred to as its Staunch Dividends, after its Staunch Buildings headquarters in Edinburgh. Strangs and Zetters also continued to operate their modestly sized pool business throughout the war, as did several very small firms. The formation of the Unity Pools, publishing its coupons through newspapers, caused a stir Parliament. On 23 November 1939, Rhys Davies MP asked the Home Secretary (Sir J. Anderson) whether or not the printing of coupons in newspapers contravened Section 26 of the Betting and Lotteries Act of 1934, only to be told that this was not the case since the Bretherton v United Kingdom Totalisator Ltd, case ruling in 1935 had legalised such Table 2.2  The number of football coupons submitted in the season and per week, 1935–1946 Years 1935–1936 1936–1937 1937–1938 1938–1939 1939–1940 1940–1941 1941–1942 1942–1943 1943–1944 1944–1945 1945–1946

Number of coupons per season (million)

Number per week in the season (million)

128 143 161 185 53 27 28 35 40 45 60

4.5 5 5.05 6.8 2 1 2 1 1.5 1.5 2

Source: Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming 1949-1951, Report, CMD 8190 based upon Table 2.2. p. 148.

Emergence of the football pools 53 Table 2.3  The total stakes on the football pools and the value of postal orders, 1935–1946

Years 1935–1936 1936–1937 1937–1938 1938–1939 1939–1940 1940–1941 1941–1942 1924–1943 1943–1944 1944–1945 1945–1946

Football pool Total stake (£ million)

Total amount staked Value of postal orders (£ million)

17.5 19.5 21.5 22.5

15.5 17 19 20

3.5 4.5 6 8 10 17.5

3 4 5.5 7 9 13.5

Source: Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming, 1949–1951 Report, CMD 8190, based upon Table 2.3, p. 149.

action.157 The matter was raised again on 31 January 1940 when Mr. Gibson MP asked the same question, with Major Tyron, for the Government, suggesting that the action of printing a coupon in newspapers was now legal.158 Elsewhere, the FA and the FL remained opposed to the pools and, in July 1943, a report in the Manchester Guardian supported their attack on the ‘gilt-edge adventures of the parasitic promoters’ but wished for more hardline, and less ambiguous attitude towards the pools since ‘It would be hard to find a more predatory commercialism than pools promoting’.159 The hostility towards the continuance of the football pools belied the fact that the pools declined dramatically during the Second World War. Herbert Morrison, the Home Secretary, declared on 30 July 1942, that the business of the pools companies ‘has gradually declined since the outbreak of war. Postal orders were down 80 per cent in 1941-2 compared with 1938-9’.160 Indeed, this was certainly the case for whilst the estimates of football turnover were £8 million in 1933, £18 million in 1936 and £22 million in 1938, the estimate in Table 2.2 and Table 2.3, reveal both the growth and decline in the number of football coupons and the extent to which this was reflected in the use of postal orders, the working-class cheque, by the punters. They show a sharp decline in betting on the football pools at the beginning of the war, and a modest recovery from 1946, onwards, when pre-war levels were soon exceeded. The average stake, as revealed in Table 2.4, in the 1935–1936 season was two shillings (10 p), and that remained stable until 1943 when wartime inflation led to an increase to 3s and 4d (17 p) to 4s and 4d ((21.5 p). After the pools industry declined at the beginning of the war, it recovered slowly to provide the platform for the post-war growth by individual companies as the Unity Pools ended in 1946 and the pool companies, regained the use of their pre-war buildings.

54  Emergence of the football pools Table 2.4  Average stakes on the pools, 1935–1950 Years 1935–1936 1936–1937 1937–1938 1938–1939 1939–1940 1940–1941 1941–1942 1942–1943 1943–1944 1944–1945 1945–1946

Average stake (shillings and pence) 2s 2s 2s 2s 1s 9d 2s 2s 3d 3s 3s 4d 3s 4d 4s 4d

Average value of postal (shillings and pence) 2s 5d 2s 5d 2s 4d 2s 2d 2s 2s 3.5d 2s 9d 3s 2d 3s 8d 3s 11d 4s 6d

Source: Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming, 1949–1951 Report, CMD 8190, based upon Table 2.4, p. 149.

Conclusion The football pools began in the 1870s as the game of association football codified its rules. This gambling industry expanded over the next fifty years, largely through the activities of bookmakers, who operated the pools alongside their more lucrative activity of offering gambling odds on horse racing, itself a rapidly expanding activity. However, from the early 1920s onward, with the formation of football pool companies who ostensibly focused upon the pools, the industry increased dramatically, especially between 1926 and 1939, and this was not halted until the Second World War. Its rapid growth had much to do with the success of five large firms – Littlewoods, Vernons, Shermans, Copes and Zetters – although it was Littlewoods which came to dominate the industry, with more than half of the turnover by the end of the 1930s. The skills of the pool promoters were clearly important factors in the industry’s growth, using a form of emotional capitalism to build up demand and cater to the needs of the relatively low-income working-class punter dazzled at the prospect of winning a life-changing amount of money for a small and safe outlay, which the pool promoters assured them was not really gambling. Focussing upon publicity, security and efficiency of service, advertising the enormous jackpot prizes that were being won, in photographs and through its Sports Log, Littlewoods, and indeed the other pool companies, expanded rapidly. As Peter Gurney suggests in a broader context, consumer sovereignty had less to do with the growth of the pools than the activities of the large pool promoters. A gambling ‘tradition’ was very much of their making, which meant that it was perhaps not a solidly based in working-class culture as is sometimes supposed.

Emergence of the football pools 55 As Littlewoods permanent workforce grew, to about 10,000 by the late 1930s, around half the total employed in the industry, it focused upon keeping them contented through a mixture of soporific quizzes, leisure activities and inter-office contests, to make the, largely female, workforce accepting of the tedious work they endured. Littlewoods set the example for the other larger companies to follow in attempting to compete with it. Innovative, as an industry, through the FPPA, formed in 1934, the football pools operated in what was quite a free and open environment. The success and growth of the pools were helped by its low cost and comparatively innocuous nature when compared with the even more mushrooming, and seemingly corrupt, greyhound racing. Although not the immediate and obvious target for the anti-gambling organisations its success, nevertheless, generated a significant opposition to those who saw it not as being the rational recreation for the family, and the modest and sensible regular ‘investment’, that John Moores, Cecil Moores, Vernon Sangster, Tom Strang and W. C. Murphy, and other pools’ promoters, presented it as being. The pools industry may have presented itself as a homely, respectable, family, activity but that is not how many of its opponents saw it. As a result, the inter-war years became a battleground between the pools’ promoters and the anti-gambling organisations.

Notes



1. HO 335/99, ‘History of Shermans Pools’. Only Shermans, of the major firms, is reported not to have joined Unity Pools, though it did. Those normally listed as joining include Littlewoods (Liverpool), Vernons (Liverpool), Zetters (London), W. S. Murphy (Edinburgh), T. Strangs (Edinburgh), Copes (London), ITP (of London) and Western Pools (Newport). It also appears that Fredk K. Jervis and London and Provincial Soccer Pools, both London firms, may have been drawn into Unity Pools. However, in a submission to the Willink Commission (1949–1951). The ‘History of Shermans Pools’ makes it clear that ‘Strangs and Murphys refused to join’ and that Shermans were members, though completely closed down in the war years, and that after the war Littlewoods and Vernons decided to go independent and that ‘The remaining partners (Copes, Socopools and ourselves) bitterly protested against this as we were completely closed down throughout the war years and left with no organisations, …’. Unity Pools was disbanded in 1946. In addition, in the literature of these companies, and in the royal commissions and the reports upon them the apostrophe is used alongside the proper name of the company. Thus, Littlewood often become Littlewoods, and Vernon’s becomes Vernons, and so on. In quotes and titles, the form used in the previous sentence will be used in this book, but otherwise it will appear as Littlewoods, Vernons, Shermans and Zetters. 2. This royal commission was often known as the Rowlatt Commission, because of the chairmanship of Sir Sidney Arthur Taylor Rowlatt. Sir Frederick Wall was born in 1858 and died in 1944. 3. Graham Sharpe, Media Relations Director at William Hills plc for 40 years. 4. Tony Mason, Association Football and English Society 1863–1915, Brighton, Harvester, 1981, pp. 179–185. 5. Ainslie J. Robertson, ‘Football Betting’, Transactions of the Liverpool Economic and Statistical Society, 1907, quoted in Clapson, A Bit of a Flutter, p. 164.

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6. Cricket and Football Field, 10 September 1887. This newspaper was first published as The Football Field and Sports Telegram between 1884 and 1887 and produced every Saturday evening. It appeared with its new title between 1887 and 1915. It was produced by an unknown publisher in Bolton, Lancashire. 7. The Umpire was founded in Manchester in 1884 and is considered to have been the first successful provincial newspaper. It was owned by H. S. Jennings, was subtitled ‘A Sporting, Athletic, Theatrical and General Newspaper’, and focused upon sports and theatre news. 8. Daily Mail, 28 April 1907. 9. Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting, Final Report, 1933, Cmd 4341, p. 39, para. 136. 10. Ibid. 11. Ibid. 12. Littlewoods Collection, Box 4. The Littlewood Sports Log, 27 August 1938. This was confirmed by the Royal Commission on Lotteries, Betting and Gaming, 1949–1951, Cmd 8190, Final Report, March 1951, better known as the Willink Commission. As previously mentioned, the company used Littlewood’s Pools, or Littlewood Pools, in its early publication but later just accepted Littlewoods, without the apostrophe, in its post-Second World publications, and the books published on it. 13. Reed, Football & Fortunes, p. 9. 14. John Jervis Barnard was the son of John Jervis Barnard who died on 3 July 1900. aged 41 years. John Jervis Barnard, junior, seems to have been born in Birmingham in 1888 and died in North Cotswold, Gloucestershire, in January 1954. In the 1911 census, he was described as a clerk for a gas manufacturer in Birmingham. 15. The Times, 8 April 1919, p. 9. 16. Ibid., 1 May 1924, p. 12. 17. Aberdeen FC Heritage Trust Player List, afcheritage.org; Aberdeen Evening Gazette, 26 November 1904; National Library of Scotland, reference 6326, a short advert for Strangs Pools, in the 1930s or 1940s, advertising a price reduction for Strang’s Pools from 2d to 1d, as an animated man changes the prices on a board to a headline of Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! 18. HO 335/99, Shermans Pools Ltd, document of 12 pages on ‘History of Shermans Pools’. 19. The National Library of Wales catalogue contains a brief introduction to Harry Sherman, and his family, in an entry setting up a variety of family films on visits to the seaside, in the family garden, and the like. These films also contain footage of Harry Sherman (1887–1961), and others at the Merthyr office of the bookmaking and pools firm in 1936. This office was run by Abe, his brother, whilst he ran the Cardiff office. 20. There was a Sherman’s Pool card of Gurney of Sunderland, dated 1937, advertised on eBay on 21 June 2021. 21. Reed, Football & Fortunes, p. 9. 22. Ibid., p. 9. 23. Ibid., p. 29. 24. Modern Records Centre (MRC) at Warwick, T208, Trade Union Congress file, MSS 292/57/ 42/2, contains a sheet gathered on H. Littlewoods by the TUC in 1939–1940. The nominal capital for the company was £4,100. 25. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1 contains a racing coupon for 9 June 1928 to 11 August 1928. The collection also contains Littlewoods Racing Coupons for Saturday 14 May 1938, Saturday 28 May 1938, which focused upon the forecasts for the Derby on 1 June 1938, and other copies. 26. Ibid., Box 1, the Racing season coupons.

Emergence of the football pools 57 27. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1, Mersey Totaliser Football Coupons, The Mersey Totalisator, 25 August 1928 to 16 February 1929, copy for 25 August 1928. 28. Ibid. 29. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1, as of February 2020. This contains is a red-bound book of Mersey Totaliser Football Coupons 25 August 1928 to 16 February 1929. 30. MRC, Trades Union Congress file, T208, MSS/292/57/43/2. 31. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1, Coupon of Bond’s Pools Ltd, 29 August 1936, though often referred to as Bonds. 32. Ibid., advert Bond’s Pools Ltd, for matches played Saturday 5 September 1936. 33. Ibid., copies of Bond’s Coupons and publications of The PPP: The Punters Popular Pool, for 19, 6 March 1937. There is also a copy of this magazine in Littlewood Collection, Box 81, for 1938–1939. 34. Littlewoods Collection, National Museum of Football, Archives, Deepdale, Preston, Box 1, contains football coupons for Bond’s Pool Ltd for 1936. 35. Littlewoods Collection, Box 80, contains Bonds of Glasgow, A Guide to Wise Investment, a Certificate of Mrs Irene Sutherland, for long service to Bond’s Pools, and adverts. 36. The Oxford Dictionary of `National Biography contains a short biography of Vernon Edmund Sangster (1899–1986). He was born Cheetham, in Manchester, on 25 June 1899, formed a pools company, with his father and in Manchester in 1923, and then moved his business, as Vernons, to Liverpool in 1925. He became a founder member of the Pools’ Promoters’ Association in 1934. He retired from the business in the early 1970s, to be succeeded by Robert Edmund Sangster, born 23 May 1936, who tried to sell the business in 1976. However. Vernon opposed this and it was not until after Vernon died, on 17 December 1986, that he, Robert, was able to sell the business and extend his already extant horse breeding and horse racing interests. Vernon left £2,713,905 probate on 29 January 1987. Robert. his son, died 7 April 2004, with a net worth of £110 million. Roy David wrote Robert Sangster: Tycoon of the Turf: The First Racing Tycoon, London, William Heinemann, 1991. 37. MRC, Trades Union Congress file, T 208, MSS/292/57/43/2. 38. George Randall Kennerley (1908–2009) was employed by Vernon Sangster in the 1930s and became its managing director. With J. R. Kennerley, possibly his son, he was one of the six members of the Pool Promoters’ Association, to give evidence to the Royal Commission on Gambling (the Rothschild Commission) on 31 August 1976. The others were Cecil Moores and A. C. Marten, of Littlewoods, Paul Zetters, of Zetters International Pools, and M. J. D. Watkins, Secretary of the PPA. Also, The Times, 28 May 2009. 39. Times & Star, 19 July 2013, in an article entitled ‘I bet you can remember Empire Pools – but when did they end? Also, eBay advert for a copy of an Empire Pools advert from a newspaper. 40. HO 67/1673249, 14, is a discussion of the ‘investments’ of Mr. Gulen. 41. BS3/109, file on the evidence of the Pool Promoters’ Association to the Royal Commission on Gambling (1976–1978), better known as the Rothschild Commission, a record of the oral evidence presented on 31 August 1976, the statement of Paul Zetter, who took over Soccerpools in 1972. 42. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 6 November 1934, col. 681, and the evidence of Isaac Foot. 43. Roger Munting, An Economic and Social History of Gambling in Britain and the USA, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1996, p. 131. 44. Martin Pugh, ‘We Danced All Night’: A Social History of Britain between the Wars, London, Random House, 2008, p 301.

58  Emergence of the football pools









45. Rowlatt Commission (1932–1933), recommendations. 46. Ibid., p. 40, para, 139. 47. Ibid. 48. Ibid., p. 40, para 140. 49. Ibid., p. 40, para 141. 50. The Littlewoods Collection contains 30 boxes of coupons. 51. Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting, 1932–1933, Final Report, p. 41, para. 141. 52. Munting, An Economic and Social History of Gambling, 129–130. 53. Ibid., cols 681, 685, and the evidence of Mr. Rhys Davies; Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming 1949–1951, Report, March 1951, Cmd 8190, p. 167. Table on employment in football pools. Also, The Littlewood Sports Log, vol. 4, no. 6, 1 October 1938 refers to their being almost 10,000 staff ‘working with a spirit of camaraderie’ in an article by Cecil Moores entitled ‘The Wheel Runs Smoothly at Littlewoods’. The Littlewood Sports Log appear in many parts of the Littlewoods Collection but are mainly found in Box 77. 54. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 6 November 1934, col. 681, and the evidence of Isaac Foot. 55. Ibid., col. 685. 56. Ibid. 57. Ibid, 12 November 1934, col. 1580–1600. 58. HO 45/673249/99, letter to the Home Office from R. J. R. Russell, letter 10 December 1935, which also reports on football clubs advertising against the wishes of the Football Association. 59. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 12 November 1934, col. 1580–1600. 60. B. Seebohm Rowntree, Poverty and Progress. A Second Social Survey of York, London, Longman, Green & Co, 194, p. 403. 61. Ibid., pp. 403–404. 62. Harry Sherman and his family and business films are to be found in the Archives Collection at Cardiff. They consist of a video of a meeting of Office Staff in 1936, MM 99371495002419, and family film in the garden, at the seaside with a dog and ‘Of our Cruise on the SS Viceroy of India, 20 January [check whether 20 February] to 10 March 1939. 63. The Littlewood Sports Log, 23 April and 27 August 1938. 64. On most of its coupons in the 1930s and 1940s, copies of which appear in abundance in the Littlewood Sports Log. 65. Ibid., 15 October 1938. 66. A circular sheet in Box 1 of the Littlewoods Collection, written by Cecil Moores, suggests the need to engage in a worthwhile relationship with Littlewoods, dated 11 November 1939, shortly before the formation of the Unity Pools. 67. Chris Jones, ‘The Development of the Football Pools in the Inter-War Period’, MA by Research, University of Huddersfield, 2019, an unpublished dissertation, provides an excellent initial attempt to establish how Littlewoods operated to develop it hegemony in the 1930s, suggesting the potential of publicity, and its Fordist approach to its workforce. 68. Price, How to Become a Millionaire, p. 2. 69. The Littlewood Sports Log, vol. 1, no. 1 is undated, and it has been suggested that in occurred on 28 February 1935. In fact, this in unlikely because volume 1 issue 2, was dated and published on 29 February 1936, issue was dated 7 March 1936, and issue 4 was published on 21 March 1936. They are to be found mainly in Box 81 of the Littlewoods Collection. The second volume

Emergence of the football pools 59 covered the 1936–1937 season, the third the 1937–1938 season, and the fourth the 1938–1939 season, starting on 1 October 1938. It was not issued for the 1939–19340 season, because of the outbreak of the Second World War. 70. The Littlewood Sports Log, vol. 1, no. 3, 7 March 1936. Hereafter, only the date on the issue will normally be indicated. 71. Reported throughout the issues of The Littlewood Sports Log and most popular newspapers. 72. Littlewoods’ Collection, mainly Box 81 and Box 82. 73. The Littlewood Sports Log, 6 November 1937. 74. Ibid., 2 April 1938. Indeed, many issues contain pictures and details of the winners of the various pools. Up to the 1938 season were winning £1,400 or so, as second dividends, on the Penny Pool for a 1s, and £1,500 or £1,600 on the 12 results. 75. Ibid, 15 October 1938 (vol. 4, no. 8). 76. Ibid, 6 November 1937. 77. Ibid., 3 October 1936, 13 November 1936, 20 November 1936. Also looks at Jones, ’The Development of the Football Pools in the Inter-War Period’. 78. Reed, Football and Fortunes, p. 46. 79. The Littlewood Sports Log, 3 October 1936. 80. Ibid., 11 September 1937, Liverpool, L & C Littlewoods, p.1. 81. Cuttings book attached to Box 1 of the Littlewoods Collection. 82. Reed, Football and Fortunes, p. 46. 83. Gribble, Inside Littlewoods, p. 50. 84. Guide to Safe Investment, Liverpool, Liverpool Pools, n.d. but produced over many years. A copy can be found in the Littlewoods Collection, Box 84c. 85. Clegg, The Man Who Made Littlewoods, p. 58. 86. The Littlewood Sports Log, 12 November 1938, p. 3. 87. Ibid., 14 January 1939, p. 6. 88. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1. 89. The Littlewood Sports Log, 12 December 1936, p. 2. 90. Ibid., 28 August 1937, p. 3. 91. Ibid., 12 June 1936, p. 2. 92. Ibid., 18 December 1938, p. 3. 93. Jones, ‘The Development of the Football Pools in the Inter-War Period’, p. 36. 94. The Littlewood Sports Log, 18 December 1938, p. 3, 5 March 1938, p. 3, and 12 February 1938, p. 4; Jones, ‘The Development of the Football Pools in the Inter-War Period, p. 36. 95. Littlewoods Collection, Cutting Book for 1937, 25 September 1937; Jones, ‘The Development of the Football Pools in the Inter-War Period, p. 36. 96. The Littlewood Sports Log, 23 April 1938, p. 1. 97. Ibid., 12 December 1936, p. 2. 98. Ibid., 7 March, p. 3, and 29 August 1936, p. 7. 99. Ibid., 12 December 1936, p. 2. 100. Ibid., 5 September 1936, p. 6; Jones, ‘The Development of the Football Pools in the Inter-War Period’, p. 37. 101. The Littlewood Sports Log makes constant reference to security throughout the late 1930s and Box 65 of the Littlewoods Collection contains photographs of the security systems adopted at Littlewoods. 102. Barbara Clegg, The Man Who Made Littlewoods: The Story of John Moores, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1993, particularly Chapter 4, ‘First Million, Second Business’, pp. 46–58. 103. Jones, ‘The Development of the Football Pools in the Inter-War Periods’, pp. 31–35.

60  Emergence of the football pools 104. James Walvin, Leisure and Society 1830–1950, London, Longman, 1978. 105. Reed, Football & Fortunes, p. 34. 106. Ibid., p. 34; Jones, ‘The Development of the Football Pools in the Inter-War Periods’, p. 38. 107. Clegg, The Man Who Made Littlewoods, p. 40. 108. Ibid., p. 40. 109. Price, How to become a Millionaire, p. 9. 110. Clegg, The Man Who Made Littlewoods, p. 40; Jones, ‘The Development of the Football Pools in the Inter-War Periods’, p. 38. 111. Littlewoods Collection, Box 65, Album 2, ‘How the Pools Industry Operated’. 112. The Littlewood Sports Log, vol. 2, no. 29, 20 March 1937. 113. Ibid., vol. 3, no. 17, 18 December 1937. 114. HO 45/16679/ 673249/99, in a report from Mr. R. J. Russell MP to the Home Secretary, 10 December 1935. 115. Douglas Brinkley, Wheels for the World. Henry Ford, his company and a Century of Progress, London, Penguin, 139. Also, Jones, The Development of the Football Pools in the Inter-War Period’. 116. Price, How to Become a Millionaire, p. 10. 117. C. Rojek, Decentring Leisure: Rethinking Leisure Theory, London, Sage, 1995, p. 13. 118. The Littlewood Review was not always dated but always listed by volume and issue number. The Littlewoods Collection, Box 77 contains many copies. Volume 1 for the 1937–38 season contains 3 issues. Volume 2 for the 1938–1939 season contains 7 issues. It then stops because of the Second World War and starts again as volume 1 in the 1946–1947 season., when there were 7 issues. The pattern continued with volume 3 (1948–1949), volume 4 (1949–1950), volume 5 (1950–1951), volume 6 (1951–1952), volume 6 (1951–1952), and onwards until volume 16 (1964–1965). Not all the volumes survive. 119. L. Brierley-Jones was also managing director of Bonds Pools in 1934, when it was entirely based in Liverpool, a company in which he held one share against the 499 owned by the Moores brothers. He was also managing director in 1949 and 1950 when they are indicated as having their headquarters in 24–28 Queen’s Street Glasgow; Littlewoods Collection, Box 80, Bond’s Pools, A Guide to Wise Investment, which suggested opening a bank account and listing bonds which came to fruition between 1955 and 1965. 120. The Littlewood Review, volume 1, not dated but probably the 1 August 1937, p. 1. 121. Ibid., volume 1, issue 1, probably 1 August 1937, p. 5. 122. Ibid., volume 1, 1937–1938, seems to have contained three issues, and volume 2, 1938–1939, contains seven issues. The magazine was not produced during the Second World War but appeared again, as volume 1 in the 1947–1948 season. 123. The Littlewood Sports Log, vol. 4, no. 1, 1 October 1938. 124. The threatened closure of the Irlam Building in 1961 and 1962, followed by its closure in 1963, indicated the fact the hard face of ‘The Chief’, who, in his Broadcasts to Irlam Road of 13 February 1961 and 31 October 1962, was clear that, stated in the latter of these, that there was not ‘the need for outside interference’. This will be discussed in a later chapter. 125. The Littlewood Review, volume 1, issue 1, 1 August 1937, p. 2. 126. Ibid., volume 1, issue 1, 1 August 1937, pp. 14–16. 127. Ibid., vol. 2, 1 September 1938, p. 7. 128. Ibid., vol. 2, 1 September 1938 p. 18. 129. Ibid., p. 10.

Emergence of the football pools 61 130. Ibid., p. 1. 131. Ibid., p. 12. 132. Littlewoods operated from several buildings during the inter-war years but made Edge Lane its headquarters from 1938. During the war it rented Chicago Buildings, Liverpool, from Bonds for storage purposes and operated war production in buildings throughout Britain and Northern Ireland. By the early 1960s, apart from Edge Lane, it operated at Irlam Road buildings. Canning Street, Walton Hall Avenue, Hillingdon, and the old Sherman’s building in Cardiff. 133. The Littlewood Sports Log, 13 March 1937, p. 3. 134. Reed, Football & Fortunes, p. 34. 135. The Littlewood Review, vol. 2, 1 September 1937, p. 6. 136. Ibid., vol. 4, no. 6, 1 October 1938. 137. The Littlewood Sports Log, 26 August 1939. 138. Violet Markham Papers, in the British Library of Political and Economic Sciences at LSE, 8/29 and 8/36 contain reports on long-term unemployed women in Liverpool. Also, look at Keith Laybourn, Unemployment and employment policies concerning women in Britain, 1900–1951, Lampeter, Edwin Mellen, 2002, p. 159. 139. Clapson, A Bit of a Flutter, p. 167; Munting, An Economic and Social History of Gambling in Britain and the USA, p. 132. 140. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1, clearly written jointly by John Moores and Cecil Moores for Littlewoods Pools. 141. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 12 November 1934, vol. 293 cc. 1577–1608. 142. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1, contains the Bond’s papers and publications, and Bond’s Pool coupons. 143. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1, contains many colourful coupons, and this material has been taken from those coupons for 29 August 1936, 6 March 1937 and 10 April 1937. 144. Littlewoods Collection, Box 4, contains a copy of The Punters Popular Paper, vol. 3 no. 1. 27 August 1938, the Bond Competition, statements that ‘Our Word is Our Bond’; and The Punters Popular Press. 145. St. Helens Archive Service, BP/7/3/8. The film is 45 seconds long and seems to have been produced in the 1950s. 146. Munting, An Economic and Social History of Gambling in Britain and the USA, p. 132. 147. Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming 1949–1951 (better known, and hereafter referred to as the Willink Commission), Final Report, p. 32, para. 112. This also indicates that Jervis and London & Provincial, of the original members, had ceased to be members by the time of the Final Report, March 1951. Mike Huggins, ‘Betting, Sport and the British, 1918–1939’, Journal of Sports History, vol. 42, no. 2 (Winter, 2007), 283–307, particularly 297, suggests that there were 11, or more companies attached to the FPPS. Three were from Liverpool, 3 from London, 2 from Edinburgh, 1 from Leeds (Gamico), 1 from Birmingham, and 1 from Newport (Western Pools). 148. Ibid. 149. Ibid. 150. HO 335/99, ‘History of Shermans’, p. 3. 151. Ibid. 152. Ibid., pp. 3–4. 153. A circular sheet in Box 1 of the Littlewoods Collection, written by Cecil Moores, suggesting the need to engage in a worthwhile relationship with Littlewoods, is dated 11 November 1939, and was circulated shortly before the formation of the Unity Pools. There is a Littlewoods coupon circulated shortly afterwards.

62  Emergence of the football pools 154. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1. 155. Ibid,. 156. The Science and Society Picture Library Print also contains a photograph of mail bags being delivered to the Unity Pools headquarters on 28 January 1946. 157. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 23 November 1939, vol. 352, cc.1402–1404. 158. Ibid., 31 January 1940, vol. 356, cc.119–1120. 159. Manchester Guardian, 5 July 1943. 160. Parliamentary Papers, HC Deb. 30 July 1941, vol. 382, cc.681–682.

3

The politics of the football pools 1918–1945 The opposition of the Chadbards, Sabbatarians, the National Anti-Gambling League, the Football League and the Football Association

From the beginning of the football pools in the late nineteenth century, the football pool promoters faced intense opposition. Sir Frederick Wall, of the Football Association (FA), was appalled at the fact that there had been betting on the FA Cup in 1872, and Ainslie J. Robertson had critically surveyed the prevalence of the football pools in Liverpool at the beginning of the twentieth century for the NAGL. Such criticism was driven by a broader agenda of opposition to gambling, rather than a particular hostility to the embryonic football pools business that was developing as a supplement to the betting on horses promoted by bookmakers. Yet, that position changed dramatically in the inter-war years and particularly the 1930s, as the football pools experienced a rapid growth in popularity, although, remarkably, it escaped the significant restrictions because of the even more dramatic growth of greyhound racing which greatly extended the legal on-course gambling activities of the urban working classes from the late 1920s, with the mushrooming growth and opening of more than 200 tracks between 1926 and 1932. Nevertheless, there was substantial opposition to the football pools building up from the religious denominations, anti-gambling organisations, parliamentarians and the football association of England, Scotland and Wales. In 1932–1933, the Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting, a quarter of the members recommended that the football pools be made illegal, though the majority favoured the licencing of the bookmakers operating the pools. The Government put forward such a banning clause during the parliamentary debates on the 1934 Betting Lotteries Bill, though it was withdrawn. The football pools survived with very few constraints, until after the Second World War, and though the hostility to greyhound racing partly accounted for this it was also due to the Moores brothers, Vernon Sangster and the FPPA marketing the pools as an innocuous investment that brought the family together, extending family values. In effect, the pools entrepreneurs managed to construct the football pools as an imagined, ‘traditional working-class activity’, a form of emotional capitalism, even though such traditions were transient, and contrived when faced with other compelling attractions offering higher monetary rewards for less effort. The feeling DOI: 10.4324/9781003144908-3

64  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 that the anti-gamblers had secured a victory of sorts in fending off moves towards legalising a national lottery in the 1930s, along with parliamentary support for the pools, may also explain why the football pools continued without significant controls during the inter-war years. Nevertheless, there was a continuing, and growing, hostility to the pools in the 1930s, and this extended from the mid-1930s up to the 1960s, and beyond. Indeed, the failure to ban the pools in 1934, and the failure of the anti-gamblers in the 1936 ‘Pools War’ did not represent a turning point signalling the social acceptance of the football pools, that Mike Huggins and Emmanuel Roudaut suggests in their recent works.1

The opposition of the NAGL, the football authorities, the churches and parliament The NAGL was formed in 1890 and largely financed by B. Seebohm Rowntree, the Quaker chocolate manufacturer from York, who acted as its Honorary Treasurer throughout its existence. It formed a branch at York in 1890 and by the turn of the century had three branches – in York, Manchester and Westminster.2 Led by J. M. Hogge and John Hawke, honorary secretaries, and by John Gulland, its organising secretary it opposed all gambling, as did Cecil Henry Wilson, JP and Labour MP for Sheffield Attercliffe, who chaired the meetings of the organisation from the 1920s. Its members took the oath that ‘By the help of Almighty God I hereby pledge myself to abstain from all forms of Betting and Gambling, and I will do the best to discountenance the habit amongst my companions.3 Its opposition to the football pools was evident by the late 1930s and emphasised when Rowntree, who conducted three social investigations of life and poverty in York between 1899 and 1951, discussed the football pools in his second survey, Poverty and Progress, researched in 1936 and published in 1941. He wrote that ‘A form of betting which has grown to enormous proportions in recent years is the football pools’, suggested, that on average every household in York received ‘an equivalent to an average of nearly two to every house. Of course, some houses receive more than two’.4 In a week in July 1938, 5,315 postal orders, from 6d to 2s 6d (2.5p to 12.5p) were sold but this increased to 17,828 in a week in October 1938, a difference of 12,513. The football pools obviously tripled the number of postal orders, ‘the workman’s cheque’, that were being bought. Yet, before Rowntree conducted his social investigations in 1936, he seems to have concluded that the working classes were involved in both gambling and drinking because of the failure of social provision. Indeed, in 1905, he felt that the ‘monotony of life’ could be cured by encouraging working-class interest in religion, social and political movements and that the ‘provision of better housing’ might also reduce the evil of gambling’.5 At the turn of the century, the NAGL had solicited the help of Ainslie J. Robertson to study the way in which the Liverpool bookmakers were

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 65 distributing their fixed-odd coupons. Robertson noted that three large bookmaking firms employed 43 agents and that ‘perhaps 140,000 monetary deposits’ were received by three bookmakers per year. He estimated that about £8,000, in 1s (5 p) or 2s 6d (12.5 p) bets, were being taken with little return to their clients. The return to the bettor was not clearly stated but in the early days of the football pools bookmakers often paid as little as 20 per cent in winnings.6 The NAGL objected to the considerable growth in fixed-odds pools before the Great War, and this continued throughout the inter-war years, despite the various football pool plans and perms adopted by Littlewoods, and other larger companies, who offered much higher returns to the punter. The NAGL became animated in its attempt to stop combination betting on football fixtures. They were supported by the English FL and FA, who supported two Bills, in 1913 and 1914, to prohibit ready-money (cash) betting on the football pools. Despite their abandonment, the intention of these Bills, with the help of the Home Office, was legislated for in the Ready Money Football Betting Act of 1920.7 This stated that football pools could only be submitted on a credit basis and made it practically impossible for newspapers to publish football coupons. Nevertheless, many newspapers, faced with the fact that they could not operate the pools on credit, ran free competitions with the reader returning a coupon, cut from the newspaper. Clearly, the idea was to sell newspapers because there was no readymoney cash involved and there was an assumed element of skill involved in making selections, which prevented it from being regarded as a lottery. However, this practice was challenged in 1928 when the Sheffield Telegraph was successfully prosecuted, the newspaper admitted that their clients were purchasing more than one newspaper to increase their chances of success. As a result, newspaper football pools were made illegal and the pool promoters, fearing similar decisions against them, devised a scheme to allow their clients to pay their bets after betting had taken place, which was credit betting. J. Hilton indicated that, in the 1930s, this became a system based upon loyalty and the principle that credit would be refused to defaulters.8 The practice of denying credit to defaulters had begun in the 1920s but the pool promoters ensured that defaulters would have their credit withdrawn by making a formal agreement to refuse to pay winnings to defaulters in 1928 and facilitating this by forming the FPPA in 1934, to help exchange information on defaulters, since the companies could not legally recover gambling debts under the 1845 Betting Act, a wager being unenforceable as a legal contract. That situation that was not changed until 2005. In 1927, the anti-gamblers mounted an operation against Littlewoods, to prove that it had breached both the Street Betting Act of 1906 and the Ready Money Football Pools Act of 1920 by accepting cash with the coupon entries. Apparently, a man arrived at the Littlewood’s office, apologising for missing the post, and offered two shillings with his coupons but was turned away by the office girl. Nevertheless, the police prosecuted Littlewoods, under the Ready Money Act of 1920, for printing pool coupons, even though the act

66  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 only forbade the ‘printing, publication or circulation of any advertisement, circular or advertisement, circulars or coupon of any ready money football betting businesses’.9 The police were successful, but John Moores appealed against the judgement, stressing that his was a credit-only organisation, and won his appeal.10 The football authorities were also hostile to the pools. In 1920 Sir Charles Clegg, chairman, of the FA from 1890 and President from 1923, dubbed the ‘Napoleon of football’, stated that ‘if football pools gets hold of the football, the game is done for’.11 The real concern was that the game could become corrupted by gambling, which is why FA rule 43 was passed in 1907 to prevent any player, referee, linesman or club official from participating in the rash of coupon betting that was occurring at that time. The FA conducted an enquiry into combination/coupon betting on the football pools which concluded that those who issued coupons, and their agents, were dangers to the game and recommended that clubs insert in their contracts with players a clause dismissing players if they became involved in coupon football betting.12 Although the proposed Parliamentary Bill of 1913, to control betting on football matches, was abandoned concerns about potential corruption did not go away. Accusations of the rigging of matches surfaced in 1915 in a match between Manchester United and Liverpool, where players, though not all, on both sides indulged in betting on a 2–0 victory for United which became known as the ‘The 1915 Good Friday Betting Scandal’.13 In 1925, there was also the notorious case when the Arsenal international player John Rutherford was tricked into being associated with J. A. McWeeny’s football firm, Turf Publishers Limited, which produced football annual form guides.14 The implication was that there was potential corruption and gambling involved. Both the FL and the FA supported the Ready Money Football Betting Act of 1920 but, since it had often been subverted the FA Council reasserted its opposition to football combination pools and opposed the football clubs, and their supporters, organising sweepstakes and lotteries, threatening to suspend clubs that ignored this regulation in February 1922. Indeed, up to the 1950s, the FA would not allow any football club, individual member or official to be members of the Amalgamated Association of the FA if they operated lotteries, of which they felt the football pools was a version.15 Religious organisations also vehemently opposed gambling on the pools, combining their efforts with those of the NAGL and the FL and FA. Indeed, as the NAGL declined in the inter-war years, so the religious opponents of gambling came to the fore. The Society of Friends, the Quakers, who set up three Betting and Anti-Gambling Committee, or Sufferings, in the twentieth century between 1902–1908, 1924–1925 and 1931–1935.16 The first meeting of the Sufferings declared that its intent ‘to consider what can be done to influence the Government with a view to legislation….to bring the subject of Betting and Gambling in some very clear way before our Members and those connected with us in our Adult Schools. our sick charities and the public generally’.17

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 67 As the NAGL began to decline in influence during the Great War and the 1920s, closing its Bulletin in the Great War, the National Emergency Committee of Christian Citizens emerged in December 1927. It was a body of Protestant churches and organisations which worked independently of the NAGL. Its work overlapped with the anti-gambling interests of parliamentarians and the religious interests of members of the football authorities. Rev. E. Benson Perkins, the ardent critic of all that constituted gambling, attacked Liverpool for housing the football pools industry and urging ‘a determined Christian attitude against one of the greatest paganising influences at the present time’.18 On 3 February 1936, whilst with a member of a Christian Church deputation to the Home Office, Perkins condemned the football pools as an industry, which involved 27 million people spending £90 million a year (a greatly exaggerated figure), as ‘a breeding ground in many cases for crime’, on the basis of no evidential support. Perkins also claimed that a Sheffield bookmaker had suggested that the average bet was three shillings per week, which could rise to 15 shillings.19 William Hodgkins, of Manchester and associated with this body, condemned the football pools in 1938, as the eleventh largest national industry at £50 million turnover, disavowing the dreamy enthusiasm of the people to argue that ‘Democracies cannot afford to have the intelligence of the multitude inhabited in this fashion’.20 In effect, such hyperbole was meant to influence the democratic debate about the rights of the working class, robbing them of the core right of their citizenship.

The Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting (1932–1933) and the 1934 Act Attitudes had sharpened when the Rowlatt Commission, which spent little time on football as a gambling, was divided over whether to ban football combination betting. Nine members of the Commission ‘recommend that a registered bookmaker should be allowed to conduct football combination at fixed odds in the same manner as other forms of betting’.21 Three members – Concemore Thomas Thwaite Cramp, a trade unionist better known as Charlie Cramp22, Sir James Leishman, and Sir David Owen – felt that the 1920 Ready Money Football Betting Act should be extended to ‘cover credit well as ready money betting’23, effectively making the football pools illegal, and noted the support of the football associations of the football pools industry was developing rapidly. The football associations of England, Scotland and Wales were all opposed to the pools.24 Despite the opposition of three members of the Commission,25 the Final Report of the Commission, published in 1933, felt that ‘only registered bookmakers should be allowed to conduct betting businesses and the bookmakers should not be allowed to send out circulars [coupons] except to those who act for them’. It also argued that the general policy of the government should be relaxed, urging that ‘the prohibition of ready money combination should be relaxed in consequence’.26

68  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 The NAGL and the three main football associations in Britain (English, Scottish and Welsh) did, nevertheless, exert their influence in the House of Commons to help ensure that the 1934 Betting Bill would contain a clause to ban gambling on combination football, though the clause was withdrawn at the second reading of the bill. There were numerous supporters of the measure and, as will become clearer later, and much emphasis placed upon the need to protect workers, women and children from what Mr. Logan MP referred to a ‘pernicious system’. Sir A. Butt, an opponent of football pools, said that ‘My great objection to football pools is that they appeal to people who can least afford to lose their money’.27 Mr. T. Williams, Labour MP for Don Valley, added I had one of the original employers of the biggest firms in Liverpool at my home. He told me how well off were the three people who started the firm. They had only £100 to £200 to begin with, but at the end of 12 months they were running their Rolls Royce’s. No wonder! There is no limit to their profits, they just take from the pool as much as they feel they dare do and give the clients the rest.28 This was clearly a garbled, and inaccurate, version of events, ignoring the fact that John Moores had bought out his two partners after a year and that the business did not take off until 1926. Nevertheless, it provided Williams with evidence for his views on the excessive exploitation of the working-class weakness of gambling and presented the support of the football organisations of England, Scotland and Wales for a measure to ban the pools.29 In effect, they wanted the banning of fixed-odds betting on the combination pools. The Cabinet formally received the Final Report of the Rowlatt Commission on 16 January 1934. Accepting that the laws on gambling were arcane, it opted for a limited bill, because of the tight parliamentary timetable, to deal mainly with the problem of tote gambling on greyhound racing. In March 1934, it was decided that the Government would raise a bill in the House of Lords to cover greyhound racing and the football pools but on 25 April 1934, the Cabinet felt that it would be unwise to court unpopularity in a move to curb the pools and the Home Secretary added that after a meeting with the 1922 Committee (of Conservatives backbenchers) that It was clear that the vested interests opposed to the Bill had been very busy and on the matter of football pools public opinion had caught fire. He agreed that it was possible without raising any very difficult problem to drop the football provisions of the Bill on the grounds that it was ‘offthe-course’ betting, but that it would leave loopholes affecting the Tote Clubs [….] [not] to drop the football pools might stimulate opposition to the other provisions of the Bill.30 The Government followed the Home Secretary’s advice and dropped the clauses banning the football pools as the bill moved, prosaically, through

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 69 Parliament. This decision was partly influenced by the formation of the FPPA in 1934, shortly after the publication of the bill, which intervened, discreetly, to organise opposition to the intended ban. At that time, the FPPA represented at least 11 pools companies, who controlled about 80 per cent of the pools industry, including the three main companies in Liverpool, three main companies in London and the trade unionist two main companies in Edinburgh.31 Nevertheless, armed with some support from a small section of the Rowlatt Commission, the NAGL and the football associations pressed forward with a campaign to ban the pools. John Gulland, the some-time organising secretary of the NAGL, produced the pamphlet From Pontoon to Pool, in 1934, which attacked all forms of pool arrangements. This was pressed forward in the context of legal actions against both Copes Pools and Mr. F. G. Horner’s football betting scheme, which the Leeds police pursued at the beginning of 1934, shortly after the Government abandonment of the clause to ban football pools in the 1934 Bill. Legal action was taken on the basis that the football pool schemes were lotteries, games of chance rather than skill and more obvious that they published coupons in newspapers in contravention of the Ready Money Football Betting Act of 1920.32 In January 1935, Strang’s Everyman Point Pools, advertised through the News of the World, saw both Strangs and the paper fined £200, with 15 guineas costs, ‘for causing coupons to be published’ in newspapers.33 Similar charges were levelled, and upheld, against Littlewoods ‘Great New Penny Pool’ in February 1936.34 Nevertheless, similar charges were also rejected by the prominent High Court case between Thomas William Elderton and the United Kingdom Totalisator Company. The respondent was accused of conducting forecasts on football pools via a newspaper called Winner, allegedly in contravention of the 1920 Ready Money Football Betting Act. The plaintiff felt that the totalisator company had also broken section 20 (1), and indeed, also, section 26, of the 1934 Act since the defendant was a bookmaker. However, in what became a landmark judgement, Justice Eve decided that there was no contravention, suggesting that advertising a football pool in a newspaper was not illegal.35 Regardless of this judgement, both Strangs and Murphys were subject to further prosecution for, allegedly, publishing illegal ‘ready-money’ coupons and were regularly appearing before the magistrates in Edinburgh. In July 1935 William S. Murphy was charged at the Edinburgh Sheriff’s for organising a horse racing lottery, described as a pool, and ordered to destroy £5,000 of postal orders to be used as payment to the winners.36 At the same time, Strangs also faced further legal action in Liverpool against the use of its Everyman Points Pools.37 However, following a further court fine in April 1936 William S. Murphy, 46 years of age, was allowed by the Liverpool Recorder to appeal against a £100 fine for publishing a coupon of a ready-money football business, ‘Everyman penny pool’, along with the ‘Staunch totalisator football pool’, in a case brought by the Liverpool police.

70  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 Represented by the leading barrister Hartley William Shawcross – Labour MP and Attorney General in the post-war Labour government and a chief prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials – Murphy maintained that his business was strictly credit and that the prosecution was in connection with the actions of an owner of a sweet and tobacco shop in Warbeck Moor who had no discretion to depart from the rule of credit betting. Murphy denied that his business was so enormous that he could not keep control of it but stated that ‘His 10,000 collectors represented about half of his business’ which, given the size of his business, would appear to be an exaggeration. However, his appeal failed on the grounds that the coupons were freely available on the counter, even though there was no evidence that there was ready-money payment involved.38 Chancery had thus established that it was legal to publish coupons in newspapers, although pool companies were still being taken to court for so doing so into the late 1930s. It had also established the illegality of readymoney betting. Also, the law decided that pool companies were responsible for the actions of their self-employed collectors. The most obvious case for this in the 1930s being that of Mr. Sainthouse, of Bexhill-on-Seas, who submitted a forecast for 12 matches for which a prize of £500 was offered but failed to receive payment because the coupons had been torn and incomplete. The jury found in his favour.39 The issue of pool companies being responsible for the actions and failures of the self-employed collectors was an issue which was to re-occur and cause trouble pool companies for another 50 years, although it later emerged that they were not responsible for the action of sub-agents. The publishing and distribution of football coupons remained under attack, from the NAGL and anti-gambling groups, even as the law recognised the legality of the pools being published in newspapers and that they were not lotteries. Indeed, apart from the Justice Eve judgement, allowing the publication of coupons in newspapers it was also established, at the Wiltshire Quarter Sessions at Marlborough in October 1935, that Messrs Ambler and Price, who ran a football business in London, were running a business where the skill and judgement of the punter was recognised to distinguish the football pools from a mere lottery of chance.40 Nevertheless, the anti-football pool campaign rumbled on in the House of Commons, where MPs seem to have been equally divided between opponents of gambling, supporters and neutrals – hence the stalemates that often occurred. R. J. Russell MP, a Methodist Lay Preacher and Liberal MP, as part of the NAGL attack upon the pools, wrote a book entitled The Peril of the Pools based upon his speech in the House of Commons on 4 November 1934, in the debate on the Betting and Lotteries Bill in 1934. He suggested that £250,000 per week was staked on the pools, and about £9 million per season from which the promoters raked off the extortionate amount of £2,700,000.41

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 71 Parliamentary matters came to a head on 6 November 1934, when Thomas Williams, Labour MP for Don Valley raised the issue of the failure of the 1934 Betting and Lotteries Bill to ban the football pools, allegedly in line with the recommendation of the Rowlatt Commission. In fact, as already indicated, the Commission majority report had merely recommended regularising the football pools under the existing rules for bookmakers.42 Williams wished to put forward a specific bill to ban the football pools and was supported by Isaac Foot MP, and Viscountess Astor.43 Rhys Davies MP also condemned the failure to ban the pools, alluding to the fact that the Post Office was earning £5,500,000 a week from 700,000 clients a week purchasing postal orders in the season, that ‘There is a large Lancashire town which employs 1,000 persons to deal with this form of betting’. Isaac Foot explained that the return to the Postmaster General was about 5d (2 p) per coupon, and that with the cost of stamps, estimated at £14,583 6s 3d per week, this all led to a total of £5,500,000.44 Mr. David Gilbert Logan stated that ‘…we are suffering in Liverpool from a pernicious system which is in operation today, but dealing with one of iniquity will not being about an equitable system in operation’.45 He added: The Home Secretary is a good Scottish Presbyterian, and the Postmaster General is a good Wesleyan. I am wondering what happened to their principles in dealing with a problem of this kind?. Sir John Gilmour, the Home Secretary merely reflected that Parliamentary legislation deals with on-course betting. There is a lot of off-course betting’.46 Opposed to them was Sir William Davison, the Conservative MP for South Kensington, who had put forward a bill to legalise national lotteries in 1930 and 1932, based upon the Irish Sweepstake Lottery. He felt that the purpose of the bill was to ‘prevent individuals making gains’.47 The parliamentary debate intensified on 12 November 1934, with Williams attacking the pool promoters, stating that ‘I have no objection to that is the person has made an ordinary and fair contribution to society of which he is a member, but I do object to people being turned into men of wealth when they are exploiting the weakness of others. And particularly the youth of the country’.48 There was also much concern about the avoidance of the Ready Money Football Betting Act, 1920 designed to stop cash betting, for it was possible ‘to evade the Act by allowing the payment of the premium whether 2d or 6s, or more to be paid the following week, and because of finding a way around the purpose of the Act of 1920’. Williams added much evidence of the operation of football firms often returning as little as a third of the pool to the punters, although larger firms were also offering high returns, in a tirade of evidence, already discussed in the previous chapter. Williams was supported by R. J. Russell, who firmly believed in old traditional Liberal values of efficiency, economy and retrenchment, was in favour of temperance, opposed to the football pools, and attempts to legalise the

72  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 opening of cinemas on a Sunday. He reflected favourably upon the moral stance of the Liverpool Echo, which refused to publish the football league tables.49 Sir Alfred Butt, a racehorse owner and sometime theatre owner, added that ‘My great objection to the football pools is that they appeal to people who can least afford to lose their money’.50 Vyvyan Adams, a Conservative MP for Leeds, asked the Home Secretary ‘whether he is aware of the large and unregulated profits which have lately attended to the practice of football pools’ and desired to protect the public because the pool take 5 per cent profits and 15–40 per cent expenses ‘free of any kind of scrutiny’.51 Nevertheless, the Government remained committed to avoiding unnecessary conflict with the football-supporting public, and Sir John Gilmour, the Home Secretary, tactfully argued that the Royal Commission of Lotteries, Betting and Gaming was ‘clouded in mist’, and unclear on its attitude. Sir Samuel Hoare, Secretary of State for India, agreed and accepted that the Royal Commission had not suggested the banning of the football pools.52 It is possible that this was the moment when the odds favoured the pro-gamblers and the pools’ companies. Indeed, Emmanuel Roudaut has argued that the 1934 Act was possibly the turning point in the conflict between gamblers and anti-gamblers, in a strange compromise which, ironically, favoured the anti-gamblers, the commercial gambling interests and the football pool promoters.53 He has argued that in the 1930s there was an uneasy balance between the competing gambling interests of the middle class and working class in Britain. The declining influence of the anti-gamblers meant that they were happy with the 1934 Act, which tightened up on gambling laws, and continued to ban lotteries, especially given that the economic depression of the time and the creation of universal suffrage meant that the very concept of prohibition of gambling was being questioned. In addition, some sections of the gambling trade had improved their public image and increased their economic and political leverage. He further maintained that the anti-gamblers continued their campaigns in some areas, but argued that …the rejection of the national lottery cleared the way for the expansion of the football pools, which facilitated the ban for another sixty years by providing a viable commercial alternative. Ostensibly, the compromise of the 1930s was the last great victory of the anti-gambling agitation in Britain, but it dented a fragile and ambivalent status quo and sowed the seeds of the liberalising laws of the late twentieth century.54 There is clearly some appeal in the explanation offered by Roudaut, except that it misrepresents the position of the Rowlatt Commission (1932– 1933) and underestimates, as does Huggins, the full extent of the continued opposition to the football pools. It is true that the Rowlatt Commission did not recommend the banning of the football pools. However, it did recommend the banning of the greyhound Tote, which the 1934 Act did not do,

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 73 and it seems perverse to argue that the continuance of the football pools was somehow the compromise for the 1934 Act failing to lift the early nineteenth-century ban on national lotteries. For many punters, who chose to select fixed numbers from week to week, rather than to use their skill and judgement in their selection, the football coupon was, in effect, a lottery. Attitudes towards the football pools remained bitter and divided until the Willink Commission (1949–1951) endorsed the policy of government to distance itself from gambling matters, and the changing mood to gambling was evident in the 1960s and 1970s. Indeed, the fact remains that whilst the football pools were not banned, it was, as the Manchester Guardian observed, in 1936, ‘class legislation of the most objectionable character’, that defined a continued hostility towards working-class gambling in general, of which the football pools was but a part.55 The main pool companies felt compelled to unite to fight off the threat to their business for another thirty years, and the formation of the FPPA was part of that process. They’re remained significant opposition to the football pools in Parliament, as already indicated, even though the National Government (1931–1940) was not committed to putting its weight behind their actions. Indeed, there was significant opposition to the football pools throughout the rest of the 1930s, both outside, as well as inside, Parliament, as demonstrated by the ‘Pools War’ of 1936.

The ‘Pools War’ of 1936 and the football pools ‘swag’ The ‘Pools War’ of 1936 arose from the rapid growth of the football pools companies in the inter-war years and the use of the fixture list of the 88 clubs in the English Football League. It led the FL Management Committee to suspend the League fixtures and to only release them on Thursday 27 February for Saturday 29 February, and similarly every subsequent week. In fact, this action only affected the fixtures on the 29 February 1936 and 7 March 1936 before being abandoned on 9 March 1936 in the face of widespread condemnation. From the late nineteenth century, the FA Council had been concerned about betting on football matches and the English Football League Management Committee had also become concerned about the use of its fixtures for gambling and the abuse of its copyright. The Committee was dominated by a small group of conservative officials, some of whom were Methodists who were largely, though not entirely, opposed to gambling. There was William Charles Cuff, manager of Everton Football Club between 1901 and 1918, and chairman from 1921 to 1938. He was an active Methodist and teetotaller.56 There was Frederick William Rinder (1858–1938), a committee member and secretary of Aston Villa Football Club, who was elected to the Management Committee of the FL in 1917, held a seat on the Council of the FA from 1929, and held other senior positions including that of Senior Vice-President of the FL. The immensely prominent John

74  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 McKenna, a Vice-President of the FL from 1905 until 1910, and President from 1910 until his death in March 1936 was also a member of this group. He was an Irish businessman, and the first manager of Liverpool FC. There was also Charles Edward Sutcliffe, a former football player and referee who was responsible for drawing up the League fixtures. He became Vice-President of the FL in 1927, and President at the end of March 1936.57 He also was a Methodist, an advocate of temperance and a keen opponent of gambling.58 Finally, there was Frederick Howarth (1897–1971), Assistant Secretary of the FL from 1920 to 1933 and Secretary from 1933 to 1956. He was also a Methodist and opposed to gambling. These men were deeply steeped in the anti-gambling culture of the time, the majority of whom were religiously opposed to gambling. The Betting and Lotteries’ Act (1934) failure to ban the football pools incensed the FL. However, the FL was encouraged to discuss alternative positions by Watson Hartley, a Liverpool accountant. He put forward a scheme for either stopping ‘football betting altogether or controlling it’ so that ‘many thousands of pounds could be diverted from the pool proprietors to be used for the good of the game’.59 It was the second option with which he was mainly concerned. The scheme was discussed at the FL Management Committee, held at Whitby on 22 June 1934. The meeting made no decision, although the feeling was that it was unlikely that there would be a deal with the pool promoters.60 Indeed, the Hartley proposal was later rejected at a meeting of the Management Committee, held at Blackpool, on 25 July 1934. This decision was later endorsed by the FA Council on 3 October 1935 where Charles Edward Sutcliffe, a member of the Council for the League, managed to stop the advertising of pool coupons in club football programmes.61 In invoking Rule 43, of the rules of the FA, prohibiting betting by ‘an official or associate of the club’ and the imposing the exclusion from the game of anyone so involved, the FA directly denied their own club membership base both publicity and advertising revenue.62 The English FA was, of course, in charge of both the amateur and professional game in England and was responsible for determining the rules of football by which the FL abided. Despite these setbacks, Hartley persisted with his scheme, obtained legal opinion, and sent the results to Howarth (FL Secretary) and Sutcliffe (FL Vice-President) in November 1935. Sutcliffe seems to have been partly persuaded, and Stanley Rouse, the FA Secretary, in a meeting with the Home Office, expressed the view that ‘having regard to the large profits which were being made by the pools from the game the League should get some payment’.63 In a private meeting of the FL Management Committee on 3 December 1935, Cuff and Rinder thought that the scheme should be investigated further and on 16 December, it was decided that the FL would negotiate with E. Holland Hughes, Solicitor to both the FPPA and Littlewoods. A meeting of representatives of the FL and the FPPA was organised in Liverpool on Friday 3 January 1936, but the representatives of the FPPA felt that financial demands made by the FL were exorbitant but that it was

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 75 prepared to make a ‘reasonable contribution’ with the approval of the FA.64 An impasse had been reached. On Thursday 27 February 1936, the FL, driven by the Cuff, McKenna and Sutcliffe, voted that, from that week onwards, it would cancel the existing, and publicised, programme and initiate a new set of fixtures which would not be announced until the Thursday before the Saturday matches.65 That would be too late for the pools companies to publish and distribute their coupons. The League’s action initiated a national confrontation with the pools’ companies and appeared to have the approval of the vast majority of the clubs; there were 85 clubs present, 65 voting for the delay in publishing fixtures, 12 were against and 8 abstained.66 Aldershot, Bristol City and Brighton and Hove Albion were not represented at the meeting.67 It was recognised that this would be a drastic action, which would inconvenience the clubs and the supporters, but the suggestion that the pools companies should contribute money to the clubs seemed to be firmly rejected. Instead, it appeared that the FL favoured immediate legislation to ban the football pools, and the instigation of the clause which had been withdrawn from the first draft of the Betting and Lotteries Act in 1934. Indeed, Dave Russell has argued that the League was fiercely opposed to gambling, and Mike Huggins has argued that this was certainly one factor in the action of the League.68 It was declared at the meeting that the football pools, with its turnover of £700,000 to £800,000 per week, of £20 million to £30 million in the season, was ‘being built entirely upon the unauthorised use of the copyright fixtures of the eight-eight clubs of the Football League’.69 This decision to re-organise the fixture list and delay its publication has often, and quite rightly, been presented as the action of religious men, and particularly nonconformists, who were zealously opposed to gambling on the pools. It might also have been an action driven on by the concern of preventing players and officials from being bribed to influence the outcome of football matches, a view expressed by the FL to the Rowlatt Commission (1932–1933). But that was only part of the story. The fact is that the League clubs were deeply divided over the issue of receiving money from the pool companies to help the game, and the vote was deceptive and possibly unconstitutional. Indeed, some teams continued to advertise coupons on their programmes up to the end of 1936, and many of them also wished to get some financial reward for the FL through a payment for the use of their fixture programme. And, in any case the FL and the FPPA had both been negotiating for some time in 1935 to arrange some payment for the use of the FL fixtures. The FL was particularly secretive in its actions but arranged to meet with the FA in London on 24 February 1936 to discuss the situation. By that time there were claims and counterclaims to what had occurred. Two members of the management team of the FL – Mr. J. W. Rinder (Aston Villa FC) and Mr. A. Brook Hirst (Huddersfield Town FC) – asserted that there had been no negotiations about payment for the fixture list or that the failure of any

76  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 such negotiations had led to the FL’s action. Indeed, Rinder could not have made it clearer in stating that ‘We have never suggested to them of any sort, size, or disposition. The pools’ statement is absolutely without foundation. We have just been listening to what they have to say’.70 Mr. Baxter, of the FL, supported him by asserting that the League ‘had never mentioned any sum regarding the fixture list’.71 However, Mr. Bancroft (Blackpool FC), another member of the League management Committee, contradicted these statements in an interview with a reporter, on 23 February, stating that. Some time ago, a special committee of the Football League met three representatives of the Pools Promoters’ Association… The meeting was really to find out what suggestions the Pools’ Committee had to make on the matter. A figure was  mentioned, but I do not know who mentioned it. I understand that it was mentioned at  a small sub-committee meeting between the representatives of the Football League and the pool’s side but since I was not a member of the League sub-committee and was not present at the meeting. I cannot say who mentioned it.72 It was suggested that the outcomes of the decision on 20 February would be conveyed to the clubs on Thursday, 27 February 1936. It was also made clear that a fuller discussion of the outcome would be made clear at an FA and League on 2 March 1936.73 There was clearly much confusion and unease in the football community at the actions of the FL. Rinder was quick to mention that the League did not think that there would be a boycott of matches by fans, noting that previous boycotts by fans had failed.74 However, it was clear that there was much rising opposition amongst League clubs to the actions of the League Management Committee. Alderman Masser, a director of the Leeds United Football Club, organised a meeting, on either the 22 or 23 February, indicating the frustration of some clubs at the outcome of the League meeting of 20 February, at which it was claimed that many representatives of the clubs had been denied their request ‘for an opportunity of conferring with their co-directors on the proposals before giving a vote’. This dissenting meeting published a statement: They regarded the suggested action of cancelling fixtures as futile and was of opinion that any difficulty or inconvenience caused to the organisers of the pools would be trivial as compared with the inconvenience and cost to the clubs and their public. The directors regarded the matter as one for the Parliament of the people and not for the Parliament of football.75 It also alleged that the FL committee had also broken its own rules by instigating this wide-reaching decision without gaining the permission of the clubs. Indeed, on 1 March Mr. Brooke Hirst, a member of the FL Management Committee, and critic of the FL’s action, was reported as saying that

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 77 Sutcliffe has ‘had to bear the brunt of the criticism because her had been entrusted with the task of the revision of the fixtures, …an unfair situation because what has been done is due to the action of the clubs themselves’.76 They had cast their votes for the purpose and ‘It may be that the representatives of the clubs had not the time to think over the effect of what they were doing’, and there was no urgency to act. Indeed, he added that the football pools companies were carrying out their legitimate business but that they had infringed the copyright of the League and that ‘The only way to stop the football pools is by the law’.77 The situation became even more sensitive when it became clear that there had been a substantial fall in football attendances on Saturday 29 February. Newcastle had an attendance of 8,000, instead of 22,000; Huddersfield had 6,000 instead of 18,000 and Bradford City 3,000 rather than 9.500.78 This fuelled criticism of the action of the FL and led to a further, more widelyrepresentative, rebel meeting in Leeds on 2 March 1936, involving 36 representatives from 44 full league members indicating as wishing to be present, to discuss their concerns of how FL Management Committee, based at Preston, had behaved, both procedurally and practically.79 Though Masser, of Leeds FC, took the lead, following up in his public condemnation of the FL’s cancellation of the football fixtures80 it is clear that there were a number of League clubs who were clearly unhappy at the high-handed manner in which the FL Management Committee had operated and the potential impact on club revenues if the dispute continued. The leading critics were the representatives of Manchester City, Sunderland, Stoke City, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and Derby County. They were concerned about a reduction in club attendances, given the disruption caused and the symbiotic relationship which was developing between the football pools and football.81 Their main criticism, however, was that FL had breached their own rules by calling this intentionally highly disruptive action at such short notice. The technicalities related to rule 23 of the FL, which referred to the inappropriate rearranging of fixtures that had already been agreed. There was also concern that by calling the original meeting at less than seven days’ notice without a full agenda sent in advance, a requirement of rule 80, the decision taken was invalid. Thus, it was felt that action of the FL was unconstitutional in that it did not allow the member clubs sufficient warning of the meeting and time to gather their views. Mr. A. Brook Hirst (Huddersfield Town FC) hit back at the FL rebels, for the Management Committee, reflecting that the FL clubs had voted for the proposal by a large majority on 27 February. Interestingly, however, he admitted that FL management met the FPPA and, contradicting the comments of some of his fellow members, stated that ‘The arrangement was that the Pools’ Association would make an offer, but none had been forthcoming’.82 What is clear is that despite the impression that the action being taken by the FL was an attempt to suppress gambling on the pools on moral and

78  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 religious grounds, the fact is that it was also partly a result of the FL’s failure to secure a financial deal to benefit from the growing business of gambling on the football coupons. Mr. Gordon MacDonald MP summed up the position admirably in stating that ‘when he was informed of the Football League proposal, he was inclined to accept it as a sincere attempt to Christianise the sport. Now, in view of other information, it seemed to him to be a case that the Football League and the pools promoters being out to share the swag and being unable to agree on the exact division of it’.83 And so it appeared as more reports and interviews were published. A deeply divided FL, with at least half the clubs opposed to the highhanded actions of its Management Committee, meant that the Committee was unable to sustain its actions. Indeed, Ivan Sharpe, a journalist and a trusted confidant of Charles Sutcliffe, although, ironically, he also contributed to The Littlewood Sports Log, described the scenario accurately when he stated that ‘50 people could never keep a secret’.84 Though the FL Management Committee tried to hold information back and to inform only a small coterie of officials when required, it was still essential to inform a select group at each club, including board members and the club secretary, of their actions. Many of these officials were opposed to the action of the Management Committee and leaked information, or openly offered, statements to the press. In any case, in response to the FL’s drastic action, which was categorically aimed at destroying the business of the pools’ companies, or forcing them into subjugation, the pools’ companies simply picked up the phone and rang around the football clubs to find out the matches and produce coupons at the last minute.85 FPPA was pro-active, and hostile, in its response to the FL’s decision. After the 21 February meeting, it sent a letter to the FA stating that the League had attempted to take the ‘unfair and unjustifiable’ step of suppressing the pools ‘when previously they had been conducting amicable negotiations’ and was approaching the FA for approval of their desire to provide some money in return for the use of football fixtures. Mr. E. A. Eden, of the Birmingham Council of the FA, in a speech to the Birmingham Rotary Club on 30 March 1936, confirmed that the FPPA had sent a letter to the FA to reject the charges that the FA had anything to do with the recent attempt to stop the pools. Indeed, Eden stated that it was the FL which had said to the pool companies ‘If you continue to have the apparently priceless advantage of out structured fixtures, what will you pay for using them’.86 The FPPA letter, which he had seen, indicated that the FPPA and the FL had been in detailed negotiations over the use of the FL fixture list. In addition, it indicated that ‘Leading Counsel’ had suggested that there was no copyright infringement involved in using the fixture list.87 Littlewoods, and the major pool companies, had substantial influence over millions of, working-class, families and were able to publicise their ideas through their free publications, such as The Littlewood Sports Log and the PPP: The Punters Popular Paper, published by Bond’s Pools, to their

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 79 ‘clients’. They also had coupon collectors who were in direct contact with working-class households. The FL was an easy for the pools companies. Nevertheless, they did not have to do much to denigrate the actions of the FL, for it was doing that itself. It was running a nationwide business in which hundreds of thousands of individuals were involved on a weekly basis in attending matches, and it was treated with contempt the position of many of those supporters who filled in football coupons. Indeed, the anger and frustration of football fans and pools participants was famously recorded by George Orwell (Eric Blair) in his book The Road to Wigan Pier, published in 1937. He wrote that ‘I happened to be in Yorkshire when Hitler re-occupied the Rhineland. Hitler, Locarno, Fascism and the threat of war aroused hardly a flicker of interest locally, but the decision of the FA [actually the English Football League] to stop publishing their fixtures in advance flung all Yorkshire into a storm of fury’.88 In reflecting upon the situation, Orwell was neither condemning nor supporting the actions of the League but, in the light of the important political issues of the day, deriding the pools as a direct waste of time, money and effort. Driven by his socialist principles, and rejection of his middle-class background and Etonian education, his view was that the efforts of the working class should have been focussed on the development of working-class political consciousness. He was clearly isolated from the growing importance of the pools in the lifestyle of the working class, much as was the Management Committee of the English FL who foolishly began a conflict which they were never likely to win. Ross McKibbin has recently reinforced the point that the ‘Pools War’ was a foolish confrontation, but more importantly has demonstrated how isolated from the popular support the game’s senior administrators were.89 The ‘Pools War’ was clearly partly a clash between an elitist, non-conformist world, view formed in the later nineteenth century and the younger, modernist men, such as the Moores brothers and Vernon Sangster. There were serious religious and moral undertones in the action taken by the League but also an element of the protection of their perceived copyright rights and the royalties that could accrue. The FL and the FA were often brusque with the press in reporting their actions and, even before the ‘Pools War’, had a history of not explaining their decisions. The ‘Pools War’ only provided further evidence of their arrogant approach.90 Journalists were excluded from any FL on this matter which led to one journalist and photographer using subterfuge to try and gain information on these decisions, which affected millions of people.91 Given this rapid breakdown in relations within the FL structure, and the widespread negative feelings from supporters, clubs, players, the pools companies, pools punters and the press, the FL Management Committee position became untenable. After two weeks, it terminated its action and published the fixtures for the 16 March 1936 well in advance of the matchday. This action brought a swift end to the totally ill-conceived ‘Pools War’.92

80  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 Dave Russell is correct in concluding that this clash of cultures represented a considerable defeat for the non-conformists and their position as custodians of Victorian values at the hands of modernist business entrepreneurs and the weight of populism.93 The defeat of the FL and the FA marked, in sharp terms, a watershed point in the lengthy relationship between the football authorities and the rich, newly-powerful and modernistic pools promoters.94 Though the ‘Pools War’ only lasted two weeks, the quick capitulation by the FL under pressure from all sides, and within its own ranks, created a situation where the pools companies had a clear path for expansion without direct, major intervention for the foreseeable future. Huggins is correct to suggest that the ‘Pools War’ made ‘very explicit the decisive in public support for small-scale betting and gambling that was taking place in the inter-war years’, and effectively promoted the positive attitudes of the public towards the football pools.95 However, it was not the case, as Huggins suggests, that ‘After the “pools war” the football pools were secure from attack from anti-gambling groups, and no longer feared political intervention’.96 As will become obvious, there remained a lingering sense of religious and moral opposition to gambling which, whilst becoming increasingly isolated, continued into the 1960s and early 1970s and helped to delay citizenship to the working-class punter. Indeed, the FL continued to claim copyright over its fixtures, and this issue was not resolved until 1958, when the PPA compensated both the FL and the FA for the use of football fixtures. One of the aims of the FL and the FA was to smash the pools companies and to destroy their connection with the game but that must be balanced against the concern of many clubs to benefit from the ‘swag’. Some of the League officials had clearly sought to protect the pure integrity of the footballing contest from the perceived pervasive influence of gambling but others quite clearly wished to benefit from the income the football pools would generate. Their combined range of interest reflected those of Littlewoods and the other members of the FPPA in uniting both the integrity of the pools and making money. The spat of 1936 certainly represented a conflict over both money and moral integrity. It also clearly reflected the continuing hostility to the football pools in the 1930s, which was continuously, if not always effectively, evident in Parliament, despite the support of the working-class punter.

Failure of a Russell bill to ban the football pools At the crucial meeting on 21 February 1936, the FL Management Committee had also called for legislation to ban the football pools and announced that an attempt to get ‘a new Act passed is now to be made’. Indeed, Richard John Russell, Liberal MP, put forward a Bill in the House of Commons to ban the pools as a lottery. He was already clearly identified as a Sabbatarian, having raised a Bill in 1932 to prevent the secularisation of Sundays by banning the opening of cinemas on a Sunday, which he felt was a commercialisation of

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 81 the Sabbath an ‘intolerable desecration’.97 He felt similarly about the football pools and drew up a bill to ‘Make illegal the carrying on of any pari-mutuel or pool betting business’, except for that authorised by the Racecourse Betting Act of 1928, and the Betting and Lotteries Act of 1934.98 In other words, it was specifically aimed at the football pools, seeking to ban them whilst the pool arrangements for horse racing and greyhound racing were not to be touched. Russell, as already mentioned, had already publicly stated his strict opposition to the pools in his pamphlet, The Peril of the Pools. Partly based upon his speech in the House of Commons in 1934 and outhouse of Commons in 1934 and a questionnaire circulated by the Methodist Temperance and Social Welfare Department, it was printed as a guide to social workers, and to those speaking on gambling.99 Russell, following the style of other anti-gamblers, broadly stressed the menace of the pools, making sweeping attacks upon the FPPA, football supporters, youth, women and asserting, without offering evidence, that the increase in criminality was due to the pools. His views, he claimed, were supported by Sir Frederick Wall of the FA, the Welsh Football Association, the Scottish Football Association, Tom Williams MP, the Bishop of Southwark and the Public Morality Council. They had the strong support of the Christian Social Council Committee on Gambling, described by a Home Office official as ‘a very important body, whose deputation the Home Secretary should receive.100 There was further support from the Industrial Christian Fellowship, the Church of England Temperance Society, the Church Army, the Mothers’ Union, and a whole variety of churches.101 These religious denominations, and their organisations, stated that four million football coupons were going in and out of Liverpool alone each week in the football season, serviced by 28 firms, that prizes of £10,000, one of £11,323 15s on 19 October 1935, were being won and that the punters were suffering social consequences ‘of a most serious nature’. Filling in the pool’s coupon meant that men and women are ‘serving their apprenticeship in gambling’.102 It was added, that to them, the young were indulging in a family-driven activity which would ‘lead quickly to family privation and degradation’. Once Russell’s intention to present a Private Members’ Bill to ban the football pools was known, the pools promoters utilised their huge customer base to oppose it. About three weeks after the end of the ‘Pools War’, and in anticipation of the Bill, the Littlewood Sports Log published a prominent two-page article entitled ‘Stop the ridiculous attack on the pools’. In its Littlewood Pools implored its ‘enthusiasts’ to exercise their democratic right and to write to their M.P. to put a stop to Russell’s Bill and its aim of curtailing ‘the personal freedom of the British citizen’.103 Acting on the behalf of the FL, Russell led the second reading in the Commons on 3 April 1936, parading the usual arguments of waste of money involved, the potential for fraud involved when the number of coupons with their lines and permutations could not be properly checked in the time allowed, and the notion that the football pool was in fact a lottery and should, therefore, be considered illegal. The Bill was strongly opposed in the

82  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 Commons by many MPs who saw it as simply a hasty attempt to implement the policy of the FL, and the FA, to ban the pools for some type of revenge rather than moral imperative. Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedfordshire), a Conservative MP, reflected the general position of the National Government of the time, suggesting that the Bill was an attempt to ‘interfere with private liberty’, which he would not support. His detailed criticism was levelled at the Football League, which he saw as the force behind the Bill. He noted that the League had tried to claim the high moral ground against gambling of the pools ‘But when they saw the extent of the evil, they thought that they would come in and try to share the profit’.104 Indeed, Lennox-Boyd quoted the Morning Post of 2 March 1936, as an indication of the view of the average person in Britain. Much of the sympathy that the Football League has been forfeited by the absurdity of its motive in launching this attack. Alternatively, it has lamented the losses alleged to have been suffered by the competition of the pools; has posed as the guardian of public morals and has coveted its share of third-party spoils. If it had taken a stand on the first proposal and produced confirmatory statistics it might have had some hope but after the ineptitude of the past ten days, it has no course but to beat an ignominious retreat.105 Lennox-Boyd was, however, deeply concerned about the football pools and wanted rules to be imposed upon it to ensure that only 5 per cent of the pool be taken as profit, and that proper accounts should be produced and checked on the operation of pools forms – none of which were in place.106 The Russell Bill was soundly defeated at its second reading, by 287 votes to 24. Interestingly, among the small band of hard-core supporters were some strongly religious figures, such as Morgan Jones, who was a Baptist lay preacher, George M. Garro-Jones, who was a Congregationalists, and several others from a nonconformist background, supported it. In addition, George Lansbury, an Anglican and an ex-leader of the Labour Party, also supported the Russell Bill. Apart from the three already mentioned, there were Charles Ammon, a leading trade unionist, Tom Williams, Will Thorne, the famous trade unionist, Sir Robert Young, R. D. Denman, David Rhys Grenfill, Duncan MacGregor Graham. Many of these had come from a nonconformist background. Indeed, the nonconformist tradition of Labour MPs established in 1906 had not entirely been removed by the political debacle of Labour in the 1931 general election. Almost half the supporters of the Bill – 11 of 24 – had come from a Labour Party which had about 150 representatives in a House of Commons of 150 MPs. However, times were changing and one Labour MP criticised George Lansbury, his former MP, ‘for assuming a superior mentality and assuming they knew a great better than the working people’.107 The Russell Bill had showcased Russell as a ‘spoilsport’ and the Daily Telegraph stated of defeat of the Bill that it ‘was a very decisive verdict…of this ill-conceived little Bill’.108 The wider press declared much the same. The

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 83 anti-gambling organisations were also unimpressed by Russell’s Bill, and some vehement anti-gamblers in the House of Commons, such as the novelist and playwright A. P. Herbert, had opposed it. Also, Seebohm Rowntree, the financier of the NAGL and the most important anti-gambling voice in the inter-war period, also felt that the Bill was rushed and confused and stressed that none of the anti-gambling organisation, per se, had subscribed to the Russell Bill, describing it as a fiasco which did more harm than good for the anti-gambling movement. The failed Bill discouraged further action against the pools for the rest of the 1930s, although there was still extensive discussion of gambling in a wider context. from the occasional debates on gambling. Indeed, on 5 May 1938, Mr. Hepworth expressed concern about the football promoters who, claimed were, earning £2 million per year from the pools.109 This occurred in anticipation of the first reading of A. P. Herbert’s Private Members’ Bill on the football coupons in the House of Commons on 13 May 1938. This Bill was not to be a repeat of the 1936 Russell Bill which was ‘thrown out with much violence by the House and I took part in the operation myself. … The Bill was wrong then and it would be wrong now, because it was not accompanied by the main resolution of the Royal Commission, the legality of cash betting, which is proposed in this Bill.’110 In effect, Herbert’s Bill wanted both the banning of the football pools, which was a form of lottery and the legalising of cash betting, which would allow working men to bet as freely as their middle-class brethren could do so through credit betting. Indeed, he noted that ‘In general, Parliament has taken the line that the citizen is free to impoverish himself by going in any form of betting which is available to him. But that the State will not permit others to profit by certain methods of betting business’.111 Herbert felt that the football pools should fall into the category of the banned lotteries, because they were in effect a form of lottery, and that, apart from overhead charges, the pool companies had no costs, could decide the pay-out what they wanted to the punters and was prone to abuse. ‘I do not say that there is any hanky panky. But there is a great opportunity for it. Pool betting is not a sporting event as betting with a bookmaker. It offers exceptional opportunities for profit for the promoters and there are exceptional lures for the backer. In fact, it has most of the features which induced Parliament to prohibit lotteries’.112 This was roundly defeated due to MP’s and the Home Office being fully aware of the unpopularity of such a measure, the Bill running out of time because of the filibustering of MPs.113 Yet the tales of the corruption of pools’ promoters, true and false, continued to fuel sporadic opposition. There was the case of Mr. Chard, a pools’ promoter, who displayed …great benevolence, while presenting a cheque for £1,516 to a lucky winner. The photograph was circulated and looked very well indeed. Sometime later, purely by accident, it was discovered that the delighted recipient of the cheque was none other than Mr. Chard’s own brother, and that no cash ever passed between the two.114

84  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 The anti-gambling movement clearly faced setbacks in dealing with the football pools and was no longer the force it once was in the face of the democratisation of the politics in Britain, although it remained an influential until well after the Second World War. Eventually, it sought to crab and confine through a culture of control through Parliament on matters of taxation, financial control, charitable contributions and the ever-present issue of forming a national lottery, rather than by challenging the pools in its unclear stance between legal credit gambling and illegal national lottery.

The Second World War The outbreak of the Second World War, at the beginning of September 1939, halted the rapid growth of the pools and led to the quick decision of the major pools companies to form Unity Pools, based at the Littlewoods Liverpool headquarters. This saved large amounts of paper and the labour at 26 regional post offices which were normally inundated with football pool mail.115 This was driven by the decision of the Postmaster-General to disallow the distribution of unsolicited coupons, those sent out by the pool’s companies in the post, under the Defence Regulation Act 56A. Not surprisingly, the pools business fell away, although it recovered a little by the end of the war, and Littlewoods and Vernons provided their buildings and business acumen to the wartime production of barrage balloons, parachutes and aircraft parts.116 Effectively, then, Liverpool became the focus of a much-reduced industry. To save paper, the Unity Pools were printed in the national press until the case of Brotherhood v United Kingdom Totalisator Co. Ltd in 1945 brought the end of this practice. As a result, the use of paper on coupons fell to less than one per cent of pre-war publication levels for the pool companies. The coupons were returned by post, in re-usable envelopes, and by self-employed collectors. After the Second World War, the paper allowance was increased to 2.5 per cent (of pre-war levels) by 1946 and 7.5 per cent by 1950. The ban on the gratuitous distribution of coupons was not lifted until May 1950. Nonetheless, there was substantial parliamentary criticism of the waste of paper by the pool’s companies. In January 1940, Mr. Gibson asked about the scheme to publish coupons in newspapers at public expense, which Major Tyron denied on behalf of the National Government.117 Two and a half years later, Mr. R. Morgan asked what action the Home Secretary intended to take against the football pools ‘in view of the need for saving paper’. Herbert Morrison, the Home Secretary, merely replied that the football pools had ‘greatly declined since the outbreak of war’ noting that postal order sales in 1941–1942 were 80 per cent down on 1938–1939.118 Indeed, because of this wartime experience, the annual profits fell from £22 million in 1938–1939 to less than £5 million. This was partly reflected in the fall in the level of postal order sales from £104 million in 1938–1939 to £29 million in 1940–1941.119 The problems of the industry were amplified by anti-gambling clergymen, such as the Reverend John Bretherton who was able to establish that the pools were a

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 85 prize competition and this breached the Betting and Lotteries Act of 1934.120 They were, however, allowed to continue in a much-reduced form. Elsewhere, the FL and the FA remained strongly opposed to the pools and, in July 1943, a report in the Manchester Guardian supported their attack on the ‘gilt-edge adventures of the parasitic promoters’ but wished for more hard-line, and less ambiguous, attitude towards the pools since ‘It would be hard to find a more predatory commercialism than pools promoting’.121 The oppositional attitudes to the football pools remained strong, although it probably gained less opposition than some other popular gambling sports such as greyhound racing.

Conclusion In the 1920s, there was considerable opposition to gambling in general, led by the NAGL and the Christian religious denominations, based upon the moral grounds that it might lead to sin, corruption and poverty. In the 1920s, much of this was focussed upon off-course ready-money betting on horses and against the mushrooming growth of greyhound racing. It was not until the early 1930s that the rapidly emerging football pools began to feel the rising concern of the anti-gambling associations, including the English Football League, who managed to get three members of the Rowlatt Commission (1932–1933) to recommend the banning of the pools, though that was not its majority opinion. The original draft bill of what became the 1934 Betting and Lotteries Act contained a clause banning football pools but was dropped by the Government, fearful of the opposition it would cause and mindful of the fact that it was opposed to interfering with individual freedoms. However, equally mindful of the opposition to the football pools, the pools companies set up the FPPA in 1934, to defend their business before the public, the press and Parliament. The growing support from the working-class punters for the pools, galvanised by the free magazines and papers produced by the likes of Littlewoods, Vernons, Bonds, ensured that the pools companies were in a close relationship with their ‘clients’, and their ‘investments’. It may be true, as Huggins and others have suggested, that the anti-gambling lobby was declining and that the football pools were being accepted by British society, but the anti-gambling lobby still carried substantial influence. The Second World War presented a major concern for the reduced pools, and opposition continued, but in a new form which saw the pools crippled by the heaviest taxes of any gambling activity in the post-war era rather than facing the risk of being banned. That was to come, but in the inter-war years and the Second World War, the opposition to the pools was considerable and based largely upon moral and religious grounds and the threat of the poverty of the working-class poor. That was all about to change as football pools rapidly expanded into a new age of control and competition, as it became the accepted and ‘traditional’ gambling activity of the people until the 1990s, driven on by the desire to win a big prize.

86  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945

Notes











1. Mike Huggins, ‘Betting, Sport and the British, 1918–1939’, Journal of Social History, vol. 42, no. 2 (Winter, 2007), 283–306; Mike Huggins, ‘Association Football, Betting and British Society in the 1930s. The Strange case of the 1936 “Pools War”’, Sport History Review, vol. 44, issue 2, 99–119, particularly 101; Emmanuel Roudaut, ‘“Tote Clubs”, Dog Tracks and Irish Sweepstake: Controversy and Compromise Over Popular Gambling in Interwar Britain’, Angles: New Perspectives in the Anglophone World, 5, 2017. Online since 1 November 2017, connection 20 December 2020. URL http;//journals.openedition. org/angles/1278; DOI: https: doi.org/10.4000/angles.1278. 2. NAGL, Bulletin vol. 6, no. 72, May 1918, p. 96. This can be found in the Library of Friends, opposite Euston Station, London. Also, Mark Clapson, ‘Playing the System. The world of organized street-betting in Manchester, Salford and Bolton, c. 1880–1931’, in Davies and Fielding (eds), Workers’ World: Culture and Communities in Manchester and Salford 1850–1939, pp. 161–163. 3. Library of the Society of Friends. 0.597, Gamb.1/14; HO 45/16679/100, a file on the National Anti-Gambling League. 4. B. Seebohm Rowntree, Poverty and Progress: A Second Survey of York, London, Longman, Green & Co, 1941, pp. 403–404. The report was based upon a survey conducted in 1936. 5. B. Seebohm Rowntree, ‘The Repression of Gambling’ in B. Seebohm Rowntree (ed.) Betting and Gambling. A National Evil, London, Macmillan & Co, 1905, pp. 170–80, There were copies of this in the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Library, York, which are now in the Brotherton Library at the University of York. And, in the Library of the Society of Friends. 6. Ainslie J. Robertson, ‘Football Betting’, Transactions of the Liverpool Economic and Statistical Society, 1907, quoted in Clapson, A Bit of a Flutter, p. 164. 7. HO 45/109291 and 147344/62 (April 1914) and 81 (February 1920), in David Miers, Regulating Commercial Gambling: Past, Present and Future, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 317. 8. J. Hilton, Why Do I Go in For the Pools, 1936, p. 2. 9. Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming 1949–1951 (Willink), Final Report, HMSO, Cmd 8190, p. 5, para. 15. 10. Ibid. 11. Quoted in E. B. Perkins, Gambling in English Life, 1950, revised end, London, The Epworth Press, 1964, and cited in Clapson a Bit of a Flutter, p. 168. Also, Huggins, ‘Association Football’, 128. 12. FA Council Minutes 1913–1914, Report on the Commission on Coupon Betting in Football’ quoted in Clapson, A Bit of a Flutter, pp. 168–169. 13. Clapson, A Bit of a Flutter, p. 169; T. Airey and P. Burrell, Manchester United v Liverpool. The 1915 Good Friday betting scandal, accessed 29 January 2021 on https://www,bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-32152534 (Google Scholar); also Steven Sharman, Gambling in Football: How Much is Too Much, Managing Sport and Leisure, September 2020, accessed via Summon, 29 March 2021. 14. Clapson, A Bit of a Flutter, p. 169; J. A. McWeeney (ed.) Football Annual and Form Guide 1921–1922, 45. Fetter Lane, London, Success Publishing Ltd, 1921. McWeeney produced a book on How to Play Soccer, books on different football clubs, and form guides. 15. FA Council Minutes, 11 January 1926 and 18 February 1957.

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 87 16. Central Organisation Committee Register, Betting and Gambling Committee (Sufferings, 1902–1908, 1924–1925 and 1932–1935), Library of the Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London. 17. Ibid., Meeting for Sufferings, minutes, vol. 13, p. 309, minute 11 of 5 September 1902. 18. Manchester Guardian, 22 July 1937, in an article entitled ‘Football pools Condemned’. 19. HO 45/16679/105, quoting from The Times, 4 February 1936. 20. Manchester Guardian, 22 June 1938, in a letter to the Editor, sent on 8 June 1938, by William Hodgkins. 21. Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting (1932–1933) often known as the Rowlatt Commission), Final Report, June 1933, CMD 4341, para 339. 22. C. T. Cramp was born in March 1876 and died in July 1933, just a month after the Final Repot of the Royal Commission was published. He was a member and official of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, which became part of the National Union of Railwaymen in 1913. He became President in 1917 and was deputy to General Secretary James Henry Thomas. He was a member of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress from 1931 and an active member of the Labour Party. 23. Royal Commission on Lotteries, Betting and Gaming (Willink), Final Report, para. 340. 24. Rowatt Commission (1932–1933), p. 99, paras 330–331. 25. Ibid., p. 100, para 339. 26. Ibid., p. 98, para 332, p. 99, para. 337. 27. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 5 November 1934, vol. 293, cols 681–726. 28. Ibid., cols 685–6. 29. Ibid., pp. 163–164, para 552, Recommendations. 30. CAB 23, Cabinet 17 (34), 25 April 1934. 31. Huggins, ‘Betting, Sport and the British, 1918–1939’, 297. This indicates that Liverpool had 3 firms in the Association, London 3, Edinburgh 2, Newport 1, Leeds 1 and Birmingham 1. 32. HO 45/1673249/ 23 and 30. 33. HO 45/673249/49; Evening News, 30 January 1935 and The Times. 31 January 1935. 34. HO 45/673249/48, Littlewood Football Pools. 35. HO 45/1673249; Daily Express, 8 February 1935; Daily Telegraph, 8 February 1935; and The Times, 8 February 1935. 36. Ibid., and the Daily Telegraph, 5 July 1935. 37. HO 45/673249/49. 38. The Times, 4 March 1936; Morning Post, 4 March 1936; Manchester Guardian, 9 April 1936. 39. HO 45/ 16679/673249/66. 40. HO 45/16679/673249/85, and the Daily Herald, 2 October 1935. 41. HO 45/16679/673249/78. 42. Thomas Williams (1888–1967) was Labour MP for Don Valley from 1922 until 1959. In 1961, he was made Baron Williams of Barnburgh, Parliamentary debates, HC Deb. 6 November 1934, col. 293, cc 682–726, particularly c. 681. 43. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 6 November 1934, col. 293, paras 683–726. 44. Rhys John Davies (1877–1954), a Labour Party politician and trade unionist, who was MP for Westhoughton from 1921 until 1951, when he retired. He was a passionate supporter of temperance and pacifism. Also, Parliamentary debates, HC, cc 683–726. 45. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 6 November 1934, cc 683–726.

88  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 46. Ibid., paras 683–726. David Gilbert Logan was Labour MP for Liverpool MP from 1924 until his death in 1964 at the age of 92. 47. Ibid., cc. 683–726. 48. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 12 November1934, vol. 293 cc 1573–608. 49. Ibid. 50. Ibid. 51. Ibid. 52. Sir Samuel Gurney Hoare, the first Viscount Templewood, known as Samuel Hoare, was a senior British politician and Conservative in the 1920s–1930s. He was born 1880 and died 1959, was Secretary of State for India at that time, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in 1935, and Home Secretary between 1937–1939, before later becoming Lord Privy Seal and Secretary of State for Air. 53. Roudaut, ‘“Tote Clubs”, Dog Tracks and Irish Sweepstake: Controversy and Compromise Over Popular Gambling in Interwar Britain’. 54. Ibid., Abstract. 55. Manchester Guardian, 13 November 1936. 56. William Charles Cuff (1868–1949). He was the First Division Champions manager in the 1914–1915 season. 57. McKenna is variously reported to have died on 22 March 1936 and 26 March 1936. The Minutes of the Football Association Council record his death at their meeting on 3 April 1936. 58. Charles Edward Sutcliffe (1864–1939) played football for Burnley in, became a referee in 1899, and was on the management committee of the Football League, almost continuously, from 1898 until his death. He was Vice-President of the Football League in 1927 and became President at the beginning of 1936. He was responsible for drawing up the football fixtures until his death. He was a solicitor, an active Methodist, a supporter of the Temperance movement, and a keen opponent of gambling, which led him to seek to destroy the football pools’ promoters by not issuing the fixtures until the last minute in February and March 1936. There is a biography of him by Matt Taylor in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, submitted 23 September 2004. 59. Huggins, ‘Association Football’, 103. 60. Taylor, The Leaguers, p. 57. 61. The Football Association was formed in 1863 to draw up the rules of the game and to deal with the professional and amateur game in England., assuming responsibility for national competitions. The English Football was formed in 1888 to organise the teams who played within the English Leagues, dealing with 32 clubs in 1900 and the 88 clubs in the first four divisions of English football in 1923. Also, HO 45/16779/673249/99 in a report from R. J. Russel to the Home Secretary, Sir John Simon, on the football pools. 62. M. Taylor, The Leaguers. p. 272; Manchester Guardian, 31 March 1936. The date of the meeting is given as 3 October 1935, although other sources suggest the 7 October 1935. 63. Huggins, ‘Association Football’, 224. 64. Manchester Guardian, 24 January 1936, an article entitled ‘Pool Promoters and the League Action Unfair: Alleged Demands Exorbitant’. 65. John McKenna (1855–1936) was an Irish businessman who became a founder member of Liverpool Football Club, being its chairman between 1908 and 1915, and was President of the Football League in 1917, holding that position until his death on 22 March, when Sutcliffe took over. The meeting first reported, the day after it was held, in the Manchester Guardian, 21 February 1936. 66. Manchester Guardian, 22 January 1936. The votes of three clubs were not recorded.

Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 89 67. These three clubs were mentioned as being absent by the Manchester Guardian, 21 February 1936. 68. Mike Huggins, ‘Association Football’, 99. Also, David Russell, Football and the English: A Social History of Association Football, 1863–1995, Lancaster/ Preston, Carnegie Publishing, 1997. 69. Manchester Guardian, 21 February 1936. 70. Ibid. 71. Ibid. 72. Ibid. 73. Manchester Guardian, 24 February 1936. 74. Ibid. 75. Ibid. 76. The Observer1 March 1936. 77. Ibid. 78. Huggins, ‘Association Football’, 106. 79. M. Taylor. The Leaguers. p. 73. 80. Ibid. 81. Ibid. 82. Manchester Guardian, 24 February 1936. 83. Ibid. 84. Ivan Sharpe. Forty years in Football, London, 1954, p.158. Although close to Sutcliffe, Sharp was a regular columnist in The Littlewood Sports Log for the 1938–1939 season, writing articles on ‘Referees should be in control’, ‘Blue or old Gold’ on Everton and Wolves and the FA Cup. 85. J. Gardiner. The Thirties. An Intimate History, London, 2010, p. 707. 86. Manchester Guardian, 31 March 1936. 87. Ibid. 88. G. Orwell. The Road to Wigan Pier, London, 1937, p. 82 89. R. McKibbin. Classes and Cultures England 1918–1951, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 377. 90. R. Holt. Sport and the British. A Modern History, London, 1989, p. 310. 91. M. Taylor. The Leaguers. The Making of Professional Football in England, 1900–1939, Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 2005, p. 265. 92. Ibid., p. 73. 93. Russell. Football and the English, p. 106. 94. G. Sharpe, Gambling on Goals. A Century of Football Betting, Edinburgh, 1997, p. 48. 95. Huggins, ‘Association Football’, p. 101. 96. Ibid. 97. The Times, 14 April 1932. 98. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 3 April 1936, cc. 2311–2388, particularly c. 2311. 99. R. J. Russell, The Peril of the Pools, London, London, Epworth, 1935, p. 34. 100. Comment at the front of the file HO 45/16679. There is also a copy of his report sent to the Home Secretary on the football pools in HO 45/16679/99 and HO 45/673249/ 99 and 105. This was in connection with the Christian Social Council on Gambling request for a meeting between 3 and 6 February 1936. Also, The Times, 4 February 1936 and The News Chronicle, 4 February 1936. 101. Ibid. 102. Ibid. 103. The Littlewood Sports Log, 28 March 1936, pp. 3–4. 104. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 3 April 1936, c. 2341. 105. Ibid., c. 2341.

90  Politics of the football pools 1918–1945 106. Ibid., c. 2342–2344. 107. Ibid., c. 2884. 108. Liverpool Daily Post, 24 April 1936; Daily Telegraph, 4 April 1936; HO 45/166680. 109. Ibid., 5 May 1938, vo. 311, c. 1526. 110. Parliamentary Debates, HC, 13 May 1938, vol. 335, c. 1947. 111. Ibid., cc. 1947–1948. 112. Ibid., cc. 1948. 113. Clapson, A Bit of a Flutter, p. 170. 114. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 18 November 1928, vol 444, cc. 1101–1102. 115. Charles Graves, ‘The Football Pools Go into Action: The Season of 1946–47’, The Sphere, August 1948. 116. Reed (ed.), Football & Fortunes. 117. Parliamentary Debates, HC, 31 January 1940, vol. 356, cc. 1119–1120. 118. Ibid., HC Deb. 30 July 1942, vol. 382, cc. 681–682. 119. Willink Commission (1949-1951) Final Report, para 110, p. 31 and same, Minutes, Memorandum of the Postmaster General, Appendix D, p. 43. 120. Ibid., Minutes, question 26, p. 3. 121. Manchester Guardian, 5 July 1943.

4

The recovery, evolution and decline of the pools 1945–1990s

In 1946, as Unity Pools disbanded, there was a proliferation in the number of pool promoters who took advantage of the opportunities offered by the unregulated nature of the football pools in post-war Britain. This profusion did not last long as the firms who formed the Unity Pools soon reasserted their control over the punters with their large jackpot prizes. Also, in the early years of the post-war austerity, the football pools continued to face intense moral, economic and financial opposition, both inside and outside Parliament, not least the imposition of a sizeable Pool Betting Duty on the football pools. This disproportionate tax continued into the 1990s and the more general institutional opposition continued until a least the fixtures compromised with the football authorities in the late 1950s; and even then, into the 1960s.1 Indeed, along with these challenges, the bad winter of 1962–1963 which stopped football being played in Britain, it looked as though the football pools might decline. Yet, the pools prospered through their ingenuity in marketing the emotional vision of huge financial success to their punters and did not face the prospect of terminal decline until the 1980s. Indeed, in the 1970s the football pools reached their apogee driven on by the ingenuity of their inter-war founders. However, the retirement of these founding promoters in the late 1970s, and 1980s, and the widening range of gambling opportunities, saw the personal control of these individuals replaced by corporate presence which did not evoke the same sense of the paternalistic family-firm values of the past. Vernon Sangster died and his son, Robert Sangster sold the business off to Ladbrokes in 1989 for £90 million, aware of the impending threat of a national lottery.2 Cecil Moores, ran Littlewoods as an enlightened dictatorship from 1932 until his retirement in 1979, and died in 1989. By the 1980s, having faced the threat of a levy in the aid of sport in the 1970s, and an increasingly competitive market and the threat of a national lottery, the pool companies became anxious to widen their relevance. They sought support to reduce the enormous tax burden imposed upon them but became increasingly involved in supporting football through the difficult times of crowd disorder and stadium disasters, such as occurred at Hillsborough and Bradford. Indeed, the football pool companies sought to widen their social resonance in the world of football. DOI: 10.4324/9781003144908-4

92  Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools Table 4.1  The number of football pool coupons being sent by post with postal orders, 1946–1950 Year 1946–1947 1947–1948 1948–1949 1949–1950

Number of postal orders (millions)

No of persons submitting coupon weekly (millions)

160 232 224 219

5.5 8 7.5 7.5

Source: Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming, 1949–1951 Report, Cmd 8190, based upon Table 4.2, p. 148.

This lasted into the early 1990s, even as the almost monopoly lottery position, the industry enjoyed was coming under serious threat as other forms of gambling, other charitable sport and health lotteries and the national lottery, came to the fore. Indeed, from the 1970s onwards, there was always a feeling that to use a colloquialism, ‘the writing was on the wall’ for this, so-called, traditional working-class gambling pastime. And so, it was.

The growth of the pools in an age of austerity, 1945–1953 and the scrutiny of the Willink Commission The wartime Unity Pools operated through the punter cutting out coupons in newspapers which were then returned by post through 26 regional Post Office centres, and via collectors, saving on both paper and labour.3 The problem was one of a paper shortage which dictated this type of re-arrangement, for the posting of pools, was not banned.4 However, the use of both the Post Office and labour remained major issues in the immediate postwar years of austerity, and there were great concerns about the use of such resources by the football pool companies. Nevertheless, the football pool companies prospered in immediate post-war Britain and companies faced an enormous increase in demand for postal orders, for sending in the pools by post, as indicated in Table 4.1 and Table 4.2. Many new companies emerged, the most prominent of these being Brittens Pools (later Brittens Football Pools), formed in 1946 and registered Table 4.2  Football pool, annual stakes and postal orders, 1946–1950 Year 1946–1947 1947–1948 1948–1949 1949–1950

Total stakes (millions)

Value of postal orders sold to clients (millions)

42 66 65 50.5

33 52 50.5 44.5

Source: Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming, 1949–1951 Report, Cmd 8190, based upon Table 4.3, p. 149.

Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools 93 in Leicester.5 Others included, Southern Pools, of Balham in London, SPA of Leeds, Novelty Pools of Swansea, Star Pools of Stockport, and there were many small pool companies in Birmingham.6 However, such pubescent, local and regional, growth had faded by the time that the Willink Commission (1949–1951) was investigating gambling – the number of pool companies falling from 231 in February 1948, to 136 in December 1948, 61 in December 1949 and 42 by December 1950.7 A small part of this decline is represented by medium-sized pre-war companies being absorbed into larger firms. Bond’s Pools, owned by the Moores brothers, had been absorbed into Littlewoods by 1946. ITP, Western Pools and Jervis were all absorbed into Copes by 1950.8 The decline of the new companies occurred largely because they could not compete with the huge jackpot winnings offered by the larger companies, often returning as little as 10 per cent of the pool to the punter compared to the 80 per cent the large companies returned before the onerous Pool Betting Duty was imposed in 1948. Those returning 10 per cent, or less, included all the new firms already mentioned, and Zetters International Pools,9 Of these, only Zetters survived beyond the early 1950s. Football Pool Promoter’ Association (FPPA), which kept the large companies together, was disbanded at the end of June 1946, when Unity Pools was closed. Littlewoods and Vernons, whose pool organisations had remained intact during the war, declared their intention to restart their own independent businesses. Shermans observed later that ‘The remaining partners (Copes, Socopools, and us) bitterly protested against them as we were completely closed down throughout the war years and were left with no organisation’.10 However, these companies revived and the FPPA was reformed on 18 February 1947, for one year only, by Mr. Holland Hughes, a solicitor from Liverpool who worked for Littlewoods. Inevitably, the FPPA was dominated by Littlewoods and Vernons. It then disbanded in February 1947 only to be reformed as the Pool Promoters’ Association (PPA) in June 1948, remaining the agency of the large firms until the collapse of the football pools at the end of the 1990s. Only Shermans, of the large firms, did not become members of the new PPA, suggesting that ‘It was not surprising that in view of the very serious differences between us and other members, on the question of our paper allocation, we were not invited to join the new PPA – and indeed had we been invited to do so, we should have emphatically refused’. This Sherman account suggests, to their annoyance, that that the PPA was ‘conveying to the public that they are the pillars of respectability and that the public must invest only with the members of the PPA with absolute confidence and be assured of a fair deal’.11 Littlewoods, Vernons and Shermans were clearly successful in developing their businesses for, by the late 1940s, 50 per cent of the total turnover of the football pools was held by Littlewoods, 25 per cent by Vernons, and only 12 per cent by Shermans. Five other businesses, including Zetters, held 9 per cent of the turnover, and 34 firms held the remaining 4 per cent.12 As such, the football pools business was effectively run from Liverpool by Littlewoods and Vernons, and the importance of these two forms increased.

94  Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools By 1976, there were only five major pool firms left – Littlewoods with 66 per cent of the football pool turnover, Vernons with 24.8 per cent, and the others – Zetters (2.9), Copes (2.9) and Empire (2.5) – with much smaller percentages. The very small companies held about 0.9 per cent of the remaining turnover. By the time the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978) reported, Zetters had absorbed both Copes and Empire, thus leaving only three large pool companies.13 Copes was as big a firm as Zetters, with a £5,428,000 turnover in the 1975–1976 football season, compared with Zetters £5,734,000 turnover. However, the economics of scale led to the takeover on 3 October 1976 with the four main directors of Zetters – Mr. C. S. H. Easterman. Mr. S. Easterman, Mr. L.T. Payne and Alfred Cope all becoming directors in the new form, with Cope being paid £12,000 per year until 29 October 1981.14 Littlewoods, and the many other companies, had originally focused upon the basic Penny Points’ coupon, so-called because it cost a penny, and it was out of the collected pool that the cash prizes were paid. In addition, they operated ‘Four Homes’ or ‘Four Aways’ pools, and fixed odds. However, in the season of 1946–1947, copying Strangs of Edinburgh, Littlewoods introduced a Treble Chance coupon which was essentially about selecting eight draws from 55 (later 58) matches, although there were later variants upon this. The punter had to successfully select up to eight draws, or indeed more, to gain points. Initially, eight draws would earn three points a draw, and thus eight draws would result in 24 points – although in later years the three points were given only for a score draw. An away victory was awarded two points and home victories only one. There might be 10, 12 or 15 draws in a week but once lined up against the permutation tables (the perms), there might be only one or two winners with eight draws that matched up the lines, giving 24 points. If there were only seven draws, the highest points tally that could be given would be 23, assuming seven draws and an away win. The first dividend would be then based upon 23 points, and there might be many winners with 23 points. But then the draws, homes and aways had to be matched against permutation tables which meant that the odds against winning a jackpot were high. Typically, a 1d (0.4p) would be charged for each line entered, with the option of playing each line at a higher rate to win a larger share of a winning pool. Indeed, players usually submitted many different lines in a single entry. To help this process, there were ‘full perm’ entries offered, where 10 matches were selected and every combination of eight matches selected from 10 matches, and that would cost 45 times that of a single entry. The order of the matches was irrelevant, so it was a combination rather than a perm, and there were ‘plans’ designed to ensure that anyone having eight draws would at least win a third dividend. It was a complex mathematical world of formulae which few punters, of which I was one, ever fully understood, beyond the need to get at least eight draws and match them against the permutation pool tables. In later years, one could pay extra to gain 8 from 11 of 8 from 12 selections. Success

Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools 95 depended upon selecting eight, or more draws, and then relating them to eight draws to the permutation tables.15 The Littlewoods’ Treble Chance proved immensely popular with punters because of the large jackpots it produced. In the 1930s, the maximum prize on the Penny Point system was about £33,000, but this soared to a peak of £64,000 in 1946. The winnings were much lower on many of varied fixed-odds competitions. However, the Treble-Chance jackpot paid £76,000 in 1946. By 1950, it had reached more than £100,000 for Littlewoods and Vernons, as indicated in Table 4.3, and some other firms, such as Zetters, had developed their own versions with the potential of a significant, if smaller, jackpot prize. The football pools throve from the autumn of 1946 until the introduction of the Pool Betting Duty at 10 per cent in January 1948, raised to 20 per cent in April 1949, and 30 per cent in April 1949. This imposed significant brakes on the growth of the business and changes in business plans. Many members of the PPA, including Littlewoods and Vernons, Murphys, Strangs and ITP, were increasingly employing collectors, as did Shermans who was not a member of the PPA, because of the issues of paper shortages and postal issues.16 However, in immediate response to the 30 per cent tax, Shermans reduced the payment to collectors to 4s (20p) in the pound, and to 5s (25p) in the pound for super collectors, who gathered the coupons from the collectors.17 These were reduced further to 2s. 6d (12.5 p) and 3s 9d (19p), respectively, in May 1949. This contrasted with the PPA firms, which did not operate in the summer months (unlike Shermans), and paid rates of 4s to 5s 6d in the pound.18 Shermans suffered because of the competition of the PPA firms and felt that they had to abandon their inter-war practices, to modernise and move towards gaining their clients mainly by post and decided to abandon door to door canvassing for the 1949–1950 season. They soon recognised that this was a mistake because clients could save 4d per week – 2.5d on a stamp and 1.5d on poundage and the postal order – by opting to use collectors. Also, collection and its processes were cheaper to operate than the direct mailing system, which involved the receipt of the envelope, it Table 4.3  The three top first dividends, after deductions, on the penny Pool and the treble chance for Littlewoods and Vernons, 1950 Littlewoods

Vernons (Dividends over £10,000)

Penny point pool Paid £30,735 £14,195 £11,518

Treble chance pool Paid £104,416 for 6d £103,204 for 6d £101,387 for 6d

Penny points pool Paid £21,530 £20,4180 £14,050

Treble chance pool Paid £96,618 for 6d £92,064 for 6d £58,420 for 6d

Source: Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming, 1949–1951 Report, Cmd 8190 based upon Table E, p. 36.

96  Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools being dealt with by the clerk who sent it out, the checking of the postal order for the previous week’s coupon, the sending of the payment to the bank, the photographing of the coupon on the Recordak machine and the printing of the checking cards once the result had been confirmed, a move strongly recommended by the Willink Commission for all pool companies.19 Shermans then moved back to the use of collectors and, increasingly, over the next 20 years, there was to be a move from the dominant postal business of the inter-war years to the use of collectors in the whole sector. Nevertheless, as the Social Survey produced for the Willink Commission in 1950 revealed that 6,000,000 postal orders per week were still being sent for the football pools in the season, making 225,000,000 on average per season between 1945 and 1950. By the 1949–1950 season, the figure had risen to about 7,750,000 per week.20 This, of course, was for the posting of coupons but it was soon overtaken by the vast increase in the number of those gathered by the collectors, and by the 1980s about nine-tenths of coupons were collected rather than posted, Cecil Moores noting that in 1976, 90 per cent of the Littlewoods coupons were collected.21 Regardless of how they arrived, by the mid- and late-1940s, the number of coupons filled in and returned to the pool companies rose from the two to three million a week, of the war years, to about nine million by 1947 and up at least 14 million by 1951.22 The punters were attracted by paying relatively small sums for their ‘investment’. One survey, conducted for the Willink Commission, suggested that 65 per cent of the punters paid less than three shillings per week on the pools (mainly spending about 2s 9d (14 p). These were people with incomes of up to about £3 per week. However, the stakes did not increase beyond that and 85 per cent of the punters were spending less than five shillings per coupon, and 97 per cent less than ten shillings per week on the pools, and similarly on incomes of £10 a week and above.23 Men spent on average 3s 1d (15.5 p) per week and women about 1s 8d (8.4 p), the level of the ‘investment’ modestly with those earning higher incomes.24 The rapid recovery of the post-war football pools created a feeling that the industry was unregulated and needed to be controlled. The Willink Commission (1949–1951), which was examining the idea of lotteries, alongside betting and gaming, suggested that the football pools needed to be more accountable in their stewardship, and that there was a need ‘to confine within narrow limits the ability of the promoters to control the size of the prizes and to oblige promoters to publish information about the conduct of the pool’.25 To establish control, the pools operators were to be registered with the local authority, were not to transfer prize money from one pool to another, and to be accountable. This was driven by the view that the pools were a type of monopoly, the only difference being that some skill and judgement was made in the selection of the results of the fixtures. Neither the Attlee Labour government, of 1950–1951 nor Winston Churchill’s subsequent Conservative government implemented these recommendations. Nevertheless, in 1954, the Conservative government passed

Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools 97 a Bill, supported by some Labour MPs, such as Fred Mulley, to control the pools companies by making them more accountable. As a result, Littlewoods threatened to move their headquarters to Ireland, but even though the Bill was finally passed by 70 votes to 10, they did not do so and the PPA, contemptuous of the Bill, provided only information on turnover and prizes. Nonetheless, in line with the Willink Commission recommendations, the pool companies set their own lower limit of £75,000 for the jackpot payment, the unused surplus jackpot prize being redistributed to the second and third dividends. Littlewoods dropped this voluntary code in 1957 because the fixed odds coupons of football matches, run by William Hill and Joe Coral, the bookmakers, were offering bigger prizes. As a result, in 1957, a new Treble-Chance record of over £205,235 was paid to Nellie McGrail of Stockport.26 Apart from these early concerns about paper shortages and accountability, there were also fears about labour shortages, driven by the rising demand for female labour from 1947 onwards. This was not helped by the fact that, in March 1947, the Minister of Labour stated that ‘What he had in mind for the Lancashire area was that people suitable for employment should not be employed in the football pools’.27 The fact that Liverpool had a surplus of unused and unemployed female labour did not seem to enter their thinking. Nevertheless, the Willink Commission was positive towards the football pools, feeling that they should be controlled but not prohibited. It presented the football pools as some type of legal monopoly, a para-mutual organisation, legitimised by the use of skill and judgement in the prediction of results. This was not accepted by Cecil Moores, ‘The Chief’ of Littlewoods, who sent a letter to the Royal Commission on 5 February 1951 stressing that Littlewoods had never been a para-mutual organisation, was not a monopoly, subject to seasonal nature of the football business, and added that after the tax and expenses, everything was distributed to those who had won on the coupons.28 Littlewoods, he argued, was above reproach and driven by the need for integrity. The attractiveness of huge jackpots led to a staggering growth in the football pools throughout the 1950s, rising to more than twice the amount spent on horse racing, and well behind the money expended on the, by now, declining, greyhound racing.29 From a wartime situation, in which only two or three million punters gambled, or ‘invested’, on the pools, the numbers reached a peak of around 17 million punters in the 1970s, with rarely less than 10 million regular weekly coupons submissions, before declining to about nine million by the early 1990s, and plummeting following the introduction of The National Lottery in November 1994. In financial terms, after some initial fluctuations, the turnover increased steadily. In 1947, the turnover was £54 million and was £64 million in 1948 before falling to £58 million in 1949 and £52 million in 1950, because of the Pool Betting Tax.30 There was a recovery to £57 million in 1951, £65 million in 1952 and the same in 1953.31

98  Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools In addition, the Pool Betting Duty was increased constantly, much to the chagrin of the pool companies. From 10 per cent and 20 per cent in 1948, it had risen to 30 per cent in 1949. In 1962, it was raised to 33 per cent, reduced to 25 per cent in 1964, because of the bad winter of 1962–1963, but raised to 33.33 per cent in 1970, 40 per cent in 1974 and reached 42.5 per cent in the 1980s, before being reduced to 40 per cent and then to 37.5 per cent in 1991 to allow for 2.5 per cent to go to the Football Trust, which had been set up to help football clubs improve their ground safety.32 The Betting Duty Tax proved a constant problem to the pools’ companies, and dramatically reduced the amounts returned to the clients. The amount deducted for tax and expenses by the pool companies, before payment of winnings, was £20 million in 1947. In 1948, it rose dramatically to £39 million, with the addition of the Betting Duty Tax, and then to £42.3 million in 1949, before falling £39.8 million in 1950, following a decline of the turnover on the pools. The Pool Betting Duty bumped up the existing taxation of £10 million, of normal business taxation, in 1947 to £21 million for 1948, and about £26 million per year in both 1949 and 1950. This meant, as Table 4.4 indicates, that the return to the punter declined dramatically from 80 per cent for the large companies, in immediate post-war years, to between 27 and 30 per cent in the 1970s to 1980s.33 No gambling activity was ever so heavily taxed, and no punter was so poorly rewarded, as the punter betting on the football pools.34 Indeed, in 1976, the PPA companies had a turnover of £209.3 million and paid £83.7 million as a result of the 40 per cent betting duty, compared to the £120.5 million, 7.5 per cent, paid on the £1,607 million turnover of off-course bookmakers, and the much smaller percentages paid by other forms of gambling.35 This Pool Betting Duty also meant that the small companies, whose jackpots were small to begin with, could never compete with the larger companies whose restricted jackpots were still of life-changing impact to the winners. In 1976, when most small companies had ceased business, Table 4.4  The turnover of the football pools 1947 to 1953 Year

Turnover (£million)

1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953

53 64 58 52 57 65 65

Deducted before payment

Dividend paid

20 39 42.3 39.8

33 (63 per cent) 25 (37.5) 15.7 (27/8) 12.2 (23)

Source: Modern Records Centre, Warwick, BS3/109, notes on the meeting of the Royal Commission on Gambling and the PPA, p. 11; Parliamentary Debates, HC Debate, 29 January 1954 and 19 May 1934.

Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools 99 Table 4.5  Popularity of different types of Vernon pools (£) Pool date Treble chance Penny points Three draws 12 result (penny pool) Four aways Nine results 8 results double Dividend Points draw pool Family four Simple six No perm points Pool Total stakes

4.11.50 177,967 66,120 42,275 35,476 23,722 15,040

11.11.50 184,444 67,463 50,610 35,760 24,232 18,330

18.11.50 194,596 61,749 48,263 35,565 24,492 15,967

25.11.50 202,749 60,602 42,599 33,588 23,944 17,347

13,100 9,861 8,744 8,064 7,924 408,293

12,982 10,411 9,476 9,248 8,306 431,262

13,065 9,456 8,223 8,448 8,028 427,844

12,149 8,972 7,679 8,244 7,247 425,120

Source: The National Archives, HO 335/109, evidence submitted to the Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming 1949–1951, by A. W. Peterson, Secretary of Vernons Pools, February 1951.

Littlewoods, with a turnover of £140.1 million, was paying an average first dividend of £500,000, compared with the average £20,000 first dividend paid by Empire, the fifth largest firm, with a turnover of £5.3 million.36 An indication of the level, growth, distribution of turnover, and, indeed, diversity of the pools is given in Table 4.5, which deals with the weekly activity of Vernons Pools in November 1950. Vernons was receiving about £16 and £17 million of business in the English football season and distributing about £9 million, just over 50 per cent in prize money, a figure which was later to diminish considerably, as already indicated, as the Betting Duty increased.37 Table 4.6 reveals that to maintain high pay-outs to the winners to boost turnover, Vernons increased the pay-outs by adding money to the jackpot wins being paid. Table 4.6  Vernons pools and prizes for November 1950

Date 4 November 11 November 18 November 25 November Totals

Total dividend pool and bonuses 207,830 246,946 197,594 245,707 898,077

(£) Difference Paid to winners (extra winners) 220,021 257,385 205,654 256,456 939,516

12,191 10,439 8,060 10,749 41,439

Allowance for extra winners 3 per cent of total 8,168 12,937 12,835 12,754 46,694

Source: The National Archives, HO 335/109, evidence submitted to the Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming 1949–1951, by A. W. Peterson, Secretary of Vernons Pools, February 1951.

100  Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools The growth of the Treble Chance and the other pool competitions was equally evident in the case of Shermans. Its seasonal sales were roughly £4.5 million of which about 45 per cent, just over £2 million were distributed as prizes in the late 1940s. The emphasis in the case of Shermans was clearly the prizes, as indicated by the willingness of the promoters, the Sherman brothers, to give up their weekly commission, as also evidenced with the 3 per cent addition with Vernons, to boost their jackpots and attract more punters. It was a practice which was condemned as ‘inflating a simple dividend’ by the Willink Commission.38 Nevertheless, this was obvious in the annual financial statements for the first three years after the end of the Unity Pools in June 1946. For the three subsequent financial years – 1 July 1946 to 19 August 1947, 30 August 1947 to 31 August 1948, and 1 September 1949 – which appear in detail in Table 4.7 – the promoters were allowed to take 5 per cent of the turnover, which would have been £769,373 13s 1d against a three-year take of £15.4 million, but in fact took only £598,205 15s 4d, 3.88 per cent.39 It was also pointed out that the shareholders of Shermans (the two brothers Harry and Abe) had only drawn £42,300 between 1 July 1946 and 31 August 1949, the balance of the profit, about £558,000, had been returned to the business. The firm had been valued at £200,867 5s 9d in August 1947. Table 4.7  Calculations of the total amount available for distribution by Shermans December 1949 and January 1950 Weekly expenses Dates Wages & insurance Postage & poundage Advertising Printing General and sundry Totals Stakes and deductions Total stakes Pool betting duty Weekly expenses Special expenses Collectors’ Commission Promoters’ Commission Amount available for distribution

3.12 8,680 5,000 2,240 2,850 1,350 20,120

10.12 8,420 4,400 2,160 2,620 1,350 18,950

17.12 31.12 8,740 8,350 5,250 4,500 2,050 2,200 2,900 2,400 1,350 1,350 20,290 18,800

7.1 7,720 3,700 1,800 2,050 1,350 16,620

14.1 7,850 4,000 1,800 2,200 1,350 17,200

21.1 8,190 4,450 1,900 2,560 1,350 18,450

124,630 126,260 130,830 99,070 109,450 109,980 108,240 37,400 37,850 39,250 29,700 32,800 33,000 32,500 20,120 18,950 20,290 18,800 16,620 17,200 18,450 5,000 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,930 1,500 1,500 9,100 9,100 9,150 8,200 8,450 8,500 8,500 6,230

6,300

46,780

52,560

6,540

0

5,470

0

5,470

54,100 40,870

44,180

49,780

41,890

Source: HO 335/99 contains letters to the Willink Commission on Shermans Pools, signed by Arthur Penny, the managing director, along with details of financial calculations of the net figures available for distribution for December 1949 and January 1950. This table is based upon Table A in the report presented. In the weeks where no Promoters’ Commission was deducted, the object was to increase the first dividend on the Penny Points Pool. The Special Expenses included £1,500 per week to cover the summer expenses and the higher figures for the 3 December 1949 and the 7 January 1951 were to cover Christmas expenses.

Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools 101 Like Littlewoods and Vernons. there was a great diversity in the variety of pool competition offered to the punter, but Shermans Treble Chance, with lower winnings, was not so dominant a feature of turnover than it was with the larger firms. As Table 4.8 indicates, in the up to the 1940s, the Treble Chance was only just ahead of the Penny Points, Penny Results and 3 Draws, although it grew rapidly thereafter.

Accountability The post-war recovery of the football pools led the Willink Commission to raise the issue of the accountability of the pool companies though little really happened until the 1960s. An editorial in the Evening Standard, 21 November 1953, summed up the situation about the lack of accounts produced by the pool companies, subject to the normal practice of small private companies. This secrecy has, until recently, been guaranteed by law designed to exempt the small family business firms the requirement to publish accounts. But a …£65 million a year industry drawing revenue from the majority of all families in the country cannot be bracketed with a homemade bun shop, however flourishing. This concern led on to the Pool Betting Act of 1954, which obliged the pool companies ‘to confine within narrow limits the ability of the promoters to control the size of the prizes and to oblige the promoters to publish information about the conduct of the pool’.40 Indeed, it required them to register with local authorities, appoint accountants to indicate the proper conduct of the business, and to ensure that, week by week, the deductions were published, even though full accounts did not need to be submitted for private companies.41 The concerns about registration and accountability were, however, not fully addressed until the introduction of the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1963, under which pool promoters had register with their respective local authority and provide and publish detailed accounts of their weekly turnover as scrutinised by independent accountants.42 Even then, it was a minimal commitment which means that private pool companies did not have to publish their business results, although these were revealed to the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978).

Growth, retrenchment and recovery 1954–1969: Weather and workers The pool companies had formed, as already seen, a powerful media propaganda machine to protect their interests under the leadership of the FPPA and the PPA. By the 1960s, apart from the publicity to invite the submission of coupons by post, they had a phalanx of between 80,000 and 100,000 collectors operating throughout the United Kingdom, taking them, on a weekly basis, into around 40 per cent of the homes in

Week 3.12 10.12 17.12 31.12 7.1 14.1 21.1 Average

Treble chance

Penny points

Penny results

3 draws

No perm

10 Results

Double Draw

4 Aways

8 Results

32,650 30,010 32,070 24,880 27,500 25,440 27,330 £28,564

25,270 26,990 32,340 22,360 24,530 25,550 23,320 25,766

16,220 17,210 19,510 11,010 14,770 15,790 14,610 15,589

21,940 23,220 20,360 17,870 20,300 19,240 20,010 20,420

3,120 2,640 3,510 2,720 2,620 3,140 2,760 2,930

4,190 5,240 4,140 3,480 4,700 3,990 3,640 4,197

7,800 7,000 5,290 5,040 3,640 3,690 3,730 5,170

6,700 7,210 6,880 5,570 5,510 6,910 6,410 6,457

2,860 2,580 2,450 2,880 2,370 2,680 2,930 2,674

Proportion of total stakes: Treble chance 24.8 per cent, Penny points 22.3 per cent, 3 draws 18 per cent, Penny results 13.5 per cent, and the remaining pools 21.4 per cent Source: HO 334/109, evidence submitted to the Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming by A. W. Peterson, Secretary of Vernons Pools, Table B.

102  Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools

Table 4.8  Shermans total stakes on individual pools, 1949–1950

Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools 103 the country. They had the attractiveness of the large jackpot prizes, for the few, that was tax-free and incomparably higher than what could be won on greyhound racing and horse racing. Above all, they had a powerful publicity machine which had a keen eye for every advertising opportunity, even when there were direct restrictions on advertising on television which could work on the emotions of the working-class punter. Some operated their own publishing activities; Littlewoods had its own printing company from 1928. The attractive appeal of a large jackpot, was paraded in the media at every opportunity and proclaimed before the Rothschild Commission.43 Indeed, on 9 September 1958, Littlewoods gained significant publicity on Scottish Television on the 6.25 pm News Programme, the introducing remarks to which ran: Now here is a picture of eight happy men, and why not? They have won between them a football dividend of £53,072, as part of the record jackpot of £212,288. The men are all Engineers who work at the Hillendon Industrial Estate and had their big win with a permutation which they had tried only three times.44 The following day, at 7.30 pm, the popular ITV show ‘I’ve Got a Secret’ saw the unnamed Mr. Harry and Mrs. Jill Roche, a pair who were one of the four winners of the record jackpot for 2d (1p) on the Littlewoods’ Lit Plan, challenging a panel, including the famous television and film personalities of Jon Pertwee and Sidney James, and beating three of the four panellists to win £12.45 Harry was a London van salesman, a part-time barman, with a two-year-old son. His wife was a nurse at the North Middlesex hospital.46 Joseph Garwood, a farmer worker from Manningtree, Essex, also won £75,000 on then Vernons’ Treble Chance with a 2s (10 p) stake and gained substantial coverage.47 Shortly afterwards the publicity opportunities for the football pool companies grew even better. In October 1958, to a headline ‘£253,411 Record Fair Cop’, The Star displayed a picture of PC Upton, his wife, and five of his seven children, announcing that Littlewoods today announced a record no limit treble chance football pool dividend of £250,206 for 2d. It has been by a syndicate of 15 Margate policemen and some civilians. What’s more they also have two second dividends and one third. This brings their total winnings to £253,411.48 Second highest winner was Inspector William Goodrich, 51, whose shares gave him more than £20,000. He has completed more than 20 years of service and intended to retire. This was great publicity of Littlewoods and the pools industry as the newspapers took up success with amusing cartoons and headlines. The Daily Sketch placed, above a picture of Upton, the headline ‘COP-A-HOOP’ followed by ‘Crime never pays like this’. Its cartoon of the day was one of three masked robbers entering a police station to commit

104  Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools a robbery.49 The Daily Mirror reported the event as the ‘World’ richest police force’ above a picture, of 13, of the 15 policemen, who had won, including Upton, standing outside Margate Police Station.50 The ‘Sporting Types’ cartoon by ‘Jon’ in the News Chronicle was of two policemen in a Rolls Royce. For the same day, Daily Herald offered a cartoon of children looking up at a policeman with the Policeman saying; ‘Now then, now then, we’ll have less of that word COPPER, IF YOU PLEASE’. The Evening Standard cartoon SPORTRAIT was one of a policeman on point duty being asked a question by a woman. Her reply to his comment is ‘No, not the correct time – could you give a correct line? The Daily Mail offered Varney’s View cartoon was one of two robbers standing in front of a ‘Welcome to Margate’ sign tossing a coin and deciding that ‘Heads we rob the bank – tails the police station’. These headlines attracted enormous, and amusing, interest in the pools, whose turnover had fallen away in the mid-1950s until Littlewoods’ decision to pay the full jackpot from 1957. The pool companies could offer bigger jackpots and widespread publicity, though not paid adverts, which were not allowed on commercial television, to boost interest in their business. Indeed, the Report of the Inter-Departmental Working Party on Lotteries reminded the Rothschild Commission, in 1976, of the comments of the PPA that ‘We believe the true concept of a big prize is to be found in the subjective feeling of the potential winner. Standards are set by the previous winnings obtained’, and as it did in 1978, offering to run a Lotto for the government.51 The attention gained, in the 1950s and 1960s, was further advanced by the success of Keith Nicholson, of Castleford, in winning £152,319 in 1961. He was killed in a car crash in 1965, but Viv, his wife, gave added impetus and interest in the pools with her intention to ‘Spend, Spend, Spend’. The growing success of the pools finally led to the settlement of the long-running dispute between the pools’ companies and the Football League in 1958 and 1959, paving the way for money to flow from the pools to both the FL and the FA. Indeed, the new arrangements were sealed in July 1959, when the High Court of Justice ruled that the FL owned the copyright of the football fixtures. This led to a ten-year agreement between the pools companies and the English and Scottish football leagues – payment being 0.5 per cent of money staked, with a minimum of £245,000. In 1972–1973, the deal was extended by 13 years, and worth about £23 million.52 By 1974–1978, the FL was receiving £2,426,000 payments and £170,000 (was being paid to the three FAs, the English one receiving £129,500, the Scottish £34,000 and the Welsh £6,500).53 As relations between the pools companies and the FL and FA improved, the pools seemed more secure than ever, although it faced a dip of fortunes in the early 1960s, as indicated for Littlewood Pools in Table 4.9. There were two main reasons for this. The first was that in 1960 the Betting Duty Rate was raised from 30 per cent to 33 per cent, ‘with disenchantment on the part of the clients’.54 The other, more important, factor was the winter of 1962–1963, which saw the cancellation of many football matches, reducing the number of coupons to two-thirds, about 2.3 million per week, for

Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools 105 Table 4.9  The turnover of Littlewoods’ coupon income, 1959–1973 Season

Coupon income

1959/60 1960/61 1961/62 1962/63 1963/64 1964/65 1965/66 1967/68 1972/73

£52,043,149 £48,703,878 £48,401,213 £41,902,538 £44,176,481 £50,660,060 £61,568,406 £69,063,000 £120,947,000

Source: Littlewoods Collection, Box 79, contained in the Aide Memoire, Irlam Road, Building.

Littlewood by the end of December 1962. The pool companies reacted to the situation by establishing the famous Pool Panel to predict the football results in the absence of a full set of fixtures. The Pool Panel was formed in January 1963 with four ex-players – Ted Drake, Tom Finney, Tommy Lawton and George Young, along with Arthur Edward Ellis and John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon, the first Baron Brabazon of Tara. On 23 January 1963, they predicted 7 draws, 8 away victories and 23 home victories, and these were broadcast on television. The membership of the Panel changed over time as prominent figures, such as Sir Gerald Nabarro MP, joined.55 By 1969, Raich Carter had also joined, along with Neil Franklin, George Young, Stan Mortesan (the famous footballer), Ian McColl, alongside Arthur Ellis (a famous referee) under the chairmanship of Sir Ronald Howe. It was some of the good and the great players and officials of the game who earned more than the average annual national wage for their deliberations. In 1994, the panel members were Ellis, Gordon Banks, Roger Hunt, Tony Green, Maurice Peston and the panel was meeting in the London Hilton on Park Lane.56 The Panel met in private sessions each Saturday from November to April. Its decisions were released once all ongoing matches reached halftime but before any results were known. Their predictions were used in the case of an abandoned match, or a fixture being cancelled and announced on the television. Grandstand BBC TV programme, as part of its Final Score Broadcast and on the BBC radio Sports Report until May 2007. By 2016, the Pool Panel was reduced to three members: Banks, Green and Hunt. After Bank’s death in February 2019 and Hunt’s retirement from the panel, they were replaced by Ian Callaghan (a famous ex-footballer) and David Sadler, who worked alongside Green. Their work was vital to the continuation of the pools, but statistical analysis has revealed that the outcome of the results produced by the Pool Panel were much more predictable than was the case where the results were those of the football matches alone.57 In other words, their results went to form.

106  Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools Table 4.1059  Turnover, tax, expenses and dividends at Littlewoods, 1967–1968 to 1972–1973 Years 1967–1968 1968–1969 1969–1970 1970–1971 1971–1972 1972–1973

Change

Staked

Tax

Expenses

Dividends

−1.7 −12.0 +4.7 +30.2 +33.3 +9.8

£69,063,000 £60,740,000 £63,567,000 £82,743,000 £110,185,000 £120,947,000

£18,679,000 £20,247,000 £21,189,000 £27,581,000 £36,728,000 £40,314,000

£19,031,000 £18,081,000 £19,247,000 £24,981,000 £30,204,000 £33,397,000

£31,353,000 £22,412,000 £23,331,000 £30,181,000 £43,253,000 £47,231,000

Source: Littlewoods Collection, Box 79 (previously Box 39), a paper on ‘The Inadvertent Application of Skill’, probably drawn up for the evidence being given to the Royal Commission on Gambling (1976–1978).

Despite some difficult seasons, and some poor industrial relations which saw Littlewoods close its Irlam Road building, with mass redundancies in 1963, a subject examined in a later chapter, Littlewoods and the pool industry recovered from the mid-1960s onwards. Indeed, even if the phrase ‘golden age’ is overused, the football pools reached their apogee between about 1966 and the mid-1980s.

The apogee of the late 1960s to the 1980s The year 1966 saw an increased interest in football and the football pools, most likely encouraged by the fact that England hosted the Football World Cup, which the England team won in a memorable final against West Germany. Thereafter there was a rapid growth in turnover which saw a massive increase of well over 70 per cent in Littlewoods’ turnover alone in the four seasons following 1968/9, as indicated in Table 4.10. The pool companies also invested in new initiatives. Littlewoods introduced its ‘Spot the Ball’, or ‘Spotting the Ball’, competition in 1971, the idea of which was to spot the position of the ball in a picture of a match.58 In fact, this might have been responsible for the brief recovery in the declining of the percentage of the pool returned to the punter in the early 1970s, indicated in Table 4.11. Table 4.1160  Littlewoods’ dividends paid for each £Stake (new pence), 1967–1973 Years 1967–1968 1968–1969 1969–1970 1970–1971 1971–1972 1972–1973

Dividends

per cent to punters

£31,353,000 £22,412,000 £23,331,000 £30,181,000 £43,253,000 £47,231,000

47.9 37.1 36.3 36.5 39.3 39.1

Expenses to per cent of all total stakes % pools total stakes 27.5 29.8 30.3 30. 27.4 27.6

62.6 64.5 65.1 65.3 65.3 64.6

Source: Littlewoods Collection, Box 79 (previously Box 39), a paper on ‘The Inadvertent Application of Skill’, probably drawn up for the evidence being given to the Royal Commission on Gambling (1976–1978).

Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools 107 The pools business grew enormously in the 1970s and early 1980s, driven on by the enormous increase in both turnover and jackpot prizes. The emotional commitment to a legal and popular ‘investment’ was growing.61 The pools coupons retained the classic format but also offered many alternative gambling opportunities.62 In 1971 Cyril Grimes Liss, from Hampshire, won £516,683, the first jackpot of over £500,000. In 1970 Irene Powell, from Port Talbot, won £882,000, the first win over £750,000. In 1986 a syndicate of hospital workers won £1,017,890, the first win over £1 million. In 1987, Barry Dinsdale from Kingston upon Hull, won a new record jackpot of £1,910,972 and then, in 1991, Rose Woodcock won £2,072,220. In 1993, Judy Smith, from the Isle of Portland, won £2,077,682. Finally, on the inaugural weekend of the National Lottery, in November 1994, a syndicate from Worsley won £2,924,622. Nevertheless, there were disquieting developments for the pool firms. Workers’ action, and trade unionism, were to fundamentally threaten the very foundations of the private family-firm model of enlightened benevolence that was at the heart of the Littlewoods and Vernons operations, as is explored further in Chapter 6. The emergence of other gambling forms and competing charitable football pools were also beginning to erode the number of punters, as they declined, from a peak of 14 to 17 million by the early 1970s, to about 11 or 12 million in the mid-1980s, and nine or ten million in the early 1990s. There were widening opportunities for gambling by the 1970s and 1980s, and the football pools were no longer the exclusive terrain of the commercial companies, or even the emerging betting companies prepared to offer odds on different football events.

Competing sport and health charities The success of the football pools led to a spurt of activity amongst charitable organisations to raise income by offering their own football pool coupons. These charities emerged after the Second World War, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, and most obviously in the areas of sport and health. Most of them used coupons which invited punters to put in a set of fixed numbers, which meant that they were public lotteries and illegal since there was no skill involved in the selection. However, in 1971, recognising their charitable status, the Lotteries Act was passed to allow them to continue, and ran until 1975 when it was renewed through the Lotteries Act of 1975, and subsequent acts thereafter. By the 1970s, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of small clubs running football pool competitions as charitable activity but there were only substantial sporting pool charities in Britain – Celtic Pools Limited, Manchester United Development Association, Rangers Pools Ltd, and Warwickshire County Cricket Sports’ Association. All four were designed to provide financial help to their respective clubs. Rangers was the largest of these, with £3,072,940 revenue raised between the 1 August 1976 and 31 April 7. It paid a third of that money in prizes, £870,167 (28.3 per cent) in pool duty and, after expenses of £766,556 (22.9 per cent), passed on £406,941 (15 per cent) to its charitable beneficiaries.63 The Manchester United Development

108  Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools Association operated on a much smaller scale but between the 1 June 1976 and 31 May 1977 gained a revenue of £722,250 of which the pool betting duty took £200,624 (27.7 per cent), had expenses of £196,526 (27.2 per cent, paid prizes of £204,624 and provided £120,874 (16.7 per cent) to its beneficiaries.64 Several other large charities emerged to gear themselves towards providing for more ‘worthy’ charitable causes, and it was these who drew most sympathy from Parliament. There was Pembroke (C & P) Ltd, which, from a turnover of nearly £7 million, provided £1,021,564 to charities in 1976–1977, 14.7 per cent of the total revenue, connected with the treatment of polio, crippling diseases and the Imperial Cancer Red Fund.65 Another, Signette, raised money for the Spastics Society to the tune of £1,361,681 in the Calendar year 1976, of which £192,526 (14.3 per cent) went to these charities after prizes and expenses were paid. Top Ten Promotions, between 1 September 1976 and 31 August 1977, raised £10,142,789 out of which £194,526 was paid to its beneficiaries and, once again, 90 per cent going to the Spastics Society and channelled into local spastic societies via the Sembel Trust.66 In this climate of growing charitable pool activity, the PPA had to respond.

The development of social welfare work and football trust in defence of the pools Moral opposition to the pools had largely disappeared by the mid-1970s, as gambling became legitimised by the legislation of the 1960s and charitable pools prospered. As a result, the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978) did little more than suggest technical changes to the operation of the football pools, and the controlling of the size of the prize money. Religious opposition had altered, and it became increasingly recognised that the pool companies were providing hundreds of millions of pounds to the nation through the Pool Betting Duty and normal business taxes. Yet there was the rising threat of the formation of a national lottery ‘for good causes’ which, as we shall see later, had gained traction with support from the Rothschild Commission and was winning wide parliamentary support by the late 1980s and early 1990s. Faced with this threat, perhaps in an attempt to improve its prospects of fighting it off, the PPA was drawn into social welfare work connected with the crisis in football faced by threatening crowd behaviour which was intensified by the stadium disasters of the 1970s and 1980s. Indeed, from the early 1970s, the football pool companies became increasingly concerned to exhibit a social responsibility for the game, an interest stimulated by the crowd disasters occurring at football grounds, as well as their desire to reduce the heavy Betting Duty they were paying. The pool companies had settled their long-standing battle with the FL and the FA, over the copyright on football fixtures, in 1958/9 and started to pay money into the coffers of the FL and FA. They were already considering working closely with the football authorities when the Ibrox disaster occurred at Rangers Stadium in Glasgow, on 2 January 1971, and led to 66 deaths

Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools 109 and more than 200 injuries in an exit stairway (the infamous Stairway 13) in a match between Rangers and Celtic. The disaster spurred the United Kingdom government to investigate the events and appoint Lord Norman Wheatley to conduct an inquiry, the findings of which were published in May 1972 and formed the basis for the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (Green Guide), in 1973. Out of this emerged the Safety of Sports Grounds Act of 1975. Denis Howell, a minister without portfolio in the Wilson Labour Government, then set up the Football Ground Improvements Trust (FGIT), with the support of the FL and the PPA, a body which morphed into the Football Trust. Also, in 1975, the pool companies decided that 2.5 per cent of the entry fee of a coupon would be given to FGIT, which later came to financially help clubs and to bring about ground improvements in the wake of the Wheatley report. Couched in terms of the need to cut the excessive levels of Betting Duty, the PPA, essentially Littlewoods, gave the profits of the Spot-the-Ball competition, which they had started in the early 1970s, to the FGIT, which was known as the Football Trust from 1978, before then replaced by the Football Foundation in 2000. This amounted to about £8 million per annum.67 As a result, the Football Trust was given wider responsibilities for ground improvements and social work to influence the social attitudes of those attending matches and community projects.68 Driven by the recommendations of the Rothschild Commission to broaden the work of the football pools by providing help to the football clubs in the United Kingdom, and not just the main clubs, the new Thatcher Conservative government, of 1979 to 1983, decided that the FGIT/Trust would have divided responsibilities. The FGIT section of the work was to continue to deal with ground improvement, ground infrastructure and community projects at the high levels of the game whilst the Football Trust section of the work would be supported by money from the PPA firms and have responsibility for giving grants to the whole range of lower-league football, potentially to up to 40,000 clubs. The money for the Football Trust activities adopted came from the PPA, which constantly pressured the Government to reduce the Pool Betting Duty in view of its financial contribution to the Football Trust. Indeed, with this help, the Football Trust funded many different projects, including the increase in the number of all-weather pitches and installed CCTV cameras across the football grounds in the United Kingdom. The direction of this work changed with the Bradford stadium fire of 11 May 1985, with 65 deaths and 265 injuries, and the Popplewell Inquiry into the safety of sports grounds.69 Shortly afterwards, on 29 May 1985, there was the Heysel stadium disaster in Brussels. As a result, the Football Trust financed the new safety rules that were being recommended and this became even more imperative following the Hillsborough football disaster of 15 April 1989, when 96 deaths and 776 injuries occurred. The Royal Commission of Inquiry into this, chaired by Justice Peter Taylor, produced the ‘Taylor Report’ which suggested that the Football Trust should extend their work on ground safety.

110  Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools To allow this to occur, the PPA wanted a reduction of 2.5 per cent in the Football Betting Tax, from 42.5 per cent to 40 per cent.70 They were successful in gaining this, which allowed the pool companies and the PPA to provide at least £16 million a year to the Trust, although it in fact they exceeded that and provided £20 million a year. Unfortunately, as will be elaborated later, these developments became embroiled in the support that the John Major government gave for The National Lottery. The PPA fought against introduction of a national lottery, although it had previously indicated to the Rothschild Commission that if this was likely to occur, hoped to run the national lottery on behalf of the government.71 A national lottery did not occur, although the Major government did reduce the Pool Betting Duty further, from 40 per cent to 37.5 per cent. That barely helped the pool companies whose turnover fell substantially, by over 60 per cent, in the two years following the introduction of The National Lottery in November 1994. The Pool Betting Duty reduction to the Trust fell to £13 million in 1995/6, and the Spot-the-Ball income fell to £3 million. In 1997, the respective figures were £11 million and £3 million. As the income to the pool companies fell, so did the income to the Football Trust, and so did the extra contributions made by Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters. In the end, there was no way in which the Football Trust could finance the ground improvement required by the Taylor Report, along with its other commitments to providing aid grants to the lower echelons of British football. John Littlewoods wrote to John Major, the Prime Minister, on 13 December 1996 stating that Littlewoods ‘would be no longer able to provide a sizeable contribution to the Trust and would cease The Spot the Ball. It is our duty to protect our business and the future of our employees and thus must our overriding condition’.72 Inevitably, the Football Trust was wound up in 2000 and its duties were taken over by the new Football Foundation. The Football Pools had donated extensively to football and sport-related activities, up to donated £1.1 billion to sporting-related causes, and even £6 million as late as the 2009/10 season, to the Football Trust and a variety of small schemes, such as the Every Player Counts Scheme, connected with disability in football, the Premier League Health scheme, The Fit for Football scheme and the Fit for Life Scheme – to help tackle serious health issues. These schemes were part of a general attempt to discourage the Government from passing legislations allowing the formation of a national lottery. Indeed, this is directly evidenced in the case of the shortlived Littlewoods ‘Youth Action’ scheme which began in September 1987 and was dead, as an initiative, by mid-October 1987. It was mooted at a meeting between Mr. Davidson and Mr. Endicott, of Littlewoods, and D. E. R. Faulkner, and his brother, Richard Faulkner (Secretary of the Football Trust and the later Lord Faulkner), and others of the Football Trust, on 9 September 1987. On that occasion, Littlewoods offered £300,000 per year to ‘Youth Action’, a scheme for crime prevention within inner cities which would be based on six or seven projects and to

Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools 111 offer a range of ‘constructive spare-time activities’.73 It was suggested, in this letter, that 4. [….] Littlewoods’ motives in putting forward this suggestion are not entirely altruistic. As they put it, funding of this kind depends on the stability of their business and that depends on not having it undermined by a national lottery. [….] 5. We must clearly not put Ministers in a position where their eventual decision on a national lottery (next to be considered I understand in December) would be compromised by discussion on a crime prevention/inner cities grant.74 By 9 October, it was clear that Littlewoods were not happy with the way in which the scheme was progressing and on the 14 October D. E. R. Faulkner sent a letter to Mr. Heal of the Home Office, and members of the Football Trust, indicating that Littlewoods had dropped the scheme, stating quite clearly their priority of ensuring that a national lottery would not be established. He wrote that In conversation with my brother [Richard Faulkner] at the weekend he told me that he thought there was now little point in proceeding with a ‘Youth Action’ project involving Littlewoods Pools until we were able to deliver an assurance that the Government did not intend to go ahead with plans for a national lottery. He told me that even then Littlewoods Pools would prefer a project which was specifically related to the provision of sporting facilities, especially for football, as distinct from a more general project of which sporting facilities would be only a part. Despite these social initiatives by Littlewoods and the PPA, both successful and unsuccessful, the football pools continued to decline, and the financial and emotional appeal of the football pools evaporated as The National Lottery ‘for good causes’ was formed and as football became absorbed into a more generalised form of gambling on the odds of how many goals might be scored in a match, or who would score first. This was anathema to the ‘traditional’ football pools.

Conclusion The post-war football pools saw rapid growth, temporary decline and then progress to its apogee in the 1970s and early 1980s, before they fell in the face of increased competitions from other gambling forms and the national lottery. It weathered the challenges of taxation, problems with the bad winter of 1962 to 1963, and finally neutralised the moral opposition to gambling on the pools. Yet, ultimately, the attraction of the large jackpot prizes it offered, the substantial and powerful publicity machine it operated, and the pressures applied by the PPA companies to Parliament, it failed to check the move towards a national lottery. Even the close alignment of the football pools with the financial and social needs of football did not prevent

112  Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools Parliament from falling to the greater lure of a national lottery and the effective abandonment of the football pools. The pools had held on to working-class interest in the post-war years – through publicity, newspaper cartoon strip and television, but that cultural linkage proved fickle and fragile. Four main factors would appear to have caused the subsequent decline of the pools. One was the ongoing opposition to the pools, which did not fade away until the 1970s. A second was the declining influence of the pool companies over their own workforce and operations they controlled, as their dictatorial approaches were challenged by their own workers and trade unions. The paternalism of the 1930s could not continue in the industrial climate of the post-war world. Thirdly, the pools were not an integral part of working-class life but merely one of the social and cultural forms that emerged to offer the prospect of cheap and affordable gambling for potentially life-changing prizes, which could be easily replaced by better and bigger prizes and opportunities. Fourthly, there was the rising national international appeal of national, or state, lotteries and the anachronism that the United Kingdom did not have such a nationwide activity ‘for good causes’ until the 1990s, and the subsequent globalisation of gambling.

Notes



1. This continued opposition will be examined in a later chapter. 2. The Daily Telegraph, 9 April 2004, the obituary of Robert Sangster; Ritz London Magazine, issue 2, Autumn 2000, Gary Jones article on ‘Robert Sangster: Just an Ordinary Millionaire’. 3. The Sphere, 09/1946. Vol. 186, issue 2432, an article by Charles Grieves, ‘The Football Pools Go into Action’. 4. Willink Commission, Final Report, para. 116. 5. Brittens Pools was formed in 1946. In 2009, Brittens Football Pools Ltd was registered at Three Gate Farm. Kibworth Road, Billesden, Leicester. It was a private limited company incorporated on 21 July 2009 and dissolved 25 April 2015. The last annual returns were for 21 July 2014. The nature of its business was as a dormant company. 6. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 18 November 1946, vol. 444, cc. 1101–1112, in a speech made by Mr. Nally (Bilston). 7. Willink Commission, Final Report, p. 32, para. 111. 8. A Cope’s Pools Congratulations letter to winners from Cope’s Pools, incorporating the three other firms, and claiming to be ‘The Fastest and Fairest Pools in the Country’, being sold by an Australian on eBay in May 2021. 9. Parliamentary Debates, HC Debates, 18 November 1946, vol. 444, cc. 1101–1112, in a speech made by Mr. Nally (Bilston). 10. HO 335/99, Shermans Pools Ltd, a memorandum on the ‘History of Shermans Pools’, p. 1. 11. Ibid., p. 1. 12. Willink Commission, Final Report, p. 148, based upon Table 2. 13. Rothschild Commission, Final Report, para. 11.13. 14. BS3/219, file on Zetters, various letters sent to the Royal Commission on Gambling from 19 July 1976 until the end of 1976. 15. Keith Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling in Britain, c. 1906–1960s: The Stages of the Political Debate, Lampeter, Edwin Mellen Press, 2007, p. 161.

Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools 113 16. HO 335/99, letter from Mr. Allen, of Vernons, to Mr. Holland Hughes, 4 August 1945. 17. Ibid., Shermans Pools Ltd, a memorandum on the ‘History of Shermans Pools’, p. 4. 18. Ibid., p. 5. 19. Ibid., pp. 7–8; Willink Commission, p. 98, para. 312. 20. Ibid., p. 147. 21. HO 335/109, in the minutes of the evidence given to the Royal Commission on Gambling, 1976–1978, presented by the PPA on 31 August 1976, pp. 19–20. 22. Ibid., p. 34. 23. Ibid., para 120. 24. Ibid., p. 150, Table 6, entitled Variations in Weekly Stakes. 25. Ibid., p. 94, para 304. 26. Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling, p. 162. 27. The Times, 12 March 1947. 28. The National Archives, HO 335/ 64. Sir Henry Victor Alpin MacKinnon Raikes (1901–1986) was the Conservative MP for Liverpool Wavertree from 1945 to 1950, and then was MP for Liverpool Garston from 1950 until 1957. 29. Willink Commission, Final Report, p. 18, para 69. 30. Ibid. 31. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb., 29 January 1954, vol. 522, 21-9-34 and HC Deb 19 May 1954, cc. 804–808. 32. Rothschild Commission, Final Report, para. 11.21. 33. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb., 29 January 1954, vol. 522, Frederick Park, cc. 2109–2010. 34. BS3/109, notes on a meeting of the Royal Commission on Gambling made by representatives of the PPA. Mr, Cecil Moores, on p. 11 of the notes, suggests that ‘punters are getting a bad deal’. 35. Ibid. In April 1976 the PPP, in response to the threat of a levy being raised on the pools to aid sport indicated that other gambling activities were less harshly treated, the £100 million turnover of the totalisator being taxed at 4.4 per cent., gaming machines at 2.9 per cent, and casinos only 1.1 per cent. 36. Ibid. This extensive PPP report, section 6.1, indicates that of the four PPP firms, apart from Littlewoods and Empire, the first dividend for Vernons averages about £220,000, on a turnover of £57million, and Zetters paid an average of £20,000 on a turnover of 5.9 million. 37. HO 335/109, and a reference by V. E. Sangster (1899–1986) to the predictable nature of punter selection. It is not random. 38. HO 335/99, Shermans Pools Ltd, a memorandum on the ‘History of Shermans Pools’, p. 4, paras 294–295. 39. HO 334/109, evidence submitted to the Willink Commission by A. W. Peterson, Secretary of Vernons Pools. 40. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 19 May 1954, vol. 522, cc. 804–808. 41. Ibid. 42. Rothschild Commission, Final Report, para 11.23. 43. BS3/109, evidence to the Royal Commission on Gambling, Report of the Inter-Departmental Party on Lotteries, 10/6. 44. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1. Also, in the Evening Express 9 September, there is an article about these four happy Scots. 45. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1. 46. Morning Advertiser, 10 September 1958. 47. Ibid. 48. The Star, 7 October 1958. 49. Daily Sketch, 8 October 1958.

114  Recovery, evolution & decline of the pools 50. Daily Mirror, 8 October 1958. 51. BS3/109, report of the PPA to the Royal Commission on Gambling, dated April 1976,10.6. Also, BS 3/204 the Case for the Lotto by the PPA, 9 May 1978, emphasises the ‘attractiveness of large prizes’. 52. Liverpool Echo, 24 June 2015; Chris Nawsat and Steve Hutchings. 53. BS3/204 summary of comments at the end of a letter of 31 January 1975from Vernons to the Rothschild Commission, in a PPP file. 54. Ibid. 55. Ibid. This box contains several photos of the Pools Panel meeting in the Connaught Rooms in London. 56. The Independent, 27 March 1994. 57. David Forrest and Robert Simmons, ‘Making up the Results: The Work of the Football Pool Panel, 1963–1997’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series D (The Statistician), vol. 49 (2), (2000), 253–260, particularly 260. 58. Rothschild Commission, Final Report, para 11.67. 59. Littlewoods Collection, Box 79 (previously Box 39), a paper on ‘The Inadvertent Application of Skill’, probably drawn up for the evidence being given to the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978). 60. Ibid. 61. Alaluf, The Emotional Economy of Holidaymaking. This book suggests that the old emphasis upon holidays being for physical, mental and emotional health has not given way to the idea of attraction and pleasure being the basis of holidays, but the continued link with emotion. 62. Littlewoods Collections, Box 9, contains copies of the few coupons for the 1980s, and are mainly for 1986. 63. Rothschild Commission, Report, p. 263, Table 15.2. 64. Ibid. 65. The National Archives, BS3/218, a file on Pembroke Pools, the contents of which were submitted to the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978). 66. Rothschild Commission, p. 263, Table 15.2. 67. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. vol. 954, 19 July 1978, in a speech by Denis Howell; Rothschild Commission, Final Report, para 11.67. 68. Geoffrey Z. Kohe, ‘For the Good of the Game? The Legacy of the Football Pools, and the Dangerous Sedition of Political Promise’, International Journal of the History of Sport, 32 (11–12) (1975), 1378–1394, particularly 1394–1395. The Football Ground Improvement Trust (FGIT), Minutes for December 1975 to October 1978, are in the archives of De Montfort University in the papers of Sir Norman Chester relating to Football, reference number S/005/03/01/001, one file. It was known as the Football Trust from 1978 until it was wound up in 2000 and replaced by the Football Foundation. 69. Oliver Popplewell, Committee of Inquiry into Crowd Safety and Control at Sports Grounds, Interim Report, Chairman: Mr. Justice Popplewell, July 1983; Final Report, January 1986. 70. PPA Minute Book 1989, Liverpool Archive, quoted in Kohe, ‘For the Good of the Game’, footnote 28. 71. BS3/204, letter from the PPA, to the representative of the Rothschild Commission, 9 May 1978. 72. John Littlewood/s to John Major, in the Lord Faulkner Collection of The Football Trust Archive, quoted by Kohe in ‘For the Good of the Game’. 73. HO 287/4335, Littlewoods Youth Action file, undated letter to Mr. Pratt and Mr. Heal, of the Home Office, not signed but possibly from the brother of D. E. Faulkner, the later Lord Faulkner, who was Secretary of the Football Trust, based upon the style and content of other letters in the file. 74. Ibid.

5

The politics of the pools since 1945 Conflict and acceptance of ‘the ranks of high super-spivery’

The football pools recovered quickly, if fitfully, after the Second World War in the teeth of bitter opposition and remained a dominant form of gambling for the working class until the decline of the 1980s and 1990s. Yet the pools faced immense opposition until at least the late 1960s. The rabid religious and moral opposition of the anti-gamblers of the inter-war years had faltered but remained an influential force until the 1960s and, intermittently, beyond. Yet opposition to the pools increasingly came from other directions as Britain developed into a more democratically-based social welfare dominated society. There was, as Brad Beaven has recognised, a concern by the middle classes at the quality of citizenship that felt the hedonistic nature of popular leisure and culture made some of the working class unfit to play their full and proper role in the community. There may even have been the desire that some working-class leisure is restricted to ensure the rapid growth of post-war industrial production, as Norman Baker has suggested.1 As a result, new challenges to the pools came from the demand for economic and financial controls and sanctions of a quasi-lottery which might be considered damaging the economic revival from the war and the emergence of a modern citizenship. These concerns proved more effective in cramping and confining the pools than did the social and moral invective of the inter-war and immediate post-war years, particularly as it invoked a sense of responsibility to protect the citizens of Britain from the ‘super spivs’ and gear them towards full economic and social citizenship. Thereafter, as society became more modern, liberal and free from restrictions from the 1970s onwards, and shook off the yoke of ‘rational recreation’ and rationing, it was just a matter of time before alternative gambling activities and The National Lottery brought the football pools to a halt in the desire for more government revenue.

The immediate post-war Battle, from the end of the Second World to the Willink Commission, 1945–1951 The continued moral opposition to the pools during and after the Second World War, was enlivened by a considerable debate about the way in which they, and other specific and popular working-class gambling activities, were DOI: 10.4324/9781003144908-5

116  Politics of the pools since 1945 treated and taxed after the War. The imposition of taxes on both greyhound racing and the football pools from 1948, which was increased over the following years, were seen as socially discriminatory against the working class and their preferred forms of gambling.2 However, Norman Baker has argued that the reason for the imposition of taxes on greyhound racing was the desire to maintain and increase industrial production in the post-war years.3 In other words, the taxations imposed by the Attlee Labour government had little to do with moral and religious outrage and a lot to do with economic and industrial necessity. Indeed, by Baker’s analysis, the same could be said of the football pools. Yet there is substantial evidence that this was clearly not the case as, for instance, greyhound racing attracted much lower attendances than the rapidly expanding speedway racing, which was not taxed, and which used the same tracks. In any case, there was vehement opposition from local religious groups, local authorities and government to the continued existence to greyhound racing, one civil servant in the Department of Housing and Local Government in 1947 writing that ‘While examining a proposal for a dog track it is difficult to avoid a slight prejudice’.4 Baker implies that the taxing action of the Attlee Labour government was an unconscious decision to protect industrial output rather than an attack upon working-class gambling, and this is a broad sweep suggestion that relates to the football pools as much as greyhound racing. In the light of the evidence, Baker’s assertion is rather misleading in what, proved to be, a mixing of traditional opposition, a concern for citizenship, and the economic desire to control the pools industry because of its status, as they saw it, of being a lottery in all but name. There was a legal challenge to the Unity Pools, as early as June 1945, just as the Second World War was coming to an end, with the case of Bretherton v United Kingdom Totalisator Co. Ltd, which overturned the Elderton v United Kingdom Totalisator Co. Ltd [1935 1 Ch 373] judgement in establishing that the inclusion of a pool coupon in a newspaper was a contravention of section 26 (1) of the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934. As a result, since the Unity Pools had saved paper by issuing coupons through newspapers they were now increasingly faced with operating the pools through collectors.5 This situation was eased by the rescinding of Defence Regulation 56A, which had meant that the Postmaster-General would not allow circulations of coupons from the pool companies.6 Nevertheless, there can have been little economic sense in the Bretherton judgement other than to render the pools industry uneconomic in the context of wartime needs. Regardless of these challenges, the pool industry burgeoned in the postwar world austerity of the late 1940s and early 1950s. This spurred on the anti-gamblers and there is clear evidence of a conflation of economic, financial and continuing moral opposition. In the House of Commons, on 18 November 1947, for instance, Rhys Davies continued his pre-war campaign against the pools, supported by the vehement William Nally (Bilston), a Labour and Co-operative MP, who re-iterated that playing the pools was a major waste of money, amounting to about £70 million of spending,

Politics of the pools since 1945 117 £60 million of which was with Littlewoods, Vernons, Shermans and Copes. Nally added, with some disgust, that the Board of Trade …are negotiating with gentlemen who had come up the hard way, who have developed in the main from bookmakers and bookmakers’ runners to football pool promoters. It is the frequent hope of every smalltime bookie in the backstreet that his son will grow up to become a great football pool promoter like Mr. Moores and Mr. Sangster, and get into the ranks of high ‘super spivery’’.7 He asserted that the pools companies were paying less than 10 per cent of their takings to the punters, and ‘conducted what I can best declare as a “legalised swindle”’, although he did admit that this was only true of the small firms. Just over a year later, Nally was the fulcrum of opposition to the pools in drawing the attention to the Lynskey Tribunal of the autumn and winter of 1948. This was a British government inquiry into the rumours of corruption in the Board of Trade, with civil servants taking bribes to help businessmen circumvent the rules through the intermediary, and businessman, Sidney Stanley. Although only two officials were deemed to have accepted ‘hospitality’ and ‘small gifts’, when the inquiry reported in January 1949, the pools, Shermans Pools in fact, was at the heart of the affair. The chief accusation was that Harry Sherman was seeking a greater paper ration from the Government, with which the circulate the pools, wanted a discharge of the prosecution against Shermans for exceeding their current ration, and the consent of the Capital Issues Committee for Sherman’s to become a public company. The Inquiry led to wicked rumours, including the suggestion that Stanley was a spy, and, from the point of view of Nally and the critics of the football pools, the whole affair smacked of corruption by Shermans. Indeed, Nally was to claim in the House of Commons that on the eve of the Tribunal Shermans ran a most expensive party for ‘a leading newspaper editor’, and that he would call the attention of the newly-formed Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming (the Willink Commission of 1949–1951) ‘to the expenses in connection with the suites which the football pools have had in the big hotels in London since the Unity Pools broke up in 1946’.8 During the Tribunal, Sherman withdrew a statement made by his solicitor which implied some type of arrangement was being made and refuted suggestions of corruption put to him by Sir Hartley Shawcross, a famous prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials and the Attorney General in the Labour Government at the time. Sherman admitted that Stanley had organised meetings for him with Glenvil Hall, and other officials, with the idea of floating Sherman’s Pools as a public company with a £1,000,000 capital but declared that ‘There was absolutely no suggestion of those gentlemen receiving a consideration for anything’.9 This was not a good moment for the pools and, in many ways, the general, and economic, hostility to the pools was, briefly, becoming more intense and hostile than the moral opposition had been at the end of the 1930s.

118  Politics of the pools since 1945 There were, indeed, three issues in the battle over the pools in the immediate aftermath of war. The first concerned the paper ration, as noted in the Lynskey Tribunal, and the involvement of the Post Office in the work of the football pools, which had been major concerns during the Second World War. The second was a related issue, from 1947 onwards, of charges imposed upon punters for the regular distribution of the pools, which appeared in 1947 as part of an attempt to curb the pools. The third was the taxation of the pools, which began in 1948 and was a constant bone of contention for the next 40 years. Paper, as already mentioned, had become a precious resource during the Second World War, when the football-pool consumption fell to about one per cent of pre-war, 2.25 per cent of paper allocation at the beginning of the war but to 1.69 per cent by the end, before falling down to 1.25 per cent of all paper consumption by the late 1940s.10 This shortage continued to pose a problem once the war had finished and the pool companies had to seek permission to purchase paper and were only then allowed two hundredweight of paper on a four-month licence.11 The securing of paper had been partly the reason for the Lynskey Tribunal, and that tribunal was highlighted by the anti-gamblers in Parliament, who felt that paper was wasted on the football pools. This was also linked to the use of the Post Office, which earned considerable business from the football pools. Postal order sales dropped to 80 per cent of their previous level between the 1938–1939 season and the 1941–1942 season but began to rise sharply again after the war.12 More to the point, the number of football pool package parcels, enveloped with pools coupons in them, rose substantially. The Post Master General’s Department at Liverpool posted out more than 6,500,000 parcels from Liverpool pools companies and delivered almost 5,500,000 to them. The Cardiff Department, dealing with Shermans, sent out about 1.3 million parcels per week and delivered about 700,000; and London about 680,000 and 405,000, respectively.13 There was a clear concern at the wasted paper and the misuse of labour resources going on with the post-war revival of the pools. This concern was connected to the recovery of the post-war economy. As the economy recovered, the Attlee Labour government required more labour. As well as bringing in workers from Europe and the Empire, the Labour government also sought female labour and was concerned that it was being partly consumed by the rapid post-war growth of the football pools. Indeed, in 1947 the Minister of Labour stated that ‘What he had in mind for the Lancashire area was that people suitable for employment should not be employed in the football pools’.14 This would be fine, except that the Liverpool area alone had 21,000 unemployed in the late 1940s. Connected with this concern for paper, the Government had introduced the Paper Universal Betting Scheme Order 1947 which set orders out for the use of paper, which affected many sporting areas such as dog racing and the football pools. In June 1949 William Teeling, MP for Brighton, asked the President of the Board of Trade to annul section 2, which related to the football pools and

Politics of the pools since 1945 119 reported his comments in the House of Commons on the 4 July 1947, stating that ‘The Order relates to newsprint and will not affect the supply of paper to the pools’.15 That may have been the case, and sections of it related to dog racing and other pool, or tote, arrangements, but he also added in response that ‘If I were to annul this sector I am quite satisfied that there would be an increase in the amount of canvassing on football pools which I am against since no one wants me to encourage’.16 As Telling stated, he and many Hon. Members of the House of Commons were surprised at the reply …as are the 10 to 12 million people in the country who are pools fans. It will be within the recollection of the House that during the Committee stages of the Finance Bill some members spoke on the Clause … and said that they did not quite understand how the pools worked and exactly what happened. It seemed to me that far too much stress was placed on the Pools Association and the promoters who run the pools. Members seemed far too interested in what profit the pool promoters make and what they did with it. Some members have said how wicked and evil some pools’ promoters are, but completely forgetting that some 10 million or more people who subscribe to the pools or take interest in them. The views of these people are not heard despite the vast number of letters that have been addressed to members of the House.17 Indeed, section 2 of the Paper Universal Betting Scheme, as far as the football pools was concerned imposed a halfpenny (1/2d or 0.5 p) charge on punters organising to have coupons delivered to their houses for 24 weeks. This seems to have been raised so that the payment became two shillings (10p), which meant that it was likely that paying such money upfront might discourage people from using the pools and thus wasting valuable paper. This Order may have encouraged the pool companies to employ more commission agents to ensure that their punters continued to punt. It was put to many critics of the pools that the removal of the pre-payment might lead to the reduction of the number of commission agents employed by the companies, although that is not necessarily obvious, Nonetheless, the new Order represented an attack upon the pools which sparked action by the pool promoters and led to the reshaping of how they operated.18 The football pools carried little weight amongst many of the new Labour MPs who disliked gambling or wished to nationalise the industry and to use its profits to help the national economy.19 Nationalisation, an innovative feature of the Attlee post-war government, did not occur for the pool companies but Hugh Dalton, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, decided to tax the football pools. As already stressed, he introduced a 10 per cent Pool Betting Duty (Dog Totes and Football Pools), in his April 1947 Budget, which gained parliamentary approval towards the end of 1947, from which it was hoped to raise £15 million a year.20 This duty on the football pools, alone, was doubled to 20 per cent in 1948 and to 30 per cent in 1949. This

120  Politics of the pools since 1945 increase meant that the football pools paid tax of £14,808,162 in 1948–1949, £17,218,392 in 1951 and £21,078,137 in 1953, far more than was originally anticipated by the full application of the bill to two gambling activities.21 The PPA was outraged at these levels of duty and informed the Willink Commission that such taxation was unfair when off-course bookmakers, whether they were illegal ready-money or legal credit bookmakers, were not taxed. The PPA also objected to the fact that the greyhound tote merely faced paying a 10 per cent duty, although that did increase later, and that horse racing escaped a duty altogether. In addition, and as with all other companies, the PPA pointed out that the football pool firms had to pay the usual tax on profits as well.22 Such protestations carried little support from a government generally opposed to gambling whilst concerned not to be seen as interfering with the freedom of the individual, a position that became the leitmotif of successive governments. Bitter battle ensued in the Commons again in June 1949, when, in defence of the football pools, William Teeling (Brighton) and Glenvel Hall (West Ham Silvertown), in a debate concerning the taxation of the pools, argued that the pools were popular with the working class and this fact should not be taken lightly.23 Other MPs indicated the extent of working-class support for the pools, and Mr. Kinley (Bootle) suggested that 950 of the 1,000 letters sent to him, in 1949, were from employees of the pools firms, no doubt encouraged to do so by the pools’ companies.24 Bessie Braddock (Liverpool Exchange), a prominent Labour MP, pointed out that the Littlewood headquarters was in her constituency, employed about 400 to 500 workers, and she objected to the discrimination against the pools.25 Responding to the claim that pool companies were getting their employees to send letters to their local MPs to pressure them to complain about taxation, she added that ‘in perfectly good faith, I am empowered to say that there is no suggestion at all, no intention at all, and no desire at all on the part of the football pool promoters in any way to lead an agitation against the Government’.26 These comments were rather disingenuous but Braddock also added that there were 21,000 unemployed in Liverpool, including 3,000 women, and that the pools offered employment and well-paid work for many people. Victor Raikes (Liverpool Wavertree) also felt that it was unfair that only one type of betting, although there was greyhound racing as well, should be ‘singled out as being apart from other forms of betting for a tax of this nature’.27 The football pools were further subject to examination in two royal commissions in the post-war years – the Willink (1949–1951) and the Rothschild (1976– 1978), the first of which was perhaps the last major battleground between the anti-gamblers and the pool companies. All the major pool companies offered evidence to the Commission and most, including Littlewoods, through Cecil Moores, provided detailed account of the working of the pools to indicate their accountability and to remove the excessive taxation they paid. The Willink Commission was, indeed, the last opportunity for the anti-gamblers to ban the pool companies, as hostility towards gambling

Politics of the pools since 1945 121 softened greatly over the ensuing 20 years. It saw a renewal of the conflict between the pool companies and the churches, and the English, Welsh and Scottish Football leagues. The Churches’ Council ( often referred to as Committee) gave extensive evidence through its chairman, the hard-line anti-gambler, the Rev. E. Benson Perkins, Mr. E. Hugh and L. Parsons and the Right Rev. Mawynor Cyrile Cowderey, of the Church of England and Wales, the Bishop of London and others. Its attack upon the pools was supported by Mr. Graham, of the Scottish Football Association, and Mr. Milwyn Jenkins of the Football Association of the Wales, amongst others. The English FA also gave evidence, as did Sir Stanley Rouse, CBE, the famous international football referee.28 The general gist of their evidence was that all gambling, including that on the football pools, was immoral and led to corruption of the individual – indeed, it could lead to corruption on the football field. To this was added the contemporary criticism, that gambling and the pools interrupted industrial production. Imbibing from these two fonts of criticism, a powerful body of anti-gamblers presented their own criticism of gambling. The excessive sum spent on gambling had, according to the Churches’ Council, ‘created constant interruptions in industrial effort’. Mr. Watson said much the same for the Scottish National League Against Betting and Gambling.29 E. C. Knight-Brice, for the Industrial Christian Fellowship, felt that gambling frustrated ‘Industrial Civilisation’.30 The Rev. E. C. Unwin of the Methodist Temperance and Social Welfare Committee suggested that ‘The whole mass of evidence points to the interruption in industrial efficiency by the feverish diversion of the gambling interest’.31 The Churches’ Committee added that there was a ‘phantasy of money for nothing’, in a harp back to the views of the NAGL.32 On the other hand, the Scottish National League Against Betting and Gambling felt that gambling was a cause of the decline of religion by the nation’s ‘nit wits’ and was the cause of ‘the collapse of conscience, in the loss of moral value, in the growing dishonesty and lack of truthfulness and moral insensibility in the land. The vast sops and set-up of the gambling industry is created for one vile purpose, to exploit a particular weakness in a man and to make money out of it’.33 In this respect, gamblers were not seen as full and responsible citizens. The Roman Catholic Church presented the pools to the Willink Commission as a ‘national pastime’ and a ‘beneficial since many evenings are spent by the family remaining together and filling in their coupons’.34 This was, most certainly, not the view of the Anglican and Nonconformist denominations who dominated the Churches’ Council who …consider that no good whatever exists for allowing football pools to continue. They constitute a menace to social and personal life and are a form of exploitation for which there is no justification. It is not felt that any reduction will be of true value, and that, together with competitions in the press, which are similar to the Football Pools, they should be entirely eliminated.35

122  Politics of the pools since 1945 The football associations and leagues were of a similar view, although one of the witnesses who gave evidence on behalf of the English FA, stated that the FL, admitted that the pools were very popular.36 In fact, the football pools could be seen to emerge as part of a demand for liberty recognised by Robert Colls in his book Liberty in England, 1760–1960: Sport and Liberty in England, 1760–1960, which ‘existed at every level in every corner of the national life’, part of a sporting activity which unified members of all classes in defence of their perceived rights, and historic freedoms.37 Gambling, and indeed, the football pool were part of that struggle for liberty, although the battle was not won until the 1960s and 1970s. The football pool companies gave their contrasting evidence to the Willink Commission, both individually as companies and collectively through the PPA, as partly witnessed in the previous chapter. As already suggested, Vernons presented evidence of their growth, efficiency and fairness with the punter, G. R. Kennerley, the Managing Director, and Vernon E. Sangster, suggesting that their various coupons offered punters a fair return.38 Strangs, Littlewoods and Shermans did much the same; Arthur Penny, the managing director of Shermans, suggesting that despite the new betting tax, it was returning ‘approximately 70 per cent of the stakes’ in winning to the punters.39 E. Holland Hughes of the PPA emphasised the need to maintain the need to retain high returns to the punter, and high jackpots, in order to retain support from the traditional punters.40 The Willink Commission, in the more liberal atmosphere of the 1950s, was not convinced that gambling and the football pools were such sinful activities as their critics suggested. It noted that the Rowlatt Commission (1932–1933) had ‘reported definitely against Football Pools’, though in fact most of the commissioners felt that the pools industry should continue through licenced bookmakers. It further noted that original draft of the Betting and Lotteries Bill, 1934, had contained a clause to ban the football pools, but this had been dropped.41 In contrast to the Rowlatt Commission, the Willink Commission’s view was that gambling had little or no social impact, that football pool betting was a relatively harmless form of gambling, and that the pools had become ‘a national pastime and we consider that in some ways they are quite a beneficial one. In many homes, many happy evenings are spent by the family remaining together and filling in the pools’.42 It could find no compelling evidence that gambling was inherently dangerous and accepted the PPA argument that betting on the football pools was not just about winning but also about the satisfaction of having participated with some success. Indeed, it added that We think that those who have a particular objection to football pool betting are sometimes inclined to misjudge the nature of those who take part in it. It is suggested that the main object is to win money and that any amount is, of course, an important part of the attraction of the football pools, but it is not the only reason for its great popularity. The popularity of the football pools itself is one of the main reasons for the popularity

Politics of the pools since 1945 123 of the pools, we are told by one of the witnesses who gave evidence on behalf of the Football Association that the Football League concluded ‘that the popularity of the pool, if anything, created more intent and have increased the attention at football matches rather than the reverse [Q 1544] Moreover, football pools are so devised that even those who do not succeed in winning [p. 87 Para 285] proper have their satisfaction that they have at least the forecast some of the matches correctly. It is possible to get a good deal of amusement out of the football pools without winning. If this was not so it is hardly likely that so many people would continue to fill in coupons when not more than one of these can hope to win a prize, however small, in the course of the season. [PPA, Q 4554 in Evidence]43 Instead of suggesting the need to ban the football pools and interfere in private gambling, the Willink Commission felt that the state should be more concerned with the ‘facilities for organised gambling’. In other words, it suggested that pool companies needed to be more accountable in their stewardship, and its main concern was ‘to confine within narrow limits the ability of the promoters to control the size of the prizes and to oblige promoters to publish information about the conduct of the pool’.44 To establish control, it recommended that the pools operators should be registered as bookmakers with the local authority, much as the Rowlatt Commission had suggested, and be required to submit accounts, although private companies did not need to submit accounts, to make them accountable in their stewardship of this substantial gambling activity and ‘to confine within narrow limits the ability of the promoters to control the size of the prizes and to oblige promoters to publish information about the conduct of the pool’.45 It also suggested the need to limit the pools to £10,000 or £20,000. They were not to transfer prize money from pool to pool [effectively to roll over the pool from week to week], and their accounts had to be published weekly. These recommendations were driven by the view that the pools were in effect a type of monopoly, the only difference between them and a national lottery being that some skill and judgement was made in the selection of the results of the fixtures and that the selections did not rely upon chance. An article in the Modern Law Review, in 1951, perceptively argued that Neither the ardent gambler nor the anti-gamblers will find its recommendations much to their liking, and even those who dislike gambling but are prepared to let others go to the Devil in their own way will probably receive it with little enthusiasm. The comment isn’t meant to be derogatory, but [one of] reasonableness and compromise.46 This was certainly the view of the pool promoters. With the recommendations and findings, of the Report emerging, Cecil Moores sent a letter to the Willink Commission on 5 February 1951, just over six weeks before the Report of the

124  Politics of the pools since 1945 Commission was finally published, stressing, as already indicated, that, contrary to the view of the Royal Commission report, Littlewoods had never been a para-mutual organisation, and that after the tax and expenses, everything was distributed to those who had won on the coupons.47 Yet the Willink Commission was a good outcome for the football-pool promoters since the vital recommendation was that they continue to exist because they were based upon selections made with skill and judgement, and thus not a lottery, and it opposed the idea of a state-run national lottery. The only real problem they faced from the Willink recommendations was the need for accountability. The Labour government of 1950–1951 and Winston Churchill’s Conservative government, returned in the autumn of 1951, did not immediately implement the recommendations of the Willink Commission. All that occurred was that the Pool Betting Duty tax steadily increased to more than 40 per cent, an action not envisaged by the Willink Commission. However, the recommendation that the pool companies should publish weekly accounts was introduced in 1954 through the Pool Betting Act, a Private Member’s Bill put forward by Fred Mulley, the Labour MP for Sheffield Park.48 Mulley’s Bill/Act had received its second reading in the House of Commons on 29 January 1954, when he considered the issue of weekly accounts from the pool companies to be non-controversial, exaggeratedly citing the enthusiastic support of the churches, the 17 million pool punters, and newspapers, from the left-wing Tribune to the Evening Standard and the Sunday Express, to being in favour. Nally strongly supported this Bill and in a powerful speech referred to the presence of one of the pool promoters in the House during the debate, stating that We now have in the House a visitor, a distinguished representative of the pools. In a broadcast debate with me immediately after the publication of the Royal Commission Report when I put to him the straight question, whether or not the pool firms would be in favour of voluntarily publishing their accounts weekly, he said, as is recorded for anybody who wants to hear it, ‘Yes, they were considering it an announcement would be made and they are inclined to be sympathetic’. That was nearly three years ago, and we have not heard a single word from the pool companies since.49 It was probably Cecil Moores, who was referred to as being a visitor to the House of Commons, and it was his Littlewoods firm which threatened to move its headquarters to Ireland if the Bill were to be passed. In fact, in a largely empty House of Commons, the Bill was passed by 70 votes to 10, gained royal approval, and Littlewoods did not uproot Ireland. The new Act required that the pool companies register with their local authority (Clause 1), that they appoint an accountant (Clause 2), prevented them from moving money from one pool to another pool [the rollover] (Clause 3) and required the companies to produce weekly evidence of the expenses that they deducted from the pool (Clause 4). The PPA, contemptuous of the Act,

Politics of the pools since 1945 125 had their member comply with the legislation and only to provide information on their turnover and prizes and not their full accounts. The pool companies, apart from trying to make their accounts opaque, directed most of their attention to the second major concern, the high level of taxation they paid on their pool or, more accurately, the large tax paid by the punter on the stake. This complaint has been alluded to already but was put, most emphatically 20 years later, in a summary of comments sent by the PPA to the Rothschild Commission, in April 1976, in a letter from J. D. Watkins, its secretary, attempting to stave off the additional imposition of a two per cent Levy being suggested in aid of sport. He considered that ‘The rate of duty now charged on the Pools is so high that it leaves no room for the additional imposition of a Levy’. Additionally, he suggested that ‘The pools are hardly to be thought of as gambling’.50

Amelioration, peace and absorption After the Willink Commission reported, the opposition to the pool companies began to abate. This was partly facilitated by the Small Lotteries and Gaming Act of 1956, which provided the increased opportunity for small lotteries and charitable and sporting fund-raising activities, previously discussed. The FA dropped its opposition to gambling by allowing supporters’ clubs to promote gambling and gaming activities, though it still threatened to suspend any director or player who became involved in gambling or bookmaking, under Rule 43.51 The FA then kept a close watch on the developments throughout 1958 and 1959, when the case of the Football League v Littlewoods was resolved by a High Court judgement in July 1959, which went unchallenged, that the FL had copyright of its fixtures.52 This led to a tenyear agreement between the pool companies and the English and Scottish football leagues, the payment being 0.5 per cent of the money staked, with a minimum of £245,000, and the deal was subsequently extended. In 1972– 1973, the deal was extended by 13 years. This second agreement provided 2 per cent and 0.165 per cent of money staked, respectively, to the Football League and the Football Association. Of this, the Football League paid 25 per cent to the Scottish Football League and FA and 4 per cent to the Welsh FA.53 By 1976–1977 season, the FL was receiving £2,426,000 and the FA £200,000.54 In total, the agreement raised £23 million for the two football leagues and the FA. Further developments occurred in 1965 when the PPA paid £75,000 for the use of the Challenge Cup fixtures on its coupons, which went to paying off the FA deficit of £40,000 in 1964.55 Even before this occurred, John Moores had dispensed with his official position with Littlewoods to become chairman of Everton FC, a recognition in all senses of the appeasement between the football authorities and the football pools. By the 1960s, then the football pool industry was a legitimate activity which could be drawn upon to help football develop. The attempt to ban it had become an attempt to control it and then to accept it.

126  Politics of the pools since 1945 There were still occasional snipes at the pool companies and attempts to further control their activities. However, the cases tended to favour the pool companies and those who filled in the football fixtures. In April 1959, there was the ‘Mrs Bower case of a female punter whose winning coupon of £3,500 had been sent for the weekend pools but had not arrived until Tuesday. However, that was deemed misfortune for there was no legal requirement for the pool company to pay up.56 The implication was that the football pools were not playing the game. Harry Dodd (President) and James Hill (committee members) of Stockport County Football Association were prosecuted, both individually and collectively, by the Customs and Excise Commission for pool duty that was owed on their pool betting between March 1954 and January 1956. The pool had raised £70,457 and Customs and Excise claimed £21,137, 30 per cent of the alleged pool. However, they were cleared of running a pool because the members were given a number which was changed every few weeks, and the judgement was that this was effectively a lottery, but a private one that was legal.57 The introduction of the 1960 Betting and Gaming Act, allowing legal offcourse ready-money betting, as of April 1961, changed attitudes to gambling in a decade and saw the beginning of a brief twenty-year heyday for the football pools. Also, in 1963 the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act was passed to regulate small lotteries and prize competitions, and the activities of bookmakers, horse racing tracks. As far as the pool promoters were concerned, it simply repeated the requirement that they had to register with their appropriate local authority, that they had to present their accounts to an independently appointed accountant every August, indicating their annual expenditure and that these should, minus expenses, the pool duty and any commission that was charged. It simply regulated the pool promoters, who were already providing brief weekly breakdowns of stakes, expenses, commission and pool taxation, effectively absorbing the Pool Betting Act of 1954.58 This new Act emerged partly because of the proliferation of small pool competitions and lotteries that were emerging, often for charitable purposes. They emerged in many forms but some, which developed rapidly in the 1960s attached themselves to the results of football fixtures. These were often small-scale, but they came to the attention of the Churches’ Council for Gambling who brought a case against Singette Ltd in 1969, which was upheld in the House of Lords. The case arose because members of the Cancer League Club in Cardiff raised money for cancer relief through a card numbered 1 to 55 in which each member had four numbers which were fixed but which could be changed from time to time. Based on these numbers Singette, through its agents A.B.C. Pools Ltd, allocated the numbers to the home team in a list of football fixtures. ‘Dividends’, or ‘prizes’, were paid to those whose teams gained the largest number of goals or who gained three wins and a draw. Each winner paid, in the shilling, 2d for cancer research 2d or 3d for ‘dividends’, and the rest went to commission, taxed and reserves. Singette was registered as a pool promoter under the schedule 2 of

Politics of the pools since 1945 127 the Betting, Gambling and Lotteries Act of 1963. The original decision of the House of Lords is that this was a lottery, largely on the grounds that the numbers were fixed, making the competition a game of chance, or lottery. There was also a ‘Lucky Dip’ arrangement involved. There was an appeal against this decision to the House of Lords, in Singette Ltd v Martin (1071, 2 W.L.R. 13). Charged with breaking the schedules in the 1963 act and the running of a lottery, the case against Singette was upheld in the House of Lords. However, given that the purpose of the competition was charitable, the Pools Competition Act of 1971 was passed through House of Commons, and then the Lords to allow such charitable competitions to continue and given an initial life of five years, as discussed previously. There was much concern that bodies, such as the National Fund for Research into Crippling Diseases and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund would lose £400,000 per year, and that all charities would lose about £4 million if the competitions were made illegal. It was felt that the Spastics Society, spending £6 million on capital and with a total spending of £7,920,016 would be greatly affected by the loss of the pool money, and that this would affect Guy’s Hospital, which had been given £2,214,000 for research by the Spastics Society.59 The Act to was extended to July 1977, then to July 1978, and annually thereafter.60 Under this act, the Gaming Board was allowed to licence promoters who were running such competition subject to it establishing that such competitions gave a reasonable amount of their turnover to nominated charities and other beneficiaries, after paying the pool betting duty and expenses. This gave rise to, and protected, sporting charities such as Celtic Pools Limited and Manchester United Development Association,61 and many health and charity organisations such as the Spastics Society, already referred to, the millions of pounds of money of which was raised by Signette and Top Ten Promotions, being raised to the detriment of the commercial pool promoter.62 The Churches’ Council challenge to the charitable trusts had not worked as their influence and powers were clearly waning. By the early 1970s, they had come to accept control of gambling and the pool competitions as an alternative to abolition. The last real moral challenge to gambling and the pools was, thus, a rather mooted one mounted by the Churches’ Council on Gambling, in its 1974 publication Social Control of Gambling, written by the Rev. Gordon E. Moody, its secretary.63 In its statement at the beginning of the publication it claimed, in some concession to the changing times that ‘Ignorant moralising has been avoided like the plague’. He added that because it was associated with the British Council of Churches ‘that does not imply that we are killjoys or Pharisees. It does imply that we are interested in the truth’.64 Facts are what they sought as they aimed to take a ‘realistic view’ of gambling, which in effect means that they now wished it to be controlled, accepting that it could not be stopped. To this effect, it had drawn upon Sir Stanley Raymond, in his capacity as Chairman of the Gaming Board of Great Britain and of the Horserace Betting Levy Board, from which he later withdrew to address them prior to their annual meeting on 23 May 1973. The

128  Politics of the pools since 1945 Gaming Board advised local authorities on the granting of licences for gaming and gambling, and Raymond focussed mainly on licencing and horse racing, generally offering some type of control for gaming. Despite its claimed realism, this pamphlet was unquestioning in its assumption of the social dangers of gambling, highlighting the lack of social control of the compulsive gambler. Littlewoods, mindful of their opponents, kept a reference copy of the report for their records. Yet, the position of the anti-gamblers had changed, and its focus was now upon public lotteries rather than the football pools. However, the Churches Council did suggest, in its working party proposals, that the football pools were a form of lottery and that there were problems in this for any national lottery that might emerge. Indeed, It recognised that any large lotteries which were permitted would have to compete against each other and against the commercial pools. It said, therefore, that the number of organisations allowed to run large lotteries would have to be restricted. Also, because the football pools provide the most formidable obstacle to the establishment of large lotteries, it would be desirable for that reason (and on general grounds) to impose a limit on the size of the prizes offered by the football pools. In order to make up for any loss in turnover that might be expected to result from such a restriction on pools prizes, established pool promoters might be enabled to act as agents for large lotteries.65 It added that no single prize at the lottery should exceed £25,000, or £75,000 on special occasions, sums considerably lower than jackpot pool winners were winning with Littlewoods and Vernons at this time.66 The theme mood had changed, and the anti-gamblers were now demanding the control of gambling, in all its forms, rather than the banning of gambling. This was galvanised by the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978) which rejected the alarming idea (for the PPA) of imposing a Levy on the football pools to assist football clubs, made some recommendations for changing the pools, but endorsed its existence and influence in British society.67 Indeed, the Rothschild Commission’s main driving force was the desire not to undermine existing rights and ‘To interfere as little as possible with individual liberty. Secondly, it wished to examine gambling in the belief that people should not be put under unrestrained demands to gamble. People who gamble should be aware of what they are letting themselves in for’.68 This was not dissimilar to the aims of the Willink Commission (1949–1951). More specifically, on football, it accepted that 17 million people played the football pools in the season and that 12 million played them in the summer, when they used non-English football, and 81 per cent of those people played weekly.69 This meant that about 35 per cent of the adult population of Britain was still playing the pools every week.70 It also reflected that 500,000 people attended football matches weekly throughout the season, that one to two million adults and about a million schoolboys played football and

Politics of the pools since 1945 129 between 7.5 million and 11 million people watched football on television on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.71 It therefore concluded that ‘The football pools are an established feature of the British scene and are not only popular but widely accepted as harmless activity’.72 Its main concern was that the pool companies should offer a maximum prize of about £100,000, and not be able to roll over prizes, as opposed to the £500,000 plus prizes that were being paid out by Littlewoods. The pool companies were generally happy with this, their activities now endorsed as harmless fun. More of a concern was the decision of the Rothschild Commission to recommend that the Pool Competition Act of 1971 not be extended, and that instead ‘There should be a single national lottery for good causes run by a National Lottery Board (paragraph 13.64)’, consisting of ten members who would judge the good causes under a variety of guidelines.73 Such a development was regarded to be a major threat to the football pool competitions and their promoters, and, as will emerge, proved terminal for the pools. Indeed, the issue was now becoming one of a potential conflict between different forms of gambling. The Rothschild Commission also suggested that about 3 per cent of the tax of 40 per cent paid in Pool Betting Duty could be waved to allow the pool companies to finance a Football Fund to improve safety at the football grounds, in the face of major football stadium disasters, which they were already beginning to do.

Conclusion From the end of the Second World War until at least the late 1950s, the football pools were still subject to the vehement opposition that had identified the pools with moral failure and corruption during the inter-war years. The pool promoters were presented as ‘spivs’ and the punters as, somehow, deluded and misled, and not quite full citizens of the state. This essentially Christian-church approach continued with the support of the football leagues of Britain and was further endorsed by those, including some in government, who felt that the pool business was squandering the vital resources of paper and labour at a time when Britain needed all its resources for economic recovery. Hence, opposition was sometimes presented on economic and financial grounds based upon the need to remove a major impediment to Britain’s post-industrial growth. This opposition persisted into the 1950s when it began to break down, as the pool companies came to a financial agreement with the football leagues over payment for the use of the copyright fixture lists and as it became increasingly evident, and accepted, that the new national pastime of betting on the pools had become a family activity of the household and home. The hostility of the 1940s and 1950s was replaced by the rapid acceptance of gambling and the football pools that occurred for at least a quarter of a century after the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 seemed to legitimise and socially equalise gambling and as football. Royal commissions on gambling came to accept the right of the individual

130  Politics of the pools since 1945 to increasing liberty of action in the new democratic society, reflecting the struggle for sports and leisure in the fight for liberty and citizenship, much as Robert Colls and Brad Beaven have argued. Citizenship was being fought for, and won, much as Beaven has recognised for an earlier age. This neutralised the opposition to the football pools which had, in fact, prospered from 1945 to 1960 and, apart from the winter of 1963, and briefly afterwards, the pools boomed until well into the 1980s as society offered more opportunities for gambling. Despite the high level of tax paid, the pool firms ran their own affairs without significant, or debilitating, controls in the post-war years. However, the attitude towards the football pools changed as they were forced to engage with its workforce, through trade unions, and as it became an even more integral part of working-class life and culture. The emergence of new gambling opportunities in the 1970s and 1980s and the setting up of the National Lottery in 1994, a product of this more liberalised society of broader citizenship, was to bring about its demise. Immediately, however, in these new atmospheres of acceptability, even Littlewoods had to improve its industrial relations amongst its previously subservient and compliant workforce.

Notes

1. Norman Baker, ‘Going to the Dogs -Hostility to Greyhound Racing in Britain, Puritanism, Socialism and Pragmatism’, Journal of Sports History, 23 (1919), 119. 2. Keith Laybourn, Going to the Dogs, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2019, pp. 66–67. 3. Baker, ‘Going to the Dogs’, 97–119. 4. The National Archives, HLG 52/1422, dated about 1947, and quoted in Keith Laybourn, Going to the Dogs, pp. 64–65, but also look at pp. 62–75. 5. Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming, Final Report, March 1951, Cmd8190, p. 11, para 42, which will be referred to as the Willink Commission. 6. Ibid., p. 33, para 114. 7. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 18 November 1947, vol. 444, c. 1101 (William Nally MP (1914–1965). As well as being a Labour and Co-operative MP, he was a sometime journalist. 8. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 22 June 1949, vol. 466, cc 354–411. 9. The Times, 19 November 1948; Manchester Guardian, 19 November 1948. 10. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 4 July 1949, vol. 466, cc 1924–1934, particularly cc. 1929–1930. 11. Statement of Mr. Belcher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, in the Parliamentary Debates, 18 November 1947, vol. 444, cc. 1101–1112, mainly cc. 1101. 12. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 30 July 1943, vol. 384, cc. 68102, a statement by Herbert Morrison, the Home Secretary. 13. Ibid., HC Deb. 24 November 1948, vol. 458, cc. 117–1181, the early columns. Liverpool parcels posted numbered 6,568,300 posted per week and 4,478,800 delivered; Glasgow 162,900 and 199,300, respectively; Cardiff 2,280,700 and 691,700; London 680,700 and 405,766; Blackpool 55,800 and 36,500. The other departments reported had much smaller figures or had not separately recorded normal posy from pools post.

Politics of the pools since 1945 131 14. The Times, 12 March 1947. 15. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 4 July 1949, vol. 466, cc. 1923–1934. Sir Luke William Burke Teeling (1903–1975) was a Roman Catholic Conservative MP from Dublin, who was elected for Brighton in 1944 and then returned in 1945. 16. Ibid., c. 1923, quoting Official Report, 23 June 1949, vol. 449, c. 431. 17. Parliamentary Papers, HC Deb., 4 July 1949, cc. 1923–1934, particularly 1923–1924. 18. Ibid. 19. The Times, 26 July 1946. 20. Parliamentary Debates, HD Deb. vol. 444, 12 November 1947, col. 407–409 and House of Commons, vol. 445, 2 December 1947, cc. 286 to 305. 21. HO 335/32 gives pools take of 1948–1949 as being £58,180,306 with a tax of £14,808,162. 22. Willink Commission (1949–1951). Memorandum of the Pools’ Promoters Association, para 47–48, p. 332. 23. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 22 June 1949, vol. 466, c. 354. Sir William Burke Teeling (1902–1975) was an Irish author and Labour MP for West Ham Silvertown between 1929 and 1931 but was returned as Conservative MP for Brighton in a by-election in 1944, and in the 1945 general election until 1969. William George Glenvil Hall (1887–1962) was a British barrister and Labour politician, MP for Portsmouth Central from 1929 to 1931, and for Colne Valley from 1938 to 1962. 24. Ibid., cc. 396–404. 25. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 22 June 1949, vol. 466, cc. 396–397. Bessie Braddock (1899–1970), Labour MP for Liverpool, Exchange from 1945 to 1970. 26. Ibid., c. 397. 27. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 22 June 1949, vol. 466, c. 396. 28. The fifth session of the Willink Commission (1949–1951) Final Report, March 1951, Cmd 8190 [hereafter the Willink Commission] received evidence from Mr. Graham of the Scottish Football Association, Mr. Milwyn Jenkins of the Football Association of Wale, the English Football Association and Sir Stanley Rouse, CBE, the famous English Referee. There was also evidence from the Scottish National League Against Betting and Gambling. The churches gave their evidence in the ninth and tenth sessions, including the evidence of the Rev. E, Benson Perkins, the Methodist preacher and Chairman of the Churches’ Committee on Gambling (both sessions), Mr. E. Hugh and L. Parsons, JP. 29. Willink Commission, Final Report, p. 46, paras 161–162, also referring to questions 2329–2331 in the evidence, and Watson Q. 63815. 30. Ibid., p. 48, para 168. 31. Ibid., pp. 46–47, paras 147–148. 32. Ibid. 33. Ibid., p. 46, para 163. 34. Clapson, A Bit of a Flutter, p. 174. 35. Willink Commission, Final Report, pp. 85–86, para 184. 36. Ibid, pp. 85–86, para 184, referring to evidence in Q. 1544. 37. Colls, The Sporting Life: Sport & Liberty in England, 1760–1960, p. 280. 38. HO 335/109. Information supplied by Vernons, including G/ R. Kennerley’s letter to the Royal Commission on 6 March 1951. 39. HO 335/103, HO 335/64, and HO 335/109, in a letter to the Willink Commission, dated 20 October 1950. Arthur Penny, 3 December 1907 – 29 November 2003, was an English athlete who won a gold medal for the six miles in the British Empire Games in 1934, as well as later becoming Managing Director of Shermans. 40. HO 335/85.

132  Politics of the pools since 1945



41. Willink Commission, Final Report, para 184. 42. Ibid., para 184. 43. Ibid., p. 85, para 285. 44. Ibid., p. 92, para 307. 45. Ibid., pp. 90–95, paras 290 to 318. 46. J. D. B. Mitchell, ‘Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming’, The Modern Law Review, vol. 1, issue 3, July 1981, 322–325. 47. HO 335/ 64. Sir Henry Victor Alpin MacKinnon Raikes (1901–1986) was the Conservative MP for Liverpool Wavertree from 1945 to 1950, and then was MP for Liverpool Garston from 1950 until 1957. 48. Frederick Mulley (1918–1935), Labour MP for Sheffield Park from 1950 until 1983 when he was deselected from his seat by the Labour Party. He became Baron Mulley of Manor Park in the City of Sheffield in 1984. 49. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 29 January 1954, vol. 522, c. 2116. 50. The National Archives, BS3/109, letter and statement of April 1976, para 3.8, and p.2. 51. FA Council, Minutes, 18 February 1957. 52. Ibid., 3 July 1958, 28 September 1958, 16 February 1959. By this time, communications between the FA and the FL went through Joint Standing Committee of the Football Association and The Football League. 53. Chris Nawsat and Steve Hitchings, Sunday Times Illustrated History of Football, London, Reeds International Books, 1999, p. 97. 54. Royal Commission on Gambling, Final Report, vol. 1 (of 2), July 1978, Cmd 7200, 11.66. The Commission will, hereafter, be referred to as the Rothschild Commission. 55. The Times, 26 January 1965. 56. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 20 April 1959, vol. 604 cc. 181–188. The issue was raised by Mr. David Griffiths (Rother Valley) on behalf of one of his constituents. 57. The Guardian, 13 December 1960. 58. Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963, Schedule 2, pp. 65–74. 59. Parliamentary Debates HC Deb. 25 June 1971 cc. 1819–1828, particularly cc. 1820–1821. 60. Rothschild Commission, 15.2, 15.3. Also, Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 11 June 1984, 1142, when it was indicated that the Spastics Society gained about £800,000 per year, 10 to 12 per cent of its income, from the pool competitions, although Clement Freud revealed that of the £23 million raised by such competitions only about £3.5 million went to the charities. 61. Rothschild Commission, p. 263, Table 15.2. 62. Ibid. 63. Gordon E. Moody, Social Control of Gambling, London, The Churches’ Council on Gambling, 1974. 64. Ibid., p. 1 65. Ibid., p. 68. 66. Ibid., p. 69. 67. Rothschild Commission, Final Report, vol. 1 68. Ibid., 1.8. 69. Ibid., 11.7.  70. Ibid., 11.7. 71. Ibid., 11.7. 72. Ibid., 11.9. 73. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 434, 13. A national lottery for good causes, R. 127.

6

Employment, process and changing industrial relations in the football pool companies 1945–1990s

Littlewoods and Vernons, who controlled almost 91 per cent of the football pool industry by the mid-1970s, prided themselves on their close and harmonious relationship with their workforce. Indeed, in the late 1930s, The Littlewood Review had emphasised the loyalty of the happy, largely female, full and part-time workforce. The firm sponsored social, sporting and cultural events to maintain a close relationship with their workers and suggested that the wages they paid were generous for the industry. Revived after the Second World War, The Littlewood Review, in 1947, re-emphasised this harmonious relationship in the ten issues it produced in the 1947/8 season. It continued to do so for another twenty years, although this paternalistic journal became intermittent by the 1960s, volume 15 being published in May 1963 in the 1963/4 season, with volume 16 then appearing only once every two or three months in the 1966/7 and 1967/8 seasons, before ceasing publication altogether.1 It was at this point that the paternalism of Littlewoods was being seriously challenged by a new industrial relations structure in which workers asserted their rights through trade unionism after many years of trade unions pressure, although the new era was relatively brief and collapsed when the pools were quickly replaced by The National Lottery in the mid-1990s. The cosy paternal family-firm relationship of the 1930s to the 1960s was generated by the impression that Littlewoods, and Vernons, were benevolent dictatorships. As the business process became increasingly complex – more time and motion efficient and ever-changing with technological changes – job reductions, and economic problems began to occur. This led the socially harmonious Fordian system, generated in the 1930s, to stutter, much as the Littlewood Review did itself. Indeed, as early as 3 April 1936, Mr. Williams MP indicated the frustrations of some pool workers and added that ‘The pool promoters do not want liberty for the workers…’, and trade unions attempted, though they failed, to get trade unions organised at Littlewoods and Vernons’.2 Subsequent attempts to get trade union representation on the eve of the Second World War also failed and there was little success in gaining worker representation at Littlewoods and Vernons, though change was on its way. For Littlewoods, the limits of benevolence were to become all too obvious in their brutal closure of its Irlam Road offices in March 1963 in, what was DOI: 10.4324/9781003144908-6

134  Employment, process & industrial relations in effect, a management attempt to root out incipient industrial opposition and trade unionism within the firm.3 Up to that point, the fact is that both the permanent, part-time, casual staff of Littlewoods had little voice in the terms of employment that management imposed. Indeed, Littlewoods, with between half the pool business in the 1930s and two-thirds by the 1960s, set the tone for the whole industry as they employed between 10,000 to 12,000 employees, more than half the permanent and temporary workforce of the football pools, in their various premises in Liverpool and Cardiff (having absorbed Shermans in June 1961), until the beginning of the 1960s. Littlewoods, and other pool companies, also sub-contracted many thousands of self-employed commission agents to collect coupons, a side of the business which increased enormously after the Second World War when the wartime problems of posting coupons and the shortage of paper persisted. This change led to a move from the use of the post to the sub-contracting of collectors to gather coupons and quickly transformed the pool business and how it operated. It also helped to speed up the mechanisation of the industry during the 1950s and 1960s with the triple aim of saving money, improving security and maintaining integrity. These changes created unease within the workforce, whose jobs were changing rapidly, and less of a feeling of a family firm at Littlewoods and led to emergence of trade unionism, and industrial conflict at the Irlam Road Buildings in 1963. Cecil Moores, ‘The Chief’, sought to deny workers the right to negotiate on wage rates through trade unions by emphasising the existence of a Staff Consultation Committee, reportedly formed in the 1930s, although it appears to have done little. Yet in the end, even Littlewoods was unable to resist the demands of trade unions and were in annual negotiations with them in the mid- and late-1970s. Littlewoods was reducing the number of staff it employed, changing the pay rates, and attempting to keep trade unionism at bay. Fordism declined and the attempt to maintain a harmonious relationship with the workforce faded into oblivion. A similar type of story was true for Vernons, as the football pool industry was forced to face up to the challenges that faced it in the intensified world of competitive world of gambling and Information Technology, and even trade unionism.

The workers, wages and conditions It is impossible to establish precisely exactly how many people worked in the football pools’ industry up to the mid-1930s because there were hundreds of, often illegal, bookmakers who dabbled in the football pools as a side-line business, as well as the fact that the larger companies were only just emerging. However, by the late 1930s, The Littlewood Sport Log was suggesting that Littlewoods employed around 10,000, full and part-time, workers, mainly women as checking clerks on a four-day or five-day basis. Employment in the pools industry diminished greatly during the Second World War but recovered quickly thereafter. The Willink Commission

Employment, process & industrial relations 135 Table 6.1  The number of people employed by the eight main pool companies c. 1950 Name of firm

Men

Women

Total

Littlewood pools 806 11,004 Vernon pools 614 5,735 Cope’s pools 40 360 ITP London ltd 30 720 Bond pools ltd 38 350 T. Strang 60 280 Murphy’s pools ltd (included in the Strang numbers) Sherman pools ltd 876 2,339 Western pools ltd 25 250 Totals 2,489 21,038

11,810 6,349 400 750 388 340 3,215 275 23,527

Source: Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming 1949–1951 Report, Cmd 8190, based upon an unnumbered table, 167.

(1949–1951) suggested that there were over 23,000 workers, mainly women, directly employed by the eight main pool firms (Strang and Murphys taken as one firm and appearing to have merged), and that 18,000 of these were employed in Liverpool alone – about 12,000 by Littlewoods and 6,000 by Vernons, producing the evidence given in Table 6.1.4 This table, of course, excludes the many thousands of self-employed collectors of coupons. The Churches’ Committee on Gambling suggested to the Willink Commission that there were at least 30,000 permanent and 30,000 sub-contracted, collectors in the industry and that the total might have been over 100,000 workers.5 Shermans maintained that there were about 2,000 full-time employees at their Cardiff Head Office and that by ‘far the majority are female’, 92 per cent female and 8 per cent male working a 40-hour week. There was indeed also ‘A considerable amount [sic] of part-time staff work at the weekends in a part-time capacity’.6 By the time the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978), there were only five commercial football pool companies operating, alongside the charitable pool associations. They were Littlewoods with 66 per cent of the market, Vernons with 24.8 per cent, Copes with 2.9 per cent, Zetters with 2.9 per cent, and Empire with 2.5 per cent.7 By then, the rapidly expanding football pools were becoming increasingly mechanised and there was declining demand for female checkers. Indeed, the 23,527 pools workers directly employed in 1951 had fallen to about 11,000 by 1978.8 The number of employees at Littlewoods had fallen sharply by the early-1960s, down to 5,796, excluding several hundred Cardiff (ex-Sherman workers) staff, by the 21 January 1963, of which 4,197 worked in the pool-checking side of the business. There were also 523 optional auxiliaries and 206 supervisors. With male security staff, male managers and the Cardiff staff the entire Littlewoods’ workforce of checkers and ancillary staff could not have been much more than 6,500 by the early 1960s.9 Although offered in a broader

136  Employment, process & industrial relations context to offset the charge that the pool companies were inefficient, poor value for the client and making exceptional profits, the Final Report of the Rothchild Commission, endorsing its Interim Report, stated, of the investigation into accounts and practices of the pool companies, that ‘These do not disclose any evidence of inefficiency or extravagance in the running of the business, nor suggest that profits are exceptionally high’.10 Indeed, they were becoming increasingly efficient and increasingly technological. By the 1980s and early 1990s, the demand for full-time and part-time workers had fallen further, and the number of casual workers had increased. There were still around 5,000 employees at Littlewoods but the numbers were falling at a time when Copes was bought by Ladbrokes, as Empire ceased operating in 1976, and Robert Sangster sold Vernons to Ladbrokes for £90 million in 1989, aware of the serious threat of a national lottery.11 By that time, and certainly by the late 1980s, Littlewoods held 75 per cent of the pool business, compared with 20 per cent for Vernons and 5 per cent for Zetters.12 Employment levels continued to decline and on 10 February 1996, less than two years after the introduction of The National Lottery, Nigel Evans MP (Ribble Valley) stated that Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters, the last two also trading within wider world of gambling, employed about 4,500 employees between them and sub-contracted about 80,000 collectors. At that very moment, Vernons announced another 95 job losses.13 The number of football pool workers had dramatically declined further by 2007 when Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters were operating under Sportstech, although the business was now submerged into wider workforce of gambling syndicates. The 23,527 directly employed workers of 1951 had fallen to about 4,500 in the mid-1990s, and possibly fewer than 2,000 by the early twenty-first century – an overall decline of more than 90 per cent in just over half a century. The development of online betting had also, inevitably, totally removed the necessity for employing 100,000 collectors of coupons once by the twenty-first century. Most of the permanent and directly employed workforce between the 1930s and 1990s was female, normally full time and paid for a five-day week, although some worked a four-day week and were part-time. They were mainly residents in Liverpool. As Table 6.1 indicates, there were about nine female employees to every male employee. In addition, most women were clerks, checking clerks or supervisors and that the men held middle and senior management posts and were normally full-time workers. Most of the collectors were men, although there were some women collectors. Yet, what did they do and how did it change over time?

Structure, procedures and jobs The structure of employment at Littlewoods, and indeed that of the other large pool companies, was broadly outlined in Chapters 2 and 4, but it is worth examining this in more detail to explain the complexity of the work and its deeply integrated, dependent and changing nature. By the 1960s

Employment, process & industrial relations 137 Littlewoods, and the other pools companies, had established a streamlined operation based upon commission agents collecting coupons, postal coupons, new technology and intensified security.14 The pool promoters gathered coupons in two ways. One was to build up a large mailing list, which involved ‘expensive promotional mailings to the addresses taken from the Election Registers’. These potential punters would send in their coupons by post. The second way, which was to become increasingly popular, was to create a chain of distribution and collecting agents ‘throughout the length and breadth of the country’. The important issues here were to maintain honesty and integrity, particularly where collectors were involved. Concessionaires, Main Collectors and Collectors worked on a commission basis, taking about 20 per cent of the proceeds, a situation which was a cause of concern since the failure of some winning coupons to be processed raised issues about the integrity of the system, and the trustworthiness of the collectors, even though the same issue could arise with receipt of postal coupons.15 The pool companies regarded the collectors as the agents of the punters and took no responsibility for their failures. Punters had to sign the ‘honour clause’ on the coupons which indicated that the collector was an agent of the punter and not the company which therefore could not be held responsible for the fraudulent activity of the collectors, and the failure of a winning coupon to be registered. Indeed, the Appleton v Littlewoods case of 1939 endorsed the case of Jones v Vernons in 1938, in establishing that collectors were the agents of the punters.16 Each collector, of whom there were around 100,000 at their height, was responsible for getting 100 coupons and the stake money each week. This is usually done on Thursday and Friday evenings. When collector has completed his or her round, the coupons would be handed to the main collector. The main collectors, of whom there were over 2,000 at Littlewoods, would, in turn, hand on their coupons to one of 41 concessionaires sending in the coupons to Littlewoods. The 41 concessionaires, sometimes referred to as commissaires, were ‘engaged full time on the work and sometimes employ an assistant. They received 1 per cent of the stake as remuneration’.17 The commissioners would then receive all the coupons by about 11 am to 11.30 pm on Friday night, and pack them into company bags to begin their journey to the promoter’s office. By the late 1970s, about 90 per cent of all coupons were collected by the 100,000 or so collecting agents employed by Littlewoods and Vernons. who would call usually from door to door, and only the remaining 10 per cent were sent by post.18 In the case of Zetters, which had swallowed up Copes and Empire in 1976, 43 per cent of coupons were collected and 57 per cent posted.19 The arrangements for the weekly cycle of the season from the 1960s gives a sense of the work, technology and security involved, and an overview of the different operations involved. First, the pools had to be compiled and the coupons printed, with the permission of the FL the Scottish FL and the FA. Compiling and printing of coupons, occurred about ten days before the

138  Employment, process & industrial relations event. The main printing demand, from 1946, was for the Treble Chance, of gaining eight draws from 54 matches (though later 58), based upon 3 points for a draw, 2 points for an away win, and 1.5 points for a home win – though in the 1970s the points system became, respectively, 3, 2 and 1.20 For the postal clients, the coupons had to be sent in specially designed envelopes to allow a flap with the Littlewoods’ address on the cover the client’s names when sealed and were sent out about three or four days before the fixtures were to occur. The envelopes sent out would have a code number for opening on return by the female pool clerk who despatched it, and they opened the envelopes on the flat to ensure that all the contents were recorded. The clerk would use a hand Addressograph Machine, apply a security stamp impression using a special plate (known internally as an Opening Post Rota Plate) bearing code symbols which could not easily be reproduced. There would be further security measures to ensure that the identity of the person who originally opened the envelope and dealt initially with the coupon was known. These Rota plates would be changed according to the day and time, and the code would only be known to a Security Officer. The money invested on coupons and on each individual Pool would be added and the information passed to the independent Chartered Accountants. During Saturday, postal coupons would be segregated according to the type of entry the Clients had made on their own coupons, which may be Treble Chance, Lit-Plans, or Fixed Odds, and this type of entry would be marked by the electronic ‘Solartron’ machine. The checking clerks would then check permutations, straight lines entries only, and other forms of competition, a combination of the two or more competitions. By approximately 3.30 pm on Saturday, all the posts had been opened before being locked away in strong rooms until required for marking, and a further Rota stamp with a different code would be impressed on each coupon This was to establish that the coupon was in fact in the possession of the pool promoters on Saturday before the results of the matches were known. At that point, all coupons with a stamp would be regarded as genuine.21 For the collecting service, the pattern of activity would, as already outlined, be different. Commissioners from the 41 regions of Littlewoods employed main collectors and collectors. All coupons had to be collected from clients with money by Friday. Each collector placed the coupons and stake money in an envelope and a statement of money paid to the Main Collector. The monies had to be paid into the Pool Promoters’ Banking Account by the Main Collector. The envelope bearing the main coupons would then, by various means, be sent to central points where they are received by couriers (ex- policemen) employed by the pool promoters who would place them in large carrier bags which were then time-locked, and then into another carrier bag which is also time locked. Couriers then transported the coupons in the locked bags to the Pool Promoters’ premises to arrive by 4.0 pm on Saturday on which the matches were to be played. Security guards would then check the bags and record to details of the receipts and the coupons are then processed through a coding machine to establish a date and the

Employment, process & industrial relations 139 building up of a receipt. The collected pools would then be subject to the same marking and checking patterns of the postal pools. The marking of all the coupons, both posted and collected, was complicated and specialised, and before marking commenced a complex changeover would occur to ensure that no pool clerk knew which coupon they were going to mark and to ensure that she did not mark her own list of clients. Each marking clerk would receive a marking card for the types of pool arrangement on the coupon. These cards would be printed immediately after the results were known on Saturday afternoon. The clerks would have been trained for different types of entries, such as instance, checking the Trebles Chance entries to discover which coupons had the minimum correct number of draws to make them a potential winner. Other clerks would be checking other marking plans by using marking manuals, charting machines, and electronic marking machines. The permutations on the winning coupons would be checked by specialists. It was said that ‘It cannot be too strongly emphasised that the marking operation and the training of the various grades of Clerks is the most important and involved matter, and efficiency is only obtained by long training and practical experience’.22 The winning coupons would then be extracted from the bundles of coupons, labelled and summarised by special Adding Staff and, from this, Chartered Accountants, aware of the amount of money staked, would be able to compute the winning dividends from each Pool. The genuineness of the coupons would be checked, and special attention would be paid to the big winners. On the Tuesday after the Saturday matches, the winning coupons would be distributed to clerks different from those who previously received them. The clerks would then go on to calculate the winnings of each coupon, and this money is requisitioned, in the form of a postal order or a cheque. On the Wednesday, a further changeover of staff would be requisitioned, and on receipt of coupon and winnings make up the envelopes, which, after a further check, would be sent out to the winning Clients. The essential feature of this complex of checks was security, which lay at the very heart of the pool business in which large sums of money – running into many thousands of pounds – were handled, to prevent checkers introducing fraudulent coupons completed after the results of the matches were known. An independent firm of Chartered Accountants, `as required under the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act of 1963 would be employed to deal with payments, disqualifications and other outcomes’. From then onwards, many highly trained personnel would also be employed to conduct a stringent check on coupons, and they would photograph and number them. All big winners would be subject to the scrutiny of the Investigation Branch and all winners of £20,000 and more would have their documents checked and re-checked. When all dividends were paid the coupons would be returned to the original clerk who can then record all the investments and dividends paid. This weekly cycle of activity was clearly heavily dependent upon large numbers of female pools checkers and security guards in a process which

140  Employment, process & industrial relations was even more intricate than the one outlined. Special departments existed for different jobs – Correspondence, Claims, Cash, Inward and Outward Mail, Preparation for addressing the media, Publicity, Coupons, Research Methods Study and Planning and Investigation. This was to ensure that coupons to ensure that all coupons were on the pool premises before 4 pm on the day of the matches – stamped by a pin die machine and subject to constant security measures from that point until payments were made the following Wednesday. The coupon would never be dealt with by only one employee in the years following the Second World War The whole complex process became increasingly mechanised, and less labour-intensive, over time. The photographs published by Littlewoods in their publicity publications reveal the rows of checking clerks at their desks in the large hall at Edge Lane in the 1950s and 1960s. However, their numbers became fewer as new machinery was installed. There were postal franking machines, machinery for opening envelopes, labelling machine and a Scriptomatic machine for running off addresses on envelopes.23 Faced with increased mechanisation, the job was everchanging and the numbers employed in the pool industry at Littlewoods, and in Liverpool, fell rapidly from the late 1960s onwards. An indication of this decline is recorded in a red-backed book which lists the number of pools checking clerks at Littlewoods from April 1968 until 1970, recording the number of pool clerks employed on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday on a four-day week. These were recorded for five office buildings of Canning Street (Birkenhead), Edge Lane, Walton Hall Avenue, Hillington (all Liverpool), and Cardiff, the old home of Shermans Pools who had been taken over by Littlewoods in June 1961, with the transfer of 800,000 coupons to Littlewoods.24 On Tuesday 27 April 1968, these buildings employed 1,949 checking clerks, 79 trainees, 232 part-time markers and 81 new members, a total of 2,331 checking clerks. The number of females checking clerks varied from day to day, but all the five buildings employed at least a couple of hundred each, with Walton Hall accounting for more than 600 and Edge Lane around 580. The numbers employed on 12 December 1970 were, in the order given for 27 April 1968, 1,318, 115, 99 and 214, giving a total number of 1,746. These figures suggest a fall in the number of staff employed of about 30 per cent in less than three years. The Establishment figure are given at the side of these figures, and they are always higher than the actual figures employed. The personal experiences and views of the workers at Littlewoods are barely recorded beyond their social, cultural, sporting and leisure activities in The Littlewood Review. Those employed by other medium-sized and smaller firms are even less well-recorded, and little often survives as a record apart from photos of young female clerks checking coupons at desks in large rooms. Yet there would appear to have been some flexibility of choice, experience and freedom for the operators to demand extra free time from workers, to adjust wages at will, and to focus upon the preference for men, over women, on key jobs. This is admirably displayed in David Yorath’s account

Employment, process & industrial relations 141 of his working life at Shermans, up to the point at which it was absorbed by Littlewoods in June 1961. Interviewed in February 2019, at the age of 83, for Wales Online, he talked about his experiences with Shermans for two years in the 1960s, before he went off to become a teacher. Having obtained a degree at Swansea University in 1958, David delayed going into teaching for two or three years. He was employed as a claims clerk at the Shermans Pools Building in St. Mary Street Cardiff, seen as a post for men, until being able to take up a teaching post. My wage had been £10 per week but when I handed in my notice the managing director offered me a rise of £2 a week, which I rejected, but I did carry on working for them on weekends as a part-time clerk. While there I was employed as a claims clerk replying to punters’ letters when they thought that they had a successful entry but had not been paid. In addition, if it was a busy week with many drawn matches I and my fellow clerks were expected to go in on Saturdays and Sundays to oversee the part-time coupon markers. We received no extra pay for this. It was considered part of our duties. But they did provide chicken dinners for us free of charge. At that time Football Pools were very important to many people and were regarded as a possible way to achieve wealth and a happy early retirement. Many people used quite complicated permutations, or ‘perms’ as they were known, and part of my job was to learn how to check such entries. I enjoyed this and picked up the perms quite quickly. I was soon regarded as a bit of an expert on perms. My immediate boss, Alf Phillips, and I were the claims section of the office, and two other men took over the duties of correspondence clerks and answered general queries from the members of the public. The four of us had a pool of typists at our disposal, mainly copy typists, who sent out stock letters, and a few shorthand typists to whom we dictated the answers to less common enquiries.25

Trade unionism, the Irlam road dispute (1961–1963), the emergence of trade unionism in the 1970s and their collapse Until the early 1960s, Littlewoods, Vernons and the other major firms held total, almost unchallenged, control over their workforce. Littlewoods and Vernons paid modestly good wages to their employees, and expected loyalty to the firm, as they adopted a Fordist approach to their workforce. Their strategy was inimical of trade unionism. The lack of trade union representation at the Liverpool football pool firms was first raised on the eve of the Second World War. On 1 March 1939, the Liverpool Trades Council and the TUC assessed Littlewoods and Vernons and concluded that there was little trade unions presence. The Electrical

142  Employment, process & industrial relations Trade Union, with small numbers of workers, had 100 per cent unionisation at both Littlewoods and Vernons, and most plumbers and typographers had union membership. However, female clerks dealing with the coupons were not unionised.26 The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) failed to get recognised union status, and, in a letter of 18 March 1939, Cecil Moores stated to the General Secretary of the TUC that I consider the formation of any Trade Union Organization within my firm as quite unnecessary in view of the fact that there is already in existence a Staff Council which exists for the specific purpose of dealing with any individual grievance and provides the negotiating machinery which you apparently desire to establish.27 This contrasted slightly with Vernon Sangster’s equivocal statement, on 13 March 1939, that he had no objection to trade union representation ‘on the subject of individual grievance’ for ‘those trade unionists that we employ’, contained within a flurry of correspondence between him and C. W. Allen of Vernons, and the TUC.28 However, the departure of Allen to the USA in June 1939, followed by the outbreak of the Second World War, ended such correspondence as the pools mutated, and diminished, into the wartime Unity Pools.29 At the beginning of 1950, Liverpool Trades Council once again raised the issue of the organisation of the 17,000 workers in the football pools in the Liverpool area, noting that unions such as the TGWU (Transport and General Workers’ Union), USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers), CAWU (Clerical and Administrative Workers’ Union), had been active in the pools industry and that ‘During the last 18 months the NUGMW (National Union of General and Municipal Workers) had succeeded in getting rather more than a foothold in Vernons and I understand that they had 2,000 members’. That last initiative faltered quickly, however, largely because the union represented less than 50 per cent of the staff and was refused recognition by Vernons. It was thus felt that now the ‘employees are without cover of any kind’.30 Over the next year, there were constant trade union enquiries about trade union recognition at Littlewoods and Vernons, but little happened. The most significant demand for trade union representation seems to have begun in 1961 in the events that led to the closure of the Littlewoods Irlam Road Building on the 5 March 1963. The context of the closure was a decline of Littlewoods coupon take of £3 million in the 1960/1 season compared with the previous season, which represented an overall decline of up to £10 million on the 1959/1960 season. In 1962 and 1963, Littlewoods announced these results on the advice of its Staff Council.31 Part of this decline was to do with the fact that the Pools Betting Tax was raised from 30 per cent to 33 per cent, and that in the Christmas of 1962 Britain faced one of its longest cold spells, ‘The Big Freeze’, which brought football to a standstill for several weeks. At this point, Littlewoods prided itself upon the fact that despite the loss of full fixtures and four weeks of competition it ‘still

Employment, process & industrial relations 143 maintained all its staff during this period of no business’.32 To offset these losses, as already suggested, Littlewoods and the PPA decided to set up a Pools Panel of experts to decide notional results and the pool competitions began again on 26 January 1963 ‘with a vastly reduced volume of business’.33 Littlewoods then suggested that it had acted to protect the entire business in announcing the closure of Irlam Road Building with its 1,041 staff on Tuesday 5 March 1963, with immediate effect. The official Littlewood record suggests that 189 supervisors, mainly men, and other staff were found work in other Littlewoods’ buildings in Merseyside, but 852 women and girls were ‘reluctantly’ made redundant. There was no statutory redundancy pay at this time, but Littlewoods offered what they considered to be generous redundancy terms. Those with less than a year’s experience received one week’s pay plus 7.6 per cent of their weekly income, and there was a fourstage progression upwards to those with ten or more years’ service receiving five weeks’ pay plus 11.6 per cent. To Littlewoods, this was evidence of their generosity and compassion, given that the company had received only five million coupons per week in December 1962, none in January 1963, and only about 2.3 million per week during the time that the Pools Panel began operating.34 It took until 9 March 1963 for the number of coupons to recover to four million per week and it was not until 1966 that the number of coupons Littlewoods received rose again to five million per week. The Littlewoods income turnover of £52,043,149 in the 1959/1960 season, had fallen to £41,902,538 in 1962/3, though it eventually had recovered to £61,568,406 in the 1965/66 season, the highest it had been since 1959/1960.35 To endorse its claimed fair treatment of the staff, Littlewoods eventually re-engaged 600 (72.11 per cent) of the staff who had lost jobs at Irlam Road and claimed that ‘most of the rest had found new jobs in Liverpool, some with Littlewoods Mail Order offices at Derby Lane and Crosby’.36 Nevertheless, the Littlewoods official version of events was highly selective and ignored some of the vital events and the possible motives for the closure of Irlam Road. The fact is that some trade union activities were occurring at Irlam Road from the late 1950s and that these came to fruition in early 1961 when the checking clerks would only check the postal coupons and not those sent in by the collecting agents, which was the growing market. Cecil Moores, ‘The Chief’, who would regularly broadcast through a tannoy system the staff in the various Littlewood buildings, made a dramatic announcement to the staff of Irlam Road Building on 13 December 1961, warning them of their dangerous actions. This week, although you knew that I was coming here today to talk over the outstanding points raised by your representatives, you endeavoured to sabotage the business by refusing to mark Collector coupons. Now, this building is causing trouble, in fact, more than all the other buildings put together, because of which you have forced me into having to seriously consider closing the building.37

144  Employment, process & industrial relations This was a blunt threat that if both types of coupons were not opened that the Collectors’ coupon income and the postal coupon income would fall and, the firm would obviously require more part-time, and fewer full-time, staff. ‘The Chief’ reminded the workers of the poor economic conditions of the time of the ‘Big Freeze’ and of the high wages that Liverpool paid; a five-day a week girl of 18 at Vernons would only receive £8 1s 6 d (£8–7.5 p) per week whilst at Littlewoods the rate was £9 5s 0d (£9–25 p), plus several allowances. ‘The Chief’ maintained that it was necessary to deal with the Collectors’ coupons because more and more business was going to come from this source, and that, in a strong paternalistic style, stated that …a lot of you are good, dedicated and loyal worker, many of whom have worked for me for years, but it would appear that you are… probably being led astray by a few hot-headed people who had better be employed somewhere else, and I would advise these people to go quickly. Now, I have explained the position quite quickly, and I want to know here and now which of you want to remain here as loyal workers, your Supervisor will ask each here and now if you wish to co-operate with me and work in the proper manner, and on the result, I will make my final decision.38 ‘The Chief’ was unused to being challenged and was resorting to the bluntest of threats. There was to be no concession to those who opposed his decisions and to those he deemed to be misled by agitators and trade unionists. The harmonious relations between Littlewoods and the workforce had begun to wear thin especially as ‘Mr. Cecil’ announced Compulsory Short Time on 22 January 1962, to the staff at Walton Hall Avenue, reducing their week from five days to four days, which meant Wednesday off, for four and a half-day’ pay without any discussion with the Staff Council.39 That action was broadcast to all buildings on 12 February 1962.40 There is no precise evidence of what happened next but whilst the management clearly established control of the situation, they were faced with constant interruptions of work at Irlam Road buildings as some members joined trade unions. Pursuing its anti-trade union policy, Littlewoods drew up its ‘Individual Interviews’ statement to confront individual staff suspected of trade union activities. It read as follows. I have reason to believe that you have been using the firm’s time and the firm’s premises to indulge in Trade Union activities. Now if you and I are not to fall out this must stop. What you do in your spare time is no concern of mine, but I will not have you and the firm will not tolerate you engaging in outside activities when you should be doing the work you are paid to do. So please understand that if it comes to my knowledge that you have ignored this warning, there will only be one end to it and that is you and I will have to part company.41

Employment, process & industrial relations 145 The firm continued its opposition to trade unions by regularly broadcasting anti-trade union announcements to its workforces over its tannoy system in all its buildings. Faced with rumours, allegedly fostered by trade unionists, that all staff would be made part-time, ‘Mr. Cecil’ announced to Irlam Road staff in mid-October 1962 that, contrary to rumours that all staff would be made part-time, 90 per cent of the staff would be employed full-time, and that seasonal and part-time staff would make up the differences according to the fluctuation in the number of the coupons, and that ‘there would be no redundancy of full-time pool clerks’.42 Typically, this was followed up by a statement on 31 October 1962 against employees using the firm’s time to ‘indulge in Trade Union matters’ which must stop at once’ and an appeal to the old loyalty to the firm. We are, of course, well aware that the vast majority of our employers are, in every sense of the word, loyal servants of the Company. Indeed, we have always prided ourselves on the good relations which exist between Management and staff and have never been conscious of the need for any outside interference in this healthy relationship.43 Littlewoods was at pains to suggest that the decline in business at that time, which had caused some disquiet amongst staff, was of the decline of ‘traditional Treble Chance business where periodic high-level winners and the attendant publicity were essential stimulus to business. Furthermore, there was growing competition from other forms of gambling with Bingo playing an increasing role’.44 The increasing defensive strategy of football ensured that there was a surfeit of 0–0 draws, and therefore a shortage of big wins to attract clients did not help and, later, forced the firm into introducing score draws with three points on the coupon. As a result, Littlewoods was already looking at ways of saving on wages, with full staff at Walton Hall Avenue taking a day off from their five-day week and losing half a day’s pay.45 This was more widely broadcast throughout the firm on the same day and was part of the policy of compulsory short-time employment since the hope for the ‘improvement in the work has not materialised meaning that all pool staff and ancillary staff had to take Wednesday off as a special concession and that for that week only they would receive four and a half days pay for a four-day week’.46 Given the continuing interruptions in coupon checking at Irlam Road, and the loss of business through the ‘Big Freeze’, Cecil Moores decided to act. On the 5 March 1963, he broadcast messages to the workforce at Irlam, with separate broadcasts to the workers at Edge Lane, Canning Street and Cardiff. The closure of Irlam Road was immediate. At 4.40 pm, a broadcast was made over the tannoy to the 1,041 employees, all but 83 being women, at the Irlam Road Building offices announcing that redeployment of 189 full-time members of staff and redundancy terms for the other 852 part-time checkers, with immediate effect.47 At the beginning of April 1963, Simon

146  Employment, process & industrial relations Mahon, MP for Bootle, the constituency in which Irlam Road Building resided, described the event as being ‘archaic, ruthless and impersonal’.48 The local Labour exchange had not been informed of this decision and the only people alerted to this decision were the police and the special investigation branch of Littlewoods’ organisation, who were hidden in the building until 4.40 pm, and then ‘swooped on the girls – this is no exaggeration – who barely had time to get their coats on and whisked them out of the building’.49 He added that ‘There was a complete lack of discrimination. People who had been there 19 years and 11 months were sacked with the same lack of consideration as those who had been there 10 months’.50 Mahon added that the firm had seven more building where this could occur, and that he had had no response to his request for explanation to Littlewoods from Cecil Moores as to the cause of these instant dismissals. He claimed that the people who were dismissed were often widows, or had sick husbands, and that the compensation was inadequate and poor when compared with other pool companies: ‘If they had to dismiss people [he felt that] they did so in a fair, more humane, fair and generous way’. He further noted that these dismissals added to the 3,889 (3,041 men, 158 boys, 584 women, and 106 girls) unemployed living in Bootle, some of whom had written to him about the undignified position in which they had been placed. The response of Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government was provided by Willie Whitelaw, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, and simply suggested that this was a business decision. It pointed to the downward move of unemployment figures for Bootle, although they had in fact risen dramatically between March 1962 and March 1963. Whitelaw suggested that of the broadly 850 women made unemployed 574, mainly from Bootle, had registered with the Merseyside Employment Exchange, that 66 had been found work and that 39 had found work themselves, and that the other 469 remained registered unemployed.51 He thought that the redundancy terms were good but that it was ‘unfortunate’ that they had been announced over the tannoy system. Effectively, the Conservative government wiped its hands of the affair. The slow recovery of the pool business in 1963 and 1964 allowed for the re-employment of some of those women who had been made redundant, but the atmosphere had changed and the jolly upbeat statements of ‘The Chief’ to the Littlewoods staff seemed increasingly hollow. Littlewoods had already introduced a system of Staff Council representatives in the 1930s but, as evident from the Irlam Road Building closure, they had not been consulted on the decisions to be announced. In effect, they seemed to be treated as imparters of the decisions of the firm. Typical, in the wake of the Irlam Road building closure, was a statement by ‘Mr. Cecil’ to Staff Council representatives on the 1 July 1963’, having acceded to their recommendation of an experiment to finish work on a Monday at 5.30 pm rather than 6.30 pm, proceeded to announce his new arrangements.

Employment, process & industrial relations 147 I have been giving very careful thought to the working week and have decided that on Fridays and Saturdays we must complete the opening of the post and the sorting and entering of Solartron coupons which are roughly 30% of the whole. The balance of sorting and entering will be done on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, according to the sort of marking week it is. Now that we can mark when necessary into Tuesdays, it becomes possible to look at Monday hours, and as I appreciate that marking day is tiring, I propose to reduce the day by half an hour so that there will be a 6 o’clock finish. This reduction in the weekly pay hours to 38 will not carry a reduction in pay, in fact after carefully considering the wages position and bearing in mind the changes in the cost of living I have decided to increase the rates by another 5/- per week for those aged 18 and over effective from the 19 August. A grade 1 Pool Clerk aged 18 will then receive £9 17s 6d for a 28-hour week plus 5/service allowance, earnings of £10 2s 6d per week which is very much higher than paid elsewhere. In return I expect, and I feel sure I will get the greatest possible co-operative effort in dealing with the work as it arises, and the maintenance of a high standard of efficiency.52 This was a return to business in the old style with an expectation that loyal members of staff and their representatives would simply agree to management decisions. In this climate, the strong hostility to trade unionism persisted, despite the equivocation of Littlewoods to trade unionists and pay rises. In a speech by Mr. Cecil, on 21 July 1964, it was stated that The Directors are pleased to announce their decision to offer a cost of living to all their full-time staff except Males governed by Trade Union conditions. This adjustment will increase the rates of pay by 7/6d per female staff aged 18 and over below Supervisory rank in all departments, and will be effective as and from Monday, 17 August. Female staff below 18 years will receive 1/- less per age group.* Male staff will receive 10s per week. *Cardiff 19 and over53 There is no indication of what trade unionists would be offered. The controlling nature of this relationship is emphasised even more forcibly in a memorandum, undated but almost certainly circulated in 1964 and 1965, on the ‘Suggested method of approach to the forthcoming Staff Council Meeting, written as though Mr. Cecil is speaking, …’ which indicated the need to marry the working hours with the machinery. It referred to the workloads and the growth of machine aids, which has considerably helped with. It has been marking, it has become more and more important to make as much progress as possible on Saturday night in order, not only to use

148  Employment, process & industrial relations the machinery to its best advantage, but to take the load off the rest of the week. This has been achieved to a limited extent by working those full-time staff who volunteer, and part-timers on Saturday nights. Now I have been thinking of ways to get more production on Saturday nights, (thus lightening and spreading the load on the other days of the week) in a way which would be advantageous to everyone. It has been suggested that a lot of staff would like an earlier finish on Saturdays, and I could grant this request by stopping work at 4.30 pm instead of at 5.30 pm but that the hour would have to be made up, otherwise we would lose the production time. I propose to you that this could be done by not having a tea-break on Friday afternoons which is a 4.00 pm finish which would account for 20 per cent of the time; half an hour would be added on Mondays… Of course, if more of the full-time markers would work on Saturday evenings, say on a rota system of one in three, it might be possible for me to consider allowing you to still finish at 5.30 pm on Mondays, in which case, you would have gained a total reduction of 40 minutes in actual working time each week, but the working week will be reduced from the present 38 ½ hours to 37 ½ hours without a loss of pay. (Note: Glasgow is different, they work a 39-hour week and do not have a tea-break on Friday afternoon; could be brought in line with Liverpool and Cardiff’s 37 ½ hours. DETAILS ALREADY OUTLINED. Groups going home well before lunch, …)54 This style of staff management was further exemplified by the statement to the staff, on 15 August 1967 that since four pools matches on Saturday 19 August 1967 were not being played until the evening ‘it would not be possible to do out usual marking and sifting on Saturday night’. As a result, all full-time and part-time time marking and sifting staff ‘are required to work on Sunday next, 20th August from 9 am until 1 pm’.55 It was noted that this was a temporary change brought about by circumstances, but that does not change the fact that there was no consultation with the staff. This management-imposed flexibility was, shortly afterwards, clarified. In the annual Christmas message, which usually began with ‘Hello everybody, this is Mr. Cecil speaking’. Indeed, on Friday 22 December 1967, he confided to his workers that ‘certain changes had been necessary owing to a falling off from the racing and fixed odds business, and I am conscious that these changes must have been unsettling for many of you. However, you will by now have settled down to the new arrangements and I hope that your continued efforts will maintain the business at a satisfactory level’.56 ‘Mr. Cecil’, was still trying to maintain the old paternalistic approach of a dictatorial management by appealing to the loyalty of the workers, by continuing to organise staff trips, by allowing some Staff Council discussions to occur within a limited framework, and by organising long-service awards. Indeed, there was an increasing tendency to emphasise loyalty through long

Employment, process & industrial relations 149 service to Littlewoods. In the early and mid-1960s, after Shermans had been absorbed by Littlewoods and after the closure of the Irlam Road Buildings, but before the ex-Sherman workers could qualify for long service in the 1970s, Littlewoods gathered 595 of their long-serving employees for a celebratory meal on the Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool. Of these 286 were from the Walton Hall Avenue building and 182 from the iconic headquarters at Edge Lane.57 Of those rewarded for their long service, the senior management positions were held by men and women dominated the lower roles of supervisor and checking clerk. Yet, this paternal control was clearly breaking down as staff were sacked, as working arrangements changed, and staff were threatened and discriminated against if they were trade unionists. There were clearly some members of the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT) at Littlewoods and Vernons for there was a protracted inter-union demarcation dispute between SOGAT and USDAW, in 1970 and 1971, over which union these trade unionists should be in at Littlewoods, in Liverpool and Glasgow, and at Vernons in Liverpool.58 The issue was that USDAW was allegedly poaching SOGAT members at Littlewoods and Vernons, in contravention of the Bridlington Agreement of 1938, whereby unions affiliated to the TUC were not supposed to poach members. In the case of Vernons, it was suggested that SOGAT had 1,000 members at Vernons though the firm refused to recognise SOGAT and that Mr. Thatcher, a Director of Vernons and Personnel Manager, refused to negotiate with SOGAT and finally made an agreement with USDAW. All this occurred in the year between the formation of Edward Heath’s Conservative government in June 1970 and the passing of the Industrial Relations Act in April 1971. Part of that act allowed a union, if it secured the agreement of the employer, to obtain sole bargaining rights in a firm, and for any trade union registered with the new Registrar of Trade Unions and Employers’ Association to demand employers to recognise it through the National Industrial Relations Court’.59 Shortly afterwards there was a similar issue between the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (AUEW) and there were disputes about the transfer of workers from the MSF to the AUEW.60 The TUC quite clearly had the organisation of trade unions on their industrial radar.61 Yet, even as late as Christmas 1974, ‘The Chief’ was still trying to operate through the old paternalistic arrangements and appeals to loyalty, with a reference to ‘our family’ and to the first annual meeting of the ‘40-Year Club’ in December 1974.62 By the early-1970s, however, it was clear that a Staff Council, the Littlewoods backstop for workers’ interests, was insufficient to stave off the wider economic demands of the workforce and Littlewoods was reluctantly meeting regularly with USDAW and the Supervisory Administrative and Technical Association (SATA), which is now a professional adjunct to USDAW, to discuss wage rates, redundancies, and work conditions. In order to improve the position of Littlewoods, and operate the new Industrial Relations Act, Nigel

150  Employment, process & industrial relations Moores, the prospective future chairman of Littlewoods, invited George Woodcock, the recently retired General Secretary of the TUC, to act as an adviser to Littlewoods on a retainer of £3,000 per year, to be paid quarterly.63 Revealingly, Nigel Moores wrote that ‘you would play a valuable role in helping our senior colleagues to a better understanding of developments in trade unions in the United Kingdom’.64 Later, R. Mount, Chief Personnel Officer at Littlewoods, gained confirmation from Woodcock that USDAW was a registered trade union and confided with him that The Wage Structure covering female Pool Clerks and Ancillary staff has been in operation for twenty-five years and is in dire need of overhaul. The present Wage Structure has some thirty-five scales and over eighty grades and these cause an illogical and difficult to undertake system. However, their continues to be great reluctance on the part of the Board to agree a job evaluation and this is a technique which I feel necessary to prevent industrial relations problems arising.65 Another, undated, letter from Mount also noted that Littlewoods had a Code of Practice for the actions, which Woodcock might advise on in regard to changes, adding ‘But whatever these hints we can only have a relevant policy for industrial relations if we think it out for ourselves. The initiative must come from the management of Littlewoods Pools since it is the responsibility of the management to handle relationship problems’.66 Attached to these letters was a detailed Code of Practice, with its emphasis upon decision-making at Littlewoods, without any procedures for dealing with trade unions, and a very detailed list of wage rates at Littlewoods, extending to more than twenty pages. From this, it appears that in 1972, trained female pool clerks, earned between £9.25 per week at 16 and £12.80 at 19. Female Superintendents of these clerks earned £10.34 per week at 16 and £15.04 at 19. Typist earned a little bit more. Male security patrolmen earned between £15.96 and £17.31 per week at 19, the top grade, according to seniority. Accounts clerks earned between £9.43 at 16, rising to £13.43 at 19. Technical assistants, always male tended to earn between £15 and £20. The higher supervisory grades, posts held by men, varied between £20 and £29.86 per week. Computer operators could earn a basic annual salary of £1,406, though a shift allowance raised the salary to £1,687. Some wages, such as those for cleaners, were given in pence per hour. It was a complex set of pay arrangements which was in serious need of re-evaluation and revision. What is clear by 29 March 1972 is that Woodcock’s advice was needed, for USDAW had established itself as the agency union at Littlewoods. It had two branches, one for the administrative staff, branch 167, and the other for the non-administrative staff, branch 20. Of the 6,272 workers, mainly women, eligible to join branch 20, 2,785, 44 per cent of the number, had done so. Of the 440 administrative staff eligible to join branch 167, 73 per cent had joined USDAW. Of these, ironically, of 281 female staff at Littlewoods 243

Employment, process & industrial relations 151 had joined, being 86.5 per cent of the total, whilst only 75 of the 156 male full and part-time staff had joined, representing 48.1 per cent of their total.67 Overall, of the 6,712 eligible people employed at Littlewoods 46.3 per cent were union members. Of the 2,834 full-time female staff, 66.9 per cent were members of the union, though the percentage was much lower for part-time female staff. Trade unionism was well established at Littlewoods by the early 1970s and there were clearly meetings between the Littlewoods representatives and the trade unions though the first evidence of these dates from early 1976 when Littlewoods had given way to some trade union demands. Later, at two meetings on the 25–26 October 1978 and 1 November 1978, David Rowlands, a prominent management figure at Littlewoods was in a meeting with Mr. J. Evans and Mr. R. Tarr, the firm’s two main negotiators, and indicated that Littlewoods had agreed to a Christmas bonus of 70 per cent to 100 per cent of the week’s wages.68 It was at this meeting that Mr. Cecil, ‘The Chief’, communicated his support for the ‘firm but fair’ attitude that Littlewoods was to develop towards its employees and the unions. On 23 March 1979, David Rowlands wrote to his chief Littlewoods negotiators suggesting that they should examine the last three years of minutes of the trade union meetings to establish what promises had not been fulfilled. The purpose of this was to ‘get these all out in the open and deal with them now that as we are starting a new relationship at least we are doing so with the full knowledge of what it is we are committed to or partly committed to in the future’.69 He had the support of ‘Mr. Cecil’, who had previously expressed his concern for the future of both the pools and mail order sections of the firm, ‘for the Good of the whole Organisation evjjen if that was not the best one for the Pools’.70 On 26 October 1980, Sir John Moores, after discussion with the Pools’ management, suggested that it should work through David Rowlands and ‘that Pools Management are not to hold meetings with union officials or union representatives without your [Rowlands] express authorisation’.71 On 5 November, Rowlands sent a letter to R. D. Carter, indicating that ten days before he was assigned the task of arranging negotiations with USDAW by Cecil Moores, the Managing Director, and that talks with trade unionists should only take place ‘with me, or, in my absence, Les Stewart’.72 Rowlands subsequently made it clear that the negotiations in Cardiff (at the old Shermans’ buildings) were to be conducted with Jack Jones, ‘Mr. USDAW in South Wales’, and could be conducted with the line management and Ken Jenkinson, but through Les Stewart if there were any problems, ‘or, in his absence, me’.73 He was concerned that the communications with the workforce should be more reasoned and wrote to C. A. Martin and M. A. Davidson, Littlewoods’ management in Cardiff, that ‘What seems to have been lost sight of is that in 1980 people want to know the reason behind decisions and this is totally absent from the communication about internal organisational changes’.74 He wanted better vertical communication, feeling

152  Employment, process & industrial relations Table 6.2  Reduction in staff numbers at Littlewoods 1986–1987

USDAW P1 USDAW P11 SATA Total

1986

1987

Reduction

3,835 616 487 4,938

3,770 609 476 4,855

−65 −7 −11 −83

Source: Littlewoods Collection, Box 79 contains a scribbled one-sheet noter and the statistics indicated in Table 6.2.

that the company could do this, and asked that Mr. John Jones be informed of all our plans, ‘for he is a powerful established figure involved with all the major committees in South Wales, particularly to do with planning and industry…’..75 The company also felt that he would be useful in facilitating business plans in South Wales. From that point onwards, however, there seems to have been increasing sensitivity in dealing with the trade unions. Littlewoods issued guidelines to its representatives on how to negotiate with trade unions, offering a strict hierarchy of decision making and placing an emphasis upon the ever-changing and precarious position of the football pool industry.76 In dealing with the Unemployment Protest demonstration in Liverpool, in March 1981 when Liverpool City Council Budget was making up its budget, Littlewoods declared its intent to work with USDAW to minimise disruption, with a minimal number of workers getting involved, much as had occurred on the TUC day of action the year before.77 Throughout the 1980s, Littlewoods attempted to work more closely and carefully with the unions and to explain why changes had to be made in working practice and, by and large, a formal, rather than close, relationship existed as most of Littlewoods’ employees were now either a member of USDAW and SATA. In 1987, Littlewoods indicated that the decline in the number of coupons being received led to a decline in payroll staff numbers as indicated in Tables 6.2, 6.3, 6.4 and 6.5, and that there was an increasing use Table 6.3  Office staff employed at Littlewoods in 1986 and 1987: Reductions in higher grade and expansion of lower grades Grade

1986

1987

Change

G4 G2 SATA Technical

1476 1633

1399 1685

−77 (−5.2 per cent) + 35 (+2.2 per cent)

75

68

−7

Of the staff employed, there has been a reduction in the hour worked by full-time and part-time (average 20 ¼ hours inclusive), and the increase in casual employment (average 8 ¼ wd) Source: Littlewoods Collection, Box 79 contains a scribbled one-sheet noter and the statistics indicated in Table 6.3.

Employment, process & industrial relations 153 Table 6.4  The fall in full-time and part-time employment and the increase in casual employment at Littlewoods in 1986 and 1987

USDAW SCOPEFull time Part-Time Casual

1986

1987

1751 1539 1161

1682 1440 1257

−69 (4 per cent) −99 (6.4 per cent) + 96 (8.3 per cent)

Of the staff employed, there has been a reduction in hours worked because of the decrease in full time and part-time (20 1/4 wd) and the increase in casual employment (average 8 ¼ wd) Source: Littlewoods Collection, Box 79 contains a scribbled one-sheet noter and the statistics indicated in Table 6.4.

of casual workers. There are photographs of the meetings between USDAW and the Littlewoods representatives, although no details are attached to them, and throughout the 1980s meetings, Littlewoods was increasingly conscious of the need to justify the changing employment pattern to the trade unions in terms of the changing trade conditions of the year.78 Littlewoods always spent considerable time in preparing their case in the annual negotiating meetings with USDAW. On the 12 May 1987, a Mr. Weinman analysed the previous season for the company, noting that Littlewoods had increased its turnover by £24 million, to £455 million, in the 1985–1986 season, of which at 42.5 per cent Betting Duty paid meant that £214 million was paid to the Treasury bringing it to £1 billion paid by the pool companies since the duty began. It was made plain that the ‘Our existing staffing policy is a mix of human and technical and provided that we continue to demonstrate that necessary degree of responsibility I for one will rigorously support such a policy’.79 This formed the basis of the wage negotiations with USDAW in 1987 in its attempts to keep wage increases low and job specifications broad. Even more explicit evidence of the approach to wage negotiations was evident the following year as evidenced in its ‘The ‘Notes for Negotiations with USDAW – Annual Wage Negotiations for Tuesday and Thursday 3 & 5th May 1988’. These revealed the extent Table 6.5  The reduction in the total number of hours paid for grade 2 workers at Littlewoods 1986 and 1987 Grade

1986

1987

Paid Hours Total in grade

20694 1633

19857 1668

−837 hours (−4 per cent ) +35 bodies

Within certain grades there has been a significant reduction in the total paid hour e.g., Grade 2 has gone up, but they are working less hours. Source: Littlewoods Collection, Box 79 contains a scribbled one-sheet noter and the statistics indicated in Table 6.5.

154  Employment, process & industrial relations to which Littlewoods attempted to parade the problems of the industry as a basis for tempering wage demands. They pointed out that the stakes on the pools had increased by 8.32 per cent on the season to £492 million but that there was a 42.5 per cent Betting Tax, that money was being paid into the National Football Trust, to improve ground safety, and that the winners’ take had risen by 0.5 per cent on the previous year to 28.3 per cent, the return varying between 26.5 per cent and 29 per cent in the early and mid-1980s.80 These proportions were considered low, because of the heavy tax and its contribution to the National Football Trust, to improve ground safety, and the lack of really high winnings was considered a disincentive to clients to ‘invest’ in the pools. Indeed, the notes argued, ‘It is important for us to preserve employment at the maximum level and maintain business viability’. It added that ‘we seek to offer maximum employment with operating business efficiency. The manning levels had jointly established the relationship between coupon response and operational staff and had been generously applied by the company’.81 In other words, the message to the trade unions was not to seek higher manning levels for the slightly diminishing business activity. This led to a statement of mutual self-interest to USDAW representatives. If there is one message I would most forcibly impress upon your minds and those of your colleagues it is this, the Clients are our livelihood, and we exist only so long as their interests are best served by us. Every member of staff carries a share of that responsibility.82 The final throw of the dice was that there was talk of Parliament discussing the possibility of a national lottery in the last wage rounds but by this time around the commercial pool industry was faced with the uncertain impact of a National Health Lottery, which would begin on 25 May 1988.83 There is no evidence about the reaction of the trade unions to this but there were never any major strikes at Littlewoods, and even the events at Irlam Road Buildings in the early 1960s had not produced broader strike action. Within a decade, with the collapse of the turnover of the football pools, there was in the mid-1990s, there was very little employment in the football pool industry and no discernible trade union activity. There is only spasmodic evidence of industrial relations at the other pool companies. Indeed, the pool promoters did much as they wished without any significant opposition from the unions. G. R. Kennerley, Managing Director of Vernons, having said nothing to the Willink Commission (1949–1951) did complain to the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978), when part of the PPA team gave evidence, that ‘One of the big problems we are faced within the pool business is that we are union controlled. We cannot get a girl at less than £2,000 a year for a 35-hour week, and this is the union’.84 Shermans, which was taken over by Littlewoods in June 1961, seemed to have little in the way of trade union representation, and Harry Sherman

Employment, process & industrial relations 155 controlled his workforce much as Littlewoods had done June 1961. David Yorath’s previously mentioned comments on work practice at Shermans tend to confirm this.85 A big part of the football pool industry by the 1970s were the selfemployed collectors, of whom there might have been up to 100,000. As already indicated, the terms of their employment, or contract, with the pool companies could be changed at any moment to suit the needs of the pool company. Yet, despite their vital importance to the business the pool companies, and the law, did not regard them as employed by the pool companies, and this was confirmed by legal decisions in favour of Littlewoods and Vernons in the late 1930s, as already suggested, by the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978).86 Regardless of this, some collectors formed a trade union, known as the Football Pools Collectors’ Union. The union was formed in the early 1970s, was organised by D. D. M. Bennellick, operated from South Rainham, and never had more than 644 members. Its purpose was to protect the interests of its members and to negotiate conditions of employment with the PPA. Its trade union fees were £1 for collectors and £5 for supervisors but it was running a deficit of £11,383–45p by the 31 March 1976, though ‘Mr. Bennellick has borne all these costs’. The union, Bennellick in effect, took Littlewoods to an industrial tribunal in August 1972, claiming that Littlewood Pools are constantly applying pressure on their concessionaires to verily threaten to dismiss any collectors who join the Football Pool Collectors’ Union. Main collectors who are know [n] members of the Union are harassed whilst non-members are shown favouritism. On the 19 July, a union meeting was held at the Imperial Hotel, Birmingham. The next morning Littlewoods’ Pool Administrators were telephoning concessionaries to try to find out our future meetings. Four of the collectors who attended the meeting have been sacked this week.87 The letters suggested that the Littlewoods’ Administrators included Mr. C. Morton, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Usher, Mr. Lovat, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Hillhouse and suggested that the Union would ask Littlewoods to produce documents like those shown to the tribunal, that the Union would present affidavits from the main collectors and that it would present tape recordings. This may have been done, though there is no evidence of the outcome of the tribunal. The Collectors’ Union never did gain recognition for the PPA and was wound up on 14 October 1980.88 In the end, all the changing relations between the pool companies and the trade unions came to a sudden halt. By the early and mid-1990s, meaningful industrial relations had disappeared, as the pool companies collapsed dramatically when The National Lottery ‘for good causes’ took away its business. Trade unionism simply died along within the football pool business in the late 1990s.

156  Employment, process & industrial relations

Conclusion Up to the Second World War, the small football pool companies, with just a handful of staff, were too small to create the harmonious relationships with their workforce that the larger companies claimed to have established. However, given the large size of their workforce, larger firms needed to instil some sort of control over their much large, substantially female, workforces. Littlewoods, above all, developed a Fordian-type of relationship, emphasising the social control of their workers. It was ‘The Chief’, ‘Mr. Cecil’, at Littlewoods and Vernons Sangster, at Vernons, and Harry Sherman, at Shermans, who determined the circumstances and nature of employment, with or without a toothless Staff Council and with the aid of the Littlewoods Review and staff associations. That situation continued after the Second World War and into the early 1960s, despite trade union attempts in the late 1930s and the early 1950s to change the situation, often driven forward by the initiatives of the Liverpool Trades Council. It was only in printing and some specialist activities where the small number of workers involved had any trade union membership. Littlewoods strongly resisted trade unionism as was evident in Littlewood’s selection of the troublesome Irlam Road building for closure in 1963, with the loss of more than 800 jobs. However, the appeal of the Littlewood Review, and staff events, began to decline and by the early 1970s that Littlewoods and Vernons were forced to accept trade unions and trade union negotiations, because of the new industrial relations laws, though they were extremely cautious in making concessions to the demands for improving conditions and wages. By the 1980s, Littlewoods and Vernons, the two major pool firms, were responsible for almost 90 per cent of the workforce in the industry and largely based in Liverpool, were reluctantly dragged into negotiating with trade unions. It was not an easy relationship, but the managements of the firms became more sensitive to the need to work with the unions. However, the football pool firms faced serious attacks from other forms of gambling and the high level of the Pool Duty by the 1990s, and the introduction of The National Lottery ‘for good causes’ in November 1994, led to the sharp decline of the football pools, the rapid loss of jobs. It became almost impossible for the trade unions to protect the wages and conditions of their members. In summary then, workers’ rights were not well represented in the history of the football pools, and the pool promoters were free to create the impression, or illusion, of being on caring and harmonious terms with their workforces or free to ignore their wants altogether. In this scenario, the large companies appear to have treated their workforces better than the smaller companies until the competition from other forms of gambling became more intense in the 1980s and 1990s though they never really accepted the idea that the workforce deserved a say in their work and conditions, or that trade union representation was of any use in their business. In the end, that business depended upon the appeal of the pools to their, essentially, working-class clients whose fluctuating and capricious interest in the pools ultimately determined their rise and fall.

Employment, process & industrial relations 157

Notes







1. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1, contains issues of the post-war The Littlewood Review, the first being issues as volume 1 in 1947, with the from page ‘We Make our Bow’. It was full of family news, sports competitions, cultural activities, and Miss Littlewood’s finalists. Volume 14 was for 1961–1962, and volume 15 for 1962–1963. However, volume 16 issue 9 was for December 1967 and volume 16 issue 10 for March 1968. There are no more volumes in the collection. 2. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 3 April 1936, vol. 310, c. 2373. 3. The Littlewood Review, May 1963 makes no reference to the closure of the Irlam Road offices, caused by the bad winter of 1962/3 and the industrial disturbances that were occurring there. 4. Willink Commission (1949–1951), Report, pp. 37–36, para 124. 5. Ibid., p. 46, para 167. 6. HO 335/99, Shermans Pools Ltd, memorandum on ‘The History of Shermans’ Pools’, p. 8. 7. Rothschild Commission, Final Report, 1978, p. 131, para 11.15. 8. Ibid., p. 131, para 11.17. 9. Littlewoods Collection, Box 79, statistics offered in a broadcast statement to the Walton Hall Avenue staff on 22 January 1962. 10. Ibid., p. 131, 11.18. 11. Empire Pools was formed in Blackpool in 1935. Damian Cope later left his managerial job at Ladbrokes in 2015. 12. Littlewoods Collection, Box 79, in a Transcript of a speech made by Mr. Weinman, 12 May 1987. 13. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 10 February 1995, vol. 254, cc. 637–640. 14. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1, typed document ‘How the Pools Operate’. No date is given but it was probably produced in the 1960s when many changes were being made. Also, Box 79 contains an ‘Inadvertent Application of Skills’, a 12-page document which looks at the Treble Chance list for July 1977, stresses the need for publicity and integrity, and outlines the then structure of checking the pools coupons, possibly for the submission of evidence to the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978). 15. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 20 April 1959, vol. 604, cc. 181–188. David Griffiths MP (Rother Valley) raised the case of one of his female constituents whose winning coupons of £3,500 had gone astray and Littlewoods would not pay. The postal coupon had been sent for the weekend but did not arrive until Tuesday, The Post Master General had no obligation to pay. 16. Rothschild Commission, Final Report,1978, para 11.55, 11.56. 17. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1, ‘How the Pools Operate’; Rothschild Commission, Final Report, para 11.28–11.30, p. 134. 18. Rothschild Commission, Final Report, 1978, para 11.29. 19. Ibid., para 11.28. 20. Littlewoods Collection Box 1 typed document ‘How the Pools Operate’ p. 5. 21. Ibid. 22. Ibid. 23. Littlewoods Collection, Box 1, contains a collection of photographs of the various rooms and departments at Littlewoods. 24. Ibid., Box 79, a Red Book containing many employment statistics on checking clerks between 1968 and 1971. 25. An interview with David Yorath, entitled ‘I worked at the Football Pools and helped make dreams come true’, reported by Chris Peregrine and Lucinda Reid, and recorded in WalesOnline, 19 February 2019, and updated 8 July 2021.

158  Employment, process & industrial relations 26. Modern Records Centre (MCR), Warwick, Tradea Union Congress file, T 208, MSS. 292/57/42/3, for 1939–1940. 27. Ibid., in a letter H. V. Tewson, General Secretary of the TUC. 28. Ibid., letter from Vernons to the TUC, 13 March 1939. Other letters were sent from Vernons by C. N. Allen on 11 and 11 March, 1, 11 and 13 April, and 7 June 1939, 29. Ibid., letter of 7 June 1939 from C.N. Allen, of Vernons, to Vincent Tewson of the TUC. 30. MRC, Special Industries and forms 1949–1954 on different types of Vernons industry and industries, MSS.292/54/5 (54 PB), letter from Liverpool Trades Council and Labour Party, 4 January 1950. Also, a letter from the TUC to Mr. O’Brien, of the National Association of Theatrical and Kine Employees, 5 January 1951. 31. Littlewood Collection, Box 79, a typed ‘Aid Memoire, Irlam Road Building’. This is not dated but appears to have been drawn up in response to the News of the World raising the matter of the closure of Irlam Road in 1977 and there is a letter from Mr. Peter to Mr. Cecil, dated 1 December 1977 indicating that the Aide Memoire had been drawn up by Gordon Johnson and Brian West and was enclosed for Mr. Cecil’s comments. 32. Ibid., p. 1; also Mr. Cecil’s broadcast of August 1961, as advised by the Staff Council. The latter indicated that the number of coupons per week for Littlewoods was averaging 4,700,000 per week but that this had been boosted by another 800,000 due to the purchase of Shermans in 1961. 33. Ibid., Box 79, Aide Memoire, Irlam Road Building. 34. Ibid. 35. Ibid., p. 3 36. Ibid. 37. Littlewoods Collection, Box 79, which contains many items on industrial relation. The box contains a paper copy of the broadcast made by ‘The Chief’ on 13 February 1961. 38. Ibid. 39. Littlewoods Collection, Box 79, typed broadcast sheet ‘Compulsory Short Time, 22 January 1962. This was for operational pool and operational pool supervisors and ancillary staff, though Heads of department would have to decide, and Male Office staff would not lose pay unless they took a day off. 40. Littlewoods Collections, Box 79, types copy of broadcast to all building on 12 February 1962. 41. Ibid., to be found in the section of documents dealing with the Irlam Road Building dispute. It is not dated but was probably prepared in 1963. 42. Ibid., Box 79, Mr. Cecil’s Broadcast to Irlam Road’, 17 October 1962. 43. Ibid., an announcement dated 31 October 1962. 44. Ibid., Aid Memoire, Irlam Road Building’. 45. Ibid., broadcast statement to WHA (Walton House Avenue], 22 January 1962. 46. Ibid., broadcast statement 22 January 1962. 47. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 3 April 1963, vol. 675, cc. 589–600. 48. Ibid., c. 589. 49. Ibid. 50. Ibid., cc. 589–590. 51. Ibid., cc 589–600, particularly c. 595 onwards. Willie Whitelaw stated that in March 1962 there were 1,659 unemployment registered at the Merseyside employment exchange, of whom 433 were women. For March 1963, the figure was 2,632, of whom 829 were women. The figures seem to switch between the number of staff made unemployed and the total number affected by the closure of the works. 52. Littlewoods Collection, Box 79, Statement of Mr. Cecil to Staff Representatives, 1 July 1963.

Employment, process & industrial relations 159 53. Ibid., Statement made by ‘Mr. Cecil, 21 July 1964, broadcast at 4 pm’. 54. Ibid., statement of ‘Suggested method of approach to the forthcoming Staff Council meeting, written as though Mr. Cecil is speaking…’. 55. Ibid., statement of 15 August 1967. 56. Ibid., Christmas message, 22 December 1967. 57. Littlewoods Collection, Box 39, contains notes of the breakdown of the number of attendees, indicating that men were in the senior posts, down to supervisor, and that women dominated the role of supervisor and checking clerk. 58. MRC, Trades Union Congress, MSS.292D/85.76/1. 59. Keith Laybourn, A History of British Trade Unionism c. 1770–1990, Stroud, Alan Sutton, 1992, pp. 194–195. Also, there are numerous letters between SOGAT and Victor Feather, General Secretary of the TUC, in 1970 and 1971, dealing with the matter. The main ones are for 23 December 1970, 7 and 14 January and 19 February 1971. 60. MRC, Amalgamated Union of Engineers, MSS.259/AUEW/3/1/72. 61. MRC, Papers of George Woodcock (1904–1979), General Secretary of the TUC Correspondence, MSS.292/6/GW/3/8/20. 62. Littlewoods Collection, Box 79, Christmas message, December 1974. 63. MRC, Papers of George Woodcock on Littlewoods Pools, MSS.292/6/ GW/3/8/20. 64. Ibid., a letter from Nigel Moores to George Woodcock, 25 January 1972. Nigel Moores was the nephew of Sir John Moores and tipped to become the future chairman of Littlewoods since neither of the sons of Sir John Moores, part of the 34 Moores who had an interest in the company, were likely to take over, and Peter, John Moores; second son was more interested in opera and the arts. Unfortunately, the potentially unifying power of Nigel was lost when he was killed in a car crash in 1977. 65. Ibid., letter from R. Mount to George Woodcock, 23 May 1972. 66. Ibid, letter from R. Mount to George Woodcock, undated, 67. Ibid., sheets of USDAW branch membership for branches 20 and 167 sent to George Woodcock. 68. Littlewoods Collection, Box 79, a minute meeting between David Rowlands, a prominent official at Littlewoods and Mr. J. Evans and Mr. R. Tarr, negotiators for Littlewoods, for 25 October 1978 and 1 November 1978. 69. Ibid., letter from David Rowlands to J. Evans and R. Tarr, 23 March 1979. 70. Ibid., Minutes of a Management Meeting, at which ‘Mr. Cecil’ was mentioned, 26 October 1978. 71. Ibid., undated letter of c. end of October 1980, from P. D. Carter to David Rowlands and A. C. Moore. 72. Ibid., letter from David Rowland to Mr. P. D. Carter, 5 November 1980. 73. Ibid., letter from David Rowland to Mr. L. Stewart and Mr. K. Jenkinson, 22 December 1980. 74. Ibid. 75. Ibid. 76. Ibid., ‘Guidelines on Trade Union Negotiations’. 77. Ibid., letter from P. D. Carter to L. Stewart, 9 March 1981. 78. Ibid., Box 12, seven photographs of USDAW meeting with Littlewoods, represented by Mr. F. Jackson of Littlewoods, held at Wigan, no date but almost certainly in the 1980s. 79. Ibid., Box 79, Transcript of Mr. Weinman’s Presentation Concerning the Pool Division Performance.

160  Employment, process & industrial relations 80. Ibid., Box 1. Box 79, ‘Notes for Presentation to USDAW – Annual Wage Negotiations, Tuesday and Thursday 3rd and 5th May 1988. In 1980–1981 season, the proportion in prizes was 29 per cent, 28.5 per cent in 1981–1982, 26.5 per cent in 1982–1983, 26.6 per cent in 1983–1984, 27.6 per cent in 1984–1985, and 27.8 per cent in 1985–1986. It reached 28.3 per cent in 1986–1987. 81. Ibid. 82. Ibid. 83. Ibid., p. 4. 84. The National Archives, BS3/109, Notes on the Royal Commission on Gambling meeting with the PPA on 31 August 1976, when the PPS was represented by G. R. Kennerley, J. R. Kennerley, Paul Zetter and M.J. D. Watkins, Secretary of the PPA, pp. 28–29. 85. www.walesline.co.uk, accessed 1 May 2021. 86. Rothschild Commission, Final Report, 11.55 and 11.56. 87. MRC, Papers of George Woodcock on Littlewoods Pools. MSS.292/6/GW/3/8/20, Documents on a Tribunal, in a letter from Mr. Benellick, 11 August 1972. 88. The National Archives, CL3/275. Its annual returns reveal that it had 644 members on 31 March 1975, had 579 members exactly a year later, 480 of whom were make and 81 females.

7

An integral part of working-class life Was the pools worth ‘the candle’ in the culture of the working class?

The working class of the United Kingdom were always identified with the football pools, and the pool companies emphasised this by focussing upon the working-class origins of their winners. Indeed, the football pools were often presented as a traditional gambling activity, and an essential, and integral, part of working-class life. Reporting upon the Willink Commission (1949–1951) in the House of Lords in 1954, Lord Hawke, speaking for the Churchill Conservative government, stated that From the Report it is clear that the pools provide a widespread pastime, with a slight chance of a magnificent, and a better chance of a more humble, prize. As a form of gambling, it is a most expensive one, and for the professional gambler it is obviously out of the question; but something like 16 million people are believed to extract enjoyment, and, indeed, mental exercise out of its pursuit. In so doing, they pay heavily for postal service and heavily in taxation and to the expenses of running the pools. But evidently, they think that the game is worth the candle and, after all, it is their money.1 Certainly, since upwards of three-quarters of the population were working class, it is to be expected that most pool punters would be working class, despite the broader social appeal of the pools. It is also clear that the pools played an important part in the lives of the working class, as well as society, in shaping their social and economic activities during the week to a culmination of interest on a Saturday afternoon. Yet, whilst it was a vital part of the leisure life of many, only about half of all families in the United Kingdom, though perhaps up to two-thirds of working-class households, regularly filled in the pools, at its height in their sixty-year reign from the 1930s and the 1990s. Also, the dramatic decline of the pools in the 1990s makes it clear that the attachment of the working class to the pools was, in fact, transient. The pools had attracted only minority interest – mainly in the North, Lancashire and Glasgow – before 1923 and that interest declined rapidly in the 1970s, when the number of younger punters began to decline, and plummeted dramatically after the introduction of The National Lottery DOI: 10.4324/9781003144908-7

162  An integral part of working-class life ‘for good causes’ in 1994. Now, from the viewpoint of 2022, few people born after 1990 will have ever heard of the pools and, by 2020, on the eve of the Covid pandemic, only 200,000 to 300,000 punters were betting regularly on them, and then in fact on a variety of football competitions, including half-time scores, the first player to score, and the like, rather than the ‘traditional’ Treble Chance, which was introduced in 1946. This raises several questions. Why, given the hostility towards working-class gambling, did the pools become popular amongst the working classes, albeit for only about 60 of 70 years? Who, precisely, gambled on the pools? Why was interest in the pools declining in the 1970s? Why were they abandoned so quickly in the 1990s? Indeed, is it possible to suggest that, given their transient nature, the football pools were, in any sense, the ‘traditional’ and ubiquitous working-class activity that newspapers have reported them as being? In the inter-war years, and particularly the 1930s, the pools became a prominent form of working-class gambling. They were driven on by the way in which commercial pool companies advertised them, used the media, spread their influence through their collectors, and advertised the life-changing jackpots that winners could win by using their skill and judgement of the popular game of football. Nevertheless, from the early 1970s, interest in the pools declined. Traditional working-class gambling activities appear to be very generational and driven by practicalities of the best way to win a life-changing sum of money for the least effort and easiest, outlay, as Mike Savage has suggested, rather than through permanent cultural factors.

The appeal of the transforming power of the pools: Prizes and publicity Working-class interest in the pools was driven by the large prizes on offer, the publicity of the pool companies, in all its forms, and the attention that was given to them by newspapers, radio and television. Indeed, these agencies built up a transient culture which shifted dramatically to an easier to comprehend, and operate, national lottery with its substantially bigger prizes in the 1990s. Still, the football pools exerted a significant impact upon the working-class life, even though, in the first 40 years, they operated in a society where, as with gambling in general, the working-class activity of gambling was cramped, confined and considered to be morally decadent. The fact is that the pools offered the working class the opportunity to ‘invest’ a small amount of money safely and legally for the distant prospect of a large return and a dramatic change in lifestyle. John Hilton’s enlightening investigation Why I Go in For the Pools by Tom, Dick and Harry, based upon a survey of pool bettors, suggested the desire to win a pools’ jackpot to finance new technologies and their consumer demand for white goods.2 The ambitions of many working-class pool punters were, however, still very limited, with one respondent to Hilton’s survey stating that ‘if I won bigger money, I shall go for a new house, which would be built to our own

An integral part of working-class life 163 ideas, so that we could get a bigger scullery. Why do they build such small sculleries which make washday a dread’.3 Hilton noted that some pool punters became obsessed with the pools much more than the game of football itself. Indeed, one Scottish housewife suggested that ‘My husband does not care a hoot one way or another – poor as he is – but he never gets off to see a game or gets any thrill from it other than filling in the coupons’.4 Hilton followed up this work in 1944, in wartime Britain, with Rich Man, Poor Man, where he suggested, indeed re-iterated, that the working class invested in the pools because it offered them one of the few opportunities to win a large sum to really change their lives.5 This fits well with the argument presented by Ross McKibbin, in his wide-ranging article of working-class gambling between 1880 and 1939, in which he suggests that gambling provided a potential outlet for the working class to escape their often impoverished and humdrum existence.6 There was the added incentive that the selection of the pool numbers relied, partly, at least for some, on their skill and judgement in predicting the outcome of particular football matches. The working-class punter was thus drawn to the football pools, despite the moral opposition to gambling in general. Unlike illegal ready-money, or cash, gambling betting on the pools was legal because it was based upon credit, payment being made after the results were announced. This legal gambling was transformed into a legitimate, and increasingly acceptable, activity through the agency of the publicity machines of the major pool companies, newspapers, radio, television and other communication media, as has already been established. Publicity was the lifeblood that brought success to the major pool companies. The Littlewood Sports Log, as already noted, sought to establish the integrity of the pools, through Cecil Moores and his ‘Acknowledged Leadership’.7 The 29 October 1938 issue included Chief’s message, consisting of a photograph of the smartly dressed Cecil, a statement from him promising a ‘still bigger winning opportunity than ever’ and a ‘friendly personal service for the Littlewood Happy Circle’. The Chief, and his message, were presided over by an elf or leprechaun, ‘The Ol’ Man of the Woods’ sitting on a log, implying some type of pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This issue also contained all the established ingredients of winning publicity, including Lord Apsley MP presenting cheques to the four winners of the ‘World’s Largest 12 Results, which had provided £10,752 for 2d (1p) and advertising the success of the world’s largest Penny Pool of £8,771 for 1d. This appeal to punters was enhanced and embellished by developments in The Littlewood Sports Log, of 27 August 1938, which opened the 1938–1939 season by offering a new format which included articles from leading sports writers and a weekly series of ‘fascinating sports puzzles’ and a ‘novel comic strip’ for the ‘little paper with the World Record circulation’.8 This was designed to boost the confidence of punters in their sporting knowledge and expertise. As already established, Bond’s PPP, The Punters Popular Paper, offered similar information and inducements, which is not surprising since

164  An integral part of working-class life it was almost entirely owned by the Moores brothers. Vernons, Strangs, Zetters and all the larger pool companies produced similar material, although on a much smaller scale. Their publicity extended to producing cards with photos of the film stars of the day to link the pool with glamour. Vernons published cards in the late 1930s, and, in the 1960s, employed a pink lorry, the Vernon’s Pools Mobile Information Unit, to tour the country with half a dozen agents to encourage people to play Vernon’s Pools, issuing advertising cards of its activities.9 By the 1960s, Vernons Sporting Guide was being published, along with occasional publications such as Great Moments in Sport. In 1953, the Vernon Girls, a sixteen-member musical ensemble, formed at Vernons football pools company buildings in Liverpool, provided added impetus to their pools business. They appeared in the ITV musicalhit programme Oh Boy and released records on the Parlophone label between 1959 and 1961. The groups reduced to three members in the 1960s and released records with Decca. Such material, widely spread, created its own sub-culture of interest in the pools, linking football with the pools, popular culture and the working class. Interest in the football pools was spiced further by the pools jackpot of Keith and Viv Nicholson’s pools jackpot in 1961. Keith died in a car crash in 1965 but Viv lived up to her initial claim that she would ‘Spend, Spend, Spend’, and the winnings had gone within a few years. Apart from the wide press attention her story drew, and the West End Musical in led to, the Smith, a rock group, and their singer Morrissey, built up an association with Viv Nicholson through their music and lyrics. In 1984, long after her fame had faded and as the pools were slowly declining, a picture of Nicholson, standing in a deserted street, appeared on the front of their long-player Heaven Knows I’m Miserable, and later other record covers such as Barbarism Begins at Home, and in 1987, for their cover to The Headmaster Ritual.10 The aim of the pool companies was to build up a body of loyal punters who were to be constantly reminded of the successes of those going in for the pools. None of the pool companies, except for Vernons, could dare to match the publicity machine of Littlewoods. Nevertheless, the smaller companies often embellished the success of their clients and ensnared them in other ways. In 1951 Cope’s Pools, which had by that time absorbed ITP, Western and Jervis, produced a certificate in yellow, red and white, stating ‘Congratulations. It is with the greatest of pleasure that I enclose settlement of your successful forecasts in our Pools, and I wish you many and even larger wins in the future. Your sincerely. Alfred Cope’. It advertised itself as ‘The Easiest and Fairest Pools in the Country’.11 This personal and direct approach by pool companies of the inter-war years, the Second World War and the immediate years after began to fade in the 1960s and 1970s, as the football pool business fell into fewer hands and as other forms of advertising the pools became more important. Initially, the main medium for communicating with the punter was through the Littlewood Sports Log, the PPP, the Vernons Sporting Guide, and

An integral part of working-class life 165 similar publications, but this was soon extended to the radio, the wireless. The British Broadcasting Company was formed in 1922 to provide a service for the wireless/radio companies. In 1926, it was taken over by the government which turned it into the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) we know today. The BBC was, at that time, just one of about 200 individuals and organisations licenced to broadcast but quickly became the dominant one. In 1923, there were only 36,000 listener licences to receive broadcasts in the United Kingdom, but this had increased to more than three million by the late 1930s. At that point, about a quarter of the families in the nation had direct access to the BBC and many others were able to access radio through friends and family connections.12 The power of the radio was vital, in communicating information about pools winners but also with the reading out of the football results late afternoon on Saturday afternoons throughout the season. The first radio football commentary occurred on 22 January 1927, on a match between Arsenal and Sheffield United, though it was not until 3 January 1948 that Sports Report began on the BBC Light Programme, with the football results being read out by John Webster.13 This established a popular habit of listening in to check the pools. This was followed by the persuasive power of television. The first BBC television broadcast came from Alexandra Palace, London, in 1936 and to begin with broadcasting was to only a small number of sets, in the southern part of England, which were close to transmitters. It first broadcast a football match between Arsenal and Arsenal Reserves on 16 September 1937, but BBC television was closed on 1 September 1939 and for the duration of the Second World War and up until 7 June 1946. It re-emerged only slowly in the immediate post-war period. However, rapid consumer growth in the 1950s led to a dramatic increase in television sales, helped by the broadcasting in 1953 of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth and the ‘Stanley Matthews Cup Final’, where Blackpool beat Bolton Wanderers 4–3. Poor as the television reception was, and despite the relatively small number of sets available, these events became the basis of extended family and community viewing and increased interest in both football and the pools. Thereafter, radio and television grew rapidly and rooted itself as part of working-class viewing habits. At first, the BBC Saturday Grandstand Programme, broadcast between 11 October 1958 and 2007 – presented by such famous names as Peter Dimmock, David Coleman Frank Bough, Desmond Lynam – concluded with the football results and declarations on likely jackpots and winnings by the pools companies. It finished at 4.45 pm, but in the autumn of 1959, it was extended by 15 minutes to 5 pm to allow a full roundup of the football results. There was ‘Match of the Day’, on BBC from 1964 to the present, with Kenneth Wolstenholme (1964–1967), David Coleman (1967–1973), Jimmy Hill (1973–1988) and Desmond Lynam (1988–1999), and Gary Lineker since then. ITV, Sky and other channels have done much to boost interest in football, although the football pools part of their activities has given way to other forms of football betting. And so began the ritual

166  An integral part of working-class life of watching the television, or listening to the radio, for the football results and the saturation of football and the football pools for many listeners and viewers.

The ancillary boom There has inevitably been a thriving ancillary business in advising punters how to win on the pools. Tom Anichini, Win the Pool: Your Starting Perfect for Winning Office Football Pools, David Duncan, Betting Systems that Win Football Pools and, more recently, The Definitive Guide to Betting on Football, Betting Systems that Win, a distillation of articles giving advice on gambling, providing advice to the punters on how to be successful on the pools. There is also Keith Pullein’s extensive knowledge on how to make money when betting on the football, evident in the Racing Post, 11 September 2009, designed for the then rapidly diminishing number of football pool punters. More recently, Tom Erwood has prepared The Ultimate Guide to Winning Sports Pools: The Strategy for Dominating Football Pools, independently published, 29 October 2018. There were many of this type of publication, including ‘Prof’ Frank George’s, Football Pools and How to Win and Dennis Jones’s, Bread and Butter Pools.14 However, these publications were at their height between the 1930s and the 1980s, and declined thereafter. Prime amongst the guiders was Horace Batchelor. Between the 1950s and 1960s, he advertised on the popular Radio Luxembourg with his Infra-Draw Method of winning the pools. Buying a 15-minute slot, his programme would include the Deep River Boys singing gospel and barbershop music and he would voice his own advertisement for his ‘Famous Infra-Draw Method of Treble Chance’, in which the surviving recordings on the internet indicate that he would advertise that he had personally won 1,012 first dividends on the Treble Chance, asked his potential clients to send only their name and address, and no money in the first instance and advise them on how to predict results. He would take a cut from their winnings. He always finished his programmes by reading out his address as Horace Batchelor, Department One, Keynsham, spelt K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M, Keynsham, Bristol. He did well out of this arrangement, leaving just under £150,000 (at least £1.5 million in current terms in an age of up to 83 per cent income tax) in his will in 1977. His son, Richard, took over the business when Horace died but it declined in the 1980s. Nevertheless, Horace’s reputation was broadcast widely by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band which produced the album Keynsham. The first song, ‘You Done My Brain In’, has one of the members of the band imitating the voice of Batchelor, starting with ‘I have personally won over…’. Many years later, in 2013 and 2014, rather beyond the memory of most, Kevin Cattell, a playwright, wrote ‘An Audience with Horace Batchelor’. There was also the Football Pools Review, now The Football Pools, which was first published in 1931, and offered facilities and advice for punters. Its popularity benefited from the successes of the big winners from the 1930s

An integral part of working-class life 167 onwards and, following a decline of interest, was boosted by the 10 people from Devizes, Wiltshire, who won £1,017,890 in 1986, and further by a win of £4 million in 2010. It is now absorbed in the surviving football pools, advising the surviving 200,000 punters and offering wider services such as Spot the Ball, Lucky Clover (a bingo game from The Football Pools which uses the numbers that are drawn from the main Irish Lotto draws which take place on Wednesday and Saturday), Match Bet, Soccer Six, Goal Rush 8, Premier 10, Jackpot 10, all of which rely upon different combination of the selection of match results, often from a specified number of games.15 Newspapers were a vital part of this process of immersing the consumer mind into regular small-scale gambling. Most local newspapers, such as the Sheffield Star, from my own experience, and The Sheffield Telegraph, The Evening Post (Leeds), and the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, ran ‘Spot the Ball’ competitions, often as part of a wider syndicated competition run by numerous local newspaper syndicates. The locating of working-class interest in the pools was given further stimulus by the Reg Smythe comic strip ‘Andy Capp’, published in The Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror since 5 August 1957. Andy Capp was a working-class man from Hartlepool, who never seemed to work, was obsessed with snooker, pigeon racing, and darts, played football, and occasionally was seen to be filling in the pools. The cartoons were published in numerous book collections and continued well after Smythe’s death in 1998.16

Political parties, clubs and ‘sin-dicates’ On 25 August 1959, Fred, a member of the Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU), wrote to Frank Cousins, the General Secretary of the TGWU from 1956 until 1969, a member of the General Council of the TUC for the same years, and sometimes Labour MP. Amongst discussions on trade union matters, Fred wrote that ‘I am glad to hear from you, and glad to know that you were joining in our Sin-dicate. I would hate like hell to win such money that I couldn’t afford to know you, and this way, if I win, so will you’. Fred then explained that there were 27 people in the syndicate, that, with the money they paid on the Littlewoods Treble Chance there was sufficient to ensure that they would receive 2/27th of any winning, of which there was a good chance.17 Such syndicate betting was common in factories, working men’s clubs, and trade unions throughout the United Kingdom. Indeed, all the major British political parties, many social clubs and firms widened the culture of ‘investing on the pools’. Small lotteries, with small prizes had been tolerated in the early twentieth century, but an impetus was given to them by the 1934 Betting and Lotteries Act which endorsed private lotteries. Constituency branches of the Labour Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberals all used the 1934 Act, often illegally because of the high level of the prizes they offered or the failure to register membership, to gain funds for their political causes.18 In most cases, the tombola – usually

168  An integral part of working-class life bingo or housey housey, lottery, raffle, bazaars or football pools – was used to pay for their agents and by the early 1950s, the financing of about a third of the Labour local agents depended upon the money raised in this manner – although the official Labour Party line was that this was ‘undesirable’ and that Party Funds should be increasing individual membership.19 Despite this, the Southampton Labour Party sought advice about running a football ‘Accumulator Sweepstake’ in 1946, under the 1934 Act. Similar requests for advice came from numerous Labour Party constituencies throughout the country, including from Mid-Bedfordshire, Bognor Regis, Mitchum, Cirencester and Tewksbury, Gillingham, March and Scarborough.20 The sought information on the operations of sweepstakes, football permutation schemes, whist drives, beetle drives, and other gaming activities. The Labour Party reacted by offering advice about lotteries and small draws through its journal Labour Organiser, in August 1947. In the wake of this, The Isle of Wight Labour Party sought advice on football forecasting competitions as did Wells Divisional Labour Party and Glastonbury Labour Party.21 Eric Smith’s proposal for a National Ballot was circulated around the Labour Party and trade unions at this time, in what was a fascinating attempt to use gambling to finance means of bringing about peace in industrial relations. The proposal included the investigation of gambling in 20 towns – including London, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and York – through interviews to investigate what was perceived to be a change by the public to a more positive attitude towards gambling.22 Those interviews already conducted revealed the integral part gambling and the football pools played in working-class life. One industrial worker said that ‘I gamble every week because there is nothing to do at home, and it is amusing to work out the selection’.23 Yet another reflected upon the family values that gambling induced: ‘When we do the football pools every week it is the only time that the family is really together, and it gives us so much pleasure working out something together, We spend very little really, only about 2s. 6d each’.24 Such committed interest in the pools was also strongly evident amongst many trade union organisations. In the 1930s, there had been a certain stuffiness to the football pools amongst some trade union organisations. This was partly the result of the formation of Mutual Pools Ltd, of West Street Open, Leicester, organised by W. J. R. Squire, which in August 1939 claimed to be a new company ‘in which many thousands of shares are held by men and women in all parts of the country’, and emphasised the principle of cooperation, and that its Board of Directors is composed of well-known Trade Union and other leaders…’.25 The company seems to have been formed in the summer of 1939 and by August 1939 many trade union organisations and the TUC had disowned it having failed to find any substantial trade union connections. However, the Mutual Pools provoked many trades councils of local unions to declare an interest in running a football pool sweep. Indeed, Teignmouth and District Trades Council declared such an interest on 27 July 1939. However, on the same day, the TUC firmly indicated, in a response to a

An integral part of working-class life 169 letter the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) of 23 July, that Mutual Pools the General Council of the TUC, and affiliated unions, ‘are in no way responsible for the Company in question’.26 Despite this initial setback the Labour Party, the trade unions, workingmen’s clubs, as well as other political organisations and parties, began to incorporate football pool competitions into their fund-raising activities after the Second World War. By the early 1950s, football pools became well-entrenched in these organisations. Indeed, in an areas less dependent upon money raised by competitions, the full-time Labour Party agents of Brighouse and Spenborough, Bradford South, Ripon and York were largely paid out of the money raised from football competitions In the case of York, football competitions were raising between £10 and £12 per week and the Party hoped to maintain its agent through such competitions. It was also suggested that ‘The Tories of Hexham constituency’ had raised ‘more than £2,000 per annum’ through football and racing competitions and that this had helped keep their ‘Member of Parliament’ before the electorate.27 However, between 1952 and 1954, the police began to act against many clubs and organisations who were not running private lotteries to the strict letter of the law, which itself was very confused on the matter.28 The Labour Party asked for reports from all its regions about the dependency of their agents upon all competitions and, although the returns were patchy it is clear that many relied upon competitions, and it is clear that the South Western Region of the Labour Party was particularly dependent upon football competitions.29 As a result of these problems in organising legal competitions, The Small Lotteries Act of 1956 made private lotteries easier to operate by allowing those members participating in sweep draws to designate themselves as a ‘society’ which could mean a constituency party, a gambling section of that party known as ‘supporters’, or some other legal arrangement. The Labour Party, trade unions, other political parties and various sporting clubs increasingly organised competitions, although, from then onwards, many began to move towards raising money through the rising interest in bingo, rather than football competitions.30

Consumer demand, and football consumer surveys: Who gambled on the pools? In many respects, the publicity machine of the companies, radio, and television, clubs and syndicates, conspired to create a sub-culture of consumer gambling on the pools. Peter Gurney, indeed, has argued that consumer culture, of which the pools were a part, has taken centre-stage in Britain since the mid-nhineteenth century, though he feels that the power of the citizen-consumer’ is greatly exaggerated and that the idea of consumer sovereignty reeks of dishonesty.31 Indeed, he argues that much of that culture has been manufactured. The high prizes, publicity and influence of the pool companies may well have shaped the agenda, attracted working-class

170  An integral part of working-class life interest, and led to legislative changes, and a measure of social control emerging from the pool companies. Indeed, this view is supported by Mr. T. Williams MP, who stated, in the 1930s, that ‘The pool promoters do not want liberty for workers; what they desire to exploit the working class for their private gain’.32 The Inter-Departmental Working Party on Lotteries, reporting to the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978) made much the same point, stating that ‘We believe the true concept of a big prize is to be found in the subjective feeling of the potential winners’ standards are set by the previous winnings obtained’.33 The collapse of this convenient arrangement in the mid-1990s may partly explain the rapid fall of interest as the broader culture of The National Lottery ‘for good causes’ emerged in gambling and leisure, and the declining interest in football coupons as a way of raising club funds. Yet, for 60 years, the working class were enamoured of the pools, whether driven by publicity or drawn by a greed for a potential life-changing amount of money. By 1936, as already indicated, the whole of Yorkshire, was in uproar in 1936 when the FL, with the support of the FA, attempted to thwart the pools in claiming its copyright over League fixtures. This greatly upset the football fans, the millions filling in the pools, and many of the League clubs. Brooke Hirst, who represented Huddersfield Town on the Managing Committee of the Football League, felt that ‘The proprietors of the football pools are carrying out a legitimate business’.34 At the same time, working-class readers wrote to the newspapers about their disgust at the action of the League. C. L. Greaves, of Radcliffe, Manchester complained, to the editor of the Manchester Guardian, of the implied demoralisation of the working class, because of their commitment to the football pools, and to the football pools. He asked, ‘what is the difference between organising a pool and organising another business?’, adding that If betting were totally abolished tomorrow it would not worry me. I attend a football match on every available occasion out of the love of the game. But I live in a working-class district, most of my friends are working class, some of them bet on football companies, but none is demoralised. …I have asked twenty working-class punters the amount of their weekly stakes. Three speculated sixpence, five sixpence to a shilling, and three anything between one and five shillings. None could see why he should not be able to have a small gamble if he wanted it. Of the sixpence and the sixpence to a shilling punters, two were unemployed. No doubt it is wrong for an unemployed man to bet on a football coupon, but, to my mind, no more wrong than visiting a cinema, maintaining a wireless, or any other departure from a stark existence; and certainly nothing like as wrong as accepting the multifarious [routes] to drink. And the restrictions on the poor man’s gambling are not thin, they are comparatively thick. I grant that many poor men are not denied access to receive ‘silver rings’, but how many are prepared to pay half-a-crown entrance fee [and] to speculate a shilling ….

An integral part of working-class life 171 The submission that fixed odds coupons would be available if pools were to be abolished scarcely holds, as football-odds coupons are plentiful to be had now for those denying them.35 The working-class commitment to the pools, as was also fully demonstrated by Seebohm Rowntree’s Poverty and Progress study of poverty in York in 1936, which revealed more than a tripling in the purchase of postal orders (the working-class cheque) in York during the football season.36 The social research conducted into working-class life by Mass Observation between 1937 and the 1950s, emphasised further the appeal of the football pools and gambling. Examining the life of Worktown (Bolton), from 1937 to the early 1940s, it concluded of the working class that their leisure time in the pubs, with pub games, and the football pools played a part, although there is limited reference to them as a cultural form. Indeed, Robert Snape, writing on the Worktown surveys argues that they were an active part of working-class culture and identity, rather than the assertion of the demand for liberty put forward by Robert Colls in his book This Sporting Life, and that leisure was not so much a field of resistance but a sphere in which ordinary people were able to create their own leisure spaces through customary practice, language and an adaptation of employer-based facilities. Everyday leisure was not confined to an illusory emergence of passive conception but was active and engaged, forming social constancy, shared places and communal activities which helped form a collective consciousness and a sense of social and cultural identity.37 Men Without Work, The Pilgrim Trust survey of unemployment in six British towns published in 1938, also made much the same point about the unemployed workman’s commitment to the pools, stating that The extent to which the interest and indeed the whole lives of so many of the Liverpool unemployed centre around the pools must be seen to be believed. The queue at the Post Offices filling in coupons, the number of ‘guaranteed system; for correct forecasts on sale in Liverpool’s poorest districts, the periodical carrying nothing but practical analysis, the dirty and torn sports columns of the papers in Public Libraries with the rest of the paper untouched (apart from advertisements of vacant jobs), are some measures of the strength of this interest. It is not a direct interest in sport, but derives from that and gives a glamour to everything and everybody that has to do with sport …38 The reputation of football as the popular national game is well established, and with it went a popular commitment to the football pools by the working class. Those who reflect upon the football pools recall weekly ritual of filling in the pools and checking the results. George Ridgeon, ‘A Careful Old Person’ in his own words, commented, on the decision of the Gloucester

172  An integral part of working-class life Echo to re-issue the Pink Un supplement, for sport results, in 2014 reflecting upon the past and the present checking of results. In the 1950s, one of regular weekly household pastimes was filling in the football coupon and posting by the last post Thursday. When father was not well enough to go up to King’s Head, Norton, I would cycle, being 15 and home from work, up to the pub …bringing him back a bottle of beer. We would then check the football coupon. [….] I have to admit that football is not my game but have done a yearly selection of numbers on one of the cheaper coupons. But I cannot spend hours on the web figuring out how to check it. Can Pink Un list the results as they would be on a football coupon,….?39 The Willink Commission (1949–1951) also emphasised the way in which the pools had become more accepted, than controversial by the 1950s and viewed the football pools ‘as a relatively harmless form of gambling. They [many who gave evidence] argued that the pools have become a national pastime and we consider that in some ways they are quite beneficial… in many homes happy evenings are spent by the family remaining together and filling in their coupons’.40 This was a view largely expounded by the Catholic Church and the Church of England, if not the nonconforming religions, and, of course, the pool companies. In any case, the football pools had rapidly penetrated the world of working-class gambling and identity at all levels. The Social Survey of 1950, the Sherman Pools Ltd Social Survey, the evidence of the PPA, and the growth in the use of postal orders were used by the Willink Commission to establish the extent to which the pools had become popular amongst the working class, particularly after the Second World War. In other words, it used these research reports to measure the social habits of the working class in gambling on the pools. From these reports, it would appear, as previously indicated in Table 4.1, that, between 1945 and 1950 an average of about 10 million people, sometimes more than one from a family, were filling in the pools and that about six million postal orders were being purchased each week of the season – although the weekly average of postal orders had risen to 7.5 million per week by 1950 – a total of about 225,000,000 in the season.41 Many other clients, of course, would have paid the rising number of collectors in cash. The Social Survey of gambling, in 1950 also focused on age and sex differences of the punters. Of the whole survey group, of 2,912, 39 per cent of the sample, took part in the pools, although only 28 per cent of the survey groups sent in the pools at any one time. About 51 per cent of the men in the sample bet on the pools compared with 28 per cent of women. As far as the age structure was concerned, only 13 per cent of 16-20-year-olds took part in the pools, the main interest in the pools being amongst 30- to 49-year-olds. Indeed, 44 per cent of 20-29-year-olds took part in the pools (28 per cent submitting coupons on a regular basis) and 46 per cent of 30- to

An integral part of working-class life 173 49-year-olds (33 per cent submitting on a regular basis). Only 37 per cent of 50-64-year-olds (30 per cent submitting) did the pools and for 65 upwards it fell to 22 per cent (17 per cent submitting). In other words, just under half of people aged between 21 and 49 regularly played the pools.42 Further to this, betting on the pools was dominated by men aged between 20 and 64. It is also clear, from Tables 2.4 and 4.2 in previous chapters, that the pools attracted a rush of interest from the mid-1930s and that apart from the war years, the amount spent was relatively low, and constant. One, of course, must allow for the fact that monetary income levels for the working class had more than tripled, from just over £2 per week in 1935 to just over £7 per week by 1950, largely because of rising wages during the Second World War. In 1935 the average stake was about two shillings (10p) per week in the season, although the postal orders suggest the slightly higher figures of 2s 5d (12p), indicating that those submitting their coupons through collectors were staking lower than those submitting their coupons through collectors were staking lower sums. That would represent around 5 per cent of a typical adult working man’s wage at the time. In the 1948-9 season the figure was 4s 4d (21.5 p), which would represent about 3 per cent of the average adult male wage. Although the stakes fell the following year, very largely because of the introduction of the Pool Betting Duty, at 10 per cent and then 20 per cent, is clear that the cost of the pools had not risen in line with working-class incomes and had thus increased the appeal of a cheap and legal gambling option to provide hope of a life-changing winning jackpot. The Sherman Pools Ltd Social Survey and the Social Survey of 1950 broke down the amount staked even further indicating the small sums involved. As Table 7.1 suggests, in 1950 between 52 and 72 per cent of all punters staked two shillings (10p) or less, and 90 to 95 per cent staked four shillings or less, strongly indicating the low level of most stakes. Table 7.2 also suggests that, of the sample taken, 51 per cent of all men bet on the pools compared with only 28 per cent of the women in the sample. Women bet between 10 per cent to 45 per cent less than men, in accordance with their incomes. In the end, Table 7.1  Football pools: Average staked on coupons by individual participants. Analysis submitted by Sherman Pool Ltd survey and the social survey Amount 1s on less Over 1s under 2s Over 2s under 4s Over 4s under 6s 6s & over Over 10s–20s Over 20s

Shermans pools ltd survey per cent of total coupons 9.8 42.5 20.6 20.1 7.0 2.72 0.211

Social survey per cent of total coupons 25 46.6 11.8 11.3 5.3

Source: Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming 1949–1951, Report, Cmd 8190, p. 150, based upon Table 7.5.

174  An integral part of working-class life Table 7.2  Football pools: Variations in weekly stakes by income groups of men and women Men

Per cent of sample

Up to £3 £3–£5 £5–£7–10s £7–10s–£10 £10 & over All men Women Nil Up to £3 £3–£5 £5 & over All women

Usual weekly stake

32 49 60 55 36 51%

2s 1d 2s 1d 2s 11d 3s 7d 4s 6d 3s 1d

28% 25 32 34 28%

1s 7d 1s 8d 1s 9d 1s 11d 1s 8d

Source: Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming 1949–1951, Report, Cmd 8190, p. 150, based upon Table 7.6.

gambling on the pools in 1950 was a relatively small-scale investment by about half the working-class men of the nation on average pay and by about a third of women on average pay, or less. Over the next 20 years though, habits began to change. Research, conducted in 1968 by Research Services Limited, and in 1972 and 1976, by Gallup, indicated in Tables 7.3 and 7.4, suggest that after the 1950s, there had been a pronounced upward shift in the age of those filling in the pools, raising the intriguing possibility that the younger generation of the population were, already switching to other gambling and leisure activities more suited to their interests.43 Indeed, the main conclusions being drawn from this later body of research were that the football pools were, by then, principally a pursuit of the middle aged, that the average age of the punter was increasing, relative to the average age of the population as a whole and that there was a particularly dramatic fall in the number of 16 to 24 year-olds doing the pools between 1972 and 1976. This was a period when there was a move from the working-class ‘blue-collar’ jobs in British society to the more middle-class ‘white-collar jobs’. Table 7.3  Survey of the age distribution of Pool punters for the United Kingdom for 1951, 1972 and 1976, in years Year

Pool punters average age

Average age of sample

Average age of UK population

1950 1972 1976

42.75 45.5 46

43.75 44.5 44.5

35.33 (1951) 36 (1972) 36 (1974)

Source: The National Archives, BS3/479, a file on the Age Distribution of Football Punters, the full title of which is ‘Age of Football Pools and Money Provided by the PPA for the Benefit of Football’.

An integral part of working-class life 175 Table 7.4  Proportions of different age groups filling in football coupons in 1950, 1968, 1972 and 1976 in percentage terms Age group

1950

1968

1972

1976

Under 35s Over 35s ALL

40 36 38

35 44 40

33 42 40

27 42 37

Source: The National Archives, BS3/479, a file on the Age Distribution of Football Punters, the full title of which is ‘Age of Football Pools and Money Provided by the PPA for the Benefit of Football’.

Incidental evidence, drawn from other surveys and offered with some caution, suggest several refining features. The 1968 Research Services Survey indicated that 52 per cent of married men and 29 per cent of single men did the pools, although it offered no information on women. A letter from Dr. Spurr to the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978) also offered the statistical analysis that if a pool punter married a non-pool-punter the likelihood was that the non-punter would start filling in the pool coupons.44 What emerges from this welter of surveys and reports is that more men than women did the pools, that around 40 per cent of the population were doing the pools up to the 1950s, and that between 1950 and 1972, and even more dramatically, between 1972 and 1976, there was a generational impact coming into play, with the fewer under 35s doing the pools than over 35s, and that this decline was particularly marked in the age group 16–24. The evidence presented to the Rothschild Commission suggested that ‘If these trends in the age distribution of the pool betting population …continues in the future, the long-term outlook for the football pools must be fairly poor’.45 This was a profound and dramatic observation which did not escape the pool companies and politicians in the 1980s, when the formation of a national lottery was being discussed. Indeed, working-class interest in the commercial pools business continued to decline from the mid-1970s onwards. There were undoubtedly at least four other factors at play. First, the ‘blue-collar’ section of the working class, strongly identified with the football pools, was declining as a proportion of employment. Secondly, there was more freedom in gambling as restrictions were removed by legislation particularly the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960. Thirdly, as indicated earlier, charitable competitors, clubs and political parties and trade unions, were operating their own versions of the football pools to the detriment of the Littlewoods and Vernons. Fourthly, as the social surveys of the 1960s and 1970s revealed, betting on the football pools was becoming increasingly confined to the middle-aged and older male punter. In this context of decline and competition, the more freely operating citizenship, with right to gamble, encouraged the pool punter to seek the best financial option and the bigger prizes on offer.

176  An integral part of working-class life

Conclusion The football pools became a popular working-class leisure activity during the inter-war years because they were cheap and provided a distant prospect to legally win a life-changing amount of money. Its popularity was engendered by the pool companies who used their in-house papers, radio, television and newspapers to stimulate interest. There were brief periods, such as the Second World War and the winter of 1962/3 when pools betting declined due to peculiar circumstances, but the working class continued to display a strong interest in the pools, although it was distinctly a male, rather than female, pastime activity, though often operated in a family environment. However, from the 1970s, the once burgeoning interest in the pools began to diminish. This was because of the decline in interest in younger age groups, as alternative forms of gambling and leisure activities emerged, and also because of the economic and social citizenship being extended to the working classes by the legislation of the 1960s. Indeed, the Rothschild Commission suggested that the prospects for the pools were ‘fairly poor’. This became increasingly evident in the 1980s when, apart from other gambling opportunities arising, politicians came to discuss the creation of The National Lottery ‘for good causes’. As the PPA acknowledged, a national lottery would destroy the pools, as it was seen to offer cheap, and easier to operate, legal gambling for very large amounts jackpots and was also seen, as will become evident, as more attractive to women. In the end, any suggestion that the pools were an integral part of working-class life is a tenuous one. Working-class interests in gambling have been driven by cheapness, large prizes, the sense that some skill and judgement is being used and a sense of legality and acceptability. The National Lottery was to offer most of these properties with larger prizes and more social acceptability, the provision of money for good causes, and working-class loyalty to the pools disappeared almost overnight, although it had been declining for some time and was only briefly worth ‘the candle’ to the working classes.

Notes

1. Parliamentary Debates, HL Deb. 19 May 1954, vol. 187, cc. 804–808. 2. John Hilton, Why I Go in for the Pools by Tom, Dick and Harry, London, 1936; R. McKibbin, Classes and Cultures in England 1918–1951, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 375. 3. Hilton, Why I Go for the Pools, p. 26. 4. Ibid., p. 33. 5. J. Hilton, Rich Man, Poor Man, London, George Allen & Unwin, p. 160. 6. McKibbin, ‘Working-Class Gambling in Britain 1880–1939’. 7. The Littlewood Sports Log, 15 October 1938. 8. Ibid., vol. 4, no. 1, 27 August 1938. 9. Photograph advertised on eBay on 10 May 2021. 10. Manchester Guardian, 4 April 2015, 13 April 2015. 11. A copy, from an Australian seller being sold on eBay on 30 April 2021.

An integral part of working-class life 177 12. Paddy Scammall and David Cardiff, A Social History of British Broadcasting, vol. 1, 1922–1939: Serving the Nation, Oxford, Blackwell, 1991, p. 10. 13. Sports Report began on 3 January 1948 and has run, throughout the football season, ever since even though there have been changes in the programme format. The readers of the results were John Webster (1948–1974), James Alexander Gordon (1974–2013), and Charlotte Green (2013 to the present). 14. Many of these publications were produced over many years. The Frank George books was published by Frank George and the Dennis Jones book by Rosters. The Daily Express published Philip Osborne’s Poolbuster: Guide to Winning a Fortune; Gwilym Roberts published Perms that Win the Pools with XT Raceform; Statistician wrote Betting Systems that Win, published by Foulsham. David Duncan, Betting Systems that Win the Pools, Marlow, W. Foulsham, 1991. G. B. Stone published How to Win the Pools by Really Trying, published by Quiller; Simon Carrley wrote How to Win the Pools by Really Trying, published by Quiller; Perman published Planning a Pools Win; Gerry Skinner published How to Win the Pools, published by Sun/Invincible; and there is the excellent book by Drapkin & Forsyth, The Punters’ Revenge published by Chapman & Hall, which uses computers in gambling on horses and the pools. There are many more occasional publications of this type. 15. The National Library of Scotland contains a copy of The Football Review for 1931. The Football Review also operates various websites which can be easily found online. 16. Andy Capp, free online comic strip library at gocomics.co; Don Maley, ‘Super Roads to Riches are Paved with Comics’, Editor & Publisher, 30 November 1968. Reg Smythe, the creator of Andy Capp, produced at least 30 publications of his cartoons in Britain and at least 48 in Australia. 17. MRC, Frank Cousins Papers, MSS 282/3, COR/1/4, 1959, 52, letter from Fred to Frank Cousins. 18. Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling in Britain, c. 1906–1960s, chapter six, ‘The Labour Party, lotteries and bingo 1930s–1960s’, pp. 261–305. 19. Labour History Archive and Study Centre, People’s History Museum, Manchester (LHASC), LPNAD, Gaming Legislation 1934–1981 file, undated circular from J. S. Middleton, Secretary of the Labour Party to the Secretaries of the Divisional and Local Labour Parties. 20. Ibid., files in Lotteries and Betting 1947–1970, 1947–1952 and 1973. There were about twenty other such requests. 21. Ibid., letters from The Isle of Wight, 17 April 1948, Wells Labour Party 21 July 1948, and the Glastonbury Labour Party, 27 July 1948. 22. Ibid. The towns were London, Leeds, Cardiff, Dundee, Manchester, Bath, Gloucester, Hull, Scarborough, Cardigan, York, Brighton, Sunderland, Oxford, Bridlington, Carmarthen, Sheffield, Coventry, Bristol and Chippenham. 23. MRC, Trade Union Congress file,, MSS 281/803/4, Draft of manuscript proposal for the promotion of a National Ballot by Eric Smith, mainly pages 7 and 8. 24. Ibid. 25. Ibid., Articles from the Labour Organiser, MSS 3498, file 1927–1959, 804 (1). 26. Ibid., letter from the General Secretary of the TUC to ASLEF, 27 July 1939. 27. Labour History Archive and Study Centre, Manchester, LPNAD, Betting and Lotteries, file 1947–1954, ‘Comments on Full-Times Agencies in the Yorkshire Region: Following the recent decisions regarding the validity of Football and Racing Competitions as a means of raising funds; a five-page typed document from the Yorkshire Regional Council, 4 May 1954, by J. T. Anson and Mrs. Betty Lockwood. 28. Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling in Britain, c. 1906–1960s, pp. 274–277.

178  An integral part of working-class life 29. Labour History Archive and Study Centre, People’s History Museum, Manchester, LHASC, LPNAD, Betting and Lotteries, file 1947–1954, contains numerous letters from the different regional Labour Party, mainly in May 1954. 30. Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling in Britain, c. 1906–1960s, pp. 298–303. 31. Peter Gurney, The Making of Consumer Culture in Modern Britain, London, Bloomsbury, 2017. 32. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 3 April 1936, vol. 310, 2373, Mr. Williams MP. 33. The National Archives, BS 3/109, evidence to the Rothschild Commission, 10.6. 34. Quoted in The Observer, 1 March 1936. 35. Manchester Guardian, 3 March 1936, p. 20, a letter from C. L. Greaves entitled ‘What Twenty Working-Class Punters Wanted’. 36. Rowntree, Poverty and Progress, p. 403. 37. Robert Snape, ‘Everyday Lives and Northernness in Mass Observation, Workers 1939–1939’, 01.2016, vol. 20, issue 1, 31–44. Also, Colls, The Sporting Life; Jon Lawrence, ‘Class Affluence and the Study of Everyday Life in Britain, 1930–1962’, Cultural and Social History, vol. 10, 2013, issue 2, published online 1 May 2015. 38. Men Without Work: A report made to the Pilgrim Trust, with an introduction by Lord Macmillan, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1938, pp. 98–100. 39. Gloucestershire Echo, 3 January 2014. 40. Willink Commission, Final Report, p. 86, para 285. 41. Ibid., p. 147. 42. Ibid., p. 147. 43. The National Archives, BS3/479, a file on the Age Distribution of Football Punters’, the full title of which is ‘Age of Football Pools and Money Provided by the PPA for the Benefit of Football’. 44. Ibid., in a letter to the Royal Commission on Gambling on 2 August 1977, referring to a letter from Dr. Spurr of 30 July 1977. 45. Ibid.

8

Challenge, decline and the restructuring of the pools The challenge of the national lottery ‘for good causes’

Almost 22 million people watched Britain’s first National Lottery draw on Saturday 19 November 1994, an event broadcast across the nation in a special primetime television programme introduced by Noel Edmonds, a popular television gameshow host. It was an instant success with an attractive and catchy advertising campaign, featuring the ‘fickle finger of fate’ emerging from the heavens to choose a lucky winner, booming out the catchphrase ‘It could be you’. This became the basis of a regular entertaining television draw session for many years, although its popularity has declined so that only about 60 per cent of adults play the game in 2021, compared to the 80 to 90 per cent who originally played; further reduced by the raising the betting age from 16 to 18 at the end of 2021. The game developed a second draw, the European-wide Euromillions, and increasingly, the personal involvement in this lottery has changed in more quiet and solitary ways as individuals become engrossed in at least one of 21 ‘instant win’ games on their phones or newsagent and supermarket outlets, in a dizzying array of scratchards and rapid-fire apps. Legally, there are financial limits on the amounts that can be spent on these casino-style features that end, for most participants with the slogan ‘Better luck next time’. The National Lottery quickly replaced the football pools, and indeed other gambling activities in Britain, as the prime gambling activity of the nation and led to the ultimate decline of the pools in the increasingly globalised world of gambling and was foreseen by the PPA as it sought to prevent, and then control, its creation.1 The National Lottery ‘for good causes’ was established at the end of a long and protracted attempt by the commercial football pool companies and the PPA to prevent its creation, which led the PPA to consider running the national lottery itself when its threat seemed imminent in the 1970s. The declining appeal of the pools in the face of new competition had led Littlewoods to centre-stage challenges to its business such as the charity pools, at the centre of its trade union pay negotiations with USDAW in the late 1980s. However, although charities and other forms of gambling presented serious challenges to the industry, it was the arrival of The National Lottery ‘for good causes’ that led to the precipitous decline of the pools. Faced with a much lower level of taxation, and having the ability to rollover DOI: 10.4324/9781003144908-8

180  Challenge, decline and restructuring pools unwon jackpot prizes, which the pools did not initially have the right to do, The National Lottery held a competitive advantage over the pools which was amplified by other commercial advantages. Within a couple of years, the number of football coupons submitted had dropped by more than a third and employment in the football pool industry had declined dramatically. From still being the dominant gambling activity of the working class at the beginning of the 1990s, the pools industry has contracted to the point of oblivion by the 2020s. The ‘traditional’ gambling activity of the pools is no longer a leisure activity that affects, or shapes, the life of the population of Britain. Indeed, gambling on the football pools has been absorbed into, and submerged in, the wider world of online gambling, which owes, little to the emotional world of family leisure, culture and the tradition of and anxiety of checking of the pools on late Saturday afternoons. Its distinctive existence has gone, lost in the myriad of alternative, increasingly online, gambling opportunities offered by Betfred, Ladbrokes, Bet365 and hundreds of other online servers.

The challenges to the football pools The football pools prospered during the inter-war years, based upon a range of fixed-odds betting opportunities, which produced significant jackpots, often ranged against a small number of games, although there were competitions with 44, or more, matches.2 In recovering from the dramatic decline faced during the Second World War, the pools flourished with the introduction of the Treble Chance, and the pools were able to offer large jackpots despite paying considerable amounts of money in taxation. Even as late as 1988, 34 per cent of all adults did the pools and they remained deeply-rooted in the social and cultural fabric of the nation, dominated by three surviving firms – Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters.3 To Roger Munting, its popularity was because it was in fact a lottery a game of chance masked by the fact that the punter was able to use his/her judgement of team form to select the numbers rather than randomly selecting numbers. This dubious thin sliver of skill distinguished it from being merely a lottery and guaranteed its legality.4 Nevertheless, as indicated in Chapters 4 and 5, the pool industry was subject to inclement weather in the 1960s, leading to the suspension of football matches, and the challenge of alternative forms of gambling. However, the pools quickly recovered, and from the late 1960s until the early 1980s, the pool industry boomed, despite a drift away from it by the younger generations. On 12 May 1987, it was announced that turnover had increased by £24 million, or 5.6 per cent, to £455 million.5 This increased further and in the 1987–1988 season the Littlewoods turnover, alone, rose by 8.32 per cent to £492 million, with the return to clients rising also from 27.89 per cent of turnover to 28.3 per cent; an improvement but a long way removed from the 80 per cent paid by the large companies in the pre-Betting Duty days.6 Yet, there were ominous signs emerging in the seasonal presentation offered at Littlewoods negotiations with USDAW revealed. There was increasing

Challenge, decline and restructuring pools 181 concern that the return to the clients were small, given that 42.5 per cent of the turnover went to tax, that prizes might not be attractive enough and that competition was rising – concerns which the PPA and Littlewoods had raised in their evidence to the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978).7 The introduction of a National Health Lottery on May 1988 and an expansion by Ladbrokes, the gambling firm, by 30 per cent into football gambling, were seen as potential threats.8 That was amplified by changes in the ownership and control of Vernons, the chief coupons rival to Littlewoods, which was seen as a potential threat to the football pools.9 These were in addition to the gradual increase in charitable football pools. However, these were nothing compared with the impact of The National Lottery.

The battle for the National Lottery in Britain against the pools companies and the ‘Neolithic tribesmen’ The National Lottery started in the United Kingdom in November 1994, about 170 years after national lotteries had been made illegal in the United Kingdom because of the high incidence of fraud. Private lotteries remained legal if they were not publicly advertised and drew from a restricted, fixed and listed, number of players. Small and local lotteries had later been legitimised under the Betting and Lotteries Act of 1934, with strict controls on the level of prize winnings, and were renewed under the Lotteries and Amusement Act of 1976. Many charitable football lotteries had been legalised in 1971, although the enabling act had to be renewed every five years. Nevertheless, there was no national lottery in the United Kingdom until the Lotto was started in 1994, based upon a selection of 6 numbers from 49 numbers. The Lotto had first emerged in West Germany in 1955, expanding from £4 million of business in 1955 to £227 million in 1960 and £962 million in 1977.10 It was also begun in the Australian state of Victoria in 1972 and then in the United States, in New Jersey in 1974 and New York in 1978, from which it had extended out to other American states and into the Canadian provinces. By 1978, there were at least ten other countries offering a state Lotto, as indicated in Table 8.1, the largest of these was France with a turnover of £271 million and Czechoslovakia with £142,285,000. At that time, in 1976, the turnover for the British football pools was £261,500,000. From there, Lotto developed to a point where at least 117 countries were operating a form of state Lotto by 1993.11 The United Kingdom was, clearly, late on the scene because of several obvious reasons. First, there was legislation against national lotteries, dating back to the 1820s (acts in 1823 and 1826), introduced to prevent the fraudulent activity that had gone in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Secondly, often on the dubious grounds of skill and judgement, the football pools had filled the role of the lottery for the public, offering the potential to win large prizes for little expenditure in what – given that most punters used the same numbers every week – was effectively a lottery.12 Thirdly, the PPA, dominated by Littlewoods, was usually, if often conditionally, against it.

182  Challenge, decline and restructuring pools Table 8.1  International lotto in 1978 Country/Province

Population (million)

Total sales

Belgium Czechoslovakia Finland France Holland Poland Quebec Switzerland Victoria State (Australia) West Germany Yugoslavia

8.8 15 4.7 55 14 14 6.3 6,290,000 3,700,000 61,396,000 21

£38,768,000 £142,285,000 £50,285,000 £271,000,000 £44,180,000 £41,908,000 £22,800,000 £51,600,000 £98,434,000 £961,652,000 £7,419,000

Source: The National Archives, BS3/204, containing a letter from Littlewoods and containing a The Case for the Lotto by the PPA, p. 46.

Fourthly, the government was raising hundreds of millions of pounds through the taxation of the football pools, the level reaching about £300 million per year by 1990.13 Fifthly, there were several charities that operated football pools which were sensitive to the threat posed by a national lottery. Sixthly, the anti-gambling interests, and particularly various religions, opposed to the idea of a national lottery which might further widen gambling opportunities. This made them opponents of a national lottery and, ironically, placed them alongside the pool promoters who were fundamentally opposed to a national lottery, unless they could operate it themselves. Nevertheless, the early twentieth century had seen a revived interest in the idea of a national lottery in the United Kingdom, partly provoked by the desire to raise money during the First World War but also through the fact that whist, partnership whist, and other card games were often designated as a form of lottery, or game of chance, and thus were illegal.14 Between the 1930s and the 1990s, there had been a rising debate about the re-introduction of a national lottery. In 1931, Sir William Davison, a Conservative MP and a magistrate, put forward a Lottery Bill, to help hospitals, as a private member’s bill, but it was defeated because of the opposition of Labour MPs. On 22 March 1932, his private member’s bill on forming a national lottery gained support at its second reading in the Commons but was lost for lack of time in the committee stages. The Rowlatt Commission (1932–1933) also opposed the formation of a public, or national, lottery.15 The 1934 Betting and Lotteries Act, which followed, did not legalise national lotteries in Britain, although there were allowances for smallscale lottery arrangements of the village fete variety.16 The Willink Commission (1949–1951) also opposed the idea of a national lottery and pointed to the abuse of the rules governing small and private lotteries. Given the failure of the early commissions to recommend, and governments to act, it was left to individual MPs to put forward their private

Challenge, decline and restructuring pools 183 member’s bills. Between the 1960s and the 1970s, there were several private member bills debated in the House of Commons, though they gained little support. In February 1968, by James Tinn MP (Cleverley) presented a bill which was firmly put down by Sir Gerald Nabarro MP (Worcestershire, South), then a member of the Pools Panel. Tinn argued that there were 25 state lotteries, and that Sweden’s exchequer was raising £10 million per year from their state lottery.17 Nabarro, openly a spokesman for the PPA, used the occasion to ask why, at that time, the football pools should pay 28 per cent in tax whilst greyhound racing paid only 10 per cent, and horse racing only 2.5 per cent. Indeed, he exclaimed ‘Why are football pools, metaphorically speaking, 10 times as immoral as horse racing’.18 Indeed, the PPA worked hard to ensure that the whole idea of a national lottery was rejected, commissioning the Institute of Economic Affairs to report upon the detrimental effect that a national lottery would have upon the pools.19 Tinn presented a similar, unsuccessful, lotteries bill before the House of Commons on 6 April 1973. In answer to a question from Mr. Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree), who was worried about the unemployment situation on Merseyside, and the implication that it would worsen with the formation of a national lottery, that the purpose of his Bill was to take the profits from the shareholders of the football pools and redirect them to ‘beneficial purposes.20 This issue was taken up by the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978) put forward the case for a national lottery ‘for good causes’, though the PPA generally worked vigorously to oppose such a suggestion throughout the 1970s.21 The Rothschild Commission (1976–1978), however, captured a change of mood that had occurred over a quarter of a century and recommended the formation of a national lottery. Like the Willink Commission (1949–1951), it sought to ‘interfere as little as possible with individual liberty’ but, unlike the Willink Commission, recommended many changes for existing local and private lotteries, and that ‘There should be a single national lottery for good causes run by a National Lottery Board’.22 This conclusion was based upon an extensive examination of the lotteries and state lotteries that operated, often for ‘good causes’ and sports, in West Germany, Canada, Denmark, Italy and Sweden. However, it tended to favour the German system of Lotto and state-controlled lotteries operated by private companies.23 The Commission seemed to suggest the need for large prizes and the belief that more people, and particularly women, would be drawn into gambling regularly on a state-controlled, if privately owned, national lottery. Interestingly, at this point, the PPA and betting companies put forward their own proposals to run the national lottery, if one was to be established, which rather contradicts the view of Kohe that the PPA was entirely opposed to the idea of a national lottery.24 In a report from the PPA to the Rothschild Commission, dated April 1976, designed to oppose the idea of a Levy on the pools to support sport beyond their tax and charitable contributions, J. D. Watkins, Secretary of the PPA, floated the idea of the PPA running a national lottery. His report acknowledged the emergence of the

184  Challenge, decline and restructuring pools national lottery throughout the world, and particularly the Irish Hospital Sweepstake Fund, adding that ‘As the principal custodian of the nation’s skills in the conduct of long-odds enterprise we would conceive it to be in our interests that any such proposal should be managed efficiently and effectively: quite simply we think a fiasco could do no one any good’.25 If a national lottery were to be established, the PPA favoured one based upon the German ‘Lotto’ system and that it should not be placed in the hands of the Gaming Board of Great Britain – responsible for arcade betting, and slot machines at that time. Indeed, it was argued that A PPA Lotto could make provision for benefit to Good Causes in the numbers which the Report of the Interdepartmental Working Party envisaged (para. 24). We see it as a means of offering greater security of income to the Good Causes. If there is a free-for-all competition amongst large lotteries for promotion and outlets, the probability of failure for many is obvious and causes harnessed to less efficient promoting organisations will see their expectations brought to nothing: our proposed method has no weakness of this kind.26 In the uncertain world of a national lottery, the PPA suggested that administering a lottery would be easier than administering the pools, more automated, and would use less labour.27 In addition, just over two years later, the PPA, submitted its own illustrated pamphlet, of a dozen pages, entitled The football pools have the administrative resources and the collecting machinery, to capture large parts of the market. It was attached to a letter from N. D. Foster, of Littlewoods Pools, dated 9 May 1978, with a brief discussion of the operation of LotoQuebec. It offered drawings of a family watching a television for the pools results, explained Lotto, explained its growth throughout Europe, and elaborated upon the ‘Experience of UK Pool Promoters’, with the security of their machinery and the trust that they had engendered. It ended with the statement that Not only is it widely held that the football pools are a socially innocuous activity, as could be, but there is ample evidence of public confidence, and this testified to the status of members of the Association…This trust of the Pool Promoters Association would apply to the Lotto.28 Times and attitudes had changed on gambling, and the Rothschild Commission recommended the establishment of a National Lottery for ‘good causes’, which had become acceptable. Nevertheless, successive governments were slow to react and did not immediately encourage a change of policy. There was still only limited support for the idea of a national lottery, although increasing concern about the need for reform as existing legislation was being abused; in particular, the Betting and Lotteries Act of 1934 being misused by football clubs to operate small lotteries and raffles. Indeed, Bodkin Football Club, in the early 1980s, was warned, by the police,

Challenge, decline and restructuring pools 185 not to hold raffles but used section 23 of the 1934 Act to defy this advice. Anthony Barber (MP for Doncaster) stated, in November 1984, that ‘…I say that the law relating to betting and lotteries today is both anomalous and completely out of sympathy with public opinion’. Adding the actions of the Bodkin Football Club that they had a fete with stalls and sideshows and that ‘Members may be surprised to hear that during the afternoon’s entertainment one of the items happened to be a football match between Bodmin Town and Minehead. By the simple device of a raffle, which was previously illegal became [sic] legal the gate was doubled. Thereafter, I understand, the police were charged admission to the football match. The present position is farcical and is making a mockery of the law’.29 Yet another private member’s bill, supporting a national lottery bill, failed to progress through Parliament in June 1990.30 However, because of the farcical situations that were arising, and since the democratising influence of the 1960s gambling legislation was exerting an impact, by the early 1990s the mood towards a national lottery had changed. John Major’s Conservative government, of the early 1990s, looked on the idea more favourably. Ivan Lawrence, a criminal barrister and Conservative MP for Burton, launched his private member’s bill in the House of Commons on 17 January 1992, suggesting that every country in Europe, except Albania, and 116 worldwide had a national or state lottery and that the United Kingdom should also have one.31 A Gallup poll of public opinion in October 1991 had suggested that 72 per cent of the nation favoured a national lottery, and Lawrence felt that there could be 25 to 30 million regular players of the lottery, that it could have a turnover of £3 billion and produce significant income for ‘good causes’, as the recently-formed National Lottery Promotion Company had suggested.32 Additionally, to allay the fears of the pool promoters, Lawrence suggested that Gallup polls indicated that 92 per cent of punters would continue to play the pools and that instead of only 20 per cent of women betting on the pools the figure would rise to 72 per cent for the national lottery. He maintained that his bill had the support of the Arts Council, the Sports Council, the Amateur Boxing Association, the Amateur Swimming Association, the British Olympic Association, English Heritage, and more than a dozen other national organisations who might benefit from a national lottery. To him, national lotteries had been successful in many countries, and one should be tried in Britain.33 Lawrence was supported by a significant number of MPs from all sides of the House. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath) noted that the Rothschild Commission had recommended the formation of a national lottery. He was also dismissive of the claims of Paul Zetter, of Zetters Pools, in a letter to The Times, that ‘If we started a national lottery the turnover would be miniscule compared with the European competition and the prize money insufficient to attract people’. He also dismissed Zetter’s fears, and those of USDAW representatives, for the possible resulting loss of jobs at Littlewoods and Vernons.34 The three surviving commercial pool companies (Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters) had already anticipated this bill and, Lawrence noted that ‘we

186  Challenge, decline and restructuring pools have been deluged with literature of all sorts from the pools lobby’, who were claiming that ‘a national lottery would kill off the pools in four weeks.35 He stressed the hypocrisy in this opposition given that Vernons was bidding to run state lotteries in the United States and that of the ‘Neolithic Tribesmen’ who opposed him, repeating the phrase coined by Richard Luce, the Conservative MP for Shoreham and member of the Lottery Protection Board.36 In response, Joseph (Joe) Ashton presented the two major defences of the pool promoters – that they paid an enormous contribution in taxes to the Treasury and grants to charitable organisations, and that a national lottery would destroy the football pools business and cost 6,000 to 6,500 jobs in Liverpool and Merseyside alone.37 Others, made the similar points. Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool Walton) suggested that a national lottery would kill the pools off, much as it had done, when formed, in the rest of Europe, and that 4,500 jobs, not 6,000 to 6,500, jobs, would be lost in Liverpool and Merseyside, mainly among women: ‘An awful lot of these women are the only breadwinner in their household. In my constituency, I already we already have the highest number of unemployed women in Britain. I do not want to see any additions to that number’.38 Mr. Terry Fields MP (Liverpool, Broadgreen), who had already been expelled from the Labour Party in December 1991 for his association with Militant Tendency, also declared his opposition to a national lottery and announced that ‘I come from Liverpool and Littlewoods is based in my constituency. I live a stone’s throw from the new Vernons complex’.39 This support for the pools, Vernons and Littlewoods, was further embellished, in inaccurate and exaggerated form, by the Audrey Wise, the Labour MP for Preston, who noted that ‘Littlewoods has an explicit policy of maintaining employment rather than making even higher capital investment. It would rather spend money on paying wages than in installing machinery to force workers out’.40 The pool promoters had been openly lobbying MPs for years in expressing their concerns about the impact of a national lottery, and particularly so in the early 1990s. They also expressed their views publicly. Paul Zetter’s letter to The Times, at the end of 1991, already referred to, had been widely read by MPs. Michael Davidson, managing director of Littlewoods, stated that ‘A UK national lottery would effectively kill off the football pools in a matter of weeks. [….] A successful national lottery would act as a substitute for football pools …as a result if this the level of employment within the industry will be dramatically reduced’.41 This view was supported by Malcolm Hughes, managing director of Vernons (by then owned by Ladbrokes), who stated that ‘In case after case, arrival of a lottery has squeezed out Pool Games, and the example of Australia, Belgium and, more recently, Greece all bear testimony to this fact’.42 The comments made by all three pool companies were clearly influenced by the comments of Frank (Hampton) McFadden, an American judge, to Littlewoods, and referred to in a report produced by Cooper and Lybrand, an accounting from the United States. Assessing the impact of a national lottery for Littlewoods, McFadden had

Challenge, decline and restructuring pools 187 stated that ‘I have long formed the opinion that the introduction of a UK national lottery would effectively kill off the football pools within a period of weeks. This clearly follows the pattern regarding Littlewoods Pools in Belgium, which, following the introduction of a national lottery, survived only three weeks’.43 The representatives of the three pool companies were all in agreement that a national lottery would destroy their business, with all the social, economic and regional consequences that entailed. Those MPs with a vested interest in supporting the pools were, ironically, supported by a variety of MPs who opposed gambling, not the least of them the Rev. Ian Paisley, and those who did not like what they saw.44 Brian Wilson (Cunningham, North), having seen a recent presentation on the British Columbia lottery and had come away with two clear impressions; the first was that ‘huge prizes’ were required and that all other lotteries had to disappear for it to be successful, and, secondly, that everyone wanted to be a good cause.45 Nevertheless, the balance had changed dramatically in favour of a national lottery. Less than a month after replacing Margaret Thatcher, as the Conservative Prime Minister, in November 1990, John Major began to show interest in offering government support for a national lottery. At first, he appeared to remain neutral for, in a letter to Malcolm Davidson on 16 December 1991, he declared that ‘we are very well aware of the potential impact for existing charitable lotteries and for the existing gambling industry, in particular the football pools which, as you say, are an important source of employment in the Liverpool area and who make payments to football and now more widely to sport and the art via the new Foundation’.46 Yet, Major and the Conservative government, mindful of the impact might occur, were still drawn to the prospects of large tax returns from a national lottery whose business it was felt would be considerable and dwarf the pools. On the 6 March 1992, shortly before the 1992 general election, the House of Commons debated the National Lottery Bill again, with Kenneth Baker, the Home Secretary, indicating that a government White Paper had been published that morning announcing the Government’s intent to go forward with a single national lottery. In a jovial exchange, he accused Roy Hattersley, Labour’s Deputy Leader, of being ‘a sourpuss’ and a ‘party pooper’ in opposing the Government’s decision. He also indicated that his Under-Secretary of State had spoken ‘to the Pool Promoters’ Association and to the representatives of Vernons and Zetters and I spoke to the managing director of Littlewoods’.47 He reiterated that the Government believed that the pool promoters had made substantial profits from the pools, that ‘the Government had no intention of putting the pool promoters out of business, and I do not think that will happen’.48 Two Labour MPs from the Merseyside area, Frank Field (Birkenhead) and George Howarth (Knowsley, North), begged to differ, and Dennis Skinner (Bolsover), a Labour MP, said to the Home Secretary, of the Government, that ‘They have got themselves into a right old mess. Will he get in touch with the Littlewoods organisation and all other similar concerns that have given money to the Tory Party over

188  Challenge, decline and restructuring pools the years and tell them that as the Government are trampling on their territory, they will send the money back’.49 Within the debate, there emerged a feeling that since the European Commission was studying the details of creating a single market, that although there were no specific proposals on the harmonisation of gambling legislation, that there was a possibility that this might occur. Even more, it might be likely that British citizens would be able to participate in foreign lotteries, and that the development of satellite television might facilitate international gambling.50 The House of Lords debate on the national lottery, on the same day, began with the statement that ‘the Government has decided to introduce a national lottery to be promoted throughout the United Kingdom. We have concluded that a single national lottery is the best way forward. This would allow major progress to be offered and would maximise the potential funds which could be raised for good causes, while minimising the risk of fraud or mismanagement’.51 The Government’s White Paper, A National Lottery raising money for good causes, suggested that ‘The day-to-day activities would be undertaken by the private sector under control and subject to strict regulation’.52 The Government had taken the decision first and then sought consultations, whilst the Labour Party took the stand that it would consult first and then decide upon its attitude towards a national lottery. The debate highlighted the fact that the Lord Bishop of Sheffield, and other clergy, were opponents of the national lottery and, ironically, thus in the same camp as the football pools. Events then came to a halt as a general election was held in mid-March 1992, which saw the return of John Major’s Conservative government, but the National Lottery was still high on the Conservative agenda in that general election.53 The matter was taken further in the House of Commons on 5 January 1993, to little additional debate, and then raised in the Lords on 27 May 1993.54 Here, Lord Donoughue, a Labour peer, asked where the bill fitted into the Governments view of society, which he saw as a ‘puritanical and nonconformist strain’ and was uneasy of the ‘idea frankly of the state endorsing gambling’.55 Lord Aberdare, the Chairman of the Football Trust, founded in 1979 (though in fact, as already indicated, formed by the Labour Government and the pool companies as the FGIT in 1975) by Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters, argued that the Trust supported the idea of a national lottery but noted that ‘Our income, as I shall explain, is almost entirely dependent upon the success of the pools companies’, deriving it from the ‘Spot the Ball’ competition, which provided it with £13 million per year, and from 1990 the Government had effectively provided another £23 million through reducing the Football Betting Duty by 2.5 per cent to enable the provision of money for ‘capital works for the safety and comfort of spectators at football grounds in accordance with the Taylor Report on the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989’.56 They had concerns. Yet the balance of the debate was taken by those with vested interests in the national lottery. These included Lord Montague of Beaulieu, a consultant to the Lottery Promotion Company; Lord Palumbo, Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain; Lord Crathorne, Trustee of

Challenge, decline and restructuring pools 189 the National Heritage Memorial Fund; Lord Howell, a former member of the Lottery Promotion Company; Lord Birkett, who had once been co-chairman of the Lottery Promotion Company, and others.57 Parliamentary approval was eventually given for the Bill and the National Lottery was launched through Camelot, which had defeated fourteen other bidders for the franchise, on 14 November 1994, and the first draw was held on Saturday, 19 November 1994, based upon the selection of six numbers and a bonus ball.58 In the end, the John Major’s Conservative governments were committed to introducing a national lottery, mindful of the possible impact it would wreak upon the football pools, and the unemployment situation on Merseyside, in the unfounded assumption that the football pools would be barely affected. It is obvious that the government had changed its mind because it saw, as Sharpe suggested and Clapson implied, a higher turnover from the lottery that there would be a broader appeal both men and women, and that it was a year-long round activity, not subject to the seasonal fluctuations of the pools, which could produce large sums for good causes.59 Attempting to salvage the situation, the PPA hoped that the Football Trust, which we have seen, was working with the PPA to improve ground safety and improve the facilities of football clubs, would win the franchise to run The National Lottery. Having opposed a national lottery, and then having sought to run Lotto in 1977 and 1978, in the early 1990s, it supported the Football Trusts’ claim to running it, mindful of its own equivocal and anomalous position in that ‘We must be careful not to be too virulent in our opposition to the concept of a National Lottery and then at the same time to be too enthusiastic over our own proposal to run it’.60 When the franchise to run The National Lottery went to Camelot, the emphasis of the pool companies became one of gaining equal parity with it in terms of reducing the Pool Betting Duty and rolling over the jackpots. The PPA stated that ‘We had hoped that by the time the lottery started the terms of competition between it and the pools would be fair and level’. In a plea to the Department of National Heritage and Art Lottery Committee Roger Calvert, the PPA Secretary, said that We regard that that [the denial of equal parity] is not the case and are mystified why the Government continues to deny the pool companies the opportunity to advertise on television and radio, given the latter’s stated intention to spend tens of millions on those media. We remain extremely concerned therefore [that] PPA members’ business may still be seriously damaged by unfair competition from the national lottery.61 In the event, the PPA got the Pool Betting Duty reduced from 40 per cent to 37.5 per cent, pool companies were allowed to advertise and were also allowed to roll over jackpot prizes that had not been won. However, in its first full year, The National Lottery ‘for good causes’ yielded a tax revenue of £510 million, which rose to £626 million in its second full year, almost

190  Challenge, decline and restructuring pools twice as much tax as had been produced by the pools. The pool industry declined and its charitable contributions to the Football Trust, and football in general, declined sharply.62 The Major Government’s prediction that the impact on the football pools would be minimal was clearly wrong and, as the Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters had predicted, the business went into steep decline – albeit in a matter of years rather than weeks. The overseas experiences, the hope for higher tax returns, and the hope of the widening appeal of The National Lottery had clearly seduced John Major’s Conservative government into abandoning the football pool industry.

The decline of the pools The decline of the football pools was palpable as it was quickly dwarfed by the United Kingdom National Lottery. In the 1993–1994 season, the turnover of the pools reached £1 billion, and it paid over £300 million in tax, whilst, in contrast, in its first twelve months (November 1994–November 1995) The National Lottery achieved a turnover of £4.4 billion, producing a tax revenue of £510 million.63 In the 1994/5 season, the turnover of the pools fell by 12 per cent, followed by another 28 per cent decline in the 1995/6 season. Shortly afterwards, the turnover of the pools had fallen by about 60 per cent, to less than £400 million. This impacted greatly upon the pool companies and, by 1997, Littlewoods alone had reduced the number of its staff by a quarter.64 By the 2001–2002 season, turnover had fallen further, to about £150 million.65 From 1994 to 1995, onwards, the three surviving pool companies attempted to fight back and successfully lobbied the Conservative government to make two reductions in the pools tax, lower the minimum age for betting on the pools to 16, to allow the rollover of the jackpot, and allow the pool business to be conducted inside the offices of bookmakers.66 In 1994, the pool companies were also allowed to advertise on television, and they spent between £6 million and £9 million on advertising, though, at the same time, Camelot was spending £34 million on advertising.67 ‘It could be you’, the motto of The National Lottery, was on every street, and on the radio and television and one could not escape it. Littlewoods even reduced the number of matches on Treble-Chance coupons from 58 to 49, to keep in line with the numbers 1 to 49 of Lotto, and there were plans to let the Treble Chance. However, this did little to stem the decline of the pools, especially as the rollover of the jackpot proved unpopular to pool clients used to having the unwon jackpot between the lower dividend winners. By the beginning of 1995, Vernons had announced 95 redundancies and there were serious concerns about the potential of many of the 80,000 or so collectors losing their jobs and thus undermining the social cohesion of the communities they operated in.68 Indeed, it was suggested that There will not be one Member of Parliament who does not have pools collectors living in his or her constituencies. They are the backbone of the

Challenge, decline and restructuring pools 191 industry and for many people and especially the elderly and the infirm who find it difficult to pick up and return the coupon….In many respects they are like social workers and because pool companies to the people whose coupons they collect. They do an essential service, and we must be careful to do nothing to endanger what these 80,000 collectors do.69 It was all very much of an afterthought and The Observer of 27 January 1995 had the headline ‘The Pools wiped out by the lottery’, based upon a calculation made by bankers at Barclays de Zoete. Vernons, famously tried to stem the tide by working with The National Lottery to produce its Easy Plan in August 1998, by which bettors could put a £1 on 40 football matches at a National Lottery terminal which would give them 11 numbers. They would win a share of the pool if eight of these games were score draws. The question that arose from this was – what would happen if the match were to be abandoned, or did not go ahead? The answer was that postponed matches were decided by a random process. Vernons, over-ambitiously, aimed at an annual turnover of £400 million.70 However, whilst there were about 1,500,000 ticket purchases on the first Saturday, when there were eight draws and a £2 million win, the 1,700,000 ticket purchases of the second Saturday found that the jackpot was a mere £5,457. Sales fell and the scheme was withdrawn in 1999 at which time the Prize Fund for the Jackpot was averaging around £130,000. Fans were frustrated by the fact that Easy Plan offered no choice of matches, it lacked simplicity, and was hard to check. The obvious fact is that, as predicted in parliamentary debates, the football pools business was in terminal decline and was rapidly being absorbed into gambling companies whose interests were increasingly international and online. The football pools were then to become just a small component of a booming gambling industry. In anticipation of the threat of a national lottery, in 1989 Robert Sangster sold Vernons Pools to Ladbrokes for £90 million, though Ladbrokes subsequently valued their acquisition at £1.71 After the introduction of The National Lottery, job losses occurred swiftly. Vernons blamed the loss of another 70 people laid off at it Merseyside headquarters in 1997 on The National Lottery, and immediately announced the prospect of losing another 20 jobs.72 In February 1998, the 3,800 strong army of doorstep collectors used by Vernons was disbanded in a major redirection of business which also involved a further 200 job losses.73 Its move was into the online market and in 2001–2002, it achieved its first rise in turnover since 1994, one of 3 per cent, which it attributed to its Lucky Chance online and partial lottery games.74 Vernons was eventually acquired by Sportech towards the end of 2007, after a Competition Inquiry.75 In the case of Zetters, the decline in its business was immediate. The business, built up by Paul Isaac Zetter, in the wake of his father, from the mid1940s onwards, and run by fellow director, James Dudley Henderson Clarke, from 1995 to 2000, was failing.76 There was a report on 25 January 1995 that

192  Challenge, decline and restructuring pools Zetters was suspending to the Foundation for Sports and Arts but subsequently refuted that suggestion two weeks later and declared it maintain their contribution of 7.5p for every 105p, they took in stakes, provided that their turnover of the pool business did not fall more than 15 per cent compared with the same period in 1994.77 Zetters attempted to widen its betting market into bingo in 1998.78 Indeed, bingo and a ‘Spot the Ball’ competition raised £614 000 of its first six-month profits in 1998 compared with bingo, down by 13 per cent at £250,000.79 Unfortunately, by May 2001, Zetters was facing a loss of £1.5 million.80 However, by 2002, it had recovered and was making a profit of £600,000 per year on a turnover of £6.1 million and Colin McGill of Sportech bought Zetters and suggested that it would be organised separately to provide for, and increase, its 60,000 players. At this point, it was bought by Sportech for £1.35 million or £1.73 million, according to two different reports.81 Colin McGill, Managing Director of Littlewood’s parent company Sportech felt that Zetters was ‘a natural fit within Sportech’s stable of gaming’, especially as it brought with it 60,000 new players into the fold.82 He added that ‘We welcome all Zetters Football customers and are sure that we will be able to offer them an increasing range of innovative and entertaining gaming opportunities’. The Zetters Pools Office at Clerkenwell, in London, was turned into a boutique in 2003 by a scion of the Sainsbury Group family.83 Zetters was still advertising its football business in 2004 but that has been absorbed into online gambling by 2008.84 Littlewoods fared no better. Its Leisure Gaming branch, which had acquired other leisure divisions to its pools business, was taken over by Rodime plc in 2000 for £169 million. Rodime, formed as an electronic company in 1979, thus moved into gaming and betting and a Rodime spokesman said Most people saw the pools as a two-branch industry, it suffered at the time of the National Lottery, but it is now hard-core supporters – more than 1 million people a week – and we must build on that. The company is aiming to widen the game’s appeal by attracting younger players. [….] We need to make the pool easier to play. There is a massive market for football, and we must tap into it’. In addition, Eric Kilby, part of the Rodime team behind the deal, says ‘Littlewoods has control over the other leisure divisions – Bet247 and Bet Direct – but we believe the pools business has the potential to be a major international force’.85 Rodime merged with Sportech, an international gaming company, in 2002 when valued at £160 million.86 However, the two organisations were already operating together, before the official merger and re-organisation, and, as Colin McGill, Sportech’s managing director, said, in February 2001, ‘We’ve got people from 55 countries playing pools over the Internet – some from islands that we’ve not even sure where they are’.87 Littlewoods’ Football Pools was still being advertised widely in 2004, some adverts suggesting that ‘There are millions of pounds to be won every week

Challenge, decline and restructuring pools 193 on Littlewoods Football Pools, and the coupons could be filled in by phone or online.88 In May 2007, Littlewoods was offering a ‘FREE MP3 player’ to anyone who signed up for a year to playing the pools.89 However, in March 2008, it was announced that Sportech were going to rename their pool business – Vernons, Zetters and Littlewoods – as ‘The New Football Pools’ from the summer in a eighteen-month rollout of new competitions.90 By then, the football pools were down to 700,000 players, and to stimulate demand Sportech put the football pools online at the beginning of the 2008/9 season.91 It also had an arrangement to develop the football pools through the Daily Mirror which allowed gambling on 15 top fixtures, and in July 2009, it made another arrangement with the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph to play football gambling in fantasy games and real-time games in a major third-party initiative which was linked with the rolling out of a membership scheme in the 2009/2010 season.92 Ian Penrose, Sportech’s Chief Executive Betting Officer said that ‘The first year was about building foundations and showing that the Pools were back. Now it is about engaging with people on platforms where they already are, such as fantasy football sites. […] The Pools have always been a social phenomenon`, so it is natural to launch something like this’.93 The pools business was given a further fillip in 2009 by the staging of the musical ‘Spend, Spend, Spend’, about the life of Viv Nicholson, who won £152,300 18s 6d, starring the singer Barbara Dickinson.94 This helped to revive interest in the pools, which was further boosted in 2010 when 15 pools’ players shared £4 million. Later 15 punters shared £3 million, and Michael Elliott won £3 million from some draws in Spain, Scotland and England. There were also moved to firmly link the pools with community football. Indeed, in 2012, the New Football Pools launched a community competition whereby two football clubs in Nottingham would receive a 90-day makeover. Those interested in competing were to submit their entries by 28 November, advised by Kenny Dalgleish, a famous footballer. The two willing teams would be judged by a panel consisting of Gordon Banks, the World Cup winning goalkeeper of 1966, Roger Hunt (also in the World Cup winning team of 1966), Tony Green (the sports television commentator), and the Sportech Director of Corporate Affairs and the Chief Executive of Street Game, who would select the two winning entries.95 There was some brief revived interest in the pools, but there was no major recovery in the business even though, by and large, the pools offered small stake, high-prize games such as Premier 10 and Jackpot 12. There was a failed attempt by Burleywood Capital, a venture capital company based upon online gaming, to buy the Walton-based Sportech New Football Pools for £97.5 million but the deal fell through when it could not raise the capital.96 The intention had been to transfer the Walton-based Sportech business, with the then manager, Conleth Byrne, and the finance director, Carl Lynn, as the company’s chief executive and chief finance officer respectively. Ian Penrose, of Sportech said that Burleywood were unable to conclude the transaction set out within the proposal which was announced in September. The Football Pools is an

194  Challenge, decline and restructuring pools asset, which has been transformed following a lengthy modernisation programme. The Pools was founded 93 years ago and once had 10 million players but has struggled to compete with the National Lottery. It now has almost 300,000 players a week but still makes around a £7 million profit.97 Sportech, having absorbed Zetters, Vernons and Littlewoods, ran the remnants of the football business for several years more before declaring its interest in selling it on in October 2015. It finally succeeded in doing so in March 2017, selling to OpCapita, a London-based private investment company, for about £93 million – considerably down on what the football pools had been valued at fifteen years before. At that point, the football pools were played by only 217,000 people who spent a total of £28.4 million a year.98 OpCapita chairman John Von Spreckelion said that ‘The pools occupy a unique place in British culture. Sportech has modernised it and we look forward to realising its growth potential’.99 They are still waiting for it to grow.

Conclusion The football pools industry was an important part of British social and cultural life until the late 1970s and early 1980s. From then onwards, there were signs that it was losing the younger generation to other forms of gambling and aware of the rising threat of the formation of a national lottery. Ultimately, it lost its influence as John Major’s Conservative government moved firmly towards creating The National Lottery ‘for good causes’, driven on by the prospect of high tax returns from a broader band of punters, as indicated by foreign experience. Though the Government denied that The National Lottery would kill the pools, that is exactly happened – not in the three or four weeks that the pools’ firms predicted but, nevertheless, dramatically at first followed by a slow decline into the oblivion over more than a decade. That might have occurred, in any case, as the vast industry of gambling moved online. One can still play online with a variety of games, including 10 draws from a selection of 49 teams, but there are no physical coupons now and the football pools form only a small part of a vast gambling industry. From about 13 million players of the early 1950s, and possibly 14 million in the early 1970s, it had fallen to around 9 million in the early 1990s, to 700,000 by 2008, 300,000 in 2016 and about 217,000 in 2017. It no longer directly employs the 23,000 people of the 1950s, or the 12,000 employed in the early 1980s, and 100,000 collectors, but only about 100 people in Walton, Liverpool, and is dwarfed by other gambling activities. All that survives of the old pools’ networks are a few buildings which are seeking new purposes. Littlewoods, which once employed up to 10,000 staff at Whitechapel moved them to Hood Street, and then to the Littlewood’s iconic Edge Lane Art Deco building, opened in 1938 (and had more than 12,000 directly employed staff) closed

Challenge, decline and restructuring pools 195 its Merseyside and Cardiff operations. Indeed, Edge Lane was closed in 2004, as its pools’ business was transferred to Walton Hall Avenue.100 Edge Lane is now going to become the object of a £60 million scheme to make it into, amongst other things, a film studio with two auditoriums, 20,000 square feet and 50-foot high, which Director John Moffatt says, ‘are true Hollywood blockbuster sound stages, probably large enough for 95 per cent of what comes out of Hollywood’.101 A viable, if declining, British football pools industry finally withered away from the 1990s, because of the introduction of The National Lottery and the development of online gambling. It is not alone in these experiences in the increasingly globalised world of gambling where national lotteries often inhibited the development of the football pools.

Notes 1. The Observer, 29 August 2021 contains an article by Rob Davies entitled ‘High rollers get ready to gamble on winning control of national lottery, which deals with the way in which Camelot, the company owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (a Canadian investment fund), which has run the lottery for 27 years is preparing to bid against three other companies for the government licence to run it for ten years from 2021. 2. David Forrest, ‘The Past and Future of the British Football Pools’, Journal of Gambling Studies, 06/1999, vol. 15, issue 2, 161–176. On page 162, Forrest suggests that the pre-1946 pools were based upon small numbers of matches being bet upon for small pool or fixed odd amounts of money and small prizes, and that this was transformed by the introduction of the Treble Chance in 1946. The fact is, as established in the chapter on the inter-war years, Littlewoods and the larger firms often drew upon coupons with more than 40 matches from which draw or results had to be predicted, and it was not unusual for substantial jackpots to be won. 3. G. R. Sharpe, Gambling on Goals: A century of football betting, Edinburgh, Mainstream Press, 1997, pp. 9, 72. 4. Roger Munting, An economic and social history of gambling in Britain and the USA, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1997, p. 139. 5. Littlewoods Collection, Box 39, Transcript of Mr. Weinman, Presentation concerning the Pool Division Performance for 1985/6 season and Observations on the Current Season. 6. Littlewoods Collection, Box 39, Notes for Presentation to USDAW – Annual Wage Negotiations for Tuesday and Friday 3 and 5 May 1988. 7. The National Archives, BS3/109, report of The Pool Promoters’ Association in respect of a Levy in Aid of Sport, 6.5; BS3/204 in a letter from Littlewood Pools Ltd, 9 May 1978 outlining the attraction of large prizes for the Pools, just prior to a section entitled ‘The Case for Lotto’. 8. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 17 January 1992, vol. 201, c. 1257, in a speech by Mr. Fields, who referred to the establishing of a national lottery ‘in favour of the health service’, which had taken place in the House of Commons on 16 February 1988. 9. Littlewoods Collection Box, 39, Transcript of Mr. Weinman and Presentation to USDAW, as above. 10. The National Archives, BS3/204, in a letter, with extensive attachment, from Littlewoods to the Home Office, 9 May 1978.

196  Challenge, decline and restructuring pools 11. Ibid. 12. Munting, An economic and social history of gambling in Britain and the USA, p. 139; Financial Times, 4 March 1994. 13. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 21 June 1992, vol. 209, cc. 641–642, in a speech by Mr. David Alton; and HC Deb. 17 January 1992, vol. 201, c. 1249. He was returned for Liverpool Edge Hill at a by-election in 1979 for the Liberal Party, and when his constituency was abolished, he was returned for Liverpool Moseley Hill in 1983. He stood down in 1997 and was made a life peer as Baron Alton of Liverpool. 14. Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling in Britain, c. 1906–1960s, pp. 217–222. 15. Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting (1932–1933) Interim Report, Cmd 4224, p. 69; Miers, Regulating Commercial Gambling, p. 312. 16. HO 43/20540. 17. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 2 February 1968, vol. 757 cc. 716–717. 18. Ibid., c. 726. 19. Poor Promoters’ Association Minute Book, 21 March 1968, quoted in Kohe, ‘For the Good of the Game’. 20. Parliamentary Debates., HC Deb. 6 April 1973, cc. 887 and 892. 21. PPA, Official Minute Book, 1970–1979. 22. Rothschild Commission, p. 4, paragraph 13.64, and a section dealing with’ A National Lottery for Good Causes’, p. 434, which on pp. 434–435 deals with the conditions under which that might be run. 23. The National Archives, BS3/431 (West Germany), BS3/435 (Canada), BS3/437 (Sweden), BS3/439 (Italy), and BS3/440 (Denmark). These were essentially reports on how these lotteries operated, the number and value of the tickets, the value of the prizes, and how they were distributed. 24. Kohe, ‘For the Good of the Game’, using the PPA minutes books of 1970–1979. 25. The National Archives, BS3/109, report of The Pool Promoters’ Association in respect of a Levy in Aid of Sport, para 7.1. 26. Ibid., para 14.15. 27. Ibid., paras 14.5 and 14.16. 28. The National Archives, BS3/204, EVD 3/12/1, The Case for Lotto by the PPA, The football pools have the administrative resources and collecting machinery to capture a large part of the market. 29. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 3 November 1984, vol. 582, cc 379–382, early sections with Anthony Barber speaking. 30. Parliamentary Debates., HC Deb. 19 June 1990, vol. 174 c. 501. 31. Ibid., HC Deb. 17 January 1992, vol. 201, cc. 1219–1286, particularly c. 1219. 32. Ibid., cc. 1219, 1221, 1228. 33. Ibid., cc. 1226. 34. Ibid., c. 1245. Paul Zetters’ letter in The Times was published on 26 December 1991. 35. Ibid., c. 1227. 36. Ibid., c. 1236. 37. Ibid. 38. Ibid., c. 1235. Mr. Peter Kilfoyle, born 9 June 1946, was Labour MP for Liverpool Walton from 1991 to 2010. 39. Ibid., c 1258. Terry Fields was MP for Liverpool Broadgreen from 1982 until 16 March 1992, when he lost his seat to a Labour candidate in the general election. He had become a member of Militant Tendency, has been imprisoned in July 1991, for sixty days, for not paying his poll tax, failed to support the by-election campaign of Peter Kilfoyle for Liverpool Walton, after Eric Heffer’s death, and was expelled from the Labour Party in December 1991.

Challenge, decline and restructuring pools 197 40. Ibid., cc. 1275–1276. 41. Ibid., c. 1251. 42. Ibid., cc. 1250–1251, in a speech by David Alton, Liberal MP for Liverpool, Mossley Hill. 43. Ibid., c. 1273, referred to in a speech by Stuart Randall. 44. Ibid., cc. 1242. 45. Ibid., c. 1283. 46. Ibid., cc. 1252. 47. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 6 March 1992, vol. 205, cc. 563–575, particularly 565–566. 48. Ibid. 49. Ibid., cc. 572–573. 50. Ibid., HC Deb. 17 January 1992, cc. 1263–1264, in the speech made by Kate Hoey. 51. Parliamentary Debates, HL Deb. Lord Sitting, 6 March 1992, series 5, vol. 536, 1117, in a speech by Viscount Astor presenting the, an announcing the main point of the Government’s White Paper, published on 6 March 1992. 52. Government White Paper, A National Lottery raising money for good causes, London, House of Commons, Hansard, Cmd 1861, March 1992. 53. The Football Trust Archive, 19 March 1991, in the Lord Faulkner Collection, cited in Geoffrey Kohe, ‘For the Good of the Sport? The Legacy of the Football Pools, and the Dangerous Sedition of Political Promise’, International Journal of the History of Sport, 32 (11–12) (2015), 1378–1994. 54. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 25 January 1993, vol. 217, cc. 698–699; HL, 27 May 1993, vol. 540, cc. 400–488. 55. Ibid., cc. 406, 415. 56. Ibid., cc. 420–421. 57. Ibid., cc. 423–424, 433, 435–436, 465. 58. Camelot was a British company which was bought for £389 million by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan from Canada. 59. Sharpe, Gambling on Goals, p. 77; S. Creigh-Tyte and I. Farrell, ‘The economics of the National Lottery’, University of Durham Working Paper; David Forrest, ‘The Past and Future of the British Pools’, Journal of Gambling Studies, 6/99, vol. 15, issue 2, summer 1999, 161–176; David Miers, ‘The importance and effect of Great Britain’s National Lottery’, Journal of Gambling Studies, 1996, vol. 12, 343–371; Mark Clapson, ‘The revival of the state lottery in Britain, Journal of Contemporary Record, vol. 8, issue 2, 1994, 321–342. 60. The Football Trust Archives, 10 March 1992, part of the Lord Faulkner Collection at Worcester, quoted in Kohe, ‘For the Good of the Game’. 61. Roger Calvert, PPA Secretary, letter to A. Ramsay, Head of Arts Lottery Group, Department of National Heritage, the Football Trust Archives, 30 June 1994, Worcester, Lord Faulkner Collection, quoted in Kohe, ‘For the Good of the Game’, 367–368. 62. Forrest, ‘The Past and Future of the British Pools’, 168. 63. Creigh-Tyte and Farrell, ‘The economics of the National Lottery’. 64. Forrest, ‘The Past and Future of the British Pools’, 162. 65. The Times, 15 August 2002. 66. Sharpe, Gambling on Goals, p. 78. 67. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 10 February 1995, vol. 254, cc. 637–644, mainly in a speech by Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley), c. 637. 68. Ibid., cc. 637–638. 69. Ibid. 70. Financial Times, 25 July 1998.

198  Challenge, decline and restructuring pools 71. The Daily Telegraph, 9 April 2004; Gary Jones, ‘Robert Sangster: Just an Ordinary Millionaire’, Ritz London Magazine, issue 2, Autumn 2000. 72. The Times, 13 March 1997. 73. Ibid., 5 February 1998. 74. Liverpool Echo, 29 May 2002. 75. Investment Chronicle, 09, 2007. 76. The Times, 10 September 2002. Clarke was born in Lambeth in 1923, educated at Reay school, became a draughtsman for the Great Western Railway, joined the army, where he met Paul Zetter, during the Second World War, and worked for Zetters from 1946 until 2000, latterly as a Director. He was also a member of the Sports Foundation in his later years. 77. Ibid., 8 February 1995. 78. The Scotsman (Edinburgh), 8 January 1998. 79. The Herald, 30 December 1998. 80. Daily Telegraph, 25 May 2001. 81. The Times, 15 August 2002 suggests £1.73 million whilst the Daily Post, 15 August 2002, suggests £1.35 million. 82. Daily Post, 15 August 2002. 83. The Times, 1 November 2003. 84. Ibid., 21 September 2004. 85. Marketing work, 06/2000. 86. Geoffrey Kohe, ‘For the Good of the Game? The Legacy of the Football Pools and the Dangerous Sedition of Political Promise’, International Journal of the History of Sport, 32 (11–12) (2015), 1378–1394, particularly 394. 87. The Times, 1 March 2001. 88. Ibid., 11 August 2004, also an advert on 21 September 2004. 89. Daily Mirror, 18 May 2007. 90. Journal, 19 March 2008. 91. Ibid., 25 June 2008. 92. Daily Mirror, 22 August 2008 and New Media Age, 30 July 2009. 93. New Media Age, 30 July 2009. 94. The Guardian, 20 May 2009. 95. Nottingham Evening Post, 16 November 2012. 96. Liverpool Echo, 14 September 2016; Daily Mail, 2 November 2016; Financial Times. com. 12/2016. 97. Daily Mail, 2 November 2016. 98. Daily Telegraph, 3 March 2017; Daily Express, 3 March 2017. The Daily Express suggested that the purchase price was £83 million. Sportech had just boosted its profits by 216 per cent, to £30.1 million, because of gaining some repayment from Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise for overpaying VAT on the Spot the ball competition of the 1990s by £97 million. 99. Daily Telegraph, 3 March 2017. 100. Western Morning News (Plymouth), 29 January 2019. 101. Liverpool Echo, 28 August 2019.

9

The globalisation of the football pools

Britain was the birthplace of both the football pools and various other forms of gambling on football results, but it would be amiss to suggest that these activities were largely confined within its borders or that it was the base for the global development of gambling on the pools. This was far from the case. Indeed, other countries developed their own gambling on football results in the inter-war years, although many did not do so until after the Second World War and often in new and different forms from the commercial development in Britain. There was, indeed, considerable variation in the timing and type of gambling on football. Not all countries developed these gambling activities directly through commercial companies and, for some, the state controlled the football pools and gambling, often appointing a favoured company to run their gambling activity. Some countries were totally opposed to gambling, although it usually prospered illegally. As a result, in a global sense, there are few obvious commonalities in activities and networking between what occurred in Britain and what occurred elsewhere, even though the activities of Littlewoods and Vernons would have been known in many countries, and particularly in countries like Belgium, where Littlewoods operated the pools and Australia, where Vernons did much the same. Nevertheless, whilst not necessarily shaped by the contours of the growth of the pools in Britain, there are some tenuous features and traits throughout the global world of football gambling. One is that gambling on football results, in all its forms, was usually ubiquitous, whether legal or illegal. A second is that where a state, or national, lottery was established – and in Europe that meant just about every country – the popularity of the football pools generally diminished quickly or was limited unless the lottery was based upon football results. A third is that since the beginning of the twentyfirst century the development of online gambling has reduced gambling on football to just one of many forms of gambling activity, rather than the primary, and dominant, form that it became in Britain between the late 1940s and the early 1980s. Indeed, the football pools are now, throughout the world, merely one of a plethora of gambling opportunities available to the average punter. The ‘traditional’ type of football pools that had developed DOI: 10.4324/9781003144908-9

200  Globalisation of the football pools in Britain under the guidance of private companies such as Littlewoods, Vernons, Shermans and Zetters, is not one that has been substantially repeated in the global gambling market. Gambling on football results has been globalised but not in the like of the ‘traditional’ system of Britain. The recent ‘gamblification of football’, has also seen the development of a new online betting culture in both Europe and the World.1 That new culture is much more pervasive than it was ever under Littlewoods and Vernons and involves a reciprocal and mutual symbiotic relationship which sees gambling companies owning football clubs, financing football competitions and offering a multitude of football gambling opportunities.2 Gambling on football is ubiquitous, the British commercial company football coupon system was not internationally common and times have changed.

Early twentieth-century state schemes under pressure After Britain, the first country to fully develop the football pools was Sweden. In 1915 the evening newspaper Aftentidningen offered football results which would provide the basis of football pool competitions. However, the recognised starting point is 1924, with an international football match arranged between Sweden and Norway, when a train was arranged to take fans between Goteburg (Gothenburg), Sweden’s second-largest city, and Stockholm.3 Onboard the train were some members of the Redbergslide IK sports club who arranged a football pools game among their fellow passengers, the proceeds of which added substantially to the club finances. Soon afterwards this grew into a football craze with every newspaper in Sweden launching its own football pools competitions, often with local football clubs as gambling organisers. The football pools expanded rapidly in Sweden by the late 1920s and became an almost uncontrollable national industry. Indeed, in 1929, Goteberg alone was said to have 80,000 football ‘clients’ catered for by about 100 competing football pool firms. There was ‘pools hysteria’ organised by ‘pools devil’ companies. The football pools organisations flourished openly, despite the existence of government-controlled lotteries and totalisators, because this gambling was, ironically, seen as an innocent and socially safe activity. Yet it was run by a motley group of entrepreneurs, and anyone could form a pool company, even though gambling on the pools was illegal. As a result, in 1933 the Swedish Ministry of Trade investigated the football pools industry and decided to legalise it by creating a government-inspired football pool-scheme to curb and control the illegal business. In May 1934, the Tipstjanst was formed by C. G. Eckman, the Social Democratic Government’s Minister of Trade. It was run by the Stockholm Football Association and the Gosta Liiliehook and in September 1934 a new gambling club was formed and known as the A. B. Tipstjanst. It was a success in curbing illegal gambling of football results and the proceeds were given to Swedish sport clubs. In 1934 80,000 SEK

Globalisation of the football pools 201 (Swedish Kroner) was allocated by the government to Swedish sport and that this rose to 1.2 million SEK in 1935 and 4 million SEK in 1936, and has continued to rise since. Indeed, in Sweden, there are currently 68 sports and 22,000 clubs – of which 3,200 are football clubs with about one million members operating under the Swedish Sports Federation and receiving money from the state form of football pools betting. However, the Tipstjanst is now a diminishing part of the gambling scene in Sweden, where there are private lotteries run by many clubs and organisations, alongside the totalisator gambling on sports, gaming, horseracing, roulette and other gambling activities. Also, other private football pools schemes developed separately. These operated without control until 1975 when they were forced to hold a licence operated by a professional organiser to ensure that there was no fraud. Other forms of gambling have also developed and, in 1975, of the £734 million spent on gambling in Sweden, and football pools represented only £114 million of that figure, though the football-based state lottery represented another £80 million. Much more was spent on totalisators, gaming machines and bingo.4 The declining appeal of the football pools, in all its betting forms, has continued and there have been recent attempts to end the state-controlled arrangement because of online gambling widening the opportunity for foreign international gambling organisations to legally attract Swedish punters. This Swedish state-owned football pools provided a template for the rest of Scandinavia. Norway proposed introducing a similar scheme in 1935 but it was not until 1946 that S/S Norsk Tipping (Norwegian Pools Ltd) was formed. That has remained responsible for lotteries, including footballbased lotteries, and other forms of gambling betting, ever since. It was twinned with Norsk Rikstoto, which was responsible for gambling on the chariot-type of horse racing favoured by the Norwegians. These are the only legally allowed gambling organisations active in Norway although foreign online gambling companies freely operate legally, though they are not based in Norway. These online companies are not legally liable to honour their debts to punters because of a failed attempt by the Norwegian Gaming Authority in 2010 to ensure that these companies did so.5 Technically, the state has a monopoly on football betting but, as will become obvious elsewhere, foreign international online companies have taken over, offering a multitude of different gambling arrangements – half-time scores, total goals in the game, first goal-scorer, to the more traditional activity of selecting the results of fixtures. Denmark has operated a state lottery since 6 March 1869, the Kongeloge Kobenhavnske Klasselotteri which, by 1976, was composed 183,000 tickets, with 40,000 prizes, divided into 6 classes, with an additional prize of 100,000 Kroner from a number drawn after the initial lottery.6 However, Denmark did not introduce its version of the football pools, based upon the Swedish model until 1948, when it created the state-owned lottery system Danske Spil. Popular at first, it is estimated that by the early 1990s about 10 per cent

202  Globalisation of the football pools of money the Danes spent on gambling went to lotteries operated from Germany.7 Danske Spil operated as a state monopoly until 2012. At this point, the Danish Gambling Authority sought to create a free market in gambling and gained the right to do so through the European Court, despite opposition by Danske Spil. As a result, there is no longer a state monopoly of football gambling in Denmark. Indeed, since 2012 there have been only two types of gambling licence available to gambling companies. Type A allows online gambling, and has been favoured by online foreign countries, and Type B allows for land-based face to face betting in Denmark. The licence fees are considerably lower for Type A than Type B, and taxation on both types of licenced were markedly better for the foreign companies on Type A than the locally dominated landbased businesses of Type B. However, in 2019 the Danish Parliament, which taxed Type B licensees at 41 per cent and Type A at substantially less, increased the Type A licence to a taxation level of 28 per cent to help equalise the tax returns for both types of business and to tax online business.8 In the present situation, there is no state monopoly of football gambling, and it forms a modest part of the existing online and landbased gambling in Denmark. In essence, then, the football gambling that occurred in Scandinavia was substantially state-owned, run through private companies and national lotteries, and has recently declined because of the growth of new gambling opportunities which have flourished in online betting. There is little evidence that the Littlewoods’ model provided the basis of football gambling in Scandinavia. Indeed, that was true elsewhere in Europe and the world, for only in Belgium was the Littlewoods approach adopted, with Littlewoods running the football pools business, although it collapsed within three weeks of Belgium organising a national lottery.9 The situation was little different in Spain. In Franco’s Spain, The Spanish Betting Pools, known as La Quiniela, was formed in the 1946–1947 season and asked the punter to predict the results of 13 football matches to win a jackpot prize. This remained the dominant form of gambling activity until the National Lottery (Loterie Nacional) was introduced in 1985. In the original La Quiniela the players had to choose the results – home win (1), draw (x) and away win (2). Responding to the challenge of a National Lottery, since 1985 La Quiniela has developed a more attractive game known as La Primitive. To win, players had correctly predicted the results of 14 matches. Up to the 1988–1989 season, winners had been paid on 14, 13 and 12 successful results and, if no maximum prize was paid, those with 11 successful results, and from 1991–1992 if the first jackpot was not won it was carried over to the next weekly competition. This continued until the 2002 when the El Pleno, which had operated from 2000 with the 15-match forecast, gradually replaced it. El Pleno lasted until 2006, offering a more even distribution of income. Those gaining 14 results would receive 12 per cent of the prizes, with an extra 10 per cent for getting 15 forecasts correct. Those with

Globalisation of the football pools 203 ten correct forecasts would get 10 per cent of the prize money. Throughout this period the established La Quiniela format continued and has done so to the present. The changes to La Quiniela were the result of the impact of the Spanish National Lottery which had a dramatic impact upon the takings of La Quiniela, very similar to that of The National Lottery upon the football pools in Britain.10 Indeed, between 1985, when the National Lottery was formed, and 1990 the football pool revenue fell by 80 per cent.11 The number of coupons filled in annually fell from 5,000 million in the 1979/80 season to 749 million in the 1989–1990 season. Indeed, by contrast, in 1992, the Spanish Lotteria Nacional had a turnover of £3–4 billion, the top prize having reached £115 million, in the gambling country of Europe – a third of the turnover going to clients, a third to the beneficiaries and the last one-third for expenses and taxation.12 By 2007 football pool turnover was worth only about 2 per cent of the gambling in Spain, at around 500 million Euros. La Quiniela still operates in Spain the interest in it varies greatly from province to province. There are 52 provinces in Spain, and it has been found that despite this falling interest in the football pools the presence of a first division football side tends to increase the sales of football pools to the tune of about 10.8 per cent, and this was particularly true of the Belearic islands. Nevertheless, gambling on football results is minimal compared to other gambling activities and online gambling from foreign-based countries also exists.13 A similar situation existed in Italy, where betting on football began in 1946 because of the actions of the Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies (AAMS) which created the Totocalcio, the Italian Football Pools.14 It was based upon a list of football matches the results of which would be indicated by 1, x and 2, used to represent home, draw and away. The prizes amounted to a third of the stakes and the jackpot could be rolled over. In the first five year, there were 12 football fixtures to choose from but in 1950 the number was raised to 13, increasing the jackpot and proving very popular, to the extent that the phrase ‘getting to 13’ (Ho fatto 13) became a synonym for being lucky. However, in the late twentieth century, about £1.5 billion pounds per annum was being raised through 13 provincial lotteries in Italy, with purchases of up to 40 million tickets at the equivalent of £2.50p per ticket. These lotteries have diminished the turnover of the Totocalcio, and the rise of online betting, has affected it even more. As a result, in the 2003–2004 season, a 14th game was added to the Totocalcio and payments were made on a range of 14,13, 11 and 9 games (on making an exceptional bet on the 9th game), though it made little difference to the decline of betting on football results. In Ireland, there had been betting on football pools, but it never became of significant size as lotteries proliferated from the nineteenth century onwards, despite being illegal in the United Kingdom, of which Ireland was then a part. The real challenge to football gambling came in the twentieth

204  Globalisation of the football pools century, with the formation of the Irish Hospital Sweepstake draw operating from the Irish Free State. The first sweepstake was organised in November 1930 by Richard Duggan, a Dublin bookmaker, and by November 1931 there had been four such sweepstakes, which raised £9,800,000 in subscriptions, which led to prizes of £5,400,000 in prizes, £2,400,000 in expenses and £2 million for the Irish hospitals.15 It did not present much of a challenge to the undeveloped football gambling in but posed a serious concern to the British government by virtue of the fact that the majority of the turnover came from British punters who were illegally betting on the Irish sweepstake. However, by the 1990s between 60 and 65 per cent of Irish adults were spending about £3 per week on the Irish Sweepstakes lottery.16 The result was that the vast majority of gambling income went to the Irish Sweepstake Lottery and, though hospitals benefited from it, and in July 1991 16 leading charities went to the Taoiseach (the head of Government or Prime Minister) to report that 50 per cent of money that was normally going into charities was now going to the Irish Sweepstake Lottery and particularly so with the decline of the British football pools.17 Online gambling has grown and has diminished the attractiveness of the football pools further. In France, where there was gambling on horse racing, and on football to a much lesser, a national lottery was set up in 1977, and 50 per cent of the population played it to peak television viewing figures when it was drawn.18 It was drawn twice a week and brought about peak viewing figures on television. However, there was nothing equivalent to the traditional British football pool coupon arrangement and, in 2013 Sportech, which had gained exclusive right to the football pools in Britain in 2007, arranged with France Pari, a French gambling firm, to bring the football pools to the French. Ian Penrose, of Sportech, suggested that the French liked their horse racing and, optimistically, stated that ‘There is clearly a very good reaction to both the French League and the English Premier League’ in his effusive support of the new deal.19 There is a commonality of experience emerging, where many states created their own football pools businesses, but found its business blunted by either the formation of a national lottery, provincial or city lotteries, and a plethora of online gambling opportunities. Indeed, in 1992 it was said that almost every country in Europe, apart from Albania, had a state lottery of some kind, and even Albania set up a state lottery that year.20 And the situation prevailed throughout the world, with an estimated 116, soon to be 117, states operating a national lottery in 1991 and 1992.21 In this climate, gambling on football declined rapidly and lost any primacy that it once enjoyed. Even in Australia, where the football pools did develop, partly under initiatives by Vernons, the introduction of the Tattslotto in 1972 – known as Saturday Lotto in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia, and Gold Lotto in Queensland – undermined the business.22 Yet there are some other countries strongly opposed to gambling, not

Globalisation of the football pools 205 influenced by the British football pools, and where such activities did not change until the onset of online gambling.

Countries initially opposed to all gambling In Switzerland, sports betting was not allowed except for pool betting on a limited number of events from 1921 until 1993 when the ban was ended.23 In 1998, a Casinos Act was passed and came into effect on 1 April 2000 dividing games of chance, effectively casino type games (in 2021 there were 21 casinos in Switzerland), and lotteries from other forms of betting. National lotteries are still banned but individual Cantons can run their own lotteries. However, regular betting is not allowed except for a small number of sporting events, and in French Cantons the Swiss Federal Gaming Board allows regular online gambling. The football pools are just one small part of the gambling of an essentially limited range of gambling activities in Switzerland. The situation in Brazil is, or was, somewhat similar. There had been a long-established and deep-rooted culture of gambling in Brazil. A lottery was first held in Brazil in 1784, and the ‘Annual Game’ was introduced in 1894, with associations between numbers and animals as they were drawn – a deer being numbered 24, and a zebra meaning ‘bad luck’. In the 1920s and 1930s, there were many state lotteries operating but that private gambling came to an end in 1946 when the Social Democratic Party banned all gambling. In its place it allowed a government-sponsored game, based upon the outcome of 14 football matches, to be run in given weeks. In the 1980s gambling on video poker emerged and in 1993 bingo was legalized. Legally, only state lotteries based upon football, on bingo, horse racing and poker, deemed a game of skill, are allowed as gambling activities. However, there was always illegal gambling on football matches, but this did not become manifest until the rise of internet gambling, although this was mainly to do with Brazil holding the Football World Cup in 2014, followed by the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Lotex, a land-based instant lottery, was formed in 2015, as was given out to tender by the state but that was rescinded in 2019 and is being re-organised. The growth of online gambling has exposed the deficiencies of the regulatory systems in Brazil, and this has given rise to the associated concerns about compulsive gambling and the need for clinical treatment.24 Football game operate through the state lottery and through a platform known as Cartals FC. Fixed-odds betting was not allowed in Brazil. However, again largely through the growth of online gambling opportunities, the 1946 law banning all gambling was withdrawn in December 2018 in a law that allowed fixed-odds betting. The idea was for the state to issue 30 land-based licences but and to raise revenue and tax on gambling and was agreed on 21 July 2021 by Law 14.183/2021.25 The position of gambling in Brazil is in a flux, with the state seeking to control it through

206  Globalisation of the football pools licenses which cover all gambling, including gambling on football and on football pools.

Federal States and their gambling arrangements There are also other countries where football gambling was slow to develop, and where their federal structure means that there is a patchwork interest on the football pools rather than a universal or national response. The most obvious is the United States where soccer – to distinguish it from the American football of the National Football League – has only emerged relatively recently as a man’s game, although the women’s game is the biggest in the world. Betting on sports varies from state to state and in 2021, of the 50 states, only 12 (including Nevada and Oregon) have legal soccer betting, and 7 (including Washington and Montana) do not allow online betting but allow land-based sportsbook betting. Three have soccer legislation to legalise gambling on soccer in the pipeline. The other 28 states do not allow sports betting on soccer, although gambling is possible on other activities.26 Yet many soccer leagues teams – such as the New York Red Bulls, L.A. Galaxy and Philadelphia Union have established partnerships with established betting companies laying the basis for further gambling on soccer. Other federated nations have also adopted the system of the state or province deciding their own attitude to gambling on football matches. In Canada, for instance, some provinces do not allow gambling on sports, although British Columbia has a well-developed system or organising lotteries on football, hockey and basketball, through the British Columbia Lottery Competition Office Sports Action Pool.27 The success of the lottery has been achieved through the closure of most local lotteries, the offering of large prizes and its catering to good causes – although it appears that everything is ‘a good cause’.28 There is Lot-Quebec, a provincial lottery for good causes, and also Loto-Canada, designed to pay off the cost of the Montreal Olympics of 1976.29 Yet football is only a small part of these lottery arrangements, was not influenced by the British football pools, and not big business. Gambling has been a major part of Argentine culture since the late nineteenth century, but it exists in a provincial and city-based patchwork, and the players can only play in their own region or district. Buenos Aires, for instance, currently bans the use of online gambling. However, in 1972 PRODE (Sports Forecasting) was established by the Argentine Football Association (AFA) to offer forecasting on both Argentinian and Brazilian football. Apart from a five-month period, when in worked alongside La Quiniel, it has operated as the main provider of betting on football. In 1982, it introduced the 6-number ‘immediate Realisation heel ticket’. Yet like all football pools, whether privately-run or state owns it has greatly lost out to the online gambling, even though that is banned in some provinces.30

Globalisation of the football pools 207

Relaxed states, gambling cities and late starters There are many countries and cities where there are relaxed rules exist on gambling and in which gambling on football forms a relatively small part of the full picture in what is, now, essentially online gambling. The Hong Kong Jockey Club, founded in 1854, controlled betting on horses, lotteries and football. This remains the situation today in the age of online betting, although there is clear access to well-known online foreign betting companies. The main interest is in horse racing, where the average horse race generates (2021) $12.7 million of business compared to $2 million in France and $250,000 in the United States of America. Gambling on football forms a very small part of this gambling.31 India, with a population of more than 1,366,000,000 in 2021 (about 18 per cent of the population of the world) is a major market for gambling and has moved a long way from the law in 1867 which restricted gambling. There are no laws making land-based or online betting illegal and the gambling business is immense, particularly in connection with cricket. Betting on football matches is, however, a new development but growing rapidly, and particularly in connection with betting on the Premier League and the English Football League. There is a considerable amount of match result betting, and betting on the first goal-scorer, the number of goals in the match and even the time of the goals. The most favoured competition is that bet on the result of a match, using 1, x and 2 for home, draw and away, but also on the accumulator, anytime goal-scorer and the favourite players.32

The development of online gambling and ‘gamblification’ It is evident that gambling is endemic in all countries throughout the World. It is equally evident that most countries have developed their own approach to gambling, banning it, operating exceptions through licensing it, or creating state lotteries based upon numbers, lottos, or football matches. The emergence of the football pools in Britain may have had some limited impact upon these countries but its transnational impact seems to have been limited and, on balance, it is the cultural norms and politics of a country that have shaped attitudes and approached to gambling on football. This is now in a further flux with the globalisation of gambling. Since the 1980s and the 1990s, gambling on the football pools in the traditional forms of selecting homes, draws and aways, on a coupon, the Treble Chance, or the selection of several winning teams, which varied according to country, has declined globally. The introduction of a national or state lottery has been a major factor in this, as is evident in Britain, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and, indeed, most other countries. However, the major change has been the development of online gambling. In Britain, the rapid move to online gambling since the late 1990s has challenged the established betting patterns associated with Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters. The international

208  Globalisation of the football pools gambling companies of Betfair 365, Betfred, Ladbrokes and hundreds more, now dominate the whole business of gambling on football with hundreds of different schemes and betting arrangements worldwide. Indeed, the digitisation of the betting platform had re-arranged the links between ‘traditional activities and created a new online betting culture ecology’.33 The internet is literally awash with betting competitions on football and there is also a plethora of articles dealing with the psychological and addictive nature of gambling. Indeed, as a result, in 2021 Charity, Gambling and Lives has organised marches to football stadiums in March 2021 to highlight the issue of lives destroyed by gambling.34 Many countries now accept that they can do little to control online gambling, and it continues to occur, relatively unregulated on a vast scale. Nevertheless, a few, such as China, have taken action to curb this with the mass arrest of online gambling rings. In 2016, it was reported that 236 suspects had been arrested for illegal, online, football gambling on Euro 2016 matches and that the authorities had frozen 28 million Yuan ($4.2 million) of business.35 In recent years, the Xinhui News Agency, through China Daily Bulletin, has reported frequently on the arrest of those suspected on gambling online, on any sport. In July 2018, 32 suspects were arrested in Hangzhou for alleged betting on the football World Cup, after a raid by 130 police on, 25 locations in Zheijing and Fujian provinces. This followed the arrest of around 300 people for online gambling on 11 July 2018, and the suggestion that there were about 2,500 cases being investigated.36 This has continued, and Chinese bettors are being arrested as Betfair 365, and other international online gambling companies continue to offer them access to betting opportunities.37 The other problem that has emerged is the betting companies throughout the world are building up close contacts with football clubs who, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, have become increasingly reliant upon them to finance their activities. This is problematic since there has always been a concern about possible match-fixing, as already observed in the Manchester United v Liverpool match in 1915, and some footballers, including Paul Merson, Michael Chopra and John Hartshon, have fallen prey to gambling problems. Yet more obviously, football is dangerously dependent upon gambling. Littlewoods sponsored the FA Cup competition in 1994/5, and later the League Cup and the Charity Shield. In 2002–2003, Fulham became the first League Club sponsored by a gambling company, Betfair.38 By the 2019/20 season, only three teams in the English Football League did not have shirt sponsorship, Leicester and Newcastle each had three different sponsors, and the six top clubs in the Premier League had sponsorship deals with betting companies in the 2019/20 season. Gambling firms are also very prominently displayed on the advertising pitchside hoardings. There is currently a House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee sitting (in 2020–2022) to discuss the future of gambling and football, which might also invoke the Advertising Standards Agency to control the blatant advertising of gambling firms at sports venues, including football grounds.39

Globalisation of the football pools 209 These concerns have been further deepened by the collapse of the Football Index at the beginning of 2021. Formed in October 2015, it was a scheme which attracted 500,000 people worldwide, to invest £10 or £20 per week on footballers to make money out of their successes. Unfortunately, it was not a share scheme but a betting arrangement which asked for the investment, or bet, payment for three years ahead. Masquerading as a share scheme, it was in effect a form of pyramid selling operation, without any protection for its clients, which was suspended at the beginning of 2021 with a loss of between £60 million and £90 million. The administrators will take several years trying to explain why it failed and may ask the Gambling Commission in Britain, why was it licensed to operate at all? 40 Throughout the world, the interrelationship between football and gambling has been raised to a level well above the financial sponsorship of competitions and ground funding that occurred in the twentieth century. It is now vital to the survival of the game of football, but possibly to the detriment of its clients and clubs.

Conclusion According to the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), there are 209 countries affiliated, though it ranks 210 teams, the lowest being San Marino. Most of these countries have punters betting on football in some form. Very few of these countries have followed the example of the private commercial approach that Littlewoods and the British football pools adopted. In many cases, the state has set up some football scheme, although many restricted gambling on sport and football betting altogether. The major growth in these schemes seemed have occurred in 1946, in the wake of the end of the Seconds World War. Many seem to have flourished but then declined because of three developments – the rising variety of gambling opportunities on sport, the creation of a national lottery, and the rise of online gambling. As a result, from the 1990s both national and international football pool betting, in all its forms, has declined rapidly. It is difficult to detect the influence of the business approach of John Moores, Cecil Moores, Vernon Sangster and Paul Zetter, in most of these international developments because gambling and the football pools tend to have been shaped by the peculiar political and social features of the society that they operate within. This means that the system that developed in Britain was rare, though not unique, and one should not expect parallels elsewhere. The globalisation of football gambling and football pool gambling, in all its forms, owes more to football itself than to the example of the British football pools. There may have been transnationalism in football gambling but there is little evidence of it before the advent of online gambling. However, online gambling has taken over the football pools, and this football now forms only a small part of their overall operation. Also, as has occurred in many other gambling sports, these transnational organisations have infiltrated football

210  Globalisation of the football pools beyond the simple sponsoring of the FA Cup by Littlewoods in the mid1990s. Times have changed, and gambling on football is far more diverse and gambling-oriented than the more socially acceptable form of gambling on the pools developed by Littlewoods, Vernons, Zetters and Shermans in mid- and late-twentieth-century Britain

Notes















1. Steve Sharman, ‘Gambling in football. How much is too much?’, Managing Sport and Leisure, September 2020; Hibai Lopez-Gonzalez and Christopher D. Tulloch, ‘Enhancing media sport conception: Online gambling in European football’, Media International Australia incepting Culture and Policy, 05/2005, issue 155. 2. Alexander Kupfer and James Anderson, ‘Expert Analysis: The reciprocal Relationship between Sport Gambling, Fantasy Football and Television’, International Journal of the History of Sport, 02/2021, 1–15; Anthony Costa Constantine and Norman E. Fenton, ‘Profiting from arbitrary and odds biases of European football gaming market’, Journal of Gambling, business and economics, 08/2013, vol. 7, issue 2; Daily Mail, 18 February 2020, article by Mark Palou; D. Forrest, ‘The threat to football from betting-related corruption’, International Journal of Sports Finance, 7 (2) (2012), 99–116. 3. John R. Norberg, ‘Football, football pools and the unexpected arrival of sport in Swedish politics’, Soccer and Society, A Fusion of Welfare Policy and Markets, vol. 10 (2009), issue 3–4, 418–437, forms the basis for this information. Also, The National Archives, BS3/437, a file named ‘Sweden’, a survey of Lotteries in Sweden by R. C. Symonds and presented to the Royal Commission on Gambling (1976– 1978), the material dated 8 June 1977, 1 July 1977, and 30 July 1978, arising from discussions with Mr. Anderson, of the Swedish Lottery Board, and others. 4. The National Archives, BS3/437 contains a report from Symonds, attached to a letter dated 1 July 1977, which indicating that £164 million spent on totalisators, £164 million on gaming machines, £127 million on Bingo, £114 million on football pools, £80 million on state lotteries, £50 million on other lotteries, £25 million on V65 Horserace betting, and £10 million on roulette. 5. Norske Bookmakers, http://www.bookmakers.bet/20444/betting-sites-norway, accessed 24 March 2021; and Edward Hopewell, ‘Sports Betting in Norway – What is the state of play? http://thesuurebettor.com/sport-betting-in Norway, accessed 24 March 2021. 6. The National Archives, BS3/440, file on Denmark, regarding its lottery. 7. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 17 January 1992, vol. 201, c. 1232, in a speech by Mr. John Lee MP (Pembroke), 8. Danish betting sites, https://www.onlinebettingsites.com/countries/denmark. 9. Joseph Ashton, MP for Bassetlaw, talking in the House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb, 17 January 1992, vol. 201, c. 1227. This was followed, in the same debate by Simon Burns MP, c. 1228, and indeed, others in the debate. 10. Jaume Garcia, Levi Perez, and Placido Rodriguez, ‘Football Pool Sales. How important is a Football Club in the First Division’, International Journal of Sports Finance, 08, 2008, vol. 3, issue 3, 167–178 provided the basis of this information. 11. Jaume Garcia and Placido Rodriguez, ‘The Demand for the Football Pools in Spain. The Role of the Price, Prizes and the Composition of the Coupon’, Journal of Sports Economics, 8 (4), 335–354.

Globalisation of the football pools 211 12. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 17 January 1992, vol. 201, c. 1226, in a speech by Mr. Ivor Lawrence MP, presenting a private-member’s bill for a national lottery. 13. Ibid. 14. Italian Football pools outlined in https://www.allaboutitaly.net/totocalcio. Also, The National Archives, BS3/439, a file on Italy, briefly outlining its lottery arrangements for the Royal Commission on Gambling. 15. HO 45/24919, in a Memorandum to the Home Secretary, not dated, but in a pile of letters dates between 17 and 22 February 1932; David Miers, Regulating Commercial Gambling: Past, Present and Future, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 193; Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling in Britain. c. 1906– 1960s, pp. 228–232; Marie Coleman, The Irish Sweep: A History of the Irish Hospitals Sweepstake, Dublin, University College Dublin Press, 2009. 16. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 17 January 1992, vol. 201, c. 1226, in a speech by Mr. Ivor Lawrence MP. 17. Ibid., c. 1251, David Alton, MP for Liverpool, Mossley Hill. 18. Ibid., c. 1226, in a speech by Mr. Ivor Lawrence MP. 19. Alex Nevsky report ‘France to get The Football Pools after Deal with Sportech and France Pari’, Gamiyzion, 16 September 2013, and updated 4 October 2017. 20. Parliamentary Debates, HL Deb. 27 May 1993, vol. 540, c. 400, in a speech by Earl Ferrer. 21. Ibid., HC Deb., 17 January 1992, vol. 201, c. 1219. 22. Ibid., c. 1235, in a statement made by Mr. Kilfoyle (Liverpool, Walton). The Tatts Group, which has marketed under the master brand The Lott since 2016, was first televised on Melbourne television on 22 June 1972. It is now shown on different networks and takes place on a Saturday night. 23. Swiss legislation and gambling laws are dealt with in https://www.gambling. com Switzerland, accessed 24 March 2021. 24. Hermano Tavares, ‘Gambling in Brazil: a call for open debate’, 23 May 2014, https://doi-org.libacessess.hud.ac.uk/10.111/add.12560, accessed 31 March 2021. 25. ‘The future of space betting in Brazil’, https://Brazilianreport/sports/2019/ 06/24/sports; ‘The Ultimate Guide to Sport Betting in Brazil’, https://sbo.net/ country/brazil. 26. Legal Betting sites in the USA, http://www.betingusa.com/sports/soccer provides the history of soccer betting and a few of the thousands of online betting sites. Accessed 24 March 2021. The states allowing all betting on soccer are Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. Those that allow landbased betting, but not online betting are Washington, Montana, New Mexico, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and New York. Those with legislation in the pipeline are South Dakota, Louisiana and Maryland. 27. Enforcement Bulletin Sports Betting, https://www.2.gov.bc,ca//gambling-in-bc/ bulletin-sport-betting pdf. 28. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb., 17 January 1992, vol. 201, c. 1283, in a speech by Brian Wilson (Cunningham, North), referring to a presentation to MPs on the British Columbia Lottery. 29. The National Archives, BS3/435, a file on Canada dealing with various lotteries in Canada and including the Third Annual Report 1976–1977 of the Western Canada Lottery Foundation. 30. ‘Argentina Sport Betting online’, https://www.safestbettingsite.com/international/ argentine. 31. Hong Kong gambling, https://www.racing post/news/how-you-can-bet direct into the huge Hong Kong pool, accessed 24 March 2021.

212  Globalisation of the football pools 32. Indian Betting sites, https://bettingsitesonline.in./football-betting accessed on 24 March 2021. 33. Lopez-Goncalez and Tulloch, ‘Enhancing media sport conception’. 34. Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 8 March 2021. 35. Andrew Landweir, ‘Chinese Police and football crackdown’, DDA International, 3 July 2016. 36. Xinhui New Agency, China Daily Bulletin, 17 July 2018. 37. The Guardian, 1 April 2021, an article on pages 1 and 3 on ‘Betting boss paid £421 million…plus share windfall’ in an article on Denise Coates, Chief Executive of Betfair. 38. Sharman, ‘Gambling in Football’. 39. Carwyn Jones, Robyn Pinder and Gemma Robinson, ‘Gambling Sponsorship and Advertising in British Football: A Critical Account’, Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 14 (2), (2019), 163–175. This argues that gambling is a growing public health issue in the United Kingdom and that football plays a problematic role in its promotion. 40. The Observer, 28 March 2021, an article by Greg Wood on ‘How football’s stock market cost its customers millions’.

10 Conclusion

The Churches Committee on Gambling ( sometimes referred to as Council), in giving evidence to the Willink Commission (1949–1951) on gambling and the football pools, suggested that the working-class punter was driven by ‘phantasy of money for nothing’, and that this was hurtful to both the losers and women.1 Indeed, the Committee saw the football pools as ‘a menace to social and personal life and are a form of exploitation for which there is no justification’, drawing upon the minority recommendation of the Rowlatt Commission (1932–1933) to ban them.2 This was merely one aspect of the unrelenting attack on gambling throughout the early and mid-twentieth century, which did not begin to fade until the 1960s. It represented part of the resistance that the football pools faced by those forces that did not see it, and other forms of gambling, as a rational recreation. What is clear, however, is that regardless of this approach by the churches and the National Anti-Gambling League, the football pools flourished from the 1930s until the 1990s, even though the pools did not become fully accepted by Parliament, the FL, the FA and some religious faiths, until the 1960s, when gambling itself became increasingly accepted and legitimised in a more liberal society. The growth and success were facilitated by governments and royal commissions which moved towards the idea that there was little harm in the working classes staking their money on the football pools. The Willink Commission could find ‘no support for the belief that gambling, provided it can be kept within reasonable bounds, does serious harm either to the character of those who take part in it, or to their family circle and the community’.3 It could find no wrong with the football pools, felt that the industry was well run but that it should control the size of its jackpot prize. This judgement anticipated the decline in the resistance to working-class gambling and a change in attitude towards making the football punter a pariah not worthy of full citizenship in the nation, as Brad Beavon has so emphatically emphasised in his book on gambling and citizenship.4 Considering the initial opposition to the pools, it is remarkable how it escaped crabbing and confining legislation. The Rowlatt Commission was much more concerned about the mushrooming growth of greyhound racing, and the Government measure to ban the pools was dropped from the Betting and Lotteries Act of 1934. In effect, a form of pools emerged which DOI: 10.4324/9781003144908-10

214  Conclusion was protected from being made illegal as a lottery because it was assumed that some skill and judgement in the selection of the results of fixtures. It was therefore able to emerge largely unscathed from legislative controls. Much of this was a product of the fact that the large companies – led by John and Cecil Moores, Vernon Sangster, Harry Sherman, Strang and Murphy – were able to build up a publicity and propaganda machine through their clients and in Parliament. The Fordist business model that emerged amongst the larger commercial companies, and particularly Littlewoods, was effective and profitable. Initially untrammelled by taxation on gambling, the large companies attracted many clients by offering the possibility of large jackpots by taking a small profit of, as little as 5 per cent, and expenses, leaving the rest of the turnover for winning and jackpot prizes. This meant that, unlike many of the smaller companies who returned only 10 or 20 per cent of the turnover to the punter, the larger firms were able to gather huge turnovers on which they could make sums as profit, even at 5 per cent take. This link between the large firms and the punters was strengthened by the formation of formal and informal groups, such as Littlewoods’ ‘Happy Circle’ and by the other similar company magazines that were produced. This business model of the large firms changed little over the years except that the introduction of the Pool Betting Duty at 10 per cent in 1948, which rose to 42.5 per cent by the 1980s, meant that the return to the punter fell to 27 to 30 per cent in the 1980s, a fact which, even though the duty was reduced in the 1990s, meant that the pools prizes became less attractive than those of the lower-taxed and untrammelled National Lottery from the mid-1990s. The football pools quickly won the allegiance of the working class in the inter-war years, and at its height half the families in Britain, about twothirds of working-class families, filled in the pools – although this was to fall to just over a third of all British families by the 1980s. This success was hardly surprising when one realises that it was one of the few means by which a working-class families, for a small sum, could win a life-changing amount of money. The winners were paraded by the publicity machine of the football pool companies, who also produced cards and journals to advertise their world-record winners, who were often lauded on television and radio. The world of the pools rapidly became one of a ritual of selecting the fixtures on the coupon and waiting for the results on a Saturday afternoon. There emerged a culture around the pools which, after the Second World War, was developed almost into a cult by the influence of the 100,000 pool collectors who had direct access into the houses of the working-class punter. These could greatly influence the working classes who had the power of the vote and an indirect impact upon the MPs who were returned to the House of Commons. Gambling and the football pools might have been the pariahs of society, and not quite respectable activities, but their interests could not be ignored by Parliament, especially when the middle classes and the aristocracy had few constraints imposed on their off-course gambling activities where credit gambling was legal whilst ready-money transactions

Conclusion 215 were illegal. This synergy between the commercial pool companies and the punter ensured the power of the FPPA, the PPA and the commercial pool companies and, overwhelmingly, Littlewoods. The football pools, that had emerged in an atmosphere of social hostility to working-class gambling, overcame these blocks to form the most important working-class gambling activity. However, from the moment the football pools became broadly accepted they faced problems. After the Second World War, they were taxed above and beyond normal level by the imposition of the Pool Betting Duty. The workers in the industry began to demand better conditions, trade unionism emerged, and the old paternalistic family-firm ties to the workforce began to decline. Interest in the football pools declined steadily as other forms of gambling, such as bingo, began to emerge, and as charitable pool gambling on football developed. Indeed, the younger generations began to move away from the pools from the 1970s onwards. In the end, even Parliament, mindful of the local and regional impact of the decline of the pools in towns and cities, such as Liverpool and Cardiff, began to be attracted by the financial potential of a state, or national, lottery, which most other countries had established. The pool companies fought hard against the creation of such a national lottery, though seeking to run it through the PPA when the Rothschild Commission (1976–1978) and Parliament appear to be favoured the creation of a national lottery ‘for good causes’, to supplement the numerous charitable football lotteries that already existed. The pools collapsed quickly once The National Lottery ‘for good causes’ began in November 1994. Down from the 12 to 16 million regular coupon customers per week of the 1930s to 1970s, to nine million by 1993, the impact of The National Lottery on the pool was palpable. There were only 700,000 coupons filled in per week by 2010, and little more than 200,000 by 2020. Indeed, the football pools are now a distant memory to most people and not even that to those born since 1990. The manufactured culture of the working-class commitment to the pools lasted for more than 60 years but it was transient because, as Peter Gurney implies in his wider work on consumerism, it was manufactured and simply played upon the working-class desire for wealth, security and a better existence by offering a dazzling prize. Indeed, it was the large prize, the bumper jackpot, as Mike Savage suggests, that had always been the real attraction of the pools rather than some long-lasting cultural attachment. The working-class punter and, indeed, the whole of British society, now invested in the more lucrative, and easier to use, world of The National Lottery tickets – the EuroMillions, Lotto and many other forms of lottery and gambling on offer in an age of online gambling, where the prizes were potentially much larger. In essence, then, this book has attempted to answer all the pertinent questions raised in the introduction. It has established that the football pools emerged to meet a demand for the working class for an easy, and largely legal, way to win significant amounts of money to escape the humdrum nature of their lives. There was clearly much opposition to this gambling

216  Conclusion opportunity, though that could also be applied to other forms of working-class gambling activities which were not seen as some type of rational recreation. Nevertheless, the main pool companies built up their business through a strong publicity campaign with their punters and by normalising gambling with them as a safe and sensible investment. Indeed, their influence spread from their Liverpool heartland, throughout Lancashire and the United Kingdom through the agency of its network of collectors, as well as publicity. At first, their paternal, anti-trade union approach ensured that they had a compliant workforce and a loyal and committed working-class clientele of dedicated punters. Indeed, as a result, by the 1960s, Parliament was impelled to remove the discrimination imposed upon working-class gamblers and move to the widening of social citizenship. Ironically, as this occurred, other forms of gambling, such as Bingo, emerged and as others, such as horse racing, became more popular, as the younger generation began to drift away from the pools for their leisure activities. There was even increasing competition from charitable organisations that began to create their own football pool coupons. The pools’ workforce, and particularly those employed by Littlewoods and Vernons, began to assert their claims to better conditions as the paternalism of the 1930s gave way to the increasing wage claims in the late 1970s and early 1980s, through trade unions, and particularly USDAW. Yet the final straw to this, and the cause of the eventual decline of the pools, was The National Lottery ‘for good causes’. Less complex than the football coupons, easier to bet upon, with hugely higher prizes, and with a larger proportion of the nation betting upon them, The National Lottery quickly replaced the pools as the major, and acceptable, gambling activity of the nation. Whilst not unique, the commercial form of the football pools has essentially been a short-term British experience. Few countries have developed commercially-run football pools, as they have veered to state lotteries which sometimes use football matches as their base. Even these have partly succumbed to the globalisation of gambling through the internet, in which football results now play only a relatively small part of world-wide gambling. In the end, the British football pool promoters recognised, as the critic Mr. Symonds MP declared, ‘We are a gambling nation, and the pool promoters know that the ordinary man in the street would not be deprived of his weekly flutter’.5 The problem for the football pools is that times changed, and that the ordinary punter of the 1930s and 1940s had moved on to other forms of gambling for their weekly indulgence by the 1980s and 1990s.

Notes 1. Willink Commission, Final Report, para 166. 2. Ibid., p. 85, para 284. 3. Ibid., p. 45, para 159. 4. Beaven, Leisure, Citizenship and Working-Class Men in Britain, 1850–1945. 5. Parliamentary Debates, HC Deb. 22 June 1949, c. 300.

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224  Bibliography Snape, Robert, ‘Everyday Lives and Northernness’, Mass Observation, Workers 1939–1939’, 01.2016, vol. 20, 1, 31–44. Taylor, Matthew, ‘Mass observation, sport and the second world war’ in Robert Snape and Helen Pussard (eds), Recording Leisure Lives: Sports, Games and Pastimes in 20th Century Britain, Eastbourne, Leisure Studies Association Publications, 2010.

Unpublished theses Jones, Chris, The Development of the Football Pools in the Inter-War Period, MA by Research, University of Huddersfield, 2019.

Websites/online Airey, T, Burrell and P., Manchester United v Liverpool. The 1915 Good Friday betting scandal accessed 29 January 2021 on https://www,bbc.co.uk/news/uk-englandmanchester-32152534 (Google Scholar). Nevsky, Alex report ‘France to get The Football Pools after Deal with Sportech and France Pari’, Gamiyzion, 16 September 2013, and updated 4 October 2017. Danish betting sites, https://www.onlinebettingsites.com/countries.denmark. Enforcement Bulletin Sports Betting, https://www.2.gov.bc,ca//gambling-in-bc/ bulletin-sport-betting. Hopewell, Edward, ‘Sports Betting in Norway – What is the state of play? http:// thesuurebettor.com/sport-betting-in Norway, accessed 24 March 2021. https://bettingsitesonline.in./football-betting. https://doi-org.libacessess.hud.ac.uk/10.111/add.12560, accessed 31 March 2021. https://www.racing post/news/how-you-can-bet direct into the huge Hong Kong pool, a. Legal Betting sites in the USA, http://www.betingusa.com/sports/soccer. Italian Football pools outlined in https://www.allaboutitaly.net/totocalcio. Also, The National Archives, BS3/439, file on Italy, briefly outlining its lottery arrangements for the Royal Commission on Gambling. Norske Bookmakers, http://www.bookmakers.bet/20444/betting-sites-norway, accessed 24 March 2021. Sport Betting in Brazil, https://sbo.net/country/brazil. Sport Betting online, https://www.safestbettingsite.com/international/argentine. Swiss legislation and gambling laws are dealt with in https://www.gambling.com Switzerland, accessed 24 March 2021. Tavares, Hermano ‘Gambling in Brazil: a call for open debate’, 23 May 2014. ‘The future of space betting in Brazil’, https://Brazilianreport/sports/2019/06/24/ sports; ‘The Ultimate Guide to Sport Betting in Brazil’, https://sbo.net/country/ brazil. www.walesline.co.uk, accessed 1 May 2021. An interview with David Yorath, entitled ‘I worked at the Football Pools and helped make dreams come true’, reported by Chris Peregrine and Lucinda Reid, and recorded in Wales Online, 19 February 2019, and later updated 8 July 2021.

Index

Note: Italicized and bold page numbers refer to figures and tables. Page numbers followed by “n” refer to notes. AAMS see Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies (AAMS) A.B.C. Pools Ltd 126 Aberdare, L. 188 absorption 125–129 A. B. Tipstjanst 200 accountability 101 Adams, V. 72 Adult Schools 66 Advertising Standards Agency 208 AFA see Argentine Football Association (AFA) ‘Affluent worker’ survey 7 Aftentidningen 200 Alaluf, Y. B. 13, 16, 39; The Emotional Economy of Holidaymaking 114n61 Albania, football gambling in 204 Aldershot 75 Allen, C. W. 142 Amalgamated Association of the FA 66 Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants 87n22 Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (AUEW) 149 Amateur Boxing Association 185 Amateur Swimming Association 185 amelioration 125–129 Ammon, C. 82 Anderson, Sir J. 52 Anichini, T.: Win that Pool: Your Starting Perfect for Winning Office Football Pools 11, 166 anti-gambling 8, 14–16, 30, 32, 38, 67, 74, 80, 84–85, 182; associations 85; lobby 16, 30, 32, 85; movement 38, 41,

83–84; organizations 15, 18, 19, 25, 41, 51, 55, 63, 83 Appleton v Littlewoods (1939) 137 Argentine Football Association (AFA) 206 Arsenal 165 Arts Council 185 Ashton, J. 186 Askham, C. 29 ASLEF see Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) 169 Athletic News 26 Attlee Labour government 96, 116 AUEW see Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (AUEW) Australia, football gambling in 204 Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies (AAMS) 203 Bailey, P. C. 4 Baker, K. 187 Baker, N. 5, 6, 115–116 Baldwin, S. 43 Banks, G. 105 Barber, A. 185 Barnard, J. J. 28, 56n14 Batchelor, H. 166 BBC see British Broadcasting Company (BBC) BBC Radio 45 Beaven, B. 6–7, 15, 115, 130, 213; Leisure, Citizenship and WorkingClass Men in Britain 1850–1945 6

226  Index Bennellick, D. D. M. 155 Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1963 126–127, 139 Betting Act of 1845 65 Betting and Anti-Gambling Committee 66 Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 126, 129, 175 Betting and Lotteries Act of 1934 5, 12, 72–74, 81, 85, 122, 167–168, 181–182, 184, 213; Section 20(1) 69; Section 26 52, 69; Section 26(1) 116 Betting and Lotteries Bill of 1934 63, 68–71 Betting Duty Rate 104 Betting Duty Tax 98 Betting Housing Act of 1853 26 Betting Systems that Win Football Pools (Duncan) 11, 166 Bingo 216 Birkett, Lord 189 Blackburn Rovers 77 Blair, T. 14 Board of Trade 117 Bodkin Football Club 184–185 Bond/Bond’s 2, 16, 25, 31, 36, 49–51, 93; Bond’s Football Annual 31, 49; the PPP: The Punters Popular Paper 50, 78 Bonds of Friendship 31 Borsey, P. 7 Botten, J. 2 Bough, D. C. F. 165 Braddock, B. 120 Bradford City 77 Bradford stadium fire of 11 May 1985 14, 109 Bradford Telegraph and Argus 167 Brazil: opposition to gambling 205–206 Bread and Butter Pools (Jones) 11, 166 Bretherton, J. 84–85 Bretherton v United Kingdom Totalisator Co. Ltd 116 Bridlington Agreement of 1938 149 Brierley-Jones, L. 31, 46, 60n119 Brighton 75 Bristol City 753 Britain: Gaming Board 127–128, 184; Gambling Commission 209; sales of postal orders in 36; Trade Enquiry by Board of Trade 7; see also individual entries British Broadcasting Company (BBC) 165

British Charitable Gambling, 1956– 1994: Towards a National Lottery (Douglas) 14 British Council of Churches 127 British Olympic Association 185 Brittens Pools (later Brittens Football Pools) 92–93, 112n5 Brooke Hirst, A. 37, 75–77, 170 Brotherhood v United Kingdom Totalisator Co. Ltd (1945) 84 Bulletin 50, 67 Burleywood Capital 193 Butt, Sir A. 68, 72 Byrne, C. 3 Callaghan, I. 105 Calvert, R. 189 Camelot 189–190, 195n1 Campbell, Sir M. 2, 37, 39 Canada, football gambling in 206 Cancer League Club 126 Capp, A. 167 Cardiff Department 118 Cartals FC 205 Carter, R. D. 105, 151 Catholic Church 172 CAWU see Clerical and Administrative Workers’ Union (CAWU) Celtic Football Club 14 Celtic Pools Limited 107, 127 Challenge Cup 125 charity: competing sport and health 107–108; and gambling 14 Charity Shield 208 Charles, I. 46 Chartism 4 China, football gambling in 208 China Daily Bulletin 208 Chinn, C. 5 Chopra, M. 208 Christian Social Council Committee on Gambling 81 Church Army 81 Churches’ Committee on Gambling 213; on wages and conditions 135 Churches’ Council for Gambling 19, 121, 126–128; Social Control of Gambling 127 Churchill, W. 96, 124, 161 Church of England 172 Church of England Temperance Society 81 Clapson, M. 5 Clarke, J. D. H. 191

Index 227 Clegg, B. 44; The Man Who Made Littlewoods: The Story of Sir John Moores 10 Clegg, Sir C. 66 Clerical and Administrative Workers’ Union (CAWU) 142 Clouston, A. E. 39 Colls, R. 130; Liberty in England, 1760–1960: Sport and Liberty in England, 760–1960 122; This Sporting Life 171; This Sporting Life: Sport and Liberty in England 7 Commercial Cable Company: Littlewood’s Football Pool 29–30 Committee on Industrial Relations 18 Conservative Party 167 consumer demand 169–175, 173–175 Cope, A. 94, 164 Copes/Cope’s Pools Ltd 25, 32, 50–51, 54, 69, 93, 94, 112n8, 164; employment 136; structure of employment 137 Coral, J. 2, 97 Cotton, B. 42 Council for the League 74 Council of the FA 73 Cousins, F. 167 Cowderey, M. C. 121 Cramp, C. T. 67, 87n22 Crathorne, Lord 188–189 Crawford, J. 50 Cricket and Football Field 27 Cristiani, R. 13 Cross, G. 5 Cuff, W. C. 73, 75 Cunningham, H. 3–4; Leisure in the Industrial Revolution 3 Customs and Excise Commission 126 Daily Herald 104 The Daily Mail 27, 82, 104, 193 The Daily Mirror 104, 167, 193 Daily Sketch 103 Daily Telegraph 193 Dalgleish, K. 193 Dalton, H. 119 Danske Spil 201–202 Davidson, M. A. 151, 186–187 Davies, A. 7 Davies, R. J. 71, 87n44, 116, 195n1 Davison, Sir W. 71, 182 Defence Regulation Act 56A 84, 116 The Definitive Guide to Betting on Football, Betting Systems that Win (Duncan) 11, 166

Denman, R. D. 82 Denmark, football gambling in 201–202 Derby County 77 Dickinson, B. 193 Dimmock, P. 165 Dinsdale, B. 107 District Trades Council 168 Dodd, E. 40 Dodd, H. 126 Donoughue, L. 188 Doughty, R. 24n49 Douglas, A.: British Charitable Gambling, 1956–1994: Towards a National Lottery 14 Drake, T. 105 Duggan, R. 204 Duncan, D.: Betting Systems that Win Football Pools 11, 166; The Definitive Guide to Betting on Football, Betting Systems that Win 11, 166 early twentieth-century state schemes 200–205 Easterman, C. S. H. 94 Eckman, C. G. 200 Eden, E. A. 78 Edmonds, N. 179 Edwards, J. H. 32 Elderton, T. W. 69 Elderton v United Kingdom Totalisator Co. Ltd [1935 1 Ch 373] 116 Electrical Trade Union 141–142 electricity consumption 5 Ellis, A. E. 105 Elrick, G. 46 Elsie, M. 42 emotional capitalism 13, 25–26, 54, 63 The Emotional Economy of Holidaymaking (Alaluf) 114n61 Empire Pools 25, 32, 94 employment 133–160, 135; conditions of 134–136; procedures 136–141; structure of 136–141; wages 134–136 English Football League 10, 79, 85, 207–208; Management Committee 73, 79 English Heritage 185 Erwood, T.: The Ultimate Guide to Winning Sports Pools: The Strategy for Dominating Football Pools 11, 166 EuroMillions 215 European Commission 188 Evans, J. 151 Evans, N. 136

228  Index The Evening Post 167 Evening Standard 101, 104, 124 Everton FC 125 Everyman Point Pools 36, 69 Every Player Counts Scheme 110 FA see Football Association (FA) FA Cup (1872) 63, 210 Faulkner, D. E. R. 110–111 Faulkner, R. 110 federal states, gambling arrangements in 206 FGIT see Football Ground Improvements Trust (FGIT) Field, F. 187 Fields, T. 186, 196n39 Figgis, L. 40 Film Department, Liverpool John Moores University 24n49 Final Report of the Royal Commission 87n22 Finmere Trust Ltd 32 Finney, T. 105 First World War 5, 26–27, 29, 182 Fixed Odds 138 FL see Football League (FL) Flanagan and Allen 39, 42 Flynn, E. 50 Foot, I. 71 Football and Fortunes: The Inside Story of Littlewoods Football Pools 1923–2003 (Reed) 10 Football Association (FA) 5, 11, 17, 65–66, 76, 88n61, 104, 122, 125; Council 73–74 Football Association Challenge Cup (1872) 26 Football Betting Duty 14 Football Challenge Cup (1872) 25 football consumer surveys 169–175, 173–175 The Football Field and Sports Telegram (Cricket and Football Field) 26, 56n6 Football Foundation 109 Football Ground Improvements Trust (FGIT) 109, 188 Football Index 209 Football League (FL) 5, 11–12, 17, 19, 38, 65–66, 104, 122, 125; Management Committee 73–74, 76–79; Scottish 137 Football League v Littlewoods 125 football pools: in age of austerity, 1945–1953, growth of 92–101, 92, 95,

98–100; annual stakes (1946–1950) 92; apogee of late 1960s to the 1980s 106–107; c.1870s–c.1945, emergence of 25–62; challenges to 180–181; coupons 92; debates about 3–10; decline of 190–194; globalisation of 199–210; growth of 101–106; historiography of 10–14; politics of (1918–1945) 63–90; politics of (since 1945) 115–132; postal orders (1946–1950) 92; primary sources of 16–18; questions about 15–16; recovery of 101–106; retrenchment of 101–106; swag 73–80; turnover of 98 Football Pools and How to Win (George) 11, 166 Football Pools Betting Duty 6 Football Pools Collectors’ Union 155 Football Pools Promoters’ Association (FPPA) 14, 16–17, 50–51, 215 Football Pools Review (now The Football Pools) 166–167 Football Trust 14, 189, 190; in defence of the pools 108–111 Ford, H. 45 Fordism 15, 25, 37, 45, 134 Forrest, D. 195n2 Forsyth, B. 2 Foster, N. D. 184 FPPA see Football Pools Promoters’ Association (FPPA) France, football gambling in 204, 207 France Pari 204 Franchise Act of 1918 4 Franklin, N. 105 Frederick Jervis & Co. Ltd 36 From Pontoon to Pool (Gulland) 69 gambling 1–2, 7, 10, 13, 17, 20, 26, 28, 34, 38, 42, 48, 50, 54, 66, 77–78, 80–82, 88n58, 91, 93, 98, 107–108, 111–112, 113n35, 119–123, 125–130, 134, 136, 145, 156, 161, 166, 168–171, 179–185, 187–188, 191, 193; activities, taxation of 5; anti-gambling 8, 14–16, 18–19, 25, 30, 32, 38, 41, 51, 55, 63, 67, 74, 80, 83, 84–85, 182; charity and 14; cities 207; control of 127–128; credit 214; debts 65; economic and social impacts of 8; Federal states arrangements of 206; globalisation of 112, 179, 195, 216; hostility to 4, 5; legal 9, 84, 163, 176; online 180, 192, 194–195, 199, 215; pro-gambling 14;

Index 229 prohibition of 72; resistance to 6; small-scale 167; survey of 172–174; taxation of 214; tote 5, 68; working-class 3, 5, 8, 9, 11, 15, 18, 32, 40, 68, 70, 72–73, 92, 115–116, 162–163, 172, 176, 213–214, 216 Gambling on Goals: A Century of Football Betting (Sharpe) 10 Gamico Football Pools 36 Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1963 101 Gaming Board of Great Britain 127–128, 184 Garro-Jones, G. M. 82 Garwood, J. 103 General Council of the Trades Union Congress 87n22, 169 George, F.: Football Pools and How to Win 11, 166 George Woodcock Papers 18 Gilmour, Sir J. 72 Glastonbury Labour Party 168 globalisation: of football pools 199–210; of gambling 112, 179, 195, 216 Gloucester Echo 171–172 Goal Rush 8 167 Goldthorpe, J. 7 ‘The Good Friday Betting Scandal (1915)’ 66 Goodrich, W. 103 Gordon, J. A. 1 Gordon Banks 193 Gosta Liiliehook 201 Graham, D. M. 82 Great War 65, 67 Greaves, C. L. 170 Green, T. 105, 193 Grenfill, D. R. 82 Gribble, L. R.: Inside Littlewoods 10 Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (Green Guide) 109 Gulland, J. 64; From Pontoon to Pool 69 Gurney, P. 12–15, 20, 29, 54, 169, 215; The Making of Consumer Culture in Modern Britain 12 Guy’s Hospital 127 hagiographies 10 Hall, W. G. G. 117, 120, 131n23 Hartley, W. 74 Hartshon, J. 208 Hattersley, R. 187 Hawke, J. 64 Health Pools 14 Heath, E. 149

Herbert, A. P.: Private Members’ Bill 83 Heysel disaster of 1988 14 Hicks, Sir S. 2 Hill, J. 126, 165 Hill, W. 97 Hillsborough football disaster of 15 April 1989 14, 109, 188 Hilton, J. 65, 162–163; Rich Man, Poor Man 11, 18, 163; Why I Go in for the Pools by Tom, Dick and Harry 11, 18, 162 Hoare, Sir S. G. 72, 88n52 Hobsbawm, E. 7 Hodgkins, W. 67 Hogge, J. M. 64 Hong Kong Jockey Club 207 Horner, F. G. 69 House of Commons 7, 32, 34–35, 68, 70, 80, 82–83, 116–117, 119, 124, 183, 185, 188, 214 House of Lords 7, 19, 68, 126–127, 188; Gambling Industry Committee 208 Hove Albion 75 Howarth, F. 74 Howarth, G. 187 Howe, Sir R. 105 Howell, D. 109, 188–189 ‘How the Pools Industry is Organised’ 44 How to Become a Millionaire by John and Cecil Moores (Price) 10 HP Football Pools 36 Huddersfield 77 Huggins, M. 5, 10–11, 15, 75, 80 Hugh, E. 121 Hughes, B. 29 Hughes, E. H. 74, 93, 122 Hughes, M. 186 Hulton Readership Survey 23n32 Hunt, R. 105, 193 Hutton’s Press 26 Imperial Cancer Red Fund 108 Imperial Cancer Research Fund 14, 127 India, football gambling in 207 Industrial Christian Fellowship 81 industrial relations 133–160 Industrial Relations Act of 1971 149 Inside Littlewoods (Gribble) 10 Inter-Departmental Working Party on Lotteries 170 Ireland, football gambling in 203–204; Irish Hospital Sweepstake Fund 184; Irish Sweepstake Lottery 71, 204

230  Index Isle of Wight Labour Party 168 Italy, football gambling in 203 ITP 36, 50, 93, 95 ITV: Oh Boy 164 Jackpot 10 167 James, S. 103 J.&C. Moores Printing 42 Jenkins, M. 121, 131n28 Jenkinson, K. 151 Jennings, H. S. 56n7 Jervis 50–51, 93 Jones, D.: Bread and Butter Pools 11, 166 Jones, J. 151–152 Jones, M. 82 Jones, S. G. 4–5 Jones v Vernons (1938) 137 Joyce, P. 8; Work 7 Keenan 1 Kennerley, G. R. 32, 57n38, 122, 154 Kennerley, J. R. 57n38 Keynsham 180 Kilfoyle, P. 186, 196n39 Kirby-Green, B. 39, 57n38 Knight-Brice, E. C. 121 Kohe, G. 18 Kongeloge Kobenhavnske Klasselotteri 201 Labour, A. 5 Labour Organiser 168 Labour Party 167–169, 186 Ladbrokes 2, 136 Lancashire Record Office 17 Lansbury, G. 82 Lantern 26 La Quiniela 203 Lawrence, I. 185 Lawson Pools 32 Lawton, T. 105 Laybourn, K. 10 League Cup 208 League Management Committee 5, 12, 15 Leishman, Sir J. 67 Leisure, Citizenship and WorkingClass Men in Britain 1850–1945 (Beaven) 6 Leisure in the Industrial Revolution (Cunningham) 3 Lennox-Boyd, A. 82 Lewis, J. 13

Liberty in England, 1760–1960: Sport and Liberty in England, 1760–1960 (Colls) 122 Lineker, G. 165 Linn, C. 3 Liss, C. G. 107 Lit-Plans 138 Littlewood, C. H. 29 Littlewood’s/Littlewoods 2, 13, 19, 21n2, 25, 50, 52, 93, 110–111, 120, 124, 128–130, 181, 192–193, 199–200, 210; business employment practice of 45–49; business strategy of 36–45; Code of Practice 150; Collection 17; Committee on Industrial Relations 18; coupon income, turnover of 105–106; dividends 95, 106; Edge Lane Building 10, 12, 24n49, 47, 61n132, 140, 145, 194–195; employment 134, 152–153; employment procedure 138, 140; expenses 106; Fixed Odds Coupon 37, 51; ‘Great New Penny Pool’ 69; and growth of football pools from 1923 to 1939 29–36, 36; Guide to Investment 40; ‘Happy Circle’ 15–16, 20, 28, 40–42, 48, 163, 214; ‘Happy Family’ 20; Irlam Street Road Building 11, 18, 20, 60n124, 133–134, 141–155; Lit Plan 103; The Littlewood Review 16, 38, 45–48, 60n118, 133, 140, 156; ‘Littlewood’s Forecast Pool,’ Derby 30; ‘Littlewood’s Good Saturday Pool,’ Kempton Park 30; The Littlewood Sports Review 18, 20; Littlewood’s Promotions Ltd 3; The Littlewood Sports Log 16, 28, 38–46, 48, 50, 54, 58–59n69, 59n101, 78, 81, 134, 163–164; permanent workforce 55; reduction in staff numbers 152; relationship with workforce 133; ‘Spot the Ball’/‘Spotting the Ball’ competition 106, 109–110, 167, 192; Staff Consultation Committee 134; Staff Council 142, 146, 148, 149; structure of employment 136–137; tax 106, 142; trade union recognition 142; Treble Chance 1, 26, 37, 94–95, 97, 100, 167; wages and conditions 135; Youth Action’ scheme 110 Littlewoods Sports Council 48 Liverpool City Council Budget 152 Liverpool Echo 35, 72

Index 231 Liverpool Trades Council 17–18, 141, 156 Lockwood, D. 7 Logan, D. G. 71 London and Provincial Soccer Pools 36, 50 Lotteries Act of 1975 107 Lottery Bill 182 Lottery Protection Board 186 Lotto 16, 104, 167, 181, 182, 183–184, 189–190, 204, 215 Lovelock, J. 48 Luce, R. 186 Lucky Clover 167 Lupino, S. 39 Lynam, D. 165 Lynn, C. 193 Lynskey Tribunal 117–118 MacDonald, G. 78 Mackay, G. 32 Macmillan, H. 146 Mahon, S. 145–146 Major, J. 110, 185, 187, 189–190, 194 The Making of Consumer Culture in Modern Britain (Gurney) 12 Manchester City 77 Manchester Guardian 17, 53, 73, 85 Manchester United 30, 66, 208 Manchester United Development Association 107–108, 127 The Man Who Made Littlewoods: The Story of Sir John Moores (Clegg) 10 Marten, A. C. 57n38 Martin, C. A. 151 Mason, T. 26 Masser, A. 76–77 Mass Observation 21n1, 171; study of Worktown (Bolton) 1 Match Bet 167 McColl, I. 105 McFadden, F. 186–187 McGill, C. 192 McGrail, N. 97 McKenna, J. 73–75, 88n65 McKibbin, R. 4–5, 11, 79, 163 McWeeny, J. A. 66 Mecca 2 Men Without Work (The Pilgrim Trust) 171 Merseyside Employment Exchange 146 Mersey Totaliser Football Pools Company 31

Merson, P. 208 Merthyr 36 Methodism 4 Methodist Temperance and Social Welfare Department 81 Miller, M. 42 Modern Law Review 123 Modern Records Centre of Warwick University 17 Montague of Beaulieu, Lord 188 Moody, G. E. 127 Moody, J. A. 32 Moore-Brabazon, J. T. C. 105 Moores, C. 2, 25, 31, 44–46, 49, 55, 57n38, 58n53, 58n66, 60n119, 61n153, 91, 93, 96, 120, 124, 209, 214; ‘The Chief’ 19–20, 30, 38, 40–41, 97, 134, 143–144, 146, 151, 156, 163; on trade unionism 142 Moores, N. 149–150, 159n64 Moores, R. 30 Moores, Sir J. 10, 16, 19, 25, 28–31, 30, 44–45, 49, 55, 60n119, 68, 93, 125, 151, 159n64, 209, 214 Morgan, R. 84 Morning Post 82 Morrison, H. 53 Mortesan, S. 105 Mothers’ Union 81 Mount, R. 150 Mulley, F. 97, 124 Munting, R. 5, 180 Murphy, W. C. 55 Murphy, W. S. 25, 29, 69–70, 214 Murphys/Murphy’s Pools 17, 25, 28–29, 32, 36, 50, 52, 95 Nabarro, Sir G. 105, 183 NAGL see National Anti-Gambling League (NAGL) Nally, W. 116–117, 124 National Anti-Gambling League (NAGL) 5, 8–9, 18–19, 26, 38, 51, 63–70, 83, 85, 121, 213; opposition of 64–67 National Emergency Committee of Christian Citizens 67 National Football Museum. Deepdale, Preston 17 National Football Trust 154 National Foundation for Research into Crippling Diseases 14 National Fund for Research into Crippling Diseases 127

232  Index The National Lottery/national lottery 2–3, 8, 13, 15–16, 18, 24n49, 92, 97, 110–112, 115, 123–124, 128–130, 133, 154, 162, 176, 214–215; battle in Britain against pools companies and the ‘Neolithic tribesmen’ 181–190; Easy Plan 191; establishment of 19–20; ‘for good causes’ 14, 111, 129, 155–156, 161–162, 170, 176, 179–195, 215–216; formation of 84, 108, 110, 175, 204, 209; France 204; illegal 84; inaugural weekend of 107; legalising 64; rejection of 72; Spanish 202–203; threat of 91, 136, 191, 194; Wales 56n19 National Lottery Bill 187 National Lottery Board 129, 183 National Lottery Promotion Company 185 National Lottery raising money for good causes, A 188 National Union of General and Municipal Workers (NUGMW) 142 National Union of Railwaymen 87n22 The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions (Reddy) 13 Newcastle 77 Newcastle United 77 News Chronicle 104 News of the World 69 Nicholson, K. 104, 164 Nicholson, V. 164, 193 Norsk Tipping (Norwegian Pools Ltd) 201 Norwegian Gaming Authority 201 Novelty Pools of Swansea 93 NUGMW see National Union of General and Municipal Workers (NUGMW) online gambling 180, 192, 194–195, 199, 215; development of 207–209 Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan 195n1 OpCapita 3 Orwell, G.: The Road to Wigan Pier 11, 79 Owen, Sir D. 67 Owenism 4 Paisley, I. 187 Pallister, D. 46 Palumbo, Lord 188 Paper Universal Betting Scheme Order 1947: section 2 118–119

Parliament 6, 13–14, 16–19, 50, 52, 64–67, 69, 73, 76, 80, 83–85, 91, 108, 111–112, 118, 154, 185, 213–216 Parliamentary Bill of 1913 66 Parliamentary Debates 17 Parsons, L. 121 Payne, L. T. 94 peace 125–129 Pembroke (C & P) Ltd 108 Penny Point Pool 52 Penrose, I. 193–194, 204 The Peril of the Pools (Russell) 35, 70, 81 Perkins, B. E. 66, 121, 131n28 Pertwee, J. 103 Peston, M. 105 Pilgrim Trust: Men Without Work survey 171 Pithouse, S. J. 28 political parties 167–169 Pool Betting Act of 1954 101, 124, 126 Pool Betting Duty/Betting Pool Duty 13, 18, 95, 98, 108–110, 119, 124, 129, 173, 189, 214–215 Pool Betting Tax 97, 154 Pool Competition Act of 1971 129 Pool Panel 105 Pool Promoters’ Association (PPA) 16–17, 32, 51, 57n36, 57n38, 57n39, 80, 93, 95, 97–98, 101, 104, 108–111, 113n34, 120, 122, 124–125, 128, 143, 154–155, 172, 176, 179, 181, 184, 187, 189, 215 Pools Betting Tax 142 Pools Competition Act of 1971 127 Pools’ Competition Act on 27 July 1971 14 ‘Pools Crisis’ (1936) 19 ‘Pools War’ of 1936 12, 15, 64, 73–81 Popplewell Inquiry 109 Post Master General’s Department, Liverpool 118 Poverty and Progress (Rowntree) 35, 64, 171 Powell, I. 107 power transformation 162–166 PPA see Pool Promoters’ Association (PPA) PPP see The Punters Popular Paper (PPP) Premier 10, 167 Premier League 2, 207 Premier League Health scheme 110 Price, N. 44; How to Become a Millionaire by John and Cecil Moores 10

Index 233 The Principles of Scientific Management (Taylor) 45 Prize Fund 191 PRODE (Sports Forecasting) 206 pro-gambling 14 prohibition of gambling 72 publicity 162–166, 214 Public Morality Council 81 Pullein, K. 11, 166 The Punters Popular Paper (PPP) 50, 113n35, 113n36, 163–164 Quakers 66 Racecourse Betting Act of 1928 81 Racing Post 11, 166 radical culture 4 Radio Luxembourg 166 Raikes, V. 120 Randall, W. J. 9 Rangers Pools Ltd 107 Rangers Stadium, Glasgow 108–109 rational recreation 3–4, 6, 8, 15, 18–19, 40, 55, 115, 213, 216 Raymond, Sir S. 127–128 Ready Money Football Betting Act of 1920 28, 34, 37, 65, 67, 69, 71 Ready Money Football Pools Act of 1920 27, 30, 32, 34 Reddy, W. M.: The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions 13 Reed, P. 44; Football and Fortunes: The Inside Story of Littlewoods Football Pools 1923–2003 10 Reid, D. 7 Reid, P. 28 relaxed states 207 religious culture 3 Report of the Inter-Departmental Working Party on Lotteries 104 Research Services Limited 174 Research Services Survey (1968) 175 retrenchment 101–106 Rich Man, Poor Man (Hilton) 11, 18, 163 Ridgeon, G. 171–172 Rinder, F. W. 73 Rinder, J. W. 75–76 The Road to Wigan Pier (Orwell) 11, 79 Robertson, A. J. 26–27, 63–65 Rodime plc 192 Rojek, C. 45 Roman Catholic Church 121

Rosenwein, B. H. 13 Rothschild Commission 17, 57n38, 94, 101, 103–104, 108–110, 120, 125, 128–129, 154–155, 170, 175–176, 183–184, 215; Final Report 136; Interim Report 136; on wages and conditions 135 Roudaut, E. 72 Rouse, S. 74, 131n28 Rouse, Sir S. 121 Rowlands, D. 151 Rowlatt Commission 17, 26–27, 32–34, 50, 55n2, 63, 67–72, 75, 85, 122–123, 182, 213; Final Report 67, 68 Rowlatt, Sir S. A. T. 34, 55n2 Rowntree, B. S. 8, 35–36, 83; Poverty and Progress 35, 64, 171 Roy, H. 42 Royal Commission of Inquiry 109 Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming see Willink Commission Royal Commission on Gambling see Rothschild Commission Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting see Rowlatt Commission Royal Mail 43 Rule 43, 74, 125 Russell, D. 75, 79 Russell, R. J. 34–35, 71–72; The Peril of the Pools 35, 70, 81 Russell Bill (1936): to ban the football pools, failure of 80–84 Rutherford, J. 66 Sadler, D. 105 Safety of Sports Grounds Act of 1975 13, 109 Sangster, R. E. 31–32, 57n36, 122, 136, 191 Sangster, V. 10, 25, 55, 63, 91, 113n37, 142, 156, 209, 214 SATA see Supervisory Administrative and Technical Association (SATA) Saturday Lotto 204 Savage, M. 7–8, 11–12, 19, 162 Scandinavia, football gambling in 202 Science and Society Picture Library Print 62n156 Scotland: football pools, emergence of 26–29 Scottish Football Association 81 Scottish Football League 125 Scottish National League Against Betting and Gambling 121

234  Index Screen 51 Second World War 5–6, 18, 25–26, 29, 36, 46, 48, 51, 63, 84–85, 107, 115, 118, 129, 133, 141, 156, 164, 169, 172–173, 176, 180, 199, 209, 214–215 The Select Committee of 1923 5 Sembel Trust 108 Sharpe, G. 55n3; Gambling on Goals: A Century of Football Betting 10 Sharpe, I. 78, 89n84 Shawcross, H. W. 70, 117 Sheffield Star 167 The Sheffield Telegraph 65, 167 Sheffield United 165 Sherman, H. 25, 29, 51, 58n62, 117, 154, 156, 214 Sherman’s/Shermans 2, 10, 16–17, 21n2, 25, 36, 39, 49–52, 54, 93, 95–96, 117; amount distribution 100; Capital Issues Committee for 117; employment 134, 141; ‘History of Shermans Pools’ 55n1; Social Survey 23n32, 96, 172–173, 173; total stakes 102; Treble Chance 101; wages and conditions 135 sin-dicates 167–169 Singette Ltd 126 Singette Ltd v Martin (1071, 2 W.L.R. 13) 127 Skinner, D. 187 Small Lotteries and Gaming Act of 1956 125, 169 Smith, E. 168 Smith, J. 107 Smythe, R. 167 Soccer Six 167 social control 3–5, 8–9, 12, 128, 156, 170 Social Control of Gambling (Churches’ Council for Gambling) 127 Social Survey of 1950 172 Social Survey on Betting 23n32 social welfare work, development of 108–111 Society of Friends 66 Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT) 17, 149 Socopools 51 SOGAT see Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT) Southampton Labour Party 168 Southern Pools 93 Spain, football gambling in 202–203; Spanish Lotteria Nacional 203 SPA of Leeds 93 Spastics Society 14, 127 Spectator 9

Sporting Chronicle 26 Sporting Luck 26 Sports Council 185 Sports Pools 14 Sportstech 3, 136, 193–194 Spreckelion, J. V. 194 Squire, W. J. R. 168 Stanley, S. 117 The Star 103 Star Pools of Stockport 93 Stearn, P. M. 13 Stewart, L. 151 St. Helier, I. 39 Stockholm Football Association 200 Stoddarts 26 Stoke City 77 Strang, T. 25, 28–29, 34–35, 55, 69, 214 Strangs 17, 25, 28–29, 36, 50–51, 56n17, 69, 94–95 Street Betting Act 5, 9, 30, 65 Sufferings 66 Sunday Dispatch 39 Sunday Express 39, 40, 124 Sunday Mirror 167 Sunderland 77 Supervisory Administrative and Technical Association (SATA) 149, 152 Sutcliffe, C. E. 74, 75, 77–78, 88n58 Swedish Ministry of Trade 200 Swedish Sports Federation 201 Switzerland: opposition to gambling 205 Tarr, R. 151 Tatts Group 211n22 taxation of gambling activities 5, 17 Taylor, F. W.: The Principles of Scientific Management 45 Taylor, M. 88n58 Taylor, P. 109–110 Taylorism 15, 25, 37, 45, 48 Taylor Report 14, 109–110, 188 Taylor system (Bedaux system) 45 Teeling, W. 118–120, 131n23 Tennyson, L. 48 TGWU see Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU) Thatcher, M. 187 Thatcher Conservative government 109 This Sporting Life: Sport and Liberty in England (Colls) 7, 171 Thom, G. 2 Thomas, J. H. 87n22 Thorne, W. 82 Tilden, B. 50

Index 235 The Times 17 Tinn, J. 183 Top Ten Promotions 127 Tory Party 187 tote gambling 5, 68 Tracy, S. 50 trade unionism 11, 48, 107, 133–134, 141–156, 215 trade unions: relationship between 12 Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU) 142, 167 Treble Chance 1, 26, 37, 94–95, 97, 100–101, 103, 138–139, 145, 162, 167, 180, 190, 195n2, 207 Tribune 124 Truth 9 Turf Publishers Limited 66 The Ultimate Guide to Winning Sports Pools: The Strategy for Dominating Football Pools (Erwood) 11 The Umpire 27, 28, 56n7 Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) 17, 48, 142, 149–150, 152–154, 179–180, 185, 216 United Kingdom Totalisator Company 69 United States: football gambling in 207; National Football League 206 Unity Pools 18, 25, 29, 31, 51–54, 52–54, 84, 91–92, 116 Unwin, E. C. 121 USDAW see Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) Vernon’s Pools/Vernons 2–3, 10, 15, 17–18, 25, 31–32, 34–36, 39, 49–51, 54, 93, 95, 136, 199, 200; business strategy of 36–45; dividends 95; Great Moments in Sport 164; Pools Mobile Information Unit 164; popularity of 99; price of 99; relationship with workforce 133; trade union recognition 142; Treble Chance 103; Vernons Sporting Guide 164; wages and conditions 135 wages 134–136 Wales: The National Lottery 56n19 Wall, Sir F. 26, 55n2, 63, 81 Walters, D. 42 Warwickshire County Cricket Sports’ Association 107 Watkins, M. J. D. 57n38, 183–184

Webster, J. 165 Wells Divisional Labour Party 168 Welsh Football Association 81 Western Pools 93 Wheatley, N. 109 Whitelaw, W. 146 Why I Go in for the Pools by Tom, Dick and Harry (Hilton) 11, 18, 162 William Hill 2 Williams, T. 68, 71, 81–82, 87n42, 170 Willink Commission 9, 17, 21n2, 34, 56n12, 61n147, 73, 117, 120–123, 128, 161, 172, 182–183, 213; Report of the 123–124, 131n28; scrutiny of 92–101; on wages and conditions 134–135 Wilson, B. 187 Wilson, C. H. 64 Wilson Labour Government 109 Win that Pool: Your Starting Perfect for Winning Office Football Pools (Anichini) 11, 166 Wise, A. 186 Wolstenholme, K. 165 Woodcock, G. 150 Woodcock, R. 107 Work (Joyce) 7 working-class gambling 3, 5, 8–9, 11, 15, 18, 32, 40, 68, 70, 72–73, 92, 115–116, 162–163, 172, 176, 213–214, 216 working-class leisure 3, 4, 6–9, 115, 176 working-class life 161–178; ancillary boom 166–167; clubs 167–169; consumer demand 169–175, 173–175; football consumer surveys 169–175, 173–175; political parties 167–169; publicity 162–166; sin-dicates 167–169 Worktown Project of 1937 to 1940 21n1 World’s Largest Penny Pool 37 World Water 37 Xinhui News Agency 208 Yorath, D. 140–141, 155 Young, G. 105 Young, Sir R. 50, 82 Zetter, P. I. 57n38, 185–186, 191–192, 198n76, 209 Zetters Pools Office 192 Zetter’s/Zetters 2, 10, 15, 17, 25, 32, 51–52, 54, 93, 94; structure of employment 137; Zetters International Pools Ltd 3