Qataris invest in English soccer through world’s oldest club


Manchester, England –

Qatari money is coming to English football for the first time – at the most unlikely of clubs.

The achievers are not a globally recognized power, but a minor team playing in seven divisions below the Premier League.

What Sheffield FC lacks in glamour, it makes up for in status. Every football team, from powerhouses Barcelona and Manchester United to amateur outfits around the world, originates from this club in northern England’s Steel City.

When Sheffield FC began play in 1857, there was no other team in the world.

Now, eager to link up with football’s pioneers, 100,000 pounds ($153,000) is heading towards Sheffield FC from the Middle East’s first World Cup hosting country, The Associated Press has learnt.

The enduring controversy surrounding the award of the 2022 tournament means that investment from World Cup organizers could be interpreted as Sheffield FC being used by a country in need of a positive promotional platform.

But Sheffield FC said it made the move to Qatar only after directly contacting the English Football Association and the Premier League in search of cash to return to their original home site. Grant applications will have to go through the Football Foundation.

“It’s not about Qatar’s hegemony,” Sheffield FC president Richard Timms told the AP. “It’s about being a catalyst that makes everyone pay attention … New kids on the block and football.” The partnership between the first football club in the world to protect the legacy of

Qatar lacks England’s deep football heritage and is seeking to rapidly develop players for the World Cup and boost interest in the sport among its small population.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the secretary-general of Qatar’s World Cup Supreme Committee, moved to Sheffield in the 1990s after studying law at the city’s main university.

“Over the past few years, ever since the (Sheffield FC) chairman first approached us, we have been working together to find suitable ways in which we can offer our support,” Al Thawadi said. “Our modest contribution is the first step on an important journey for the club to gain wider support for the (stadium) project.”

After struggling to survive in a city dominated by Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United – former Premier League clubs now in the second and third tiers respectively – Sheffield FC opened a 1,500-seat stadium in nearby Dronfield, a small village in Derbyshire, in 2001. transferred to countryside.

Sheffield FC have bought land at their original site at Olive Grove in Sheffield, but are raising money for a team stadium to relocate to their birthplace.

“I hope that when the new grounds and museum at Olive Grove are developed and school children from all over the world visit and stand where the beautiful game was created, they will be able to understand that the game has How far each corner has traveled. The world’s first Middle Eastern World Cup,” Al Thawadi said.

While the founders of Sheffield FC did not invent soccer, they claim to be the first organization with the intention of playing the game.

Football was played across Britain with varying rules until October 1857, with some games having as many as 500 players and often ending in violence. Then two passionate cricketers, William Perst and Nathaniel Creswick, set out to integrate the laws and Sheffield FC was born.

Perst and Creswick wrote the first set of rules, adopting the free kick and introducing a cross bar. To meet the cost of their current land, those rules were sold at auction in 2011 for £881,250 ($1.4 million) to a buyer who remains anonymous.

For three years of its existence, Sheffield FC played amongst themselves, including married men against unmarried men, until Sheffield persuaded the nearby Hallam Cricket Club to form a rival.

By 1862, 15 other clubs had been established in the Sheffield area – famous for its steel industry – and organized themselves under the auspices of Sheffield Clubs, the forerunner of the Football Association, formed in 1863.

In 1889, Sheffield FC helped form Sheffield United and The Wednesday. Sheffield FC continued as a separate club and won its greatest honor – the National Amateur Cup – in 1904.

The team’s pulling power belies its low status in the modern game. Its most recent moment in the limelight came around its 150th anniversary in 2007 when FIFA president Sepp Blatter attended a church service and dinner in Sheffield and Pele attended a celebratory game against Inter Milan.

Being the first club in the world, it earned a place in history but could not secure its future.

The Sheffield FC men’s team plays in the eighth tier, the amateur division of English football, but its 12-year-old women’s team is flourishing.

The Qatari cash has already enabled Sheffield Ladies to demonstrate to the FA that it has the necessary resources to win promotion to the second tier in May. Now it is one step away from the top level Women’s Super League.

“We wanted to show our commitment by helping promote the club,” said Al Thawady. “I look forward to persuading others in the international football community to join me in supporting this important mission to preserve this wonderful club and promote grassroots development.”



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