Monday, September 14, 2015

14 September 1939 - Football In Wartime

On 14 September 1939, the British government suspended regular football competitions for the duration of World War II. In their place, many teams participated in unofficial regional competitions to provide a diversion for the population and boost morale.

By the time Britain declared war on Germany, the 1939-40 seasons had already started in England and Scotland, but the results were voided and both league and cup competitions were suspended so that resources, including men, could be diverted toward the war effort. The government, however, soon allowed football to continue in a modified formEnglish teams were limited to a 50-mile travel range and split into 10 regional leagues for the 1939-40 season, with each league comprising 8 to 10 teams. Scotland split into two leagues - a Western Division and an Eastern Division. The leagues shifted constantly, however, over the course of the war.

Due to the unavailability of many professional footballers who had joined the military, the quality of the wartime matches fell dramatically from the standards set prior to the war. Several matches were forfeited because clubs were unable to field full sides on match days.

The FA Cup returned in 1945, while the Scottish Cup and regular league play resumed in 1946. The wartime results were unofficial, and clubs restarted their respective leagues in the positions they had earned in the 1938-39 season.

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