Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield FC auctions rules document from 1858

A handwritten pamphlet from 1858 on the rules of club football is to be put up for sale by Sheffield FC.

The document is believed to be one of the earliest instructions on the sport, and will be auctioned as part of an archive belonging to the club.

The archive is expected to fetch up to £1.2m when auctioned in July, and was called an important historical document by auctioneers Sotheby's, the FT said.

Sheffield FC is the world's oldest football club, formed in 1857.

The archive is being taken to Paris, New York and Doha before auction.

"It reflects the fact that football is now truly a global game," said Gabriel Heaton, senior specialist in Sotheby's books department, the FT reported.

'No hacking or tripping'

The pamphlet introduces laws of the game that still exist, such as the indirect free kick, the corner kick and the use of a crossbar.

Another rule states: "Pushing with the hands is allowed but no hacking or tripping is fair under any circumstances whatsoever."

Dr Heaton said although the game was already being played in private schools and Cambridge university, under a variety of different rules, the Sheffield document introduced innovations and removed the game from the elite educational establishment for the first time.

Sheffield FC chairman Richard Tims said the decision to sell the archive was a "tough" one, but had been taken to secure the club's future, the FT reported.

Mr Tims said the decision to sell the archive was sparked by the sale at Sotheby's New York last December of an 1891 document spelling out the rules of basketball for $4.3m, more than double its pre-sale estimate.

"If you are looking for a piece of footballing history, this is the ultimate prize," he said.

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