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Football’s original rulebook joins works of Shakespeare and Magna Carta in British Library


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The original lawbook for the sport of football has been placed alongside the Magna Carta as one of the treasures of the British Library.

The FA Minute Book was compiled in 1863 and contains the 13 original laws of the game.

The Football Association have loaned the book to the Library as part of their 150th anniversary celebrations and it is part of the Library’s inaugural football display.

Jude England, head of social sciences at the British Library who curated the display in the Sir John Ritblat Treasures Gallery, said: "This is an iconic item. It's where the rules of football started before they spread round the world.

"To have it properly in terms of its social and historical importance is why it should be alongside items like the Magna Carta and Jane Austen's writing desk," she added.

The rulebook was handwritten by Ebeneezer Cobb Morley and documents the meetings of the FA's formation in October 1863 at the Freemasons' Tavern, London.

Cultural commentator Melvyn Bragg included the book in his 'Twelve Books that Changed the World' piece which was published in 2006.

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FA chairman Greg Dyke said at the unveiling: "This was the first time anyone had written down the rules of football. This is a really historic book.

"There are few things that changed the world, but as Melvyn said, this book changed the world.

"It’s a key part of our 150th anniversary. You can't underestimate the importance of this. If you look at the importance of football worldwide, it all started here.

"I think it's good that it'll go on display," England manager Roy Hodgson added. "It should be a very popular exhibit given the popularity of the sport. I guess in 1863 they wouldn't have been able to imagine the enormous power football now wields.

The book is valued at a colossal £2.5 million – which, these days, is not enough to buy most Premier League footballers.

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