Crystal Palace claim they are oldest professional football club after discovering history back to 1861

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Crystal Palace have staked their claim to the title of the oldest professional football club in existence.

Research carried out by author Peter Manning on behalf of the club has discovered a link to a cricket and football club formed in 1861, a year before Notts County - currently recognised as the oldest professional club by the Football Association, which evolved to become the club we know today.

Palace research claims that there is a direct lineage between the two sides through their ownership by the Crystal Palace Company, who owned and managed the Palace moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham in 1854.

When formed in 1861, as an amateur outfit playing outside of the cricket season in order for the players to keep fit, they played their games at the renamed Crystal Palace park and reached the semi-finals of the first ever FA Cup, defeated in a replay by the Royal Engineers.

While originally formed as a amateur side, Palace claim that the lineage discovered means the two are one and the same club and therefore should be recognised as the oldest professional side still in existence.

"The Crystal Palace was the world’s first major theme park," said Manning. "It was owned and run by the Crystal Palace Company. Everything within the Palace and its grounds was part of the Crystal Palace’s and the Crystal Palace Company’s business, including the Crystal Palace Cricket Club, set up in 1857, the emergence of the football club in 1861, through to the setting up and the taking of a majority share stake in the professional football club in 1905.

"Without the Crystal Palace and the Crystal Palace Company there would have been no Crystal Palace Football Club. It was always one club and always part of the Crystal Palace Company’s business. As the founding of the football club dates back to 1861, it can claim to be the oldest professional league club in the world."

The Eagles have filmed a 17 minute video which has been presented to the FA. Sheffield FC are recognised as the first ever football club but were never professional.

(Crystal Palace Football Club)
(Crystal Palace Football Club)

Palace chairman, Steve Parish, said: "As a lifelong supporter of Crystal Palace, it’s amazing that we have a legitimate claim to be the oldest professional league club still in existence, that we were in the very first FA meetings, and that our history dates all the way back to the Victorian cricketers of 1861 at the Palace even involving the great W.G. Grace.

"I would like to thank Peter Manning for the incredible work he has undertaken researching the definitive history of the club. It’s a fascinating tale and one I hope supporters will very much enjoy seeing brought to life in this film."

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