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Abstract

Today, the United Kingdom’s multi-billion dollar soccer industry is driven by global interest, lucrative advertising and television contracts, and sports betting. Furthermore, the creation of the Premier League in 1992 shows the sport is not just a game, but rather a way of life. Yet over a half-century earlier the United Kingdom began their recovery process in the aftermath of World War II, with London in particular in physical and emotional ruin. Given the important role soccer has played in British society throughout the sport’s history, it is crucial to pinpoint the exact social and economic role of the sport within the context of one of the most critical periods of British history: the post-war, Cold War era. Although the Marshall Plan and other international aid helped London in the recovery process, domestic non-political assistance was still needed. This recovery process was far from rapid as stadiums were damaged and players were slow to return from military service, resulting in a period of several years for the sport to begin to aid in the recovery process. As time passed however, soccer served as part of this non-political assistance providing a major social and economic boost, exemplified by the economic opportunity the sport presented while serving as a social outlet for those hurt by the war. Therefore by looking at the sport through a historic lens as seen through documents, club programs, newspapers and attendance and financial records of London’s soccer clubs during the period in question, soccer’s influence on 20th century British history can be determined and the overarching impact of sport in society can be understood further.

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