Persistent rumors are prevalent in Bethlehem, and apparently have invaded other soccer confines, referring to fabulous sums being offered Bethlehem Steel soccer players by clubs in the English league. The first reports of this nature were heard in Bethlehem several weeks ago, and it is known that overtures were made to one of the players to return to England.
That this rumor is not confined locally but apparently is being given widespread publicity is indicated in a query received here this morning from Philadelphia, asking the confirmation of the report that an English soccer team has offered $15,000 to Bethlehem players.
Harold Brittan, the flashy center forward, is the individual with the local club who, it is said, is being sought by the English club. This fact became known several weeks ago when it was learned that the Chelsea team, of the English League, a team with which Brittan starred at inside forward before he entered the service, had offered inducements to him to return. It is not known if any other players were included.
Brittan relinquished his services with the Chelsea club to participate in the world war and went through three and one-half years of service. After his discharge, it is understood, effort was made to retain him, but he had already made up his mind to come to America. In this motive he was inspired by the fact that his mother, brothers and relatives had already migrated to this country and were located in Philadelphia. The local management apparently were wised as to his intentions and immediately signed him as a member of the Steel Workers.
The terms offered Brittan, it is understood, was a benefit game if he would return. This would be equivalent to about five and seven thousand dollars. In England it is a custom for the clubs to recognize the period of service of the players, and after being a member of any team for five years, the player is entitled to a benefit game. In these games he is allowed the privilege of selecting his league opponent and is the sole benefactor of the receipts which quite often are swelled by personal contributions of big soccer moguls.
This offer was held under consideration by Brittan for more than a week, when he finally decided to ignore it and assured the Bethlehem management that he would remain a Steel Worker for this season at least. Friends of Brittan say that he likes the American habits and will, in all likelihood, locate here permanently. If any later offers have been made by the Chelsea club, or any other one in the English League, it is not known.
When interviewed this morning, one of the officials of the Bethlehem team stated that if recent offers for the players were made it was news to him. He did, however, confirm that such has been the case with Brittan several weeks ago, but that he knew of no other players being involved, and doubted very much if they were. This official stated further that Brittan appeared to be perfectly satisfied with the conditions here and that he was confident he would remain with the Bethlehem club to the end of the season.
The only other player involved would probably be Robert Bethune. However, this is not likely since Bethune, since joining the Bethlehem team, is participating in his first senior games. He is a native of Scotland and before coming to this country, experienced four years in the service.