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    Sustainability in football: the community ownership model

    Irving, Richard (2023) Sustainability in football: the community ownership model. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    In 2000, when football clubs in England and Wales faced an unprecedented number of administrations, the New Labour government set up the organisation Supporters Direct to oversee the formation of supporters’ trusts with the ultimate aim of taking over football clubs and running them for and on behalf of fans. Since then, almost fifty clubs have entered into such community ownership. This study furthers our understanding by examining whether the community model of ownership in football is sustainable. By using sustainability as its key criteria, it examines the model’s place in the mutual and co-operative movement, constructs a multi-level framework using macro, meso and micro level factors to better understand the sustainability of the model and frame the analysis of the impediments to the model’s future development. Through thematic analysis of the interview data and secondary documents, the thesis discovered that the sustainability of the model depends on a number of factors relating to those societal, organisational and individual levels identified from the interviews carried out which, if satisfied, should lead to its further development in the game. The work covers a series of events within the supporters’ movement, including the merger of its two main organisations and key events in the governance of the game including the demise of Bury FC and the proposals by the “Big Six” clubs for a breakaway from the top of the game to form a European Super League. With the timely establishment of the UK government’s Fan-Led Review of the governance of football, the study highlights the need for greater regulation to assist the community owned model which, at the start of the project, appeared to be extremely unlikely and concludes that with the addition of government regulation in the sport, the supporters’ trust model is undoubtedly a way forward for the game.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2023 14:50
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 16:05


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