Social Value

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The Social and Community Value of Football

In 2008 Supporters Direct commissioned the social research specialists Substance to conduct a research project about the social and community value of football. The purpose was to understand better how clubs interact with and provide value to their communities.

The wider social value of football clubs beyond their community departments has often been discussed but there had been little evidence to back it up. The research was intended to enable clubs to provide evidence by the adoption of a tailored methodology to back this position up.

The specific aims of the research were to:

  • Investigate ways in which we might measure or account for the social and community ‘value' of football clubs
  • Identify evidence of the added value alternative fan or community ownership structures might bring
  • Outline how the community roles of football clubs relate to wider regulatory issues.

In summary the research was broader than just assessing the community programmes delivered by clubs or their charitable arms as it took a holistic view of all the club's operations and relationships with key stakeholders to understand how clubs delivered value and what may help or hinder the value produced. For example would the inclusion of supporters in the decision making processes at the club help increase a club's social value?

The project was focused on England but has relevance across football and indeed sport.

Three Phase Approach

The research consisted of three phases:

Phase 1 explored ways in which the social and community impacts of organisations can be assessed and how these might be applied to football clubs. It concluded with the identification of a methodology for a social audit. The audit can both measure a club's impact in various areas and also be used as a management tool to be re-visited annually.

Phase 2 tested both the Social Audit and other approaches with a qualitative survey of 10 clubs anonymously and four in depth case studies

Phase 3 is the dissemination of the report's finding and recommendations.


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