Accessibility and Disability CSR policies in Football: the case of Manchester United FC

A seminar as part of the Sport Business Centre Seminar Series

Given by: Dr. Juan L. Paramio-Salcines, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain

Lankaster Lecture Theatre (University College London – UCL)
Medawar Building
Malet Place (off Torrington Place)
London WC1
Monday 21st October 2013 at 6pm

For directions click here

This event will operate under “Chatham House Rules” – no external reporting without the permission of the speaker.

Attendance is free and open to all.

  • To view a Dr. Paramio-Salcines’s presentation from the event click here.


As in other industry sectors, there is now a great deal of consensus that in the twenty-first century, all types of sports organizations offer an appropriate context for developing and implementing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) approach. Therefore, football clubs, as this case study of Manchester United will demonstrate, cannot ignore CSR given that this managerial concept has gradually been integrated with strategic management and corporate governance. In this vein, football clubs have to implement CSR within their activities and programs without losing their competitive advantage.

According to stakeholder theory, a useful framework with which to conceptualize sport and CSR, the point is made that sports organizations should recognize the interests of a wide range of constituents that have a stake in the organization. It has gradually been acknowledged that those football clubs, like Manchester United, who want to present themselves as socially responsible organizations should pay greater attention and act responsibly towards a wide variety of issues, including those of human capital, the environment and relations with different stakeholders as in the case of Supporters with Disabilities (SwD). However there is no universal agreement on what areas professional football clubs in Europe can be involved in when developing and implementing CSR initiatives (Paramio-Salcines, Babiak & Walters, 2013). As indicated above, promoting accessible environments to SwD to stadia should not be considered isolated or ‘ad hoc’ practices (Paramio, Campos & Buraimo, 2012; Paramio-Salcines & Kitchin, 2013), but instead accessibility and disability must be conceived as a fundamental value embedded within the club.

In trying to further theoretical development of CSR by incorporating the views of practitioners, this presentation focuses on the case of Manchester United, one of the most prestigious football clubs worldwide in terms of sporting and financial performance. However, less well acknowledged is the way that the club has implemented a wide range of accessibility services and procedures for spectators with disabilities (SwD) at Old Trafford which has been a central part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy. The presentation draws on the first-hand views and long-term experience of Phil Downs, MBE, one of the pioneers in this area and currently in charge of the operation for all Manchester United events and services for disabled fans at Old Trafford. As part of the evolution over the period 1980-2013, the presentation discusses how the club has succeeded in translating the issue of accessibility for spectators with disabilities (SwD), who are valued in this process as significant stakeholders of the club, from a charitable and philanthropic activity, to their current consideration as a strategic management practice of the club. Finally, the expected benefits of the incorporation of accessibility to the business culture and practices of the club are also considered.


Dr. Juan L. Paramio-Salcines is a Senior Lecturer in Sport Management and Leisure Studies at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain. He has a PhD in Sport Management from the University of Loughborough after completing an MA in Sport Management at Complutense University of Madrid. His main research interests include sport facilities and event management, commercial development and accessibility provision of stadiums, the economic impact of sport events, and CSR in sport. His work has been published in Sport and Society, Soccer and Society, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Urban Affairs, and Sport Management Review.


Paramio-Salcines, J.L., and Kitchin, P (2013) Institutional perspectives on the implementation of disability legislation and services for Spectators with Disabilities in European professional football, Sport Management Review, 16(3): 337-348

Paramio-Salcines, J.L., Babiak, K., Walters, G (eds) (2013) The Routledge Handbook of Sport and Corporate Social Responsibility, London: Routledge

Contact details

For further details on this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763


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