“Football and its Communities: where next?”

The Business of Sport – Seminar Series

Room G01 – Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1 7HX

Wednesday  5th December 2007 at 6pm
(For directions click here)

“Football and its Communities: where next?”

Given by:

Dr Adam Brown, of Substance – the social research company specialist in the areas of sport, youth inclusion and community regeneration.


This presentation is based a major three-year research project (2002-2005) for the English Football Foundation entitled Football and its Communities. The Final report of this research was released in August 2006.

The research is concerned with the relationship between English professional football clubs and ‘communities’ of various types, and the ways in which individual football clubs and the English football industry more generally can respond to new community development agendas. There are a number of long-standing discourses of ‘community’ operating in and around the English football industry which have influenced the development of club-based community programmes. These have frequently been ill-defined and have resulted in confused understandings of who football clubs’ ‘communities’ are, and the multi-faceted relationships that clubs have with these groups. This presentation will outline the broad findings of the research and key recommendations made to clubs, the Football Foundation, football more generally and government.

However, the paper will also update this research with an overview of how things have moved on since the research was launched; how football has responded to new challenges; and the roles that supporters might play in developing football’s communities.

In particular, the presentation focuses on:

  • Rethinking and mapping ‘communities’ in football.
  • Rhetoric and approaches to community work and community clubs – is football getting it right?
  • The role of supporters.


  • Brown, A, Crabbe, T and Mellor, G (2006) Football and Its Communities: Final report for the Football Foundation, London: Football Foundation.
  • Brown, A, Crabbe, T and Mellor, G (Autumn 2006) ‘English Football and its Communities’, in International Review of Modern Sociology, Canada, York University.
  • Delanty, G. (2003). Community. London: Routledge.
  • Bale, J. (2000). The Changing Face of Football: Stadiums and Communities. In Garland, J., Malcolm, D. & Rowe, M. (Eds.), The future of football: Challenges for the twenty first century. London: Frank Cass.
  • Bale, J. (1994). Landscapes of Modern Sport. Leicester: Leicester University Press.
  • Crabbe, T. and Brown, A. (2004) ‘You’re Not Welcome Anymore: The football crowd, class and social exclusion’, in Wagg, S. (ed.) British Football and Social Exclusion. London: Routledge.
  • Football Association (2001) The Football Development Strategy 2001-2006. London: The Football Association.
  • Football Task Force (1999) Investing in the Community: A Report by the Football Task Force. London: HMSO.
  • Smith, J. & Ingham, A. (2003) ‘On the Waterfront: Retrospectives on the Relationship Between Sport and Communities’, Sociology of Sport Journal, 20: 252-274.
  • Watson, N. (2000) ‘Football in the Community: ‘What’s the Score’’, Soccer and Society, 1, 1: 114-125

For further details on this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil

Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Email:  or Tel: 020-7631 6763

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