“Football in England – do we get the game we deserve?”

The Business of Sport – Seminar Series

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

Wednesday  31st October 2007 at 6pm
(For directions click here)

“Football in England – do we get the game we deserve?”

Given by: Dave Boyle, Deputy Chief Executive, Supporters Direct


In this lecture, Dave Boyle, drawing on his experience at Supporters Direct and the FSF but here speaking in a personal capacity, will review the key developments  in the economics and governance of football in the UK, with a particular focus on the English game. First expressed as a concern over professional clubs paying players, the tension between football as a sport operating under its own rules, and football as a business has been a recurring issue of concern for as long as the game has been organised as a sport in England. Yet despite this, recent years have seen profound changes in the way the game has been run and the pressures driving its development which have started to reconfigure the relationship between sport and business. As a result of this, many have argued that the relationships between fans and clubs have changed, usually for the worse, and in some analyses, in a profound and long-term manner which will be difficult to undo. Is this the case, or more a case of plus ca change, plus ca meme chose?  Dave will analyse these changes and what is driving them and what the future might hold, and what, if anything, could divert the game from the path it seems to be travelling down.


For the last six years Dave Boyle has been a leading activist at the Supporters Direct organisation. Supporters Direct exists to promote and support the concept of democratic supporter ownership and representation through mutual, not-for-profit structures; to promote football clubs as civic and community institutions; to work to preserve the competitive values of league football in the United Kingdom and to promote the health of the game as a whole. Over 150 Supporters’ Trusts have been formed across England, Wales and Scotland, which have been involved in saving a club at 21 club. Trusts have brought around £14m of investment into the game and been joined by over 115,000 supporters. 43 have supporter representation within the boards of their football clubs and 61 trusts now hold equity within their football clubs, including majority ownership at 3 football league clubs (Brentford, Notts County and Stockport County) and 7 non-league clubs (Exeter City, AFC Wimbledon, AFC Telford, Newport (IOW), Enfield Town, Scarborough Athletic, FC United of Manchester and Clydebank). Without the efforts of Supporters Direct, there would not now be 92 professional clubs in England and Wales. It has been said that if one club were to be liquidated, it would start a domino effect – a major reason why this has not yet happened is through the efforts of the many Supporters’ Trusts advised by Supporters Direct.


Dave Boyle has worked for Supporters Direct for 6 years since its inception in 2000. He has helped fans set up supporters’ trusts at over 50 clubs, and has worked with fans involved in some of the major touchstone issues in the game in recent years, such as the move of Wimbledon to Milton Keynes and the takeover of Manchester United by Malcolm Glazer. He has responsibility for policy at Supporters Direct, and has written, amongst others, Supporters Direct’s submissions to the Burns Review of the FA and the Independent European Review of Sport.  He was first involved in the Football Supporters’ Association in 1999, and served as Vice-Chair, becoming Vice-Chair of the Football Supporter’ Federation in 2002 after the FSA merged with the National Federation of Supporter’ Clubs. He has represented supporter’s views in national and international print and broadcast media and has written for 442 Magazine and When Saturday Comes. He is also a member of the board of the Social Enterprise Coalition, and before working for Supporters Direct he worked in Higher Education and press and communications.


For further details contact:

Sean Hamil / Geoff Walters

Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Email: or Tel: 020-7631 6763 or Email:


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