“It’s an old saying – but you judge it all by the league table” – Impression management in football club financial reporting

“It’s an old saying – but you judge it all by the league table” – Impression management in football club financial reporting

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

Wednesday 19th October at 6pm

Given by:

Stephen Morrow, Department of Sports Studies, University of Stirling


In this paper Stephen focuses on two distinct facets of financial reporting in European football clubs: first, the increasing use of narrative communication in the financial reports of British clubs and, second, the effects of the so-called salva calcio decree in Italy . Introduced by the Italian government, the decree effectively permitted Italian clubs to amortise the asset of players’ registration rights over an arbitrary time period of ten years rather than over the length of a player’s contract, thus improving their reported financial position and performance. It is argued that both facets are forms of impression management, attempts to manage the impression a club makes on key audiences, and that they highlight the difficulty stakeholders and others face when trying to understand a football club’s financial results.

Stephen is Senior Lecturer in Sports Studies at the University of Stirling . His academic background is in accountancy and finance and he was a lecturer in these subjects at Heriot-Watt University , Edinburgh from 1990 until 2000. Stephen is a Chartered Accountant (ICAS) and trained with the international firm of accountants, Ernst & Young. Stephen’s research concentrates on financial aspects in sport, particularly in the football industry. He is the author of The People’s Game? Football, finance and society (Palgrave, 2003) and numerous academic papers in this area. In 2001 Stephen received one of the first FIFA Havelange Research Scholarships for his project ‘The Ownership and Governance of European Football Clubs.


  • Morrow, S. (2005, April). The Business of Football: Image Management in Narrative Communication . Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS).
  • Morrow, S. (2005), ‘The future of Scottish football’, in Hassan, G., Gibb. E. and Howland, L. (Eds.) Scotland 2020 (Demos: London ), pp. 175-184.
  • Morrow, S. (2005), ‘A critical analysis of the state of Scottish football: reasons, excuses, solutions’ in Magee, J., Bairner, A. and Tomlinson, A. (Eds.) The Bountiful Game? Football identities and finances (Meyer and Meyer Sport: Oxford )
  • Morrow, S. (2003). The People’s Game? Football, Finance and Society . Pal grave Macmillan.
  • Boyle, R.; Dinan, W., & Morrow, S. (2002). `Doing the Business? Newspaper reporting of the business of football’, Journalism , Vol. 3, No. 2, pages 161-181.
  • Morrow, S. (1999). The New Business of Football: Accountability and Finance in Football. Palgrave Macmillan.

For further details about this paper contact:

Stephen Morrow 
Department of Sports Studies
University of Stirling
Stirling ( Scotland ) FK9 4LA

Tel: 00 44 1786 466495
Fax: 00 44 1786 466919

For further details about this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil

Email: or Tel: 020-7631 6763

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