The Effective Implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility Policy in English Football

The Effective Implementation of  Corporate Social Responsibility Policy in English Football

Wednesday 7th October 2010 at 6pm
Medawar Lankaster Lecture Theatre (University College London),
Malet Place, (off Torrington Place),
London WC1
(For directions please see the pdf map).

Given by:
Steve Sutherland, Sports Industry Strategy Consultant


The decision by FC Barcelona to enter into an innovative shirt sponsorship deal with UNICEF threw into sharp relief the growing utilisation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes by football clubs in their strategic marketing programmes. During his tenure as Commercial Director of Charlton Athletic FC Steve Sutherland was widely acknowledged as one the key architects of possibly the most innovative CSR programme of any English football club, notably in helping to establish the Charlton Athletic Community Trust. Having left Charlton in May 2009 to develop a business as an Independent Sports Industry Strategy Consultant. Steve retains his links with Charlton through his role as Chairman of the Trust’s Women’s and Girls Football Committee and the ground-breaking ‘Street Violence Ruins Lives Committee. Charlton Athletic has a proud history of developing projects that can deliver positive messages, that are sustainable, and that demonstrate real and positive social impact whilst assisting the club to build its fanbase. Steve is firm in his belief that football clubs have a duty to try to make a meaningful contribution to the community from which they draw their support

In this presentation Steve will discuss why he believes that it is vital for football to attract sponsors who want to do more than just place perimeter boards around the pitch and enjoy fine-dining in the match day restaurants and projects. He will use practical examples, such as the Charlton Athletic Community Trust’s ‘Street Violence Ruins Lives’ campaign, to illustrate his argument. Critically, he will demonstrate that football clubs, by working more closely with sport business partners, can develop their own corporate social responsibility strategies and, hopefully, unlock other important sources of funding for sporting organisations and their community operations. In doing so he aims to demonstrate that the strategic development of CSR programmes has a significant role to play in assisting clubs build their brands and fanbases whilst making a real contribution to the social wellbeing of their local communities.

Steve will conclude by illustrating how best practice developed at Charlton can be transferred into other sports, for example through his work with the British amateur boxing association to whom he acts as a Commercial Consultant; and his work as a trustee with Greenwich Starting Blocks – the charity established to support talented young Greenwich-based athletes realize their Olympic dream.



Steve Sutherland has worked in professional football for twenty-one years, making his name at Charlton Athletic in the late 80’s before moving on to spend 8 years as the Marketing Executive of The Football League. His achievements at The League included being part of a two man team who sourced and negotiated Endsleigh Insurance’s and Nationwide Building Society’s title sponsorships of the Football League Championship and Auto Windscreens’ sponsorship of the cup competition for the First and Second Division teams.

In 1998 Steve accepted an offer to become the Commercial Director of Swindon Town, being appointed joint Chief Executive shortly afterwards. In 1999 Steve left Swindon to become a Sports Marketing Consultant. After 12 successful months working with clients such as The First Artist Corporation, English Partnerships, Auto Windscreens and One 2 One, Steve came full circle when he re-joined Charlton Athletic in 2000 as Assistant to Peter Varney, the club’s Chief Executive.

In 2005, alongside Peter Varney and in association with Charlton Athletic Community Trust, Steve sourced and negotiated the biggest sponsorship in Charlton’s history with Spanish property giants Llanera. In October 2006, Steve was appointed Commercial Director and in summer 2008 he negotiated the club’s deal with JD Sports for season 2008/09. Steve left Charlton in May 2009, establishing Steve Sutherland Sports Marketing in order to offer the benefits of his considerable experience and expertise to a wider audience.

Contact Details


Birkbeck Sport Business Seminar Series Contact Details

For further details on the seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763


View all Events