The Football Industry in 2003: How Football’s New Commercialism Turned Sour

The Football Industry in 2003:
How Football’s New Commercialism Turned Sour

A seminar at the Room 203,
Clore Management Centre,
University of London,
Malet Street,
London WC1E 7HX

6 – 8pm, Monday 16th June 2003

Given by:

Mr David Conn, Author & Journalist


It is now six years since David Conn’s best-selling The Football Business: Fair Game in the 90s? was first published. The book appeared at the peak of the post-Euro96 eurphoria which engulfed English football as the full extraordinary financial fruits of the second BSkyB television deal began to wash over the game. In The Football Business Dave Conn was almost alone among informed commentators in highlighting that, far from enhancing the long-term future of the English game, this sudden influx of wealth was actually de-stabilising it’s financial health. In particular he analysed how the rush to capitalise on football’s new found fashionability by targeting `new’ higher income fans at the expense of the `traditional’ lower income fan base ran the risk of destroying the special place of football in the cultural life of the country – the very wellspring of its financial power – as traditional fans were priced out of grounds never to return.

In this lecture David, drawing on his weekly column on football finance in The Independent newspaper, reviews events in the English football business over the last six years first asking the fundamental question; if football had, in the words of former Prime Minister Harold MacMillan on the 1950s economic boom, `never had it so good’, then how could such a benign environment have changed so quickly? He will then speculate on where the game goes from here.


  • Conn, D. (1997). The Football Business: Fair Game in the ’90s?. Edinburgh: Mainstream.Conn, D. (1999). `The New Commercialism’, in: Hamil, S. et al. A Game of Two Halves: the business of football. Edinburgh: Mainstream, pp. 40-55.
  • David Conn’s weekly column on football finance in The Independent newspaper
    •  Independent Sport: Football, 01 March 2003, `Fans face prospect of finding finance for move to new ground after Third Division outfit lose Bootham Crescent’.
    • Independent Sport: Football, 22 February 2003,`Leicester’s tax deal indicates easier way out for crisis clubs’.
    • Independent Sport: Football, 12 April 2003, `Boardroom exodus follows Football Association financial report highlighting ‘deeply disturbing’ practices at League’s basement club’.
    • Independent Sport: Football, 15 February 2003, `Overspending, relegation, transfer-market collapse and ITV Digital débâcle prove a financial disaster for Suffolk club’.
    • Independent Sport : Football, 16 November 2002, `Newcastle chairman is awarded 440 per cent pay rise as fellow director receives payments via Gibraltar connection’.
    • Independent Sport: Football, 24 August 2002, `FA Commission was against creation of AFC Wimbledon and too keen to appease football investors in move to MK’.
    • Independent Sport: Football, 17 August 2002, `Need for tighter club ownership regulations is highlighted as hunt goes on across the Atlantic for fugitive Tollman’.

For further details contact:

Sean Hamil on or tel: 020-7631 6763

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