A report on CSR in the English Premier League

It feels like a long time since David Connor and I exchanged messages regarding a recent CSR report. Having been consumed with my new role at the Uni of Derby, research, life and a writing a chapter/case study on monitoring and evaluation in sport and CSR – I have found little time for this place!20120826-020412.jpg

The report is titled “It’s Not Just A Game: Community Work In The UK Football Industry And Approaches To Corporate Social Responsibility” by Heledd Jenkins and Laura James from the ESRC Centre at BRASS.

See the Full Report.

The what the report highlights is that these community orientated arms attached to football clubs often work and deliver separately to the operational priorities of the football club – where the main focus is on Saturday and 3 points!

These football community programmes are separated/independent organisations that operate successfully (mainly) without direct financial support from the football club. Whilst access to funding has been highlighted within the report (and will always be) a challenge, especially during this age of public spending austerity. However, football (and sport) will likely continue to be seen as a valuable (cost effective) option for community based social change projects. For football offers the potential to reach the most ‘at risk’ people in society, mass spectator appeal, plus many commissioners love football too…

It is during this time that community programmes need to maintain a strong line of defence. With both commissioners and funders wanting (and needing) more bang for their bucks! Community programmes will be asked to reach more people and make a bigger difference BUT with less funding. Therefore, despite being in the search to maintain a healthy spreadsheet community programmes must fight temptation to inflate outcomes to satisfy target obsessed commissioners/funders and champion realism in this difficult time!

The report highlights the lack of developmental support for community programmes and to add to the challenge we bestow on these these organisations, apparently they don’t do enough monitoring and evaluation! I guess we expect them to do this the evaluation themselves too (or squeeze into these tightened budgets for the inflated outcome driven projects?!).

I am pleased to know that the clubs I am working with are behind research and evaluation as a means to evidence their impact (thoroughly and independently) and support the development of practitioners/coaches at the front line of delivery work as effectively as possible.

So I reiterate comments made in my previous reflections  in that it is clear that football community programmes are up against it! They need more support! Heledd and Laura highlight football clubs are NOT strategically supporting football community programmes and ultimately failing to capture the full benefit of the ‘footballs best secret’ (although I think this secret may now be out!).

Moving forward I believe that government, commissioners and football clubs need to refocus their strategic support for these community programmes. With a view to dealing with the operational issues in skill base, lack of monitoring and evaluation, and begin to capitalise on the ‘real’ impact these programmes can make.

Check out David Connor’s article: What Do Premier League Football & Apple Have In Common? here > David Coethica’s Blog & follow him on twitter for useful and insightful CSR information and updates @davidcoethica

Please as always use the comments box below to tell me your opinions and your take on the issues I discuss.

Dan is a Lecturer in Physical Activity, Health and Management at the University of Derby who is involved in research in Football in the Community schemes across the English Premier League and English Football League, alongside a number of sport for social change projects. 


4 thoughts on “A report on CSR in the English Premier League

  1. Dan,
    Thank you for sharing this report with us. Heledd and Laura: what a fantastic job you did! very insightful, nicely presented and easy to read. Guess what? while validating one’s qualitative research findings is a ‘risky’ exercise, I dare to say Heledd and Laura’s findings are quite trustworthy. Not dissimilar findings from what Heledd and Laura offer us here (yet employing a slightly different methodological path), my soon-to-defend doctoral thesis (I hope my external examiners do not read this, or maybe is it a good thing 🙂 ) is about the social process of ‘Aspiring through Balancing Act” through which Community managers of the top 2 divisions in English football go through when making decisions on CSR-related programmes/issues. This social process is the result of 4 other micro-processes namely ‘Safeguarding’, ‘Harmonising’, ‘Manoeuvring’ and ‘Transcending’. Soon I will be in a position to share with all of you in a more detailed manner what this substantive theory is all about, but I am sure readers who meticulously go through Heledd and Laura’s report will be able to discern this emerged theory in the majority of the points the authors raise here.

    Heledd/Laura = super super job! very well done.
    Thank you Dan.


    • No worries Christos. Heledd and Laura will love your comments I am sure.
      On trustworthiness – I am a fan of what they have done for the process.
      We will have to get you to Derby to talk that one through!! Sounds like your almost finished – congrats mate.
      Speak soon

  2. Yes – been sitting on that for a while – I think it was the plate spinning at the back of the stage!

    Thanks Dave – all updated now…I should probably know that one by now!! 🙂

    Cheers & speak Wednesday, Dan.

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