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Business support in sport: strategy or serendipity?

Karen Bill (School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton, Walsall, UK)
Clare Rhoden (Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 25 October 2011




As a generalisation, the sports industry is a multifaceted, complex and diverse industry, perhaps making it difficult to offer business support and advice. This paper aims to identify and analyse, through sport and recreation business owners, their experience of business support and advice. The study can therefore be seen as contributing to related studies by Mole et al. and responding to Pawson and Tilley's request for a more nuanced view of how public‐support programmes work.


A qualitative, collective case study design is adopted. Three in‐depth semi‐structured interviews with Directors of Sport Businesses were undertaken to identify business support in the West Midlands Sports sector. Interviews focused on business development, the support and advice directors received and the future direction of their business. Interviews were analysed using inductive and deductive content analysis.


The findings from the case studies highlight a variety of general support and advice mechanisms, e.g. Women's Business Development Agency, with differences in regional provision evident. One strong emerging theme indicates that specialised business support occurs which appears critical but ad hoc.


This paper considers the specific business support needs in a largely unreported, yet growing sports sector (based upon a demand led inquiry) into existing providers and business recipients. These findings are pertinent for various organisations such as policy makers, small business support agencies, as well as sports businesses themselves; as they seek to both identify specific sector support needs and evaluate existing practice.



Bill, K. and Rhoden, C. (2011), "Business support in sport: strategy or serendipity?", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 821-832.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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