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Examining accountability in relation to local football communities

John Edward Burns (Exeter Business School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK) (Business School, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway)
Stephen Jollands (Exeter Business School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK) (Business School, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 29 November 2022

83

Abstract

Purpose

Most football clubs were founded by members of the local community within which they are based. The success of a club is built on the time, effort and resources given by these locals, which is offered due to the benefits that football promises to the community in return. However, the game has increasingly been dominated by a focus on financial (monetary) value, at the expense of such benefits being delivered to the clubs' local communities. This article examines a need for deliberation over what accountability is owed by football clubs to their local communities in the context of questioning what and for whom football is for.

Design/methodology/approach

This exploration is undertaken within the context of the English game, where a series of issues has resulted in the UK Government undertaking a “fan led review of football governance”. The report produced by this review is analysed to understand whether the contents and recommendations enters the debate over what accountability is owed to local communities.

Findings

While the UK Government's fan led review recognises the pivotal role of local communities in the formation of the English game, its focus and resulting recommendations are mostly on the financial sustainability of the clubs. The analysis demonstrates that, due to their focus on financial value, the implementation of the report's recommendations is more likely to exacerbate the underlying issues rather than resolving them.

Originality/value

The call for deliberation over whether and what accountability is owed to local communities has been repeated over time. The UK Government's fan led review provided an important opportunity to engage in that deliberation. However, the dominance of financial value within football has all but silenced any call for and action regarding this.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful for comments from participants of the Soccer Society Workshop hosted by the University of Edinburgh and especially Per Ståle Knardal. The authors would also like to thank the three reviewers for taking their time to provide insightful and constructive comments.

Citation

Burns, J.E. and Jollands, S. (2022), "Examining accountability in relation to local football communities", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-05-2022-5811

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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