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‘Be a game changer and keep the ball rolling’: exploring linkages between football clubs, charitable foundations and doing good

Noel Hyndman (Queen's University Management School, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK) (Durham University Business School, Durham, UK)
Mariannunziata Liguori (Durham University Business School, Durham, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 9 January 2023

Issue publication date: 5 March 2024




There has been limited research on why football clubs contribute to charity. This paper examines how football clubs and their charitable conduits report information when discussing their connectedness. In addition, it explores reasons why, and the extent to which, football clubs support altruism via such charitable vehicles.


Case studies of four major football teams (Manchester City/Manchester United in England and AC Milan/Inter Milan in Italy) are discussed, with formal reports of the clubs and their associated charitable conduits being analysed.


Boundaries between the clubs and their charitable conduits are frequently blurred. Evidence suggests that acknowledging the co-existence of different factors may help to understand what is reported by these organisations and address some of the caveats in terms of autonomy and probity of their activities and reporting practices.

Research limitations/implications

The research uses case studies of four major ‘powerhouses’ of the game and their associated charitable spinoffs. While this is innovative and novel, expanding the research to investigate more clubs and their charitable endeavours would allow greater generalisations.

Practical implications

The study provides material that can be used to reflect on the very topical subject of ‘sportswashing’. This has the potential to input to deliberations relating to the future governance of the game.


The paper explores relationships between businesses and charities/nonprofits in a sector so far little investigated from a charitable accountability perspective. It suggests that motives for engaging in charitable activity and highlighting such engagement may extend beyond normal altruism or warm-glow emotions.



Hyndman, N. and Liguori, M. (2024), "‘Be a game changer and keep the ball rolling’: exploring linkages between football clubs, charitable foundations and doing good", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 502-529.



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