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Developing CSR in professional football clubs: drivers and phases

Dimitrios Kolyperas (Management school, Stirling University, Stirling, UK)
Stephen Morrow (School of Sports, Stirling University, Stirling, UK)
Leigh Sparks (University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 7 April 2015




The purpose of this paper is to advance the understanding of how corporate social responsibility (CSR) develops within professional football clubs, along with its organizational implications, phases, drivers and barriers for corporate governance, given that professional football organizations have become particularly strong socio-political business institutions, often home to numerous social and business relationships. Additionally it aims to consider CSR development generally drawing specifically on examples from Scottish professional football while answering two key research questions: what kind of drivers do clubs identify as reasons to develop CSR? and Can developmental phases be identified during this process?


The paper builds on a qualitative case study methodology that draws on primary and secondary data collected across 12 Scottish Premier League (SPL) football clubs. Three stages of data collection were set out including interviews, Web content analysis and annual/CSR reports analysis.


This research highlights internal and external drivers of change in Scottish football clubs along with institutional barriers and organizational (developmental) phases of CSR and corporate governance.

Research limitations/implications

This research is limited on the CSR development across the 12 SPL clubs.


The paper is the first to consider CSR in professional football clubs from a developmental point of view. Six phases of CSR development are identified and defined – volunteering, regulation, socialization, corporatization, separation and integration – and implications for football and general corporate governance are presented.



Kolyperas, D., Morrow, S. and Sparks, L. (2015), "Developing CSR in professional football clubs: drivers and phases", Corporate Governance, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 177-195.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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