The purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate football club financial reporting with reference to: the long-standing debate on the nature and purpose of accounting; and the implementation of UEFA's Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
The paper is based on a review and analysis of academic literature, accounting regulation and football regulations.
The focus of financial reporting on rational economic decision-makers results in football club financial reports being of limited use to many football club stakeholders. Consideration of the social and organisational context of football, as takes place in FFP, can be used as a catalyst to consider broader approaches to football club reporting. The paper calls for fuller and different pictures to be provided of clubs’ performance, in particular broadening the scope of accountability to users beyond that provided by an economic account.
The paper is designed to stimulate debate about accounting for and reporting on football club businesses. A necessary next step is an exploratory project, focusing on one or a small number of clubs and their stakeholders, exploring in a practical setting what enhanced football club reporting might look like.
While the weaknesses of financial reporting have been considered extensively in the mainstream accounting literature and on occasion in terms of sport, the paper seeks to progress this discussion by linking it to significant football policy initiatives and to wider social and community-based football research.
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