PurposeExisting studies of the finance of English Association Football (soccer) have tended to focus on the sport’s early years, or on the post-1992 Premiership era. The authors examine a case from the turbulent 1980s charting the struggle for economic survival of one club in a rapidly changing financial, economic, political and demographic landscape. The purpose of this paper is to examine not only the financial management of a football club during this time, but also the interventionist role of the local authority during this turbulent period.Design/methodology/approachThe authors investigate the financial difficulties of a sport business, Middlesbrough Football and Athletic Company Limited, examining the broader economic context, drawing on unseen archival sources dating from the 1980s to analyze the relationship between club, local and national government and the regional economy.FindingsThey not only examine the financial management of the football club but also analyse the interventionist role of the local authority in supporting the club which had symbolic value for the local community.Practical implicationsThis paper is relevant to policymakers interested in the provision of local sports facilities and the links between elite sport and participation.Originality/valueThe authors show that professional sports clubs are driven by a different institutional logic to state organizations and the findings enable them to define these differences, thereby refining Thornton et al.’s (2012) typology of institutional orders. Furthermore, the case study highlights practices involving informal partnership between state and sport that the authors label as shadow hybridity.
Journal of Management History – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 9, 2018
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