While corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities are well-established among football clubs, COVID-19 challenged clubs’ capacity and commitment to continue delivering in times of crisis. Focusing on Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) Premiership clubs and their charitable foundations, we examined challenges presented by restrictions and limited resources and how these impacted the decision making of CSR managers, as well as their prioritisation of projects undertaken. Qualitative research methods were applied in a two-step process. A content analysis drawing on publicly available resources provided a holistic overview of the CSR landscape in Scottish football. Subsequent semi-structured interviews with CSR managers of four clubs’ foundations offered detailed insights into crisis response. We found that resource limitations resulted primarily in operational rather than financial difficulties. To remain functional and consistent with their motives, foundations initiated new ways to address target groups’ social needs. Specifically, delivery shifted towards direct help and short-term support. While foundations continued to benefit from being associated with the parent football club, autonomy from the club was a critical success factor intensifying stakeholder relationships and community links. COVID-19-related disruptive factors resulted in more rapid decision making and greater empowerment of operational staff. Lessons learned have potential implications for CSR management post-pandemic.
- corporate social responsibility
- Resource dependency theory