Developing CSR in professional football clubs: Drivers and phases

Dimitrios Kolyperas*, Stephen Morrow, Leigh Sparks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-195
Number of pages19
JournalCorporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2015


  • Corporate governance
  • CSR
  • Football clubs
  • Organizational change
  • Sports
  • Stakeholders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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