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Sponsorship in Grassroots Football

Hindmarsh, M (2020) Sponsorship in Grassroots Football. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Sponsorship and football have had a lucrative love affair since the mid-late 1970’s that has witnessed unparalleled growth in investment over the past five decades. Yet outside of the professional game, the grassroots level continues to encounter increasing financial difficulties whereby clubs are required “to do more with less” as a result of the current volatile economic climate they find themselves in. Research across Europe highlights how non-profit community sport clubs are increasingly attempting to attract other forms of income such as sponsorship to diversify revenue and improve their financial sustainability, ultimately aiding them to deliver recreational and competitive sport to their members. However, little practical guidance supporting those responsible for managing sponsorship in grassroots football exists, with few studies investigating sponsorship in the community football setting despite its importance. Against this context, the thesis initially explored the academic coverage directed to grassroots sport sponsorship before empirically examining the landscape (i.e. how sponsorship is defined; motivations to sponsorship; how sponsorship is managed; the barriers to its implementation; and the factors crucial to its success) of football sponsorship at the grassroots level in North-West England (NWE). From this research, the study aimed to propose a sponsorship process model that both non-profit community football clubs (NCFCs) and small-medium sized enterprise (SME) sponsors could adopt to facilitate an effective deal at the grassroots level. To address the study’s aim and objectives, initially, a systematic review of literature pertaining to grassroots sport sponsorship was carried out. From this, the study employed a three phased mixed methods research design to empirically explore grassroots football sponsorship. Phase 1 consisted of interviews with 10 practitioners from NCFCs and SMEs engaged in sponsorship, recruited through a mixture of sampling techniques under a purposive criterion-based sampling strategy. Phase 1 findings led to the development of an online survey which was circulated via social media and gained 100 NCFC and 17 SME sponsor responses (phase 2). The triangulation of the study’s findings subsequently provided the foundation for the development of an initial sponsorship process model. Phase 3 then adopted a two-pronged attack in which repeat interviews with those from phase 1 (9 out of 10 practitioners) assessed the model initially constructed. The model was then refined and subsequently subject to a further stage of validation in the form of a focus group with three football officers in a county football association, culminating in a final version of the process model being developed. The study illustrated managing sponsorship in grassroots football comprised of nine stages from inception to end of agreement. Practitioners tended to approach sponsorship in an ad-hoc, informal, and relaxed manner whereby tasks were executed with celerity. Tasks and decisions during the process were found to be dependent on the organisations motivations for engaging in sponsorship as well as being influenced by the wider local to international climate (i.e. socio and political-economic environment; organisation reputation). Further, to ensure a successful sponsorship, both parties viewed four factors as needing to be maintained (trust; club satisfaction; respect; and honesty) with the NCFC listing two more (realistic expectations; and commitment). In contrast, for the SME sponsor, greater focus was found to be required on commitment, transparency, and reciprocity, while communication was revealed as needing concentration for the NCFC. Overall, this thesis makes significant contribution to the research field because it is the first, and to date only piece of work to explore football sponsorship at the grassroots level in the UK. Further, it is also the first study to create a sponsorship process model that reflects the practices carried out by practitioners in grassroots football team sponsorship from beginning to end. Practitioners ought to adopt or adapt the process model built from this research if they wish to enhance their relationship. Yet as this study evaluates the process model conceptually, further research which assesses its application in practice is prudent.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Grassroots Sport; Sponsorship; Management; Small-Medium Sized Enterprises; Non-profit Community Football; Motivations; Critical Success Factors
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5410 Marketing. Distribution of Products
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Doctoral Management Studies (from Sep 19)
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2020 10:02
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 00:50
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00013899
Supervisors: Nixon, S, Hayton, J and Murphy, R
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13899
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