CEO perspectives on the first twenty-five years of Football in the Community: Challenges, developments and opportunities

Alan Sanders, Marc Keech, Daniel Burdsey, Pam Maras, Amy Moon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This paper explores the perceptions of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) at Football in the Community (FitC) organisations associated with English professional football clubs regarding developments and changes over the 25 years since their inception. Of interest was how the schemes might/might not reflect the original underpinning ethos, aims, and intended outcomes. Methodology/approach: Ten CEOs participated in interviews designed to explore their perceptions of the challenges, developments, and opportunities in the industry over 25 years. Findings: Thematic analysis revealed four main issues facing the sector: security and sustainability of delivery and funding; the importance of growth and diversification; engagement with multiple agendas and agencies; “professionalisation” of the workforce; and brand values and awareness. For CEOs, success of their schemes was measured both in terms of financial security of programmes and social impact within the community. Practical implications: The sustainability of FitC schemes is inextricably linked to the success of organisations, contributing to social policy objectives. Research contribution: Through the identification of strategic and organisational factors that have underpinned the development and outcomes of FitC, the paper addresses the gap in the literature by considering the perspectives of CEOs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-21
Number of pages15
JournalManaging Sport and Leisure
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Managing Sport and Leisure on 29/05/2020, available online:


  • Community engagement
  • football in the community
  • social inclusion
  • sport for development


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