The utility of partnerships in English football development

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Since New Labour’s election in 1997, the British government sport policy has emphasised and rewarded partnerships and the pooling of resources across public, private and voluntary sectors. A partnership is defined as a coalition of organisations and individuals who agree to work together for a set of compatible aims (Civic trust 1999). Partnerships have become a primary organisational tool for achieving overlapping policy agendas for sport such as health, social inclusion and countering issues such as crime and youth disorder amongst many others. The emergence of such partnerships mirrors a shift from ‘government’ to ‘governance’(Rhodes 1997) whereby partnerships are a mechanism of governance in the formation of policy networks (Marsh and Smith 2001) specific to different political sectors and sub sectors such as sport development has become evident both conceptually and empirically. The British government’s strategy for sport has encouraged National Governing Bodies (NGBs) to modernise, and to contribute to the delivery of a broad government agenda for sport, from recreational to elite levels. This has involved a greater NGB responsibility for sport development programmes that had previously been the remit of national government initiatives or local authority provision. Such NGB involvement has largely been through the development, facilitation and support of partnerships with a range of educational, local government, private and voluntary providers in both delivering sports specific development initiatives, and upon implementation contributing to wider political agenda aims and rewarded through potential funding from various streams. This paper focuses upon research into the implementation of one such NGB sport development initiative, the Football Association’s Charter Standard Scheme. A policy network for football development is analysed in two case studies, one from a relatively affluent urban conurbation (Case Study A), and another from an area of England characterised by a high percentage of the population being of ethnic minorities and economic deprivation (Case Study B). Analysis of how and to what purpose partnerships are formed and utilised within the football development policy network is taken from two angles and compared across the two cases. The first is the formation of partnerships required to fulfil criteria to implement the scheme in gaining FA Charter Standard accreditation, the most predominant being school – club links. Gaining accreditation provides the basis upon which clubs and schools have greater access and appeal to other organisations such as charities, urban regeneration and development groups in order to attract funding for mutual benefits such as the building of facilities or the running of social inclusion initiatives, and is the second angle of focus.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Event14th European Association for Sport Management Congress - Nicosia, Cyprus
Duration: 6 Sept 20069 Sept 2006


Conference14th European Association for Sport Management Congress


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