Football – Big business, big government and the ‘big society’


  • 17/03/2011
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Since its appearance in the nineteenth century, organised sport has been one of the most visible expressions of the ‘big society’ – the provision of social goods by voluntary action independent of government – and is now at the centre of arguments about the supposed tension between this and market forces. The panel discussion will explore a range of important issues, including: the emergence and development of organised football as a classic example of the ‘big society’; the supposed contradiction between this and the recent commercialisation of football; and the increasing government involvement in football, both through the EU (such as by regulating players’ contracts and transfers) and domestically (through increasing interference in the Football Association). Through this prism the discussion will also examine the connections and conflicts between government power, commerce – for example through the sale of broadcasting rights – and voluntary social movements within football. Our panellists will also consider whether measures such as revenue sharing and salary caps are anti-market or part of the organised market structure of football.

Prof Chris Brady, Dean, BPP Business School
Dr Stephen Davies, Education Director, IEA
Prof J R Shackleton, Professor of Economics, University of East London
Prof Stefan Szymanski, Professor of Economics, Cass Business School
David Wheeldon, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, BSkyB

Ed Smith, Former England cricketer, Leader writer for The Times, and author of What Sport Tells Us About Life