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"The club on the hill": Footballing place as an arena for sustainable and ethical action

Samuel, Anthony ORCID:, McGouran, Cathy, Thomas, Robert J., Reginald, Gareth and White, Terrence 2022. "The club on the hill": Footballing place as an arena for sustainable and ethical action. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal 25 (5) , pp. 570-584. 10.1108/QMR-01-2022-0015

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Purpose Places have deep-seated meaning and serve to shape our social grouping and practices. Sporting stadia are a highly influential aspect of many people’s lives that drive the inexorable journey towards team affiliation, immersive experiences, intense loyalty and the creation of an enduring, local identity. This paper aims to explore how the nature of a sporting place has been shaped to change the practice of football as a sport, as a business and as entertainment. This paper uncovers how Forest Green Rovers (FGR) differentiates itself from the historical and socio-economic roots of football and uses numerous novel sustainability initiatives to re-imagine a new type of football place, club and fandom. Design/methodology/approach Over a two-year period, the authors used multiple data collection methods, engaging in participant observation, interviews and focus groups, at FGR and related events. A thematic data analysis was conducted to pinpoint and extract key areas surrounding the unique structures, practices and reinforced behaviours that have developed in FGR. Findings The findings show that FGR’s place operates as a central location through which stakeholders, ideas, resources and practices have been disrupted and re-imagined around the principles of sustainability. This fundamental shift in FGR’s place, changing its composition, character and reach, means that FGR can be conceptualised as a novel place synonymous with new global social movements. Originality/value This study presents unique insights into the world’s first socially and environmentally conscious football club. This study examines the construction and operation of the place that facilitates its actions which go beyond what has been seen and maybe expected from commercial sporting institutions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 1352-2752
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 June 2022
Date of Acceptance: 1 June 2022
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 03:41

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