Education and welfare in professional football academies and centres of excellence: A sociological study
Lamb, Kevin L.
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AbstractA career as a professional footballer has long been regarded as a highly sought after occupation for many young males within the UK and, against this backdrop, since the 1970s increasing attention has come to be placed on the way young players are identified and developed within professional clubs. Particular concern has been expressed over the number of players who, having been developed by professional clubs, fail to secure a professional contract, and the ways in which clubs should help young players safeguard their futures through alternative career training. There, have, however, been very few studies that have analyzed the education and welfare provisions that are offered within professional football Academies and Centres of Excellence, and fewer still that have done this from a sociological perspective. By drawing upon the figurational sociology of Norbert Elias, concepts derived from symbolic interactionism, and existing work in the sociology of youth, the objective of this study is to examine the realities of young players' day-to-day working-lives, the experiences they have of the educational programmes they follow, and the welfare-related matters that arise within present-day Academies and CoE. Using data generated by self-completion questionnaires and focus groups with 303 players in 21 Academies and CoE in England and Wales, the findings of the study suggest that players continue to be socialized into a largely anti-academic culture that has traditionally underpinned the world of professional football, and in which the demonstration of a 'good attitude' and commitment to the more central members of players' interdependencies (especially coaches and managers) dominated all other concerns. Indeed, it was also clear that the deep-seated values players held in relation to the professional game as part of their individual and group habituses were shaped by the figurations into which they were born and had been developed during the more impressionable phases of childhood and youth. Players' welfare needs were significantly compromised by the strong degree of suspicion and obvious degree of mistrust that characterized their relationship with club management, which emanated from players' fears that confidential matters would always 'get back' to others inside the club. This was exacerbated, in almost all cases, by players' observations that they were treated as if they were 'bottom of the club' and whose welfare needs were not generally well understood by those working within Academies and CoE.
CitationPlatts, C., & Smith, A. (2009). Education and welfare provision in professional football academies in England: Some implications of the white paper on sport. International Journal of Sport Policy, 1(3), pp. 323-329
Platts, C., & Smith, A. (2010). 'Money, money, money?' The development of financial inequalities in English professional football. Soccer and Society, 11(5), pp. 643-658
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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