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English professional football clubs: Can business parameters of small and medium-sized enterprises be applied?Purpose ‐ In the last two decades sports studies and sports management journals have called for there to be research in sports management that explores sports links to mainstream management analyses. The purpose of this paper is to argue that in many ways the sports sector is dominated by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), which have a different dynamic to larger entities and therefore should be analysed accordingly. This paper applies an SME perspective on English professional football clubs. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This paper, drawn from 22 semi-structured interviews with key individuals in the English professional football (soccer) industry, employs an interpretivist approach of semi-structured interviews of key personnel to provide an account of the business practices prevalent in the English football industry. Findings ‐ The findings are as follows: that the sports industry can be regarded as one that is largely constituted of elements that are ascribed with characteristics associated with SMEs called archetypal SMEs, either in entity size, turnover or mentality; that much analysis of the administration and management of the sports industry fails to assess the sector through the prism of SME "modelling"; there are areas of engagement with SME literature that could be useful to the analysis of the management of the sports industry. Originality/value ‐ This paper does what few other papers have achieved by outlining that the sports industry can be effectively examined by applying "SME perspectives" to help explain what might appear to be their idiosyncratic characteristics.