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How stakeholders influence football clubs' strategy?

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par Eric Bailly
Staffordshire University (UK) - M.Sc. in European Management Strategy 2003

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3.5. Methodology review

3.5.1. Research protocol

To collect data of the same type and to be able to compare it efficiently, a research protocol was put in place by the interviewer. For each club, top managers have been interviewed at their office, by the same interviewer. Two of them were general managers, one was marketing manager and the last one was financial director. Their function allowed them to answer clearly each question because of the overview they had on the business. As the same data were required from the clubs, the same questions were asked to the four managers. This element of the protocol was essential. Moreover, for each interview, a length of one hour was required by the interviewer. At least, the data collected had all the same type, so the same analysis method was applied to them.

3.5.2. Reliability of the data

It was important to base this research on reliable data. Data coming from the clubs were official ones: the annual reports were a legal obligation for clubs, so they published their real accounts. The interviewees were top managers of those clubs and are supposed to deliver true data. Mostly based on official reports (from leagues and clubs) the data were also verified using chains of evidence. The data from websites, articles and books, although not official, allowed the researcher to check the statistics and information given by the clubs. Articles from Emerald and Mintel reports were peer-reviewed so they were considered reliable for the study. Everyone should be warned about the lack of reliability of newspapers and radio concerning football. These sources of information aimed at selling their information and were based on rumours, scandals and polemics. The author would recommend keeping an attentive attitude to the information they give to feel the atmosphere but not to use it as reliable data.

3.5.3. Limits of the methodology

The limits highlighted were due to the face-to-face interview. First, it has been difficult to obtain those interviews. Football clubs' managers (like every manager) were very busy and not always available. So it was time-consuming to convince them. The second limit was due to the language: as English was not the interviewer's mother tongue, some information may have been misunderstood or forgotten. A face-to-face interview is also limited in time: although the interviewer asked for one-hour-meeting, the interviews lasted from forty-five minutes to one hour and a half depending on the manager's availability. This length seems quite long at first sight, but all the points could not be developed as wished. Another limit is that this research is mostly based on those four interviews and it cannot represent a general view of the football sector. Moreover, the data collected came from football clubs and could have been biased by managers to give a better impression of their club. That's why chains of evidence tried to be used as often as possible.

How stakeholders influence football clubs' strategy ? September 2003

In Liverpool F.C., the managing director was not available for an interview so the interviewee was the financial director. Due to his function, Mr Weathley had a complete knowledge about stakeholders linked with the club's finance but less data about others stakeholders' groups. The last limit was that French football clubs did not have to publish annual reports, so the statistics for French football clubs analysis were not as detailed as for the English ones.


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