Current Research

Youth development

How important youth development to the success of National sides? Which clubs have had the most success in youth development? Is it likely that more clubs with decide to do without a youth development policy? What would the impact be? What impact is the national funding for coaching and youth development having? How does this compare internationally?

Youth development is an important area of investment for clubs, some of whom spend significant sums trying to identify and nurture future talent. This theme considers the historical returns to that investment for the big English clubs and begins to examine the relationship between youth development, and senior success, including in the National side.

Competition design

Is the low attendance at England’s European qualification games a reflection of the lack of competitiveness in the games? Could there be a different approach to international tournament qualification? What about international rankings? Is the Premiership’s status as the best league in the world secure? What opportunities exist for sharpening the competitiveness?

Competition design is at the heart of how exciting and watchable football games are – and maximising that is in the interests of fans, clubs and administrators alike. This theme looks at whether there are opportunities to improve competition design, both at the domestic level but also in terms of international competitions, including qualification.

Finance and Governance

Are there certain ownership structures, including debt, that systematically undermine clubs viability? What are the pros and cons of equity, private ownership and debt financing? What structures should fans favour? How can governing bodies best protect clubs and fans?

There has been a significant focus on the governance of both clubs and governing bodies with the Government challenging the FA to develop and enforce a licensing system. This could present a massive new challenge. For clubs, understanding of the relationship between their approach to finance and ownership and the risks this presents to club viability are still based on a handful of anecdotes – we propose a more systematic examination of ownership structures.