The significance of football in an urban mosaic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Purpose - This study aims to add to our understanding of the significance of football in cities, where most major football clubs are located. Specifically, this study offers a distinctive perspective on what might be regarded as 'football cities' by its mobilization of theories of the urban mosaic, the calculable city and identity. This study contributes to the emergent field of popular culture (Jeacle, 2012) and, within this field of popular culture, the significance of soccer. The setting of this study is the city. This paper is a contribution to the established accounting literature on city studies but within the neglected study of football in cities.
Design/methodology/approach - This paper's focus is on the significance of football clubs in one city. The theoretical approach adopted is a blending of studies of the urban mosaic (Timms,1975), the Calculable City (Lapsley et al, AAAJ,2010) and the established trend of identification studies in accounting. This investigation was undertaken in the city of Edinburgh by observation of football in city life. This research is a form of participant observation in which the author lived in the city in this study. The researcher undertook interviews with key actors in both football clubs and city management, made use of local media and scrutinised publicly available documents on both the clubs and the city administrations.
Findings – This research reveals the importance of the city mosaic in explaining the limited significance of football in this city. This approach underlines the merits of contextual studies. There is further evidence of Edinburgh as a Calculable City. However, the evidence presented also reveals the presence of strong identity relationships between football clubs and their fans. These results reveal an intense perspective on city management and the activities of football clubs and their host city. The presence of multiple football clubs in a single city offers more diffuse identity relationships, with football clubs fostering stronger identification with their club than with their city. There is also evidence of single, dual and multiple identity relationships in this study which contrasts with the single identity perspectives of prior accounting research.
Originality/value - Prior research on football has examined fans' behaviour, financial crises at football clubs and governance structures. This paper extends these earlier analyses by addressing the social context of football clubs in the city. While most accounting research revealed rapid changes in identity during reforms, this study reveals a more complex relationship which aims to build continuity and commitment of fans' identity with the bigger football clubs in this city.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Early online date8 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Sept 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • football clubs
  • urban mosaic
  • calculable city
  • dual and multiple identities
  • case study
  • popular culture


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