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Shadow Hybridity and the Institutional Logic of professional sport: Perpetuating a sporting business in times of rapid social and economic change

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JournalJournal of Management History
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Nov 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 16 Feb 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 Apr 2018
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)228-259
Early online date16/02/18
Original languageEnglish


Purpose: Existing studies of the finance of English Association Football (soccer) have tended to focus on the sport’s early years, or on the post-1992 Premiership era. We examine a case from the turbulent 1980s charting the struggle for economic survival of one club in a rapidly changing financial, economic, political, and demographic landscape.
Design/methodology/approach: We investigate the financial difficulties of a sport business, Middlesbrough Football and Athletic Company Limited (MFAC), examining the broader economic context, drawing on unseen archival sources dating from the 1980s to analyse the relationship between club, local and national government, and the regional economy.
Findings: We examine not only the financial management of the football club but also analyse the interventionist role of the local authority in supporting the club which had symbolic value for the local community.
Practical implications: This paper is relevant to policy makers interested in the provision of local sports facilities and the links between elite sport and participation.
Originality/value: We show that professional sports clubs are driven by a different institutional logic to state organisations and our findings enable us to define these differences, thereby refining Thornton et al’s (2012) typology of institutional orders. Furthermore our case study highlights practices involving informal partnership between state and sport that we label shadow hybridity.

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