Call for Papers | “It’s a whole new ball game: Thirty Years of the English Premier League” – Special Issue of Soccer & Society. Call ends April 20, 2020

Guest editors

Liverpool players celebrate their 1989/90 win.

The early 1990’s in the United Kingdom were politically and socially somewhat turbulent years. Prime Minister John Major was reforming the Conservative party after 15 years of Thatcherism, unemployment was rapidly rising, and the Gulf War was a backdrop to the era. Yet, football (soccer) was somewhat nondescript, but this was all about to change, forever. Indeed, as a response to the growing market-led capitalist systems it was operating under, in 1991, the English Football Association (The FA) published their ‘Blueprint for the Future of Football’, which proposed a new first division, known as the Premier League.

The English Premier League as it would come to be known, became a reality in 1992 forming a corporation governed by the 20 (22 between 1992 and 1995) member clubs who would act as its shareholders. It operated as an open structure with a promotion and relegation system, connecting it to the English 2nd tier league (now named The Championship) which formed part of the English Football League (EFL), along with League 1 and League 2. Currently, between August and May, clubs compete in a round-robin structure playing each other club home and away, creating a 38-game season.

The main rationale for the EPL breaking away from the then EFL was centred on exploiting commercial opportunities and market growth, as opposed to simply achieving success for England as a nation as The FA would have intended. Indeed, businesses were keen to capitalise on sponsorship opportunities such as purchasing naming rights to the new league, Carling first, followed then by Barclaycard and finally Barclays, until the decision was made in 2015 to cease pursuing naming partners, given that more revenue can be generated using their own (EPL) brand. However, unbeknown to the league management, or the governing body (The FA), but clearly known by media moguls and city financers, English football was on the brink of a broadcasting revolution. BskyB, a newly formed (somewhat failing) satellite broadcaster, were also keen to capitalise on this breakaway, securing the first broadcasting rights for EPL games, matches which were traditionally aired on terrestrial TV. This was the first of many deals between broadcasters and the EPL, which has generated substantial financial and global growth, albeit with many consequences.

During this epoch, the EPL and football in general has seen unprecedented change in most aspects of the football industry. Whilst the EPL is arguably the most-watched sports league in the world, we would argue that we are again at moment of unprecedented change, as technology is radically changing the sport sphere, from   changing the game (such as VAR) to changing the way we consume it (such as mobile device and social media).  Therefore, this offers a timely moment to take stock of the EPL and its monumental rise and examine four broad aspects of the EPL during the past 20 years:

      1. Understand the changes;
      2. Examine the current state of play;
      3. Global market place;
      4. Identify and examine the future challenges.

We encourage papers that address the arising issues, including those from a comparative perspective, in order to illuminate and critically understand the current football industry context. Moreover, we hope to attract new theoretical findings, alongside practitioner-focused strategies undertaken to navigate the challenges for football and specifically the future of football. We would warmly welcome discussions and ideas for creative prospective submissions; however our focus will be thorough, original, rigorous and impactful contributions.

Papers of all methodological approaches (including conceptual papers) that advance research and practice will be considered for publication. Inter-disciplinary research is encouraged.

All empirical research areas of interest related to (but not restricted to) the following list are encouraged:

      • Governance
      • Ownership
      • Management
      • Human Resource
      • Development
      • CSR
      • Policy
      • Trade
      • Fandom
      • Media
      • Consumption
      • Events (i.e., tourism and security)
      • Marketing
      • Technology
      • Coaching
      • Economics
      • Politics
      • Society
      • Law
      • Academy
      • Referees and officiating
      • Education


      • 20 April 2020 – Authors to submit their abstract proposals to all guest editors via email;
      • 4 May 2020 – All authors receive feedback on their abstracts;
      • 11 January 2021 – Authors to submit their full papers to all guest editors for double-blind peer-review to all guest editors via email;
      • 8 March 2021 – This will be the end of the rolling peer-review period and all authors will have their feedback;
      • 7 September 2021 – Authors to submit their full and final papers to all guest editors;
      • 14 November 2021 – Guest editors will submit full and final special issue to Soccer & Society.

All submissions are to be sent to all guest editors.

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