A new playing field: Changing logics in the use of spaces by Finnish sport clubs

Mihaly Szerovay
Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Purpose: Using an institutionalist approach, this paper examines the changing logics in the organisational field of Finnish sport clubs. More specifically, the utilisation of physical spaces by sport clubs is investigated. 

Research methods: Data were collected by conducting semi-structured interviews with 26 sport clubs from the Central Finland region and by obtaining club documents. 

Findings: Sport club’ expectations of spaces have diversified. They have started to use a broad range of spaces by various providers, to work towards innovative solutions with stakeholders, and to rely on club-owned facilities. In the process, the prerequisites for running and using the facilities have become more demanding. To conclude, clubs’ traditional principles of non-profit voluntarism now exist alongside values, exchange processes, and vocabularies that highlight the logics of entrepreneurialism, managerialism as well as bureaucracy, and indicate hybridisation in sport club activities. 

Practical implications: This article has implications for identifying the necessary skills in a sport club for sports federations and institutes educating practitioners. The findings may be useful for those involved in facility development as well.

Research contribution: The paper has shown that the use of spaces by sport clubs reflects the logics of the organisational field. This has been an uncharted area by the institutional approach.

Click here to read this peer reviewed article in Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum, Vol. 14, 2023

MIHALY SZEROVAY holds a joint Professor of Practice position at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, and the Football Association of Finland. Before taking up his current role that focuses on research and development in football, he worked as Senior Lecturer in Football Studies at Solent University, UK. Szerovay’s main research interest lies in the various aspects of sport and globalisation, the professionalisation in the different segments of football, and the changing field of youth sport clubs. Szerovay played football professionally as a goalkeeper in Jyväskylä, Finland.

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