Academics at Sheffield Hallam are to analyse the financial impact of Covid-19 on professional football clubs in England and the wider impact on their communities.
The 15-month £48,000 research project will focus specifically on teams in League One and League Two, many of which are on the brink of collapse due to the pandemic.
In the last year, one community has already lost its professional football club, Bury FC, and other communities have been affected by the demise of semi-professional clubs, such as Rhyl FC.
The project will be led by senior lecturer in sport finance Dr Dan Plumley, head of department for finance, accounting and business systems, Dr Rob Wilson, Professor of human resource management and employment relations, Peter Prowse, and Professor Simon Shibli of the Sport Industry Research Centre.
Project lead, Dr Dan Plumley, senior lecturer in sport finance said: “We are delighted to have secured some funding to examine the impact of Covid-19 on the financial situation in English football.
“We know that clubs have been really struggling since the start of this pandemic and this research will enable us to see the wider impact across the clubs and their communities.
“We are hopeful that we can use the research as a springboard to drive recommendations for the industry moving forward in a post-Covid world and enable them to support each other better in times of economic hardship.”
By counting the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic through financial and economic analysis, and on the roles many undertake to support football clubs, a key aim of the project is to outline governance reforms that could be used to make the football eco-system more resilient.
Dr Rob Wilson, head of department for finance, accounting and business systems said: “From an internal perspective, it is great to work on a project that showcases cross-collaboration between different departments, making use of the terrific expertise that the University has to promote applied research that can have an impact across the sporting landscape”.
The research is being funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19.