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VA0702 MA MUSEUM AND HERITAGE MANAGEMENT
TO WHAT EXTENT IS THE PRESERVATION OF HERITAGE IN PROFESSIONAL AND SEMIPROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PURSUED? IS THERE A TENABLE BALANCE BETWEEN HERITAGE CONSERVATION, FINANCIAL STABILITY AND COMMERCIAL PROGRESSION?
Aims and Objectives This research proposal will attempt to outline the historical and social context of the question and propose a method of research that will ultimately lead to the finished dissertation. The dissertation will discuss and critically evaluate the main characteristics of football as a business and how it relates to football as a form of heritage for many people. If successful, the research will convey the importance of the sport as an item of historical and cultural interest and contextualise its role in society not only as a form of entertainment but also as a form of heritage in its own right. To arrive at any conclusions regarding whether or not football is in need of guidance and regulation with regards to heritage it will be necessary to examine what measures are already in place for these means, what product they offer and how effective they are deemed to be. The most prominent institutions that offer a cultural product through football, namely the football clubs themselves, will be examined at various levels of professionalism in an attempt to provide a cross-section of the business which the sport inhabits in a commercial, financial and organisational context. It is also necessary to identify what cultural product these clubs offer. Museums of football, governmental schemes and not-forprofit organisations will also be included in the research. In a climate of uncertainty regarding funding for sporting and cultural programmes an examination in to the economic landscape will be necessary to interpret how the heritage of football is preserved in comparison to other, less organised forms of cultural manifestation. The dissertation will also attempt to convey the extent to which football has had a conspicuous presence in the minds of the population during social and political change, therefore punctuating the modern history of the United Kingdom. A discussion on the affect this will ultimately have on how
it is interpreted historically and socially in the future will be included in the final draft, as well as what the future holds for institutions dedicated to its interpretation. Literature review To address a research question it is necessary to have a good understanding of the history and background before attempting to analyse (Snape and Spencer 2003). Contemporary and historical literature analysis has been a primary method prior to any qualitative or quantitative research. In February 2010, after only nine years in operation, The National Football Museum in Preston dissolved and began relocation to Manchester in order to attract more visitors (Manchester Evening News 2009). It is questionable as to how effective this strategy will be, as when the museum was based in Preston, a relatively large town itself, visits amounted to only 40,000 a year, rather than the projected 80,000 a year (Brabazon 2006). High profile endorsements from the FA upon its opening did little to garner interest. The museum is scheduled to open in Manchester in Autumn 2011 but as of yet there fails to be any significant excitement or coverage. One question the completed dissertation will attempt to discuss is whether or not there is a need for invested heritage preservation in football, as there is a notable absence in the present day. Collins (1999) argues that spectator sports have been a sociopolitical influence on the population of the United Kingdom ever since the tussle between professionalism and amateurism in the late Victorian era. Whannel (2008) claims that it was present long before, but was amplified with the arrival of railways, which allowed for more travelling between towns and regulated competition. It would be reasonable to assume that such a long period of social significance would lead to a wealth of documentation and collections, but this does not seem to be the case. It is instead with the governance and financial stability of a
club that supporters tend to concern themselves, and upon which the attention of the media focuses. Michie and Ramalingam (1999) suggest that many supporters of a football club feel the same amount of affiliation with the organisation as they do with any other cultural institution in their lives and have a primary motive of preserving its cultural identity. They place importance in this over commercial or profit making objectives. Although resources are heavily unbalanced in professional football, however, due to influx of television revenue (Szymanski 2010), there are instances of trusts amongst supporters raising money for financial ends as well as preservation of perceived identity. In 1992 a supporters trust assumed control of Northampton Town FC and invested approximately £90,000 in to the club over the next five years, ultimately avoiding liquidation with these funds (Lomax 1999). Its organisational structure was scaled down and consisted of seven trustees (Clarke 2000), comparable to that of a small not-for-profit organisation. Similar movements have been undertaken in recent years, most recently with the creation of Chester FC, a trust owned club formed from the defunct Chester City FC with full financial transparency. Many clubs, despite their national exposure and high turnover, still operate as small businesses with regards to numbers of employees and profitability (Cannon and Hamil 2000). A medium-to-large club’s governance, however, is now largely the preserve of a board of directors, answerable to senior stakeholders rather than minor shareholders or trustees (Morrow 2009). Many of these clubs, on average, recorded losses year-on-year during the late 1990s and 2000s yet still have high levels of investment (Manning 2000). This is mainly due to consistent revenue streams of television money, corporate sponsorship and high gate receipts, being able to attract more paying customers at a higher price (Jaquis 2000). Due to the increasing difficulties of attracting external sponsorship (Matueswicz 2000), many lower league clubs continue to rely upon gate receipts and fund raising amongst supporters despite larger, more commercially viable clubs
becoming increasingly difficult to compete with (Dobson and Goddard 2001). If football as a spectator sport is an agent of cross-cultural integration (Burdsey 2007), it can be argued that financially uniformity has not been increasing at the same rate. The class system is still very much alive between clubs in organisational and commercial terms, as the gulf in operating differences continues to widen. Do these financial constraints, or lack thereof in some cases, affect the product offered by a club and the way in which it is interpreted amongst its followers? Nicholson (2007) discusses commercialism across the sporting landscape and argues that any product offered must take in to account financial restrictions, that a sense of realism has to be present in overall commercial strategy. As the vast majority of football clubs are not run on a not-for-profit basis and a commercial product can only be developed in correlation to profitability, how realistic is it to expect smaller clubs to allocate funds towards conserving and interpreting their own unique heritage? Even if they could, how would they achieve this and would it be encouraged or met with indifference as with the National Football Museum? This literature review has been a key element in to developing a dissertation design thus far, but historical analysis intrinsically cannot be wholly reliable independent of other forms of research due to uncontrollable variants such as missing information, bias, individual prejudice and errors in recording (Marshall and Rossman 2006). Therefore various qualitative and quantitative research methods will be utilised in the finished discourse in order to build an analytical body of work.
The research design will attempt to blend a qualitative approach with quantitative data gathering. In theory this is a design that will produce a well balanced synthesis from the information collected, but comprehensive project management throughout is essential, as quantitative data will fuse with the qualitative research throughout the completed dissertation if successful. Although some information will be subject to numerical analysis in order to identify a pattern, there will be an equal amount of information, particularly in the case of interviews, that will be open to interpretation and the prejudice of the interviewer, the interviewee and the reader. Such information can be difficult to concentrate in to a theory or pattern, so at many points quantitative data will punctuate the qualitative in an attempt to provide context and adequate analysis with regards to the overall synthesis. According to Prior (1997) one of the most crucial aspects of qualitative research is the necessity to consider events from a chosen perspective, and at all points the research will attempt consider the varying perspectives from which the information was gathered. The body of data will be achieved by three primary methods; interviews, surveys and the collation of publishable statistics in the form of attendance or participatory figures, internal financial reports and external, independent financial reports. Supplemented by analysis of literature, this research will contribute towards four primary case studies. This will be in the form of a comparative case design (Smith 2010). The proposed case studies are; Workington AFC for a profile of a lower league semi-professional club with little commercial exposure; Newcastle United FC for a profile of a professional club with moderate global exposure; the National Football Museum in Manchester which has yet to open; and the successful Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum based in rugby to provide context of a museum that operates under similar circumstances in another prominent sport. In some cases initial contact has been made for arranging interviews. In cases where it has not, the focus of the study may be subject to change to a profile that has similar characteristics, but the main focus of the case
studies will be that of comparison between commercial opposites. In all of these cases the primary methods of analysis will remain constant. This protocol will remain consistent in order to provide adequate guidelines which will ultimately serve to allow for more concise and effective analysis (Smith 2010). Interviews will be conducted with various figures amongst these institutions, as well as contributors, which in the case of the clubs will be a mixture of supporter’s groups members, spokespersons and employees of the club. The key aim of these interviews is to collect information on perceived forms of identity and discussions over preservation of heritage, which is not conducive to quantitative analysis but provides social context, and organisational structure. An in-depth understanding of the perspectives of participants is necessary (Snape and Spencer 2003), and this will require adequate research of the subject’s relationship to the institution (be it supporter, spokesperson or trustee) prior to each interview. Lewis (2003) states that questions need to be clear and unambiguous, relevant, informed and of equal interest to the interviewer and the interviewee. It is also possible that any ambiguity in questions can lead to misunderstanding and a loss of significant insight, so phrasing of questions will be carefully considered. Surveys included will also follow a consistent protocol. They will be issued on the internet and amongst a supporters trust in the case of Workington Town AFC and possibly Newcastle United FC. They will be used in order to collect a range of opinions regarding the product offered by the institutions amongst which they are circulated. They will focus on political and identity based questions such as views upon the efficiency of the institution, level of awareness surrounding its heritage, levels of personal association, knowledge of history and extent of personal participation. Although only a sample of a particular demographic, this allows for basic characteristics of a
group to be considered when interpreted with other forms of data (Smith 2010). Published data or information available to the public will be included in the dissertation and will primarily manifest itself in the form of attendance figures for football clubs and heritage organisations if available, financial reports and published guidelines from governing authorities. Attendance figures for football clubs began to be published and analysed in the 1970s (Dobson and Goddard 2001) and will be a rich source of interpretable data, and the guidelines of authorities are of importance so that financial and practical operations by an organisation can be applied to a uniform context. At no point will any data collated be disregarded before the completion of the dissertation, as it is possible that data previously considered insignificant can become vital as a synthesis progresses (Ritchie, Spencer and O’Connor 2004). Every effort will be extended within the research to ensure that an effective balance of figures and spoken accounts is maintained so as not to become over reliant on one form of data. Ritchie (2003) suggests that a synthesis between qualitative and quantitative information will enhance the validity of a theory over a study conducted through just one of these methods. As interviews, surveys and data gathering will be conducted separately it is a reasonable assumption that a theory may develop independently or solidify in correlation with the research as they progress (Lewis 2003). It will be important to continually evaluate quantitative data collected and crossreference with qualitative data so that the theory can sharpen and become more defined (Smith 2010). A tangible design structure for will need to be constructed when developing these case studies, incorporating all forms of research. For this reason a manageable index of concepts, themes and above all data will be used in the form of computer database software, so as to ensure conceptual clarity
within the project (Ritchie, Spencer and O’Connor 2004). If executed competently, this will allow for progress to be periodically monitored in an accessible and elemental way. Ethical Issues Doucet (2002) states that there are complex relations regarding ethics between a worker and their academic work, with responsibilities extending to research participants and also to those who read and interpret the work (Code 1995 in Doucet 2002). Consent forms will be issued for signature at interviews and will be submitted prior to submission of the completed dissertation. In cases where a contributor to any information does not wish to be referenced or credited by name then a name will not be disclosed, and forms of consent will be clearly and legibly formatted. With regards to methodology, full transparency will be strived for and both the on-going work and the completed dissertation will be readily available to any participants in the dissertation. The reader of the work will also have access to complete transcripts of interviews undertaken and survey results, which will be available in the appendices.
Project management and times cale A proposed schedule for completion of work in the form of a Gantt chart;
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