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The business of football

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Welcome to this new free OpenLearn course produced by The Open University working in partnership with the EFL Trust, the educational arm of the English Football League. If you are fascinated by football and interested in discovering more about business and management then this engaging and stimulating free course which provides the opportunity to share and comment on your learning with others is for you. You can progress at your own pace and it will take a minimum of around 9 hours of your time to complete the course.

In the following video Eleanor Oldroyd from BBC Radio 5 Live explains a little more about the topics you’ll examine.


During this interactive course you investigate three main themes. First is the nature of the football business. You'll look at clubs, particularly those beyond the Premier League, exploring how their business model might differ from other industries. You draw on academic perspectives and interviews with those working in football at both a traditional club, Chesterfield, and a newer one, MK Dons, to consider different income streams and clubs' internal and external decision making environments.

The second theme focuses on employees' motivation at work and the dynamics of working in a team. Interviews with professional footballers and club employees are used to illustrate some of the complexities that the research reveals. You will consider how to nurture an effective motivational and team climate.

The final theme is globalisation and power relationships in football and in business. You will examine the commercial and global expansion of the game and how different dimensions of power are used in football and other businesses.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • begin to understand the business of football and the internal and external business environment of football clubs
  • identify factors most likely to motivate people to succeed in their work in different parts of the football business including leaders and managers influence on the working environment
  • describe what makes teams more likely to succeed and how individuals can develop into more effective teams
  • reflect on the meaning of globalisation and how this relates to the business of football
  • identify how dimensions of power relate to football.

First Published: 10/09/2014

Updated: 12/07/2018

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