Geordies come top of the league for all-round footballing knowledge, with Londoners sitting rock bottom. Supporters of Newcastle United and Sunderland are finally united; in trumping the rest of Britain in both their knowledge of the rules of football, and their understanding of the business behind the world’s most popular sport. This is according to new research published today by The Open University Business School and The Football League Trust.
The study of over 1,000 British football fans, carried out by Opinion Matters, compared ‘on-pitch’ and ‘off-pitch’ know-how and uncovered which areas of Britain have the supporters with the best all-round knowledge of the game. Fans from the North East topped the league table with an overall score of 40% (see below), with Londoners scoring lower than any other region (33% overall).
Nationally, the research uncovered huge disparities between British football fans’ knowledge of the rules of the game compared with their understanding of the business decisions behind it. The average fan showed a lack of knowledge when it came to the business of football (scoring on average 16% in the off-pitch questions, versus 58% in the on-pitch questions). This poor awareness of the commercial realities behind the game can undermine a fan’s understanding of the decisions their own beloved clubs are making day in day out.
FOOTBALL KNOWLEDGE LEAGUE TABLE
The study marks the launch of a new ‘BA (Hons) Business Management
(Sport and Football) <http://www.openuniversity.co.uk/football/ > ‘
degree, developed in partnership between The Open University Business School and The Football League Trust, which focuses on business through the lens of the football industry. The degree draws on people’s passion and understanding of football and combines this with the foundations of effective business management. A free taster course starting on Monday 11 August 2014 will introduce students to some of the themes from the degree. ‘The Business of Football’ will be available via OpenLearn
<http://www.open.edu/openlearn/ > .
The initiative is also being supported by The Open University’s Faculty of Education and Language
The 20-point questionnaire tackled a wide range of topics, including the rules relating to back passes, time keeping, substitutions, defensive walls and corner kicks, while also covering business and footballing finance subjects, such as players’ contracts and salaries, operating profits, sources of club revenue, TV rights and taxation.
Key research findings:
· Nationally, knowledge of the business behind the game (16%) falls well behind fans’ understanding of the rules on the pitch (58%)
· The North East proved a hot bed for rule buffs, averaging a score of 66%, which bumped it to the top of the all-round knowledge league with a score of 40% overall
· Fans from the Midlands know more about the business side of the game than any other region, scoring 18%, compared to a national average of 16%
· In the battle of the sexes, male respondents scored highest in both their on-pitch (40%, versus 31.5%) and off-pitch knowledge (17%, versus 13%)
· Age and wisdom overcame youth, with the 55+ age group scoring the highest overall with 39.5%. The lower the respondents age, the lower the score, with the 16-24 age group achieving just 24.5% in comparison
· Only 1 in 4 (23.5%) British football fans understand the intricacies of the offside rule, with female fans scoring higher than their male counterparts (25%, versus 23%)
· Just 1 in 10 fans (12%) understand the basics of football player contracts, with almost half (44%) thinking a player has no option to leave a club aside from being sold or reaching the end of their contract
Ben Oakley, Senior Lecturer at The Open University and former Olympic coach, said:
“Football is a sport that generates a huge level of emotion amongst its supporters. Every action a manager or player makes, both on and off the pitch, is dissected and discussed; everyone has an opinion and these on-going narratives are all a part of football’s appeal.
“Fans that begin to understand the business of football as well as they do the game itself are in the best position to evaluate the actions of their beloved clubs.”
The BA (Hons) Business Management (Sport and Football) degree will be enrolling its first squad of students in October, and those interested in finding out what it is like to study the business of football can sign up now for the free online taster course
<http://www.openuniversity.co.uk/football/ > , which will be available from Monday 11 August 2014. The taster course, which will consist of approximately nine hours of study over three – five weeks, uses interactive media to introduce themes such as the economics of football, motivation, team effectiveness and strategic management.
Mike Evans, General Manager of The Football League Trust, said: “By bringing business to life through football, the degree is a great example of how using people’s passion can help energise their education. So much work goes on behind the scenes at football clubs that The Football League Trust is able to develop some tremendous case studies to assist students with their learning. The Open University is a perfect partner for us and we are very excited about the opportunity to create new educational opportunities for a wide range of people.”
The degree is aimed at anyone who wants to enhance their career with a respected qualification; from fans with an interest in both football and business, to those aspiring to earn a business degree with a difference. It would also appeal to those already working within the football industry, or community organisations that want to underpin their football experience with an education in business and management. Details of the full degree or how to sign up to the free course are on The Open University website at www.openuniversity.co.uk/football/ <http://www.openuniversity.co.uk/football/ >
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