Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Soccer Mad Boffins Participate in Charity Soccer Tournament

Here at Soccer Mad Boffins we enjoy researching football, but just as much we also enjoy to play the game.  We were therefore delighted to be invited by students of the University of York's 'Business, Accounting and Management Society' (BAMSOC) to be part of their 7 a-side team for a charity fixture with York Law Society, as part of the University of York's student union's RAG (Raise and Give) Week fundraising activities.

The big game took place at the 3G pitches at York Sport Village - also used by our local professional team, York City FC, who were no doubt scouting our skills.

The students seemed happy that two of their lecturers were participating in the event and went as far as announcing it on their Instagram page, with a photo of us celebrating a goal. In keeping with our recent research project, we both wore replica 1966 World Cup Final England red 'away' shirts, at risk of being mistaken for Jack Charlton and Nobby Stiles!

After going 0-4 down in the first fifteen minutes to a very organised Law Society team, the BAMSOC spirit and squad rotation strategy began to yield results as we got a few goals back and the game became more balanced. The second half was end-to-end stuff, Soccer Mad Boffin Kevin blocking much of Law's attack and Alex making some important clearences and deflections.  With a few minutes remaining BAMSOC scored twice to take the lead and by the final whistle BAMSOC had won 8-7.

 The event was a great success and was played in the right spirit.  Both teams applauded each other off the pitch and celebrated doing their bit for this important fundraiser.  A photograph was taken of alll involved inorganising and playing the event.

BAMSOC's next event will be their Winter Ball. Tickets still available but likely to sell out:

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Soccer Mad Boffin Has Two Book Reviews Published By Business History

Dr Alex Gillett has authored two new reviews of sports related books, and both reviews have been published in the prestigious academic journal Business History.

The reviews focus on the following two books:

Both reviews are available online (click links above) although you or your institution need to subscibe to the journal in order to read.  They should be published in a forthcoming print / hard copy edition of the journal in due course, ETA 2018

Generic photo of a back issue of Business History (note: this is the specific edition that the book reviews will be in!)

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Soccer Mad Boffins in Moneyweek Magazine

Excellent new article about investment in football published in the UKs best selling financial magazine, Moneyweek. Written by Mathew Partridge, the article includes quotes from us two Soccer Mad Boffins (Dr Alex G. Gillett and Dr Kevin D. Tennent) as well as Professor Stefan Szymanski (author of the bestseller 'Soccernomics') and Professor Ignacio Palacios-Huerta (professor of management, economics, and strategy at the London School of Economics and a member of the board of the Spanish top-flight club Athletic Club de Bilbao.

Read the article for free by clicking on the link below:

Monday, 2 October 2017

Soccer Mad Boffins USA - UK Summer Tour 2017: Highlights

Another summer and another maelstrom of exciting conference and guest lecture activity, taking in both sides of the Atlantic (and one side of the Pacific, too....see below).  Here are the highlights.

The summer tour began in July, on 'home' turf at a University of York open day.  Visitors were treated to an informative display about our research.  We also gave out free postcards featuring the Soccer Mad Boffins logo, and some awesome glossy mini-brochures detailing the key facts and findings from our research of the 1966 FIFA World Cup.  There was even a display copy of 'Foundations of Managing Sporting Events', courtesy of our publisher Routledge, for people to browse.

Later that month, Dr Kevin D. Tennent attended the world's most significant and strategically important business/management/ administration academic event, Academy of Management (AoM) Annual Conference, held this year in Atlanta, Georgia in the USA.  Yet more thanks to our publisher Routledge, 'Foundations of Managing Sporting Events' was again available for inspection, taking pride of place amongst flagship titles on their display.

September was notable for two significant Soccer Mad Boffins appearances. At the beginning of the month, we both attended the UK's most significant and strategically important business/management/administration studies academic event, the British Academy of Management's (BAM) Annual Conference, which was this year hosted by University of Warwick.  

This year was particularly eventful for us because it was the inaugural year of the Business & Management Special Interest Group (SIG), for which we are both founding members of the committee.  Holding the first AGM was a big moment for us and testament to all of the hard work that Kevin in particular has put into building up the profile of business and management history at BAM over the years.  We were also able to attend the SIG Chair's meeting and it puts us in an influential place to champion history amongst the business/management/administration research community.

Of course as well as hosting and attending meetings and chairing sessions, we also presented our own research - this year a working paper that we have written about the historic and contemporary contribution of referees to soccer's governing institutions.  We hope to have more news about this exciting stream of research soon.

To cap-off such a productive summer we had the great honor of being invited by one of the world's leading experts, Professor Ray Levitt, to present to Stanford University's Center for Global Projects our research on the FIFA World Cup 1966.  This was undertaken as a webinar: We used internet technology to broadcast our presentation from Soccer Mad Boffin Headquarters in The University of York, on the East side of England in the UK, to Stanford University in California, on the West Coast of the USA.  

There was an 8 hour time zone gap between GMT (UK time) and Pacific Time (California) meaning that whilst the audience enjoyed an early afternoon lecture with the California sunshine outside, we were by contrast working at night with the rain lashing down on our windows. Perhaps next time we will take the airplane and appear 'in person'!

We thoroughly enjoyed the experience of presenting to Stanford's academics and graduate and postgraduate students who attended, and particularly the Q&A which followed our presentation. We hope to do it again soon!

The paper that we presented has already been accepted for publication in a forthcoming Special Issue of the Project Management Journal (TM) and we will of course provide more details about the publication date when we have them.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Spotlight on: Professor Jim Walvin

It has been around a year since our book 'Foundations of Managing Sporting Events: Organising the 1966 FIFA World Cup' was published by Routledge.  We are still really proud of the book and the response it has been getting.

Equally, we were delighted that the book received its foreword from none other than James Walvin, Professor of History Emeritus at University of York, and himself an author and editor of over thirty books including some of the seminal works on association football.

We thought it would be interesting to mark the anniversary of 'Foundations of Managing Sporting Events...' 1st birthday by turning the spotlight on Professor Walvin and his work which has informed our own writing.

Professor Jim Walvin outside the King's Manor Building, University of York

Professor Walvin is a life-long supporter of Manchester United.  His dedication to the club can be traced back to the 1940s, a long time before the 'prawn sandwich brigade' took up their executive boxes at Old Trafford. In fact, Jim's match-day snack of choice is the classic "a cup of Bovril" and the first 'home' match that he attended, in 1948, wasn't even at Old Trafford, due to the stadium and pitch having been damaged by German bombs a few years earlier during World War II.  Instead, whilst Old Trafford awaited the completion of its repairs, the Red Devils ground-shared Manchester City’s Maine Road stadium, and it was here that young Jim stood behind City 'keeper Frank Swift's goal: "He was a giant of a man who picked the ball up with one hand. I remember there were huge crowds on the terraces back then, and coming from the pitch was a strong smell of liniment  - an oil that the players used to relieve muscle strains and pains."   

Frank Swift, Manchester City & England's goalkeeper

However, Jim's first footballing memory can be traced to a few months earlier, when he listened with his father to the radio broadcast of the 1948 FA cup final. United beat a strong Blackpool team featuring the two prolific ‘Stans’ (Mathews and Mortensen) 4-2.  The memory is particularly notable for James because it was the first game that he ever listened to on the radio with his dad, who by half time was noticeably agitated by the score (Blackpool were leading 2-1). The vivid memory came in useful to Prof Walvin at a conference decades later, when a delegate who happened to be a Wolverhampton Wanderers supporter decided to test the extent of his knowledge and support for Manchester Utd by asking a question that he thought he might not be able to answer: the score line of the 1948 FA Cup Final! To the delegates astonishment Jim replied correctly and also recounted the half-time score and the names of the goal scorers!

Two other games were though even more memorable for him, in his words, "for very different reasons".  The first fixture after the Munich air disaster was "an absurdly emotional occasion.   We beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 at old Trafford, in front of an enormous crowd" whilst the 1968 European Cup Final at which United beat Benfica at Wembley is another favourite moment.

Over the years, James witnessed some truly great soccer matches and some of its most esteemed players including the Manchester United greats Duncan Edwards and George Best who he names alongside Pele as all-time his favourite players.

It was during his youth then that football fever first took hold and together with his naturally studious nature the foundations were laid for a future research direction. "Needless to say, my favourite stadium is Old Trafford. It was a regular haunt for me as a schoolboy. I'd spend a morning in the library, and then take the train to Old Trafford, then go back to the library for the evening. Little swot!"

Historical photo of Manchester United's Old Trafford Stadium 

Pursuing a career as a historian, James began his first book, which was not about football, fifty years ago (1967) a task that took three years to complete and publish. His first book on football, 'The Peoples Game - The Social History of British Football' came a few years later and started out as historian of late 18th century working class life: Whilst in Jamaica in 1974 he read CER James' book on cricket and thought it would be interesting to write something similar on football for the simple reason there was "not much available academically about football and English society".

Published in 1975 'The Peoples Game…' was well received and is arguably an important starting point or catalyst for the plethora of work on football and society that began to appear soon after.  However, despite the books success and influence it was not until the mid-1980s that Prof Walvin began his next book on football. 'Football & the Decline of Britain' was a "response to the rubbish written about football disasters, particularly by the newspapers. Disgusting things were being said about football fans. Yes hooliganism and racism existed in some quarters, but it was wrong that everyone was being damned for that. So I wrote the book in one summer, 1985, whilst lecturing in Australia. Revisiting it today, it holds up better than I’d thought". Published a year later, in 1986, it is indeed a well-informed and passionately written work on a controversial era for football.

It was around a decade and a half before James once more published on football, this time a revised edition of his first tome entitled 'The People's Game: The History of Football Revisited' which saw light of day in 2000. The original had been popular "so the publisher asked if I’d revise it and bring it back in print".   It’s a great read and its publication was timely, corresponding with the growing nostalgia for (as well as academic interest in) football history during that time, and of course corresponding with that year's UEFA European Football Championship.  

He followed it up a year later with 'The Only Game', a book more obviously targeting the mainstream football fan than the sport historian, and gave greater emphasis to 'contemporary' issues such as racism and violence "to bring it up to date". Less celebrated than 'The People's Game' or its revised edition, perhaps due to "the difficulty in bridging academic and popular/mainstream audiences", it is nonetheless interesting to read Professor Walvin's take on such matters.

Despite his long-time interest in the game and his success as a football writer, Prof Walvin remains modest about his achievements - and of his ability to predict score lines "don’t listen to me! especially predictions of games", and today focusses on his other research interests, notably the topics of slavery and the sugar trade.  He still enjoys the game though and reading about soccer and sport generally, and lists his favourite sport writers as Hugh Macillvaney, " who has written a collection of essays about sport in general including a terrific essay on boxer Muhammad Ali " and Tony Mason, in Jim's opinion "the first academic to write a serious book on football" although he adds with a smile "but Tony tells me I beat him to the best title!"

At the time of writing, Professor Walvin is finishing a new book on the history of sugar, which he describes as taking his journey as a research academic "full circle".   "Sugar is a big, big issue for health and social reasons.  This new book is built on all of the work I’ve done on slavery. Next I’ll do another book on the overthrowing of the slave empire - in the space of a lifetime it vanishes but was unchallenged for 300 years. What changed? That's a really interesting complex story."

Sugar by James Walvin was published by Robinson on July 13th 2017

Monday, 24 July 2017

'Foundations of Managing Sporting Events' Named as 'Book of the Month'!

Our book about the 1966 FIFA World Cup 'Foundations of Managing Sporting Events' has been awarded the prestigious title 'Book of the Month' by University of Lincoln for their Sports Business Management degree programme.  There were in fact two 'books of the month' this time around and we share the  accolade with highly regarded edited volume 'The Routledge Book of Sports Event Management'. 

Thanks to all at University of Lincoln and their library for this great honour!

University of Lincoln offers a Sports Business Management degree as well as an Event Management degree. We are pleased to see that our book is useful to students on these courses.

Monday, 3 July 2017

The China Soccer Observatory (CSO)

Here at Soccer Mad Boffins, as well as writing about our own research we like to share other interestinng articles and to give a platform to other interesting research ventures.  We have recently been in contact with Prof Simon Chadwick a Senior Fellow of the China Policy Institute (CPI) at University of Nottingham who runs the CHINA SOCCER OBSERVATORY (CSO) alongside Dr Jonathan Sullivan (Director of CPI).

We considered the CSO to be of interest to many of our readers and so we asked Prof Chadwick to provide a short overview as to their activities. Take it away, Simon....


Professor Simon Chadwick, yesterday

In late 2014, President Xi revealed his vision for China to have created a domestic sport economy worth $830 billion by 2028. To drive the country towards this target, Xi identified football as being a focal point for his vision, identifying that he wants China to host and win the World Cup, become a leading FIFA nation by 2050.

Comparison of BRIC nations' FIFA rankings in 2014 (circa most recent World Cup)

Since then we have seen a multitude of different investments in football being made by Chinese private-sector organisations and provincial government bodies. These have ranged from the creation of grassroots football projects through to the acquisition of football clubs to the signing of big-name overseas players by clubs in the Chinese Super League (the 'CSL').

These activities have each been intended to improve the available pool of Chinese talent, to build the competences of leaders and managers working in football, to raise the profile and enhance the presence of Chinese football, and to generate a financial return for the burgeoning Chinese sports industry.

Football, sport and business in China are always highly politicised, whilst its vision for football also incorporates elements of soft power projection, diplomatic influence, nation branding, the promotion of domestic social cohesion and the control of its health problems.

Beijing National Stadium - the 'birds nest', built for the 2008 Summer Olympics and visited by Soccer Mad Boffin Dr Kevin Tennent in 2014!

The multi-disciplinary nature of China’s football revolution, allied to the scale and speed with which it has taken place, led Dr Jon Sullivan and I to create the China Soccer Observatory (CSO). The CSO is located within the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, and has been set up to monitor, analyse, and publish insights into the growth and development of Chinese football domestically and internationally.

The CSO is seeking to ensure that relevant stakeholders are aware of and informed about the most important issues pertaining to football and China. We place great emphasis on the academic rigour of our work, but also on its practical application in addressing real-world issues and challenges. The CSO's work focuses knowledge creation and thought-leadership, academic research and publication, intelligence gathering and consultancy, and policy advisory services.

Details of the CSO can be found here: A related archive of materials pertaining to Chinese football can be accessed here

Prof Simon Chadwick