Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Soccer Mad Boffins 2018 Summer Tour!

Soccer Mad Boffins are pleased to announce the following appearances over the next few months - more being added all the time - watch this space!

June 1st 'England 1966, USA 1994 and the World Cup: Thoughts on populism, the popular and public indifference' 

Populism and the Leisure Spectacle: A BSA Leisure & Recreation Study Group Workshop 

Venue: University of Bath

June 5th 'Project Managing and Marketing the Soccer World Cup: 1966 and 1994'

Management and Organizational History Research Cluster (MOHRC), University of York 

Venue: University of York

June 12th 'The Business of World Cup Football'

co-presented with Greg Dyke (former Chairman of the Football Association)

Venue: York Festival of Ideas (tickets available from the below link)

June 20th 'Project Managing and Marketing the Soccer World Cup: 1966 and 1994'

Venue: Aston Business School 

June 22nd Poster Presentation: 'Using Archival Research in University Teaching'

Venue: University of York Teaching and Learning Conference

September 4th-6th 'Management and Business History Track'

Venue: University of the West of England, Bristol

Soccer Mad Boffins will be helping to run the track as well as presenting a paper - come and say hello!

We are hoping to give more talks and media appearances to tie in with the 2018 FIFA World Cup - please get in touch if you would like to book us!

For press and media enquiries please contact the University of York Press Office at or call 01904 322029 or 01904 322153.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Book Review: 'Circle of Life' by Adrian Webster

Reviewed by Alex Gillett

Image result for adrian webster circle of life

Webster's journey begins as a promising schoolboy footballer, before signing as an apprentice for Colchester United, at that time in the lower tiers of the English league.  After paying his dues, which included assisting the Groundman, preparing the team kit,  as well as training full-time with the team, he made the grade as a full-time professional.  

Crossing the ocean to try his luck in Canada, it wasn't too long before he was approached by a new NASL franchise, the Seattle Sounders, to be a part of its inaugural squad in 1974.  The Sounders was ambitious club with a solid plan to blend a team of ex-pat Brit professionals with up and coming local talent, so as to establish soccer as a sustainable concern in Seattle.

Webster enjoyed a successful few years on the Pacific Coast, highlights included big-ticket games against New York Cosmos (featuring Pele) and LA Aztecs (including George Best in their team).  Perhaps Webster's most famous moment was captaining the Sounders in the 1977 'Soccerbowl' Final, where they met Pele's NY Cosmos in an exciting game that culminated in end-to-end opportunities before the Cosmos eventually emerged victorious, in what was to be Pele's last competitive game.

Image result for adrian webster seattle wikipedia

Big-name stars came and went, and a key moment for the NASL occurred in 1979 when many of its players went on strike.  Webster provides some interesting narration about this, particularly the perspective of, and solidarity amongst the players.

After the strike was over the NASL recommenced and existed into the 1980s before television and sponsors began to lose interest.  As the NASL began to stall, many of its stars, including Adrian Webster, were lured by the opportunity to play indoor soccer in the MISL (Major Indoor Soccer League) and this proved to be a good move for a while.  

Leveraging his leadership abilities, there followed a spell working in coaching and leisure-centre management in the USA and UK , including chairmanship of the Special Olympics and a successful period back where his professional career began, with Colchester United.  Webster was then diagnosed with cancer, but after a period in hospital, he survived and wrote-up his memories from his life in football, deciding to donate royalties to a children's cancer charity.

All this and more is covered from first-hand experience in 'Circle of Life'.  Adrian Webster, provides highlights from two previous publications ('Eternal Blue Forever Green' and 'Soccer Bowl 77: Seattle Sounders v New York Cosmos') with subsequent reflections on his experiences and on his former team-mates, and new insights following his recent visit to Seattle, where he reunited with former teammates from the original 1974 Sounders team, Dave Butler and Dave Gillett.  During his visit Webster was awarded the prestigious Seattle Sounders 'Golden Scarf' in front of thousands of fans.

I really enjoyed reading this book, Webster has an accessible writing style and has a lot of great experiences to share. How many people can say they graduated almost seamlessly from Colchester Reserves to testing their abilities, in front of tens of thousands of fans, against opponents the likes of Pele and Best, and alongside team-mates including Mike England, Geoff Hurst, et al?  

Whilst not every city in the US took to soccer in the same way that they did in New York or Seattle, the NASL was still a fascinating time in the history of the sport, and this book provides a fascinating read with first-hand insight as to those halcyon  days.

All three of Adrian Websters books are available via Amazon, with a % of proceeds from sales donated to children's cancer charity.  Visit the following web page to order:

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Frontiers of Management History Book Series launched in conjunction with Emerald!

Soccer-Mad Boffins sign the contract at Emerald HQ
Frontiers of Management History is a new book series that will be published globally by Emerald Publishing.  

The series aims to provide an outlet for forward-thinking management and business historians, whose work addresses new perspectives, theories, frameworks, critiques, and applications for practice. By doing so, Frontiers of Management History will create a new space in which to champion the craft of the historian together with the method of the social scientist, two approaches which in today’s interdisciplinary environment are increasingly ‘speaking’ to each other.

Niall Kennedy (Emerald) with Kevin and Alex

The series will include edited collections as well as authored volumes of management history, and the series editors welcome theoretical, empirical and historiographical contributions concerned with organisations from various sectors. 

For more information or to propose an idea for a book, please email:

Photo credit: Mick from Emerald

Friday, 16 February 2018

Help a Dissertation Student

A request to our loyal readers:

Could you spare a few minutes to complete a questionnaire on behalf of another reader's undergraduate dissertation?

The student is in his final year at Worcester University and his research question is 'Should UK football teams use betting and gambling companies as shirt sponsors?'  

The questionnaire can be found online using this link:

This is an  interesting topic and we wish the student well with his dissertation.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

British Academy of Management 2018 Paper Submission Now Open!

The British Academy of Management (BAM) is the UK's premier management studies conference, attracting scholars from a broad sweep of management sub-disciplines, from supply chain management to strategy!

Kevin has been organizing the British Academy of Management' (BAM) Management and Business History Track, which focuses on promoting Management and Business History work of theoretical importance to the BAM audience, since 2011.  Last year Alex joined him, along with Roy Edwards from the University of Southampton and Joe Lane from LSE, to establish a BAM Special Interest Group for Management and Business History which will continue to help promote the best of Management and Business History to the BAM audience.  

The British Academy of Management's 2018 Conference will take place at the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK, from 4-6 September 2018.  This year's conference theme is Driving Productivity in Uncertain and Challenging Times.  Paper submission is now open until the 28th February.

The Management and Business History Track will run again this year, in addition to the SIG which is in its second successful year.  We encourage all theoretically motivated submissions in the broad management and business history field.  This year we particularly look to encourage the submission of workshops and symposia around a broad theme, as well as Full (5-7,000 word) and Developmental paper submissions (1-2,000 word).  Submissions from PhD students are also welcome, and we also encourage PhD students to apply to participate in the BAM Doctoral Symposium.  Please note that those submitting papers are also expected to contribute to the paper review process.

Papers on management history in sport are, of course welcome! 

The track CfP is as follows:
BAM Management and Business History Track 2018
This track aims to encourage the growing number of management and business historians who work in business schools and social science departments to engage in constructive debate with a wide range of management scholars. The 2018 conference theme, ‘Driving Productivity in uncertain and challenging times’, is an ideal opportunity to explore the value of historical study for management research. Histories of organizations, industries and institutions give us the opportunity to understand how managers have responded to uncertain and challenging times in the past, whether it be through war, economic crisis, scandal or other disruptions to their activities. Inspired by Fayol, Ford and Taylor managers also attempted to boost productivity, often with mixed results. In this track we specialize in chronologically or longitudinally motivated research. We welcome papers, symposia or workshop proposals either using new and innovative methodologies, or applying archival methodology to a new disciplinary context. We are also interested in context specific papers using more traditional historical methodology but which take innovative approaches to relate their findings to wider social science concerns. In addition, we appreciate papers dealing with the legacy of uncertainty in the past in business and management more generally, and how it has influenced the diversity of experience in present day businesses, regions and communities.
This year we encourage cross-disciplinary papers and workshop submissions that link different Tracks, while the main conference theme ought to feature prominently in all submissions. As a group we are inherently multi-disciplinary and believe in the application of theory to historical analysis, and there is no single epistemology for approaching this. We aim to encourage theoretically orientated social science history with a clear relationship to present day debates in the management discipline.

Some theoretical and empirical examples of the genre of work that we seek to welcome include:
Maclean, M., Harvey, C. and Clegg, S.R., 2016. Conceptualizing historical organization studies. Academy of Management Review, 41(4), pp.609-632.
Cummings, S. and Bridgman, T., 2011. The relevant past: Why the history of management should be critical for our future. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 10(1), pp.77-93.
Edwards, R., 2010. Job analysis on the LMS: mechanisation and modernisation c. 1930–c. 1939. Accounting, Business & Financial History, 20(1), pp.91-105.
Mollan, S. and Tennent, K.D., 2015. International taxation and corporate strategy: evidence from British overseas business, circa 1900–1965. Business History, 57(7), pp.1054-1081.
Tennent, K.D. and Gillett, A.G., 2016. Foundations of Managing Sporting Events: Organising the 1966 FIFA World Cup. Routledge.

More details about this year's conference and venue can be found here and you can find the paper submission website here

We hope to see you at Bristol in September!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Latest Published Article - Dynamic Sublimes, Changing Plans, and the Legacy of a Megaproject: The Case of the 1966 Soccer World Cup

We are immensely proud to announce the publication of our latest research paper in Project Management Journal, official journal of the Project Management Institute.

The abstract is as follows:

Global sporting events such as the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup have been described as megaprojects. The motives of decision makers for undertaking megaprojects are summarized by Flyvbjerg’s (2012, 2014) “four sublimes,” which lack a temporal dimension. We utilize a case study of the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England, applying the three levels of project management identified by Morris and Geraldi (2011), refined through Flyvbjerg’s four sublimes, to analyze the shifting nature of stakeholders’ motives. We evidence that Flyvbjerg’s sublimes are dynamic in response to change during the project timeline, creating new insights into project development and opportunities for research into historic projects.

Kevin and Alex signing their author's agreements with PMJ
The paper will appear in the December 2017/January 2018 Special Issue on Megaprojects and is available to read and download for free by clicking on the following link:

Merry Christmas from the Soccer-Mad Boffins...we hope you enjoy this present!

Whilst on the subject of Christmas, we have also been busy organizing a Christmas party for our students at The York Management School, University of York.  Here is a photo of the fantastic spread that was provided.  It also gave us a chance to talk about our research to the students.  We had some great conversations about World Cups past, present and future.  Roll on 2018...

Friday, 1 December 2017

Soccer Mad Boffins Appear at University of Hull

On Thursday 30th November we travelled through the snow across Yorkshire, to Hull and back.

The occasion was a research lecture hosted by the Marketing and Business Strategy subject group of Hull Business School, all about our work on the FIFA World Cups of 1966 and 1994.

Entitled 'Opportunities for All the Team: The 1966 and 1994 FIFA World Cups' the lecture was based on a working paper which we are developing for publication in a forthcoming special issue of a well known sports history journal.

We thoroughly enjoyed presenting our work to our friends at Hull, and hope to be back soon.

Alex and Kevin with lecture slides