Social disclosure and legitimacy in Premier League football clubs: the first ten years

Richard Slack, Philip Shrives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – This longitudinal study aims to examine the extent to which football clubs in the Premier League communicate community activities in their annual reports through social disclosure. The research also seeks to examine the relevance and use of the annual report as a disclosure medium by football clubs. The need for social disclosure is examined in conjunction with media coverage of issues affecting Premier League clubs. Design/methodology/approach – This study is deductive using three main hypotheses to test relevant underpinning theory used within the research. The study uses content analysis of annual report social disclosures of ten Premier League football clubs from 1993 to 2002, covering the first ten years of the Premier League. A questionnaire was used to evaluate the use of annual reports by those clubs. In addition, media reporting data from The Sunday Times is examined. Findings – This study finds that there has been an increase in adverse media reporting concerning football, football clubs and their activities. One way in which clubs have responded to this increased attention and criticism is by expanding their community activities and associated social reporting, although reporting varies between clubs. The study finds that football clubs do value the annual report as an effective means of communication. Research limitations/implications – The authors acknowledge that some limitations inevitably affect the generalisabilty of this research. The use of content analysis, the precise methods adopted and the reliance on The Sunday Times constitute limitations. Nevertheless, the research has shown that clubs do engage with their local communities and have increased their reporting of such activities. The research has implications for those football clubs who fail to report their social activities. Further research could explore, why some clubs disclose more than others. Originality/value – Football is a visible and important part of the UK economy. The study of social reporting by football clubs is in its infancy and this paper tests and applies relevant accounting theory to that sector. It shows that football clubs have begun to take social disclosure seriously within their annual reports.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-28
JournalJournal of Applied Accounting Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


Dive into the research topics of 'Social disclosure and legitimacy in Premier League football clubs: the first ten years'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this