The Transformation of Elite-Level Association Football in England, 1970 to the present
The purpose of this thesis is to provide the first academic account and analysis of the vast changes that took place in English professional football at the top level from 1970 to the present day. It examines the factors that drove those changes both within football and more broadly in English society during this period. The primary sources utilised for this study include newspapers, reports from government inquiries, football fan magazines, memoirs, and oral histories, inter alia. This thesis is organised into five main chapters, along with an introduction and conclusion. In the introduction, the historiography of modern English football is dissected in order to contextualise my dissertation in terms of the existing literature. The first chapter explores the theme of football in decline from 1970 to the mid-1980s – diminishing crowds and attempts to reverse that trend, poor grounds, and increasing hooliganism. The second chapter examines the seminal event of the Hillsborough disaster, including the attitude of the police and press towards fans, the Taylor Report and the rebuilding of football stadia. The third looks at the Premiership, examining the reasons for its formation and its impact on the game, such as changes in supporter experience. The fourth chapter assesses the internationalisation of the game, in the era of the Bosman Ruling, as players were drawn to play in England not only from the continent but from around the world. The fifth chapter examines the advent of foreign ownership of English football clubs, assessing both its positive and negative consequences. All of these developments are anchored in a discussion of the broader social, economic, and political changes in modern Britain - including Thatcherism and the dominance of free-market economics, consumerism, and shifts in youth culture – that help to explain the salient changes in English football.
- Theses