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Future Football: a design for life: Conference 2016

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Broadhurst Park

FC United


M40 0FJ

United Kingdom

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"Future Football: a design for life": Conference by The Football Collective at FC United


The aim of the conference is to bring together football researchers, academics and students from across the disciplines to share research findings, interests, stories, methods and to develop better research and collaboration across the collective. The conference will also host guests from outside of academia, including journalists working in football and practitioners from the football industry.

We invite you to join us at Broadhurst Park, the home of FC United. in Manchester, on the Wednesday 30th November 2016, to take in this lively football city and discuss the current issues in the game.

How did we get to this?

Over a past few years, a few like-minded colleagues have benefited professionally and personally from collaboration and friendship created through a shared interest in understanding football. The conversation has always been football in society, covering sociology, business, management, governance and policy from grassroots to elite. We hope the conference will compliment existing events offering a place for researchers to build close connections, access support and collaborate.

This group, including Peter Millward, Jamie Cleland, Anthony May, Danny Fitzpatrick, John Hayton, Joel Rookwood, John Hughson, Mark Doidge, Paul Widdop and Dan Parnell began to discuss ways to replicate this network to help others, especially PhD students and early career researchers.  Without setting anything in stone the group wanted to create something that:

  • Brought together a group of like-minded academics, researchers, friends
  • Helped progress the football agenda, doing more interesting and stronger projects, working together
  • Created a place to collaborate, to showcase research and insight, to debate issues and to help others

Nothing too ambitious, just something that we have not found elsewhere. The collective would hopefully then create its own agenda and action on football over time.

Over the past few months the collective has grown. The group is not closed and is open to new members with the proviso that you have a research interest / activity in football and a commitment to supporting critical debate in football and supporting others on their own journey.

The two aims of to achieve this is to (i) deliver high quality events and to show case best practice and (ii) help share academic peer reviewed research in an accessible and understandable format for all on the site, which includes:

  • Share evidenced based commentary on football issues
  • Disseminate peer reviewed research on football
  • Open debate around key issues in related to football


Where are we now?

The website is up and running and we are accepting blogs on the above and growing the collective board to expand the reach and potential impact of the network.

We have also developed our first event: "Future Football: a design for life", which we hope to offer a quality, supporting environment to engage in genuine conference.

Future Football: a design for life: a conference by The Football Collective

The conference will take place on Wednesday 30th November 2016 in Manchester (United Kingdom). The 1-day programme will run from 9am until late Thursday evening. There are a number of ways to participate in the conference which is outlined below.

9:00am – 9:30am Arrival and refreshments

9:30am - 10am Welcome and introduction to The Football Collective

10am – 12noon PhD student or Early Career Researcher Workshop

12noon – 1pm Lunch

1pm - 3pm Research Insight Series

3:00pm – 3:30pm Break and refreshments

3:30pm – 5:30pm Keynote Panel Discussion Inc. refreshments 

5:30pm – 6:00pm Summary and way forward discussion Inc. refreshments

6:00pm - onwards - all participants are invited to continue the debate into the evening at our local curry house.

PhD student or Early Career Researcher Workshop: The purpose of these workshops is to create a positive, supportive and collegiate conference for presenters to provide a genuinely valuable experience.

We have 3 x 30minute presentation spaces for PhD students and/or Early Career Researchers to submit a paper or work in progress. As part of the workshop, each presenter would provide a 15min presentation followed by 15min discussion. Presenters will be expected to provide a 300 word abstract outlining the aims of your work, issues, challenges and questions you would like to discuss. Further presenters would be encouraged to present a written draft in advance of the conference for board members to provide critical friend feedback.

Within the discussion element of workshops the role of the participants would be to contribute to a positive and supportive environment for the presenters and to be prepared to provide insight, feedback and perspective on the presentation. The participants will have access to provide written feedback and support for the presenter, the discussion will be recorded in audio and a member collective will record a written account of the discussion keys points, all of which will be solely provided to the presenter post presentation for their reflection and consideration.

Research Insight Series: Within this two-hour period, The Football Collective board members and/or researchers and academics in football are invited to present. The purpose of this series is to share, discuss and create ideas and discussion to take into the evening.

Presentations are invited on published research, research interests, current research projects, research issues, methodological challenges, new research ideas, potential collaborative opportunities.

This will be an important time to share research updates and discuss critical issues in football. The format of these sessions will be split between three types of presentations: (i) 10min presentations followed by 10min discussion between presenter and participants and, (ii) PechaKucha 20x20 [a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds, with the images advancing automatically as you talk along with the images] followed by a discussion between a panel of presenters and participants, (iii) or tailored presentations and timings based on the needs of the presenter (i.e., performance, video etc).

If you would like to present, please provide a 300 word abstract (inc. title, author, affiliation) with an indication of the type of presentation you would be willing to contribute (either (i) 10min presentation, (ii) PechaKucha, or (iii) something else.

Keynote Panel Discussion: This will be an informal environment for three keynotes and our chair, Dr Peter Millward (Reader in Sociology at Liverpool John Moores University) to provide keys insights from industry. The intention is to develop critical debate on key industry issues and to create a dialogue between practitioners and researchers. We will announce our guest speakers over the coming months. The discussion will aim to shed insight on the realities of high profile football issues including governance, human rights, corruption and the future for football and football research.  

Ways to participate in the conference

There are three-ways you can get involved in the Future Football: a design for life conference:

One – Present as part of the PhD student or Early Career Researcher Workshop, to do so please provide a 300 word abstract outlining the aims of your work, issues, challenges and questions you would like to discuss. Further presenters would be encouraged to present a written draft in advance of the conference for board members to provide critical friend feedback.

Two – Present as part of the Research Insight Series, to do so please provide a 300 word abstract (inc. title, author, affiliation, type of presentation (either (i) PechaKucha, (ii) 10min presentation or (iii) something else).

Three – you do not have to commit to presenting. You can come to contribute to the discussions, to learn, to share, ask questions, take ideas away and/or develop new contacts with like-minded people.

How to submit and/or register

All abstracts must be submitted to Dan Parnell by Wednesday 10 August 2016 via email to D.Parnell@mmu.ac.uk

All registrations, including those for presenters should be made by Wednesday 10 August 2016.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Dan Parnell (d.parnell@mmu.ac.uk) or Paul Widdop (p.widdop@leedsbeckett.ac.uk) via email.

The cost for the conference

The conference is a product of The Football Collective and there are no additional or add-on costs to the conference other than facilities, refreshments and potentially some travel costs for presenters or participants to Broadhurst Park, the home of FC United. To that end, the conference is not-for-profit and will remain that way, with income and expenditure being provided online post-conference to ensure a transparent process. We have discussed and deliberated the cost the conference with members of the collective board to ensure we are able to meet the needs of every potential guest. The cost will include morning and afternoon refreshments and lunch during the day. The evening meal is not included.

  • PhD students (without funding): Free.
  • Non-waged: £20.
  • Students (with funding): £30
  • The Football Collective Members: £30.
  • Non-members: £40.

With our calculations we gather that within the above brackets some people may have financial challenges in terms of the conference fee and/or travel. We would ask you to adopt a pay-what-you-can approach and were assistance is needed, we as a collective (dependent on registrations and finances) we would be happy to discuss ways in which the collective can support. Do not hesitate to drop Dan Parnell a confidential email (d.parnell@mmu.ac.uk). Any additional funding will be donated to the Homeless World Cup organisation.

Location and travel

We are pleased to host the first ever Football Collective event at FC United. The brackground to FC United: The club set up in protest to Malcolm Glazer's takeover of Manchester United' is a statement often used to describe FC United. But while there is no doubt that FC would not have happened without the American invasion, it was the catalyst, the final straw, but not the sole reason.

The material theft of a Manchester institution, forcibly taken from the people of Manchester, was the tip of a pyramid of destruction, with changing kick off times for the benefit of television, soulless all-seater stadia full of 'new' supporters intent to sit back and watch rather than partake in the occasion, heavy handed stewarding and ridiculously priced tickets propping it all up.

By May 2005 some supporters had had enough. The failure to prevent Glazer and repeat the successful repulsion of Rupert Murdoch in 1998 resurrected a 'last resort' idea from that previous campaign and the FC United wheels were put in motion. A group of individuals determined to continue the fight formed a steering committee and FC United of Manchester was delivered.

Critics of the idea argued that if supporters were disgruntled with the Premiership then why didn't they go and support other local cash-strapped clubs instead of setting up their own? But that wouldn't have been theirs would it? It wouldn't have been United and it wouldn't have been right to takeover another club after they had just been taken over themselves. Nor could they drift off in various directions and be lost to each other and maybe football forever. They wanted to maintain the momentum of the protest, to stick together, to sing United songs, to reminisce and bring back the good bits of the good old days. They wanted Our Club, Our Rules and they got just that, a member owned democratic, not-for-profit organisation created by Manchester United fans. A club accessible to all of the Greater Manchester community, dedicated to encouraging participation of youth whether it be playing or supporting and to providing affordable football for all. 

Most recently, FC United have moved into Broadhurst Park, referred to as many as the home of fan-owned football. For further history and research on FC United see here.

Go to travel page for Broadhurst Park, the home of FC United here.

broadhurst park


Manchester has a range of low-cost and high quality hotels in the Oxford Road area, where we will be eating in the evening and a short taxi ride from Broadhurst Park, FC United.

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Broadhurst Park

FC United


M40 0FJ

United Kingdom

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