Project code



School of Accounting, Economics and Finance

Start dates

October, February and April

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance and will be supervised by Dr Adam Cox, Dr Christina Philippou and Dr Joe Cox.

The work on this project will involve:

  • Investigate ways in which social impact of football clubs can be measured 
  • Build on existing literature to construct a rigorous methodology for measuring the social impact of clubs on communities
  • Construct a dataset of measures for social impact using primary and secondary data sources
  • Provide an opportunity for analysing the relationship between social value and financial or economic performance
  • Work in partnership with external organisations and relevant football clubs to deliver thesis results and recommendations contributing to both the research on social impact and practical real-world applications.

The introduction in 2023 of an Independent Football Regulator for men’s football and the Future of Women’s Football Review in England highlighted the importance of football clubs as heritage assets. It is the unique nature of the industry’s customer base, the supporters, that have often exposed football clubs to a greater level of public scrutiny than seen in other industries. The fostering of this sense of belonging, community, and ultimately societal value has in part provided a public good that would otherwise not be present without the football club. Social impacts are often seen through changes to health and wellbeing of participants in sport or changes to education and criminal activity. 

A number of football clubs in England have experienced financial difficulties since the Premier League was created in 1992, and even some of the best performing clubs are not resilient to external economic shocks. In many other industries, the financial stability of competing firms is unimportant to consumers, but the impact on society created by participation and engagement are seen as valuable public goods and, with respect to the aims of regulation, require protecting. 

Social value is often complex to measure but is vital to understand when considering the value of football clubs to the wider economy and policies that distribute financial support. Alongside the growing use of sport as a policy tool to promote societal benefits, there is a corresponding growing academic literature. However, the evidence surrounding the social impact of football is less developed. Providing estimates at a club level is rare and most notably seen through the UEFA Grow model and EY’s analysis of the Premier League, primarily through employment contributions and tax generation. Estimates of the social impact of English football clubs and a corresponding rigorous methodology remains a gap in current scientific knowledge.

This thesis will contribute to the literature on social impact in football by constructing a framework and dataset to measure social impact at club level in England. Beyond a contribution to knowledge, the results will be of direct relevance in ongoing policy discussions for professional and semi-professional football clubs, league organisers, and central government. 


Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only – eligibility criteria apply).

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry Requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in economics or finance or a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

This opportunity would suit a person with a desire to engage with stakeholders and policy-makers to inform current policy discussions using rigorous academic research. Experience of using qualitative or quantitative research techniques is essential.

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Christina Philippou ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Economics PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field. 

When applying please quote project code:AE&F4911024