In football, as everywhere else in 21st century life, the issue of "local versus global" is coming increasingly to the fore. This week the Birkbeck College Sport Business Centre in Bloomsbury, renowned for its research into the business of sport in general and football in particular, is providing a week packed full of education and debate on subjects of pressing concern to all those devoted to the game.
Tonight from 6:30pm at the Brunei Gallery of SOAS in Thornhaugh Street near Russell Square, special guest Roberto Donadoni, manager of World Cup holders Italy, is joined by England's new general manager, Franco Baldini, English goalkeeping hero Ray Clemence and the evening's host, UCL academic and Italian football writer John Foot, in a session presented by Amygdala European called "Club Versus Country: the challenges of managing a national team in an era of increasing club power." Donadoni, a high-achiever as a club player and the youngest ever manager of the Azzurri, will be lecturing on the problems of organising international campaigns as clubs demand an ever bigger say in the outside commitments of their expensive players. He will also be proposing some solutions for discussion. We believe that this free event is currently fully subscribed, though there may be a handful of places available on the door.
On Wednesday night at 6pm in the more regular surroundings for Birkbeck's sport seminars of the Clore Management Centre on Torrington Square, Dr Rob Simmons of the University of Lancaster will speak on the dilemma that football administrators face in balancing the need to attract fans to their stadiums against the demands generated by the increasing numbers of people worldwide willing to pay handsomely for the privilege of ever-expanding television coverage in a talk entitled "A Tale of Two Audiences." Simmons will present evidence from England and Spain to support his conclusions as well as branching out into the issue of how wealth distribution in football affects competitive balance.
Thursday sees Birkbeck bringing together academics, journalists, youth academy directors and Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, for a one day conference called "Feet Drain" which will discuss key issues surrounding labour market migration in the football industry including an examination of the key trends, the effects of the football academies increasingly being introduced by wealthy clubs in developing countries and the impact on opportunities for home-grown footballers of a high number of overseas professionals coming into established domestic leagues. This event will also be held at the Clore Management Centre and admission is £40 (half-price for students and Birkbeck alumni).
If you're more interested in the social impact of football then Birkbeck's six week course in "Football, Culture & Society", starting this Thursday night between 6 and 9pm may be more what you're after. The course, hosted under the auspices of Criminology and Social Science and running over six further Thursdays, was originally prompted by issues arising from football hooliganism, but now covers a much broader remit including the state of 'the people's game', its global importance as a mass spectator sport, and its role in the community and popular culture. The full cost for the whole course is £110 (half-price for concessions).
Picture of a model of the C60 fullerene via fdecomite's Flickr stream.