New Directors, Customers, and Fans: The Transformation of English Football in the 1990s

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Anthony King University of Liverpool

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In the 1990s, English professional football has undergone rapid and marked changes with the restructuring of the Football League, the signing of new and lucrative television contracts, the construction of all-seater stadiums, and the growing involvement of progressive entrepreneurial capitalists—the new directors—in the game. This article examines one element of those transformations; the political use which the new directors have made of the concept of the customer. The article argues that the use of this term has been important to the transformation of the relation between the fan and the clubs, facilitating and legitimating the profit-making projects of the new directors. Drawing on the tradition of dialectical critical theory derived from Mannheim and Adorno, the article submits this notion of the customer critique to demonstrate its deliberate partiality and its intensely political nature.

Anthony King is with the Department of Sociology at the University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 7ZA, UK.

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