Magnus Forslund på Myresjöhus arena i Växjö

Elite football clubs should collaborate more with universities on innovation

“Elite football clubs are not very innovative. Sure, they have built new arenas and developed their match arrangements. However, this has primarily just meant imitating what others have already done. There is great potential for more radical innovation”.

These are the words of Magnus Forslund, senior lecturer in business administration at Linnaeus University, who has carried out case studies on a number of elite football clubs to find out how they work with innovation. He goes on to explain:

"The elite football clubs I've studied have a relatively fragmentary and non-systematic innovation work. They imitate other clubs in both Sweden and abroad regarding the construction of new arenas, but other than that they often lack strategies of their own. Few clubs have the courage to challenge in any more radical ways. The clubs would benefit from collaborating more with other actors and interested parties".

"They could, for instance, involve companies, customers and universities in their innovation work. However, this is viewed with certain skepticism – particularly towards universities. This could perhaps be a result of us asking questions that challenge established knowledge at the clubs. At the same time, without asking those questions, it is difficult to create anything that is truly different, and not just a mimicking of what others have already done", Magnus Forslund explains.

Magnus Forslund has published an article on this topic – "Innovation in soccer clubs – the case of Sweden" – in the journal Soccer & Society. The article is based on research on innovation at Swedish elite football clubs.

The article can be found here.