Edited by Mathieu Winand and Christos Anagnostopoulos
Chapter 20: The transformation of German football Bundesliga clubs from members’ associations towards corporations and their governance implications—the case of Hamburger SV
Taking the example of German Bundesliga member Hamburger Sport-Verein (HSV) from 2014, this chapter analyzes the outsourcing of the professional football department from a members’ association to a stock corporation with external owners. The outsourcing took place after an intensive public debate spanning nine months. Competing concepts for the future structure of HSV were presented in this debate. These clearly demonstrated that, at its very core, the conflict dealt with the tension between professionalization and member involvement in the leadership of the professional football entity. Governance analysis shows that the members lost power because of the outsourcing. As it discontinued a long tradition, the outsourcing was a disruptive event that resembled a natural experiment and provided unusually favorable research opportunities. The fight of concepts revealed the preferences of club members about how a professional football entity should be managed in today’s environment, in which so much money flows into the football business. Usually, the members’ preferences are veiled. The ballot drove the revelation one step further and also indicated the strengths of the competing preferences. This case study identifies the analysis of the consequences of a successful outsourcing initiative as a promising research area. This chapter focuses on the qualitative member composition and provides evidence that HSV moved from engaging and contributing members of a community towards consumers and customers.
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