Letter - Football clubs' CSR often unrecognised

PRWeek is right to commend Chelsea FC's commitment to responsible business ('Chelsea FC listens to its brand advisers,' 19 January).

As you point out, sports clubs are big business and uniquely placed to use the power of their brands.

We should, however, give credit to other Premiership clubs such as Manchester City, which recently celebrated 20 years of working strategically with the local community. And Charlton Athletic FC which, since returning to The Valley in 1992, has used community programmes to tackle crime and social exclusion, as well as develop its fan base and position the club as an important community hub.

Business in the Community's Clubs that Count initiative has shown that many football clubs are doing a lot of positive work, but often through a separate charity, which may be under-resourced.

Frequently the importance of what these charities do is not recognised, even by the club itself, which makes it difficult to communicate or evaluate their impact.

It is crucial to encourage clubs to develop responsible business strategies at the core of their operations, so adding value to their brand and therefore boosting appeal to potential sponsors.

When clubs move away from viewing CSR as philanthropy, to realising that it presents a strong business case, their community investment becomes more meaningful and beneficial for everyone.

Michelle Turnbull, project manager, Clubs That Count, Business in the Community.

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