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Community Relations Audit: Glentoran FC, Belfast (May 2011)
 

Community Relations Audit: Glentoran FC, Belfast (May 2011)

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    Community Relations Audit: Glentoran FC, Belfast (May 2011) Community Relations Audit: Glentoran FC, Belfast (May 2011) Document Transcript

    • Glentoran Football ClubMay 2011Dr Alan BruceAndy GallowayUniversal Learning Systems COMMUNITY. RELATIONS.AUDIT
    • Contents1.0 Executive Summary..............................................................42.0 Terms of Reference & Methodology..........................52.1 Terms of Reference........................................................................52.2 Methodology. .................................................................................63.0 Analysis of Findings and Results..................................63.1 Providing Analysis (STEP)............................................................63.2 Stakeholder perceptions.............................................................73.3 Theme 1 – People..........................................................................73.4 Theme 2 – Place. ............................................................................83.5 Theme 3 - Programmes................................................................104.0 Conclusions.................................................................................114.1 Change Management. .................................................................114.2 Opportunity and Potential..........................................................114.3 Community Engagement............................................................114.4 Business model and learning organisation...........................125.0 Recommendations................................................................12References............................................................................................13Appendices..........................................................................................141 Survey Data. ....................................................................................142 Background Issues and Themes (Literature Review)..........18Acknowledgements......................................................................23 . 3
    • 1.0 Executive Summary • There are opportunities to develop a facility that provides more than a football game on a weekly basis during “My heart still lies with Glentoran. Do I go there on a the football season. There are opportunities for multi- Saturday? No I don’t”. (Extract from an individual interview) sports provision, community services, meeting rooms, corporate hospitality, retail provision and other revenue This report was commissioned in February 2011 and was generating services which provide added value to both concluded in April 2011. Its purpose is to provide a ‘snapshot’ of the the Club and to the broader community of East Belfast. perception of Glentoran Football Club within the wider community, contextualised by the social, technical, economical and political This report sets out the terms of reference and the methodology issues impacting on East Belfast and Northern Ireland at this time. of the audit, followed by an analysis of the findings, with samples of some of the views and comments provided during the process. The report deals with a number of issues, not least that of sectarianism and racism that impact on football not only in Northern Ireland The report concludes with a consideration of change management, but across Europe. This report also recognises there are significant opportunity, potential, community engagement and business associated issues around gender, age, disability and dependents. model, with a set of twenty recommendations designed to move the ‘Respect’ Initiative forward, and importantly, ‘to promote The key findings can be summarised: Glentoran as the “people’s club” where all people irrespective of religious belief or national identity can be united in their • Attendance at matches is in apparent decline as the traditional support of Glentoran, and feel welcome and included’. fan demographic give their support to English or Scottish Premiership games which are readily available through TV media, or engage in support for alternative sports such as Rugby. • Many fans, past and present, are critical of both the venue and the customer experience in supporting Glentoran Football Club. • Glentoran is perceived by many as a predominantly protestant football club in a predominantly protestant community, yet there are many fans from the catholic community who, even if some feel marginalised by the events of Northern Ireland’s most recent history, are positively disposed to support the best traditions of Glentoran Football Club. • Engagement by Glentoran Football Club with the community is viewed by the community as piecemeal, inconsistent and ineffective. • Community support for Glentoran is significantly high from all sections and stakeholder groups, and the club is seen as both an integral and important component of East Belfast. • There are opportunities for community engagement open to Glentoran, from community groups, immigrant groups, females, families, health promotion, and most consistently in this audit, by engaging with children and young people through schools, youth clubs, and soccer schemes. • There is increasing dissatisfaction with the facilities provided at The Oval, presented by many as a key reason for non-attendance at matches. • There is an overwhelming desire to have a stadium where Glentoran can play quality football, to a community fan base, in a shared space that welcomes and includes all supporters regardless of their religious, political, or racial background, whether this is a re-development on the existing Oval site or a new site within East Belfast.4
    • 2.0 Terms of Reference and Methodology wider community as a baseline to developing recommendations on greater understanding, inclusion and pro-active tolerance.2.1 Terms of Reference The Northern Ireland Office report, A Shared Future, is theGlentoran Football Club commissioned a Community foundation for the community Good Relations strategy. TheRelations Audit in February 2011 as part of its Respect vision is for “a peaceful society in which everyone can freelyInitiative. This initiative aimed to deliver a programme of and fully participate, achieve their full potential, and live freeactivities to address intercommunity prejudice. Such prejudice from poverty”. This conceptual framework formed the basis forwas acknowledged as having the potential to cause harm the Community Relations Audit and the work undertaken.to Glentoran Football Club and its image. The initiative isdesigned to implement a series of measures to tackle any Additional themes were identified toform of discrimination, defamation, harassment or abuse inform strategy. These included:and to help re-shape Glentoran as ‘tolerant’ and ‘inclusive’. • Tackling visible manifestations of sectarianism and racismIt ultimately aims to promote Glentoran as the “people’s club” • Reclaiming shared spaceswhere all people irrespective of religious belief or national • Developing shared communitiesidentity can be united in their support of Glentoran, and feel • Promoting equal opportunities and cultural diversitywelcome and included. (‘Respect’ Initiative Glentoran Football Club) • Developing shared workspaces.Glentoran Football Club saw the community relations audit asa tool to gauge perceptions (both internal and external) of theclub. It was also designed to provide a series of recommendationsto be incorporated into Glentoran’s programme of activities(2011-2013) and significantly, a tool to inform the futurebusiness strategic planning for Glentoran Football Club.The key outputs of the audit were identified as:• Engaging key stakeholders to gauge how Glentoran Football Club is perceived within the wider community• Consultation with key stakeholders to develop greater understanding of community relations issues associated with Glentoran Football Club• Engaging key stakeholders on potential opportunities available to Glentoran Football Club to improve Community Relations• Engaging key stakeholders on how Glentoran Football Club can work towards the achievement of a tolerant, inclusive football club, where underrepresented groups feel welcome•  establish a scoring matrix that will provide a community To relations base-line for Glentoran Football Club•  provide recommendations of resources To needed to improve Community Relations•  highlight the key obstacles in tackling sectarianism and other To manifestations of intolerance, while promoting reconciliation•  disseminate the findings and recommendations of the To audit to the project team and relevant stakeholders.Universal Learning Systems was engaged to undertake this work.The agreed aim of the audit was to analyse the perceptions andunderstanding of Glentoran Football Club in its community and the 5
    • 2.2 Methodology 3.0 Analysis of Findings and Results The methodology of the audit process was undertaken in 3.1 Providing Analysis (STEP) a series of stages and was conducted in an action-learning manner. It sought to research, source and produce information This audit was undertaken with a business approach. It was that can be translated into meaningful findings that would understood quite early on that unless there is an understanding inform both policy direction and strategic understanding. of the customers, consumers and the environment in which the business of Glentoran competes, opportunities would The methodology sought to provide a ‘snapshot’ of the perception be missed in gaining an understanding and responding of Glentoran Football club within the wider community, to the needs of the market place (the community). contextualised by the social, technical, economical and political issues impacting on East Belfast and Northern Ireland in 2011. Generating a sustainable income is critical to the future survival of Glentoran, and if gate receipts fall while operating costs The key stages of the process included: continue to rise, it will put significant pressure on the Club’s solvency. The audit team is cognisant of other football clubs on 1. Agreed Terms of Reference both sides of the Irish border and the Irish Sea that have entered 2. Literature Review administration in recent years as rents gained fail to match 3. Primary Research the fixed costs of maintaining a competitive football team. 4. Consultation Process 5. Production of Final Report. What became apparent very early in the audit was that the traditional demographic of the fan base who attended matches The process commenced in February 2011, regularly in previous years was diminishing. As a result the audit concluding in May 2011 and included: became focused on exploring the new or under-developed market opportunities suggested by respondents, whilst considering why • Extensive series of individual interviews with Glentoran traditional market opportunities appeared to be in decline. management, supporters, researchers, community stakeholders and public representatives in sixteen structured interviews One of the most common and classic ways of carrying out an and a significant number of informal conversations analysis of the external environment for any business is to use • Meetings with staff and personnel in Glentoran the STEP model (Fahey and Narayanan 1986). This considers Football Club and its associated structures the environment in four sectors: sociological, technological, • Six focus group meetings economic and political. By examining these sectors it is suggested • External consultation with academics and community a business can understand the current or potential effect of relations experts over eight structured interviews high-level shifts in the general operating environment. • Extensive literature and research review • Public information and consultation day in Glentoran The following STEP analysis was carried out on the conclusion Football Club on 25th February 2011. of the primary research in an attempt to capture the perception, opinion and outlook of the broad range of respondents who The process can be summed up under a contributed to the audit. As in all such analysis, the results are number of key determinants. recorded at a high level and are neither prescriptive nor conclusive. These are: Sociological • Addressing negative issues on sectarianism, racism, age, gender, • Significant changes to the family unit, including disability and dependents or intolerant behaviours or activities instability in parental influence and modelling • Positive promotion of welcome and inclusion • Increase in single parent families, often headed up by the female • Evaluation of perceptions of Glentoran Football • Lack of paternal influence in the family home Club (both internal and external) • High levels of unemployment • Strategic development of positive community relations through: • High levels of social deprivation o  Proactive policies and awareness training • High dependency on social benefits o Strategic outreach measures • Reduced emphasis on contact sports and team games o Quality business focus as the norms of children interacting together o Professional standards and structures. • Introduction of ‘new’ sports such as Ice Hockey, and a renaissance of Rugby as a competitive premier team sport • Loss of industries, manufacturing and especially the heavy industry of East Belfast • Greater reliance on ‘service’ industries and mobility of workers • Integration of new nationalities and ethnic groups in the community (approximately 8000 Polish nationals residing in East Belfast).6
    • Technological 3.3 Theme 1 – People• Availability of ‘live’ football on TV via terrestrial, digital and satellite networks In a divided society Glentoran has become, rightly or wrongly• Over exposure to English Premiership, Scottish associated with one particular tradition of that society. This Premiership, Champions League and International perception has been greatly increased by the vehemence and football through wide choice of media channels intensity of explicit political and semi-political expression which• Expectation of technical experiences at entertainment from time to time has appropriated Glentoran’s traditions and and sporting venues (big screens, entertainment, reputation to its own exclusive standpoint. In addition to being advertising etc) which add to the customer experience historically inaccurate, this co-opting of the Glentoran mantle• Availability of ‘virtual’ gaming such as ‘Football to serve other purposes is profoundly counter-productive. Manager’ and other console applications which appeal to the younger generation and have substituted “Some people go to soccer matches to ventilate, to call out sectarian the physical involvement in the game remarks and get away with it. Once we break down the acceptance• Reliance on computer games and games consoles replacing of sectarian remarks it will make a difference. If more and more think traditional games and sports as leisure activities of Glentoran as being part of ‘my community’ and make the linkage,• Demand for ‘parking space’ as fewer customers are prepared to then those ‘messers’ become much less relevant”. (Individual interview) walk or use public transport, but prefer to use their own vehicles. Recent years have amply demonstrated that neither unionismEconomical nor nationalism in Northern Ireland is either monolithic or• Significant economic downturn immutable. Seismic shifts are underway in all communities where• Impact of long-term unemployment all traditions and perspectives are open to question and challenge.• Reduced (or no) disposable income for many families• High increase in consumable commodities such as fuel costs, “Glentoran is a football club in the working class part of heating oil, and vehicle fuel impacting on family budgets Belfast – it’s a family club that should be welcoming to• Availability of low-cost flights and travel, making Scottish and all sections of the community”. (Focus Group Response) English Premiership matches accessible for some of the fan-base. A more productive role for Glentoran than identification withPolitical any one tradition is a pro-active embracing of all traditions, and• Progress in peace process none. Creating a welcome space for diversity and difference• Increased community relations on cross community basis can be a lasting legacy of the real Glentoran tradition.• Political stability increasing in local government and NI Assembly• Reduced sectarian tensions “Not everyone is a Glentoran supporter, but the perception is that•  Lack of trust between some communities, or between everyone in East Belfast is a Glentoran supporter and predominantly certain demographics in some communities East Belfast does in fact support Glentoran… It is a working class• Dismantling of some political barriers area. It’s all about the club, and the sense of community. They get•  growing respect for sporting traditions across the communities A a sense of community from attending matches”. (Individual interview)•  Regulation introduced by UEFA to eliminate sectarianism and racism within football The irony is that this potential already exists and is•  Regulation to combat the practice of discrimination supported by the testimony of history and almost all across the range of discriminatory categories (for respondents to this audit. The affection for and welcome to example, Section 75 Northern Ireland Act 1998) Glentoran from the Catholic community is an existing fact.• Regulation in Health & Safety requirements In many ways this welcome is tentative and conditional• Regulation in accessibility requirements. – but communities are prepared to engage.3.2 Stakeholder Perceptions “Personally, with me you are pushing an open door, and also in Short Strand with the right approach youThe findings from the research, individual and group interviews, will get the same response”. (Individual interview)focus groups and survey show some interesting and consistentpatterns. These relate to perceptions of Glentoran by the various Many respondents discussed adopting a more professionalelements in a historically divided but demographically changing and quality driven approach to the governance,external community. They relate also strongly to the role that operation, administration and customer service aspectsGlentoran can or should play in the change process of that evolving of Glentoran’s operations. The acquisition of a full timecommunity. In this process, Glentoran needs to position itself in a Community Relations Officer is significant for a numbernumber of fields. These are considered within three main themes: of reasons – and has already made a striking impact.• People• Place• Programmes 7
    • “If people want to speak to Glentoran, who do they 3.4 Theme 2 – Place speak to? The Community Relations officer is a key development. He is really key”. (Individual interview) First and foremost it is a sporting club, concentrating on one sport, football. Much of the commentary and response has This fact, and others like it, can play a vital role in engaging with the understandably focused on the quality (real or perceived) of complex community environment in attractive and win-win ways. the football and the standard of play. No amount of nostalgia for a past (whether mythic or real) can contradict realties “What the club needs is someone who can go out and sell around levels of performance, results and attendances. the club. Not just the community relations officer, the players and the coach can also do that”. (Focus Group Response) “I go to matches myself. I wouldn’t say it is a pleasure, it is a chore at times. The ground is a big issue, as is the standard of football A significant stakeholder group with strong, passionate and forward and the lack of success over the last five years” (Individual interview) thinking ideas were the fans, who demonstrated an understandable desire to experience improved fortunes once more at Glentoran, In the final analysis, Glentoran will stand or fall on the quality both off and on the field. They expressed strong opinions about of its game and how that quality is perceived by those who the level of contact they had with the management of the Club. choose to engage with it by attending – or staying away. “There is little regard for the fans, who are ardent, hard working The customer experience is a recurring issue throughout the and passionate. But they (the Board) won’t communicate audit. The direct challenge to both Glentoran and other football with us. They treat us like mushrooms though they come clubs is the proliferation of alternatives in recent years which cap in hand if they want money”. (Focus Group Response) pose a direct challenge to the domestic game. These challenges emerge most immediately from other footballing alternatives, “The ‘Spirit of 41’ – we all got together to pay the tax man and but also from other sports, most notably Rugby and Ice Hockey. keep the club going, it was made up of fans. Each separate supporters club ran their own events” (Focus Group Response) “The facilities do not match up to their counterparts in other sports. Going to the Odyssey is an enjoyable experience. Going “There is about 20 supporters clubs. We raise a lot across to a match at Old Trafford is an enjoyable customer of money to pay the debts, but it is very dispiriting if experience. They have done a lot of work at Ravenhill, and you are not kept informed, and communication is the going there is now a good customer experience. You can go lifeblood of any organisation”. (Focus Group Response) to a rugby match and feel safe. Feeling safe is an issue for football all over the world, but part of that gets tidied up as The Board was perceived as often operating in a fragmented way you improve the customer experience”. (Individual interview) due to divided responsibilities and the massive impact of change and uncertainty. It was mentioned that the Board often endures a In a globalised media environment, Glentoran is facing very stiff high level of abuse from supporters. There has been strong evidence competition from satellite and terrestrial television providing a of strain and inadequate communications. Attendances are falling ready menu of football, including the English and Scottish Premier and the financial situation is far from healthy, and rather than Leagues and European Champions League amongst others. apportion blame, it is felt that a renewed emphasis on commercially These matches can be viewed from the comfort of home or in realistic community outreach could be highly beneficial. the atmosphere and environment of licensed premises or clubs, and is becoming the preferred choice of many football fans. “The Board need to consider that the East Belfast they grew up in has changed. They need to ask themselves ‘is it the existing supporters “However, these days there is too much TV football, and there is they need to cater for, or is it the potential supporters in the a big issue with facilities in clubs. The impact of alternatives and community’? You need to cater to future business”. (Individual interview) competition is having a significant effect”. (Individual interview) “The deciding factor for me is if the customer experience is good enough to still enjoy the game, even if the team loses”. (Individual interview) Some stakeholder groups raised concerns on whether they would feel safe attending a football match at ‘The Oval’. This was not restricted to Catholics and Nationalists, nor solely concern of threats or violence of a sectarian nature, there were also concerns raised around hooliganism and clashes between rival fans assumed to come from the same religious and political background. Young people, females, and the Polish community all expressed safety8
    • concerns. Young adult males and long term fans had none or And there was always potential to share the facility with otherfew concerns for safety, at the Oval or at any other stadiums. sports, making it a more accessible, and inclusive shared space. “I don’t think the sectarianism is that bad and the media have “There could be sharing with the GAA or Rugby, buta lot to answer for – they pick up on the behaviour of a few there is also scope for a facility that provides track andidiots and blow it out of proportion – but media portrayal field, or tennis, or bowls, and it needs crèche facilitiesof soccer in general is an issue”. (Focus Group Response) and to be family friendly” (Focus Group Response)A significant issue, especially for the Catholic/Nationalist community Access for all emerges as a constant issue – for those withwas the single source of access and egress, through an area which disabilities, for families, for children. This is more than an opportunity.traditionally is seen as Unionist and Loyalist territory, and is not From the hard evidence provided to the audit, it is an imperativeconsidered by many to be either a shared space, or a safe space. if the Club is to survive. The issue of accessibility was unclear for many respondents, with little or no knowledge of the accessibility“Given where it is based doesn’t help. It is all about perception. for wheelchair users or those with restricted capacity. Car-parkingThe area up there has to be re-developed”. (Individual interview) was considered as inadequate. There was no awareness of basic facilities such as toilets adapted or designed for the disabled. “… people feeling safe. Going in is no problem, and watchingthe match is no problem. It’s going out. If you are identified as a “There is no sanitary facilities, no facilities for disabled, I wouldCatholic you won’t get out without comment”. (Focus Group Response) integrate the disabled area with the family area”. (Individual interview)“I have never walked down it (Dee Street) in my life, I “99% of those attending drive cars. Try getting a parking space.have never walked to The Oval” (Individual interview) You don’t want to walk a mile to the match” (Focus Group Response)“There is a lot of work going on to make it more acceptable, but “We have a Milk Bar which is fabulous, but it is out of placebecause of where it is I don’t feel safe going there” (Focus Group Response) at the Oval. It now includes a fully functioning disabled toilet and baby changing facility” (Focus Group Response)“I would love to see the time coming when wecould feel safe” (Focus Group Response) There is only one way to increase gate receipts. That is to have the team performing and facilities in keeping with the“If the union flag is flying, that is saying ‘it is unionist’. They 21st century, not the 19th century”. (Focus Group Response)would be better with no flags”. (Individual interview) “Organize a crèche for children beside the stadium to dropAnother topic which arose consistently throughout the audit children off, then they can watch the match and collect theprocess was the potential re-development of the Oval, or the kids after 90 minutes – it works”! (Focus Group Response)re-location of Glentoran Football Club to another site. Manystakeholders raised the topic as an area of concern, not necessarily “There are not even signs pointing to the Oval” (Focus Group Response)in opposition to re-locating, but the unanimous view was stronglyopposed to re-locating to any area other than a site in East Belfast. One stakeholder group, young people, highlighted their concerns of safety, and presented one specific consideration which they“When you look at the stand, it’s falling about. If you moved felt would improve their ‘feeling safe’ at football matches acrossto the Danny Blanchflower stadium the infrastructure is the Irish League, the issue of ‘Stewarding’. This was not unique toalready there and it has a car-park” (Focus Group Response) Glentoran, but presented a much broader picture of how Stewards at football matches are perceived as being powerless to intervene“I would be an advocate of re-developing the Oval. I don’t if security issues or inappropriate behaviours arose. As a groupthink the parking is as big a problem. I know loads of guys who they were in favour of additional security measures such as CCTVwould love to stay at the Oval but don’t think it feasible. It would cameras facing the fans, and making stadiums ‘all seated’ venuesbe cheaper to build a new stadium” (Focus Group Response) “They need to bring in proper events security all the time,A number of stakeholders believed a new ground would have like they do for the big matches”. (Focus Group Response)added value. It would enable the provision of an improvedcustomer experience in terms of parking, catering and toilets. It Many respondents mentioned issues of governance. Indeed,could provide additional income streams through (for example) the overlapping and sometimes contradictory roles of thefast food outlets on the stands. It could tap into the potential various bodies in question were difficult to appreciate. A healthy,to generate income outside match days from other sports. It transparent and mutually supportive internal governancecould benefit from a 4G pitch, provide conferencing facilities model is critical for cohesion and the development of sharedwith the closest venue to George Best Airport, provide corporate values. It is also critical for commercial success. This facthospitality, or rent out offices as an additional revenue stream. was also mentioned in responses from Glentoran staff. 9
    • 3.5 Theme 3 - Programmes “There are Polish language schools on Saturday mornings, bring a few Glentoran players to them - Polish players Many respondents felt that it was simply unsustainable to operate have it in their contracts to go into schools each week in the competitive environment of contemporary football to work with kids in coaching” (Focus Group Response) without a proactive strategy based on creating a superb customer experience and increased community engagement. This raised One respondent believed outreach should begin before school age. for all respondents the issue of linkage and lateral thinking. It went beyond physical facilities (although these are crucial) and “They (Glentoran) need to start earlier than secondary or primary straight to the question of multi-use facilities, schools programs, school, or even before the child reaches four. They need to community outreach, staff training, technology and policy. start at with pregnant women. Every pregnant mother gets a ‘bounty bag’ in the pre-natal process. Why not put in a bib or A constant issue raised has been the absence of strategic a baby-grow, or information on nutrition”. (Individual interview) perspectives around the inclusion of women. Every young male footballer has a mother. Response after response New migrant communities represent a significant potential indicated that effective and meaningful engagement with audience for all Irish League clubs, none more so than Glentoran. women and the creation of a space where women feel The largest concentration of the Polish Community in Northern welcome, safe and involved would pay rich dividends. Ireland live in East Belfast. Links were already established with a past Glentoran player from the Polish Community. “Targeting the mammies, that is right. I took my children to see their first football match”. (Focus Group Response) “There are Polish folk all over Northern Ireland, so for example, Glentoran could play against Newry, and Polish supporters from “Do they even have ladies toilets”? (Focus Group Response) Newry would turn up to support Glentoran”. (Focus Group Response) “First, the ground needs to be more inviting to families, “There are Polish guys who would want to go to see and females. I wouldn’t bring my wife to the Oval. I Glentoran, but need to be welcomed in. They want to go used to bring her there a lot when we were younger, but somewhere, but don’t know where”. (Focus Group Response) I wouldn’t bring her there now”. (Individual interview) “The hours of the Irish League is the same as the SPL and the “The only toilets women would want to use is Premiership, and the same as the amateur leagues. Lower in the milk bar” (Focus Group Response) leagues in Poland play on a Sunday” (Focus Group Response) Perhaps the most consistent issue raised throughout the audit was the apparent lack of schools or youth outreach strategy. Most stakeholder groups had an awareness and/or even an involvement with the Glentoran Academy, but all respondents consistently believed that a key to future success lay in targeting children through schools outreach and youth programmes. “They should target schools to get young fans in on cheap tickets”. (Focus Group Response) “If they don’t get into the schools, the kids won’t go. Kids force the issue. Kids won’t give their parents peace until they agree to take them to a match. Fathers will get it in the neck from both mothers and children, and will take the child to the match to get his head peace”. (Individual interview) “I would focus on schools. Maybe throw out 300 free tickets – but it would have to be a good experience to make them want to come back”. (Focus Group Response) “Do they market themselves to schools”? (Focus Group Response) “Do they market themselves to youth clubs and base it on a cross-community basis”? (Focus Group Response)10
    • 4.0 Conclusions the opportunities to offer a ‘service’ to the community that goes beyond the football field has never been so relevant.4.1 Change Management Glentoran’s rich tradition includes as well a responsibility toOne significant outcome of the audit has been the overwhelming contribute back into the community from which it emerged.view from all respondents that change is required for Glentoran to This is not simply about commemorating past achievements.survive. Change has been suggested in many guises, and across the It is also about setting standards of excellence, inclusion andrange of discussions, with as many opposing views as shared views. diversity which would put Glentoran in a position of leadership.There are those who want radical reformation, and yet others who A critical weakness in developing an effective diversitysee a need for minor adjustments and incremental improvement. strategy and proactive community inclusion strategy wouldThere are those who want revolution and those who want evolution. be to become passive and reacting only to external pressures. The ‘fire in the belly’ sense around effective development ofThere are common themes which run throughout this audit community and diversity opportunities should be championedprocess. These themes demand a certain amount of change to because: this should be done because it is right, it is visionary,take place. Community groups want to engage with Glentoran, it is appropriate and it is productive for all stakeholders. but they also want Glentoran to engage with them. All of thestakeholders who took part in the audit spoke of the need to 4.3 Community Engagementengage with young people and provide services to schools. There is an overwhelming body of support for the club and a A structured community engagement program would explore,unanimous desire for Glentoran’s continued survival in Irish league identify, analyse and implement community interventionsfootball. There is significant cross-community support, and a which both complements the Football Club, but perhapsdesire to watch Glentoran play quality football in a ‘shared space’, more acutely build community support which can be realisedwhether that is the Oval, or a new facility located in East Belfast. through increased attendance rates and gate receipts, thusThere is an opportunity for Glentoran to be a catalyst for bringing helping to secure the future of this historic institution. communities together, healing hurts and re-establishing oldrelationships. There are opportunities to address social issues, assist Reacting to change, addressing needs, building bridges,in providing health and wellbeing education to the community. establishing new partnerships: these are the approaches required to increase Glentoran’s profile, and build new levels of supportThis audit represents a snapshot in time. It also provides and interest amid new and emerging sectors and communities.a baseline against which future measurement may betaken, to establish the effectiveness and impact of any There is an ideal opportunity to co-ordinate the activities ofstrategic direction which emanates from this audit. all of the Glentoran ‘family’: Board, Players, Staff, Foundation, and Community Trust. This should rest with the Community Relations Officer of Glentoran Football Club. The resulting4.2 Opportunity and Potential output will be an integrated approach to address both the internal and the external needs of the club.In the audit, it was acknowledged by both traditionalcommunities that there is a lot of good work that goes on It is evident that there has been some organisational overlapat Glentoran. The image of Glentoran is positive in its intent. and blurring of roles in recent years in what is, at times, quitePerhaps what it has lacked has been an effective degree a complex structure in terms of reporting relationships butof sustainability in its recent community approach. also in terms of professionals, volunteers and supporters. Streamlining and development of more professionalThe very first community respondent remarked, “Personally, with approaches are in themselves contributors to a more pro-me you are pushing an open door” and a similar response was active enhanced community relations approach.forthcoming from each respondent in the community sector. There is an unparalleled opportunity for Glentoran to engage A number of opportunities have arisen throughout this auditin a structured outreach into the community, with the majority such as schools outreach, health and well-being promotion,Protestant community, the minority Catholic community, with the Polish community, reaching out to a female fan-base,ethnic groups such as the Polish community, and with the many increasing accessibility for disability, and especially, dealing withother ‘groups’ that fall within the fabric of East Belfast and beyond. sectarianism and racism through implementing sustainable interventions and developing relationships with communitiesThe potential of Glentoran as a sporting body, with a rich such as the Short Strand. It is up to the Glentoran organisationheritage as a community football team and an undisputed which if any of these opportunities it chooses to seize.track record of a team with a mixed representation of playersand managers on the pitch and on the touchline, is significant. The social fabric of East Belfast can only be enhanced by agreater community involvement by its local football club, and 11
    • 4.4 Business model and learning organisation 5.0 Recommendations Glentoran is a business, and like all businesses in the There are a number of recommendations from this audit which current financial and economic climate, especially those collectively build on Glentoran’s ability to manage change, depending on consumer’s disposable income to survive, capitalise on opportunities and realise potential, and put these are currently exceptionally difficult times. in place a structured community engagement programme which will demonstrate the business model ‘adding value’ Glentoran Football Club has already demonstrated its creativity and establish the club as a learning organisation. and innovation by undertaking an initial diversity training programme and commissioning this audit. It is recognised 1. Any internal training and strategic planning and applauded by the IFA as being the first club to appoint by Glentoran Football Club should at all times a full time Community Relations Officer. It is the first football link to community engagement in the context club to commission and deliver interactive training in equality of change and altered demographics. and diversity for its paid and voluntary staff. Glentoran has already demonstrated itself as a ‘learning organisation’. This is a 2. Glentoran implement a community engagement momentum that needs to be built on. Clubs such as Charlton programme that addresses a range of community Athletic FC have demonstrated their ability to build capacity in a needs and renews or develops sustainable linkage and community, and ‘learn’ from it. They now have a level of recognised partnership with a range of community groups. best practice in England and Wales. Glentoran has a unique opportunity to develop a similar profile in Northern Ireland. 3. New opportunities for structured outreach should be prioritised with specified and measurable targets. 4. Use of new media in minority languages and accessible formats should be developed. 5.  full accessibility audit should be undertaken based on A principles of Universal design and addressed to all categories covered by Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act (1998). 6. Direct contact with women’s and toddlers groups should be instituted to promote awareness of Glentoran Football Club and its pro-active community engagement programme. 7.  full review of access and egress issues in A relation to The Oval should be undertaken. 8.  full training needs analysis for all players, staff and A volunteers should be undertaken (with specific reference to awareness, competence and skills in diversity management, hospitality service and conflict resolution). 9. Training programmes should be provided or, if not readily available, developed to meet these needs. 10.  full review of procedures, policies and practices should be A undertaken to ensure that practices are not merely rote or ‘tick-the-box’ but are a golden thread linking inclusion and diversity to best practice in good community relations. 11.  lentoran should develop a repository of G resource materials, case studies, training tools and diversity awareness packs available on-line. 12.  ull consideration should be given to locating good F relations and diversity management within a context of pro-active customer service models based on excellence, quality and defined shared benefit.12
    • 13.  full review should be undertaken of all buildings, A References. signage, symbols, language and publications to meet quality standards of inclusion. 1. Back, L., et al. (1998) ‘Racism in Football: Patterns of Continuity and Change’ in Brown. A., ed. Fanatics: Football14.  ny modifications to the physical environment and A and Popular Culture in Europe, (London: Routledge) service provision resulting from such review, should be based on principles of Universal Design. 2. Bell, D. (1990), Acts of Union: youth culture and sectarianism in Northern Ireland (London: Macmillan)15.  eliver the equality and diversity training program to D all members of Glentoran staff, including all Stewards, 3. Carlisle, L. (2007) Returning Football Clubs to their Communities, Players and Board members. It is recommended Unpublished B.Sc. Thesis, University of Ulster, Jordanstown. the training be completed by its entire current staff, paid or voluntary, over the remainder of 2011. 4. Coalter, F. (2007), A Wider Role for Sport (London: Routledge)16.  eliver workshops on the ‘Respect’ Initiative with D 5. Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (NI) (2004) The Fans representatives from all of the key groups of the Glentoran Perspective: summary findings of independent research on family (including Board, Trust, Foundation and Players) to the views and experiences of soccer fans in NI (Belfast: DCAL). provide an opportunity to renew working relationships and liaison across the organization. Such workshops 6. Fahey, L. and Narayanan, V. K. (1986) Macroenvironmental can be structured to develop key skills in scoping and Analysis for Strategic Management, St Paul, MN, West Publishing. implementing community engagement interventions designed to deliver added value and support. 7. Garnham, N. et al (2008), How the East was Won (Belfast: Glentoran Community Trust)17.  eliver a facilitated meeting with the key community D groups in East Belfast in response to significant community 8. Jarman, N. (2007), Another Form of Troubles: interest in developing partnership arrangements. Parades, Protests and the Northern Ireland Peace Process, 1995-2004 (Oxford: University Press)18.  reate linkage with other football clubs and organizations C involved in similar initiatives, both nationally and 9. Kitchin, P. (2011), Sport and Good Relations in the CAN internationally, with a view to creating sustainable Partnership (Jordanstown: University of Ulster). programs which contribute to community engagement. 10.  agee, J., ‘Football Supporters, Rivalry and Protestant M19.  evelop a methodology of benchmarking to address D Fragmentation in Northern Ireland’, in Bairner, A. (ed.) Sport elimination of sectarianism, racism, and other forms and the Irish: Histories, Identities, Issues (Dublin: UCD Press) of discrimination within Glentoran Football Club. 11.  FMDFM-NI (2005) A Shared Future: Policy O20.  nvestigate the potential of developing innovative I and Strategic Framework for Good Relations shared learning in sporting, community linkage and in Northern Ireland (Internet) Belfast. funding opportunities through initiatives operated by Available from: http://www.asharedfutureni.gov.uk/gprs.pdf the European Union and international sporting bodies. [accessed 27 April 2011] 12. Orr, P. (2008), New Loyalties (Belfast: CCCI). 13. UEFA (2002), Unite Against Racism (Nyon: UEFA). 14.  niversity of Leicester (2002): Centre for the Sociology of U Sport: Fact Sheet 6: Racism and Football. Available from: 15.  ttp://www.le.ac.uk/so/css/resources/factsheets/fs6.html . h (accessed 27 April 2011) 13
    • Appendices 1 Survey Data The.following.survey.was.carried.out.as.part.of.the.primary. disability,.age.quality.of.football,.facilities,.through.the. evidence.gathering...Questions.were.focused.on.establishing. themes.of.perceptions,.features,.challenges.and.futures. views.on.issues.such.as.sectarianism,.racism,.sexism,. . Email competed copy to glentoranpartnership@gmail.com Glentoran Partnership Community Relations Audit: Questionnaire PERCEPTIONS Yes No 1. Does Glentoran FC have a good image in your community? 2. Does GFC come across as positive in terms of its profile? 3. Does GFC come across as negative in terms of its profile? 4. When you think of GFC who do you think of most: (just check one box) Its Board Its Team players Its staff Its fans 5. Do you feel GFC is open and welcome to all the community? FEATURES In the operation of GFC how would you rate the following: (Where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent) 1 2 3 4 5 Don’t Know 1. Football quality 2. Facilities 3. Inclusiveness 4. Networked with other agencies 5. Positive structures 6. Dynamic environment CHALLENGES In the operation of GFC do you see any elements of: Yes No 1. Sectarian behaviour or attitudes? 2. Sexist behaviour or attitudes? 3. Issues around access for people with disabilities? 4. Issues around age profile? 5. Issues around culture or ethnic identification? FUTURES State the kinds of things GFC should or could do to become a centre of quality sport for all: The.survey.was.distributed.through.three.different.streams...The. . the.forms.over.the.period.on.a.voluntary.basis.whilst.passing. electronic.survey.was.circulated.by.the.East.Belfast.Community. through.the.centre...This.provides.a.much.more.valid.sample. Development.Agency.to.their.full.database.of.134.respondents,. each.representing.organisations.within.the.greater.East. The.third.stream.was.the.participation.of.two.classes.of.students. Belfast.community...An.email.address.(glentoranpartnership@ from.the.Montgomery.Road.campus.of.Belfast.Metropolitan. gmail.com).was.set.up.to.handle.all.electronic.replies.and. College,.who.took.part.in.a.focus.group.as.part.of.the.audit... the.completion.date.was.extended.to.the.31.March.2011...In. 24.respondents.volunteered.to.complete.and.return.a.survey. total.a.disappointing.7.organisations.responded...Inferences. document,.which.provided.a.total.sample.in.all.three.streams.of.54. may.be.drawn.from.this.low.response.rate,.which.on.its.own. it.does.not.constitute.a.valid.and.reliable.sample.of.data. It.is.recognised.that.the.sample.remains.too.small.to.be.considered. a.valid.representation.of.the.overall.community.of.East.Belfast,. However,.a.second.stream.employed.was.to.provide.paper. however.it’s.usefulness.should.not.be.dismissed...It.does.provide.a. copies.of.the.survey.over.a.three.day.period.to.the.Carew.II. snapshot.of.opinion.from.citizens.residing.in.the.immediate.area,.and. Family.and.Community.Centre...23.respondents.completed. has.some.value.in.representing.how.public.perception.is.gauged.14
    • PerceptionsEncouragingly, 69% of those surveyed consider Glentoran’s image inthe overall community to be positive. 70% consider their profile aspositive, whilst 33% consider their profile comes across as negative. 67% feel Glentoran is open and welcome to all the community.Does Glentoran come across as negative in terms of profile? Does Glentoran come across as positivein terms of profile?Does Glentoran have a good image in your community? Do you feel Glentoran is open and welcome to all the community?When thinking of Glentoran, almost half (48%) think of the team When you think of Glentoran do you think of:players in the first instance, whilst 43% think of the fans. Board Team Players Staff FansOnly 7% think of the Board, and 2% think of Glentoran staff. This clearly indicates the profile that both team players,and Glentoran fans have in the overall community. 15
    • Features. Respondents.were.asked.to.rate.the.following.features.in. respect.of.football.quality,.facilities,.inclusiveness,.networking. with.other.agencies,.positive.structures.and.dynamic. environment.on.a.scale.of1-5.where.1.is.poor,.and.5.is. excellent...The.results.are.shown.in.the.following.graphs: Football Quality - where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent Facilities - where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent Inclusiveness - where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent Networked with other agencies - where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent Positive structures - where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent Dynamic environment - where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent16
    • ChallengesRespondents.were.asked.to.indicate.if,.within.the.operation.of.Glentoran.they.saw.elements.of.(or.were.aware.of ).elements.of:1.. Sectarian.behaviour.or.attitudes?.2.. Sexist.behaviour.or.attitudes?.3.. Issues.around.access.for.people.with.disabilities?4.. Issues.around.age.profile?. .5.. Issues.around.culture.or.ethnic.identification?. .The.following.charts.illustrate.the.response.Elements of Sectarian behavior or attitudes Elements of Sexist behavior or attitudesIssues around access for people with disabilities Issues around age profile Issues around culture or ethnic idenificator67%.identified.issues.around.sectarianism...44%.identified. . .issues.around.culture.or.ethnic.identification,.and.43%. .around.sexist.behaviour.or.attitudes...A.quarter.of.all.respondents.indicated.disability.and.age.profile.as.issues. . 17
    • Futures 2 Background Issues and Themes (Literature Review) The final question allowed free text to be added regarding the History, tradition and attachment future of Glentoran. The responses are recorded below: Glentoran Football Club was founded in 1882. The club • “Have more cross- community events during half time” emerged at a time of rapid and sustained social and economic transformation in which the city of Belfast was becoming one • “Concentrate on youth football and keep the best of the fastest growing centres of industry in Europe. Glentoran players that come out of the academy” was then, as it is now, both a result of the changing landscape of Belfast and a contributor to that change in its own right. This • “Better players, cheaper tickets and offers & promotions” Community Relations Audit is, in part, an analysis of a football club’s relationship to and perception by the community of which • “Improve the standard of football” it is an integral part. At a deeper level, this audit is also a chronicle of the change and transformation of that community itself. • “More entertainment” Glentoran FC began its life at a time of significant demographic • “Improve the stadium and training facilities and invest transformation when Belfast was experiencing all the turmoil more money in the youth of the club. Better promotion of industrialisation, population shifts, rapid urbanisation, of matches, cheaper entrance fee to matches, more work improved health and sanitation and the opening of new within the community and better liaison between the Board levels of opportunity for people in terms of employment, skills room and supporters with the IFA to improve the facilities” acquisition and education. However, deep and profound problems were also in evidence in this changing social landscape. • “Improve the state of stadiums and pitches. Invest more money into it and eliminate all dangerous situations that Belfast’s growth occurred against a backdrop of significant crisis could happen before, during and after the match” and conflict on the island of Ireland throughout the nineteenth century. Its growth as a city paralleled the growth of industrialisation • “More dynamic management team. better use of and urban demographic explosion common to other British existing facilities - raising funds for improvements” and European cities – but this Belfast process was largely unique in Ireland. The growth and economic dynamism of Belfast and • “Adopt to change and be more open to cultural diversity” its hinterland stood in stark contrast to the devastation and impoverishment of the rest of Ireland. A divided and restless • “Need to become more inclusive of the community of East population, overwhelmingly rural and disenfranchised, had Belfast and be at more forefront in relation to community lived through the catastrophes of eviction, famine and mass activities and events. Also needs to be more involved with emigration. As such, Belfast acted as a strong pole of attraction the community in East Belfast and surrounding areas” to impoverished rural dwellers who, in increasing numbers arrived in the city looking for work and a better future. • “Reduce pricing policy for young children” By the time Glentoran was established, Belfast had already • “Advertise academy football better” accommodated significant inward population growth. This new population however also encapsulated the sectarian and religious • “More investment in local football training to include work divisions of the wider society. By the end of the nineteenth of cultural diversity, drugs and alcohol and community century Belfast was also a deeply divided city. Communities support. Greater co-operation with local community sector”. had emerged which were largely single identity, often feeling vulnerable and threatened, and deeply suspicious of the ‘other side’. Industrial Belfast was in some senses also becoming a city of mutually antagonistic ghettos. These divisions intersected with deep class divisions. Already, by the end of the century, riots and sectarian disturbances were regular occurrences. In such a deeply divided society, shared spaces became increasingly rare. This affected almost all forms of cultural expression from music to language, festivals to dancing. It also affected sport. One of the features of Irish social transformation in the late Victorian age was the explicit use of sport as a means to address or preserve national identity, most evidently (but not uniquely) seen in the establishment and development of the Gaelic Athletic Association.18
    • The tradition of Glentoran has been one of close attachment challenges mean that the community of which Glentoran isto its local community in terms both of identification and such a part has itself been transformed and the conditionsself-perception. In this sense, Glentoran is not alone. Most which prevailed for so many decades simply no longer apply.of the football teams that emerged in the 19th century, According to data from the 2001 census the Glentoranparticularly in Belfast, arose in working class communities community base has been most deprived in terms of:where strong linkage to local industry was a characteristicfeature. In the case of Linfield, for example, the link was to the • Employmentlinen mills. In Glentoran, the link was overwhelmingly to the • Health deprivationheavy engineering sectors that predominated in East Belfast, • Living environment.first and foremost being the Harland and Wolff shipyard. In the same census, 45% of the local populationThe fortunes of football can in many ways be seen as intimately was deemed economically inactive.linked to the surrounding economic conditions in Belfast. Mostrespondents in this audit confirmed the sense that Glentoran A community in which the vast majority of people werewas intimately linked to the conditions, expectations and once employed in local industry started to deteriorate andcircumstances of industrial life in East Belfast. Community the group which suffered most has been economicallyengagement and support can therefore be seen as intrinsically active young men, the same group which onceconnected to the prevailing socio-economic circumstances that dominated football grounds. (Carlisle 2007, p. 12)so deeply underpin the identity and perception of the club. The proud traditions of Glentoran therefore are intimatelyEspecially in the post Second World War environment, bound up with the altered socio-economic landscape ofGlentoran built on this community identification and its changing community. This audit therefore has lookedmaintained relatively high levels of support. Its performances, closely at the contours of community itself. In charting waysin both the Irish league and internationally, saw notable to develop good community relations, the first step is tosuccesses. Attendances could be significant – particularly for acknowledge the extent to which that community has itselflandmark games such as the one against Benfica in 1967. changed and no longer necessarily conforms to the myths and stereotypes that are still prevalent in certain quarters.Throughout the audit process, respondents referred to these daysof success and heightened support with a mixture of pride and Sport and footballnostalgia. It is clear that, for those who support Glentoran, theydo so with passion and commitment. They identify with values of The potential of sport to enrich lives and build collaborativetenacity and loyalty. Above all, they see Glentoran as an intrinsic social linkage is attested throughout the literature on theand indispensable element in the community of which it is part. sociology of sport. Sport clearly fulfils many more roles than merely the organised expression of physical activity andThis laudable sense of identity and commitment however masks exercise. Sport and its constituent elements (players, supporters,a number of deeper concerns. The evidence is, in fact, that the stakeholders) play an enormous role in all societies as it hasfortunes of the club, like that of the traditional community of done for millennia. We have evidence from the sixth centuryEast Belfast have been undergoing a profound transformation. Byzantine Empire of riots and violent clashes between rival supporters of the Greens and Blues racing teams, for example.In an important early piece of research on youth cultureand sectarianism, it was pointed out that the sense of Sport, in essence, can also be profoundly contradictory. Whilecommunity once felt among people in Protestant working binding one community together it often cements this senseclass areas had been undergoing significant change and of shared identity by bitter rivalry with opposing teams ordisintegration (Bell 1990). Another significant piece of competitors. At its core, sport can be both uniting and divisive.research (Carlisle 2007) on Glentoran in 2007 linked this This takes on a particular resonance in a society like Northernsense of fragmentation in community to three domains: Ireland where division and community dispute have been underlying realities since the creation of the State after the1. Economic partition of Ireland in 1921 – and indeed long before that2. Spatial in terms of inter-communal tensions and hostility.3. Political While this impacts all sports in a divided society, it has hadThe key point is that East Belfast in particular (as Northern Ireland in a particular impact on the trajectory of organised football.general) has been experiencing decades of profound and sustained Football today has become a truly globalised game, perhapsde-industrialisation. Almost all traditional industries are now gone. the first such in human history. It has become a multinationalUnemployment and underemployment rates are persistently high. enterprise in its own right, with a mass following in mostLevels of skill, acquisition, educational attainment and literacy countries, deeply tied in to sponsorship and business dimensionsare all significantly below par. A range of social and demographic and existing in a symbiotic relationship with a pervasive 19
    • media presence. In almost every sense, football is now big Research by the Institute for Conflict Research in Northern business. Its traditions and principles remain however. Ireland in 2007 showed that sectarianism, racism and crowd trouble were not isolated incidents in Irish League A global game has the potential to offer global perspectives Premiership matches (Jarman 2007), although anecdotal around a sense of universal rules, fairly enforced where models evidence suggested that this was improving. of behaviour centre on inclusiveness, non-discrimination and team spirit. Set against this is the worrying growth of movements Divided Society and Conflict and forces that use football as a prop for nationalist, populist and xenophobic purposes where the game becomes a stage The divisions of society in Northern Ireland have been profound to reinforce ethnic stereotypes and exploit fears and passions and sustained over many generations. Since the partition of the of supporters in a matrix of intolerance, violence and bigotry. island of Ireland in 1921, a particular issue has been the status and identity of the State of Northern Ireland that remained in the Issues of intolerance and racism have very much pre-occupied United Kingdom (with its own regional government in Belfast). the governing authorities of organized football at both national Northern Ireland was largely rejected from the outset by Irish and international levels. Almost ten years ago, the European nationalism and republicanism. Its validity was not accepted or umbrella body UEFA promoted a set of guidelines to address recognized by a significant minority of its own citizens. It was to bigotry, racism and sectarianism – its Ten Point Plan (UEFA endure prolonged spells of political instability and communal 2002). National football authorities have been acutely aware violence in every decade thereafter. The most recent conflict of the potential for conflict and disturbance if these issues began with a struggle for Civil Rights in 1968 but soon escalated are not addressed in a systematic and planned manner. into a violent conflict with the British State by republican and nationalist groups which lasted until the Belfast Agreement Thus if football is designed to unite, it can equally act to polarise of 1998 (with several ceasefires in between). Loyalist counter- and divide. However pro-active any club or section of the football violence contributed to escalating spirals of conflict and death. community might be, plans for inclusiveness and shared enjoyment require a structured focus on all elements in the game and its This conflict manifested, in extreme form, the polarization of operation. Best international practice envisions this process society and deeper underlying tensions regarding identity, occurring in the context of defined actions by national authorities, culture, self-perception, fear, and acceptance of the other club management, stewards, supporters and communities. and understandings of community. It is evident and not Specific issues that have been advocated include awareness surprising that football was affected by this social conflict. raising, inclusion/integration measures, education and training. At another level there has been a sustained debate around Deeper issues around exclusion and prejudice exist regarding concepts such as social justice, human rights, shared space football, as they do in all social organisations. The University and equitable recognition. The end of overt conflict has of Leicester has produced extensive research on the hidden highlighted the need to tackle sectarianism and communal and overt manifestations of racism for example, which strife in new ways. The need for a response that is connected to demonstrate how profound these challenges are. the real experiences of existing communities and their needs is now deemed critical. The need for educational and training Breaking down the persistent institutional racism within provision that is innovative and dynamic is a real challenge. the game will be a tremendous challenge, perhaps more difficult than reducing the hooliganism and neo-Nazi In March 2005 the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First racist activity prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s. Minister (OFMDFM) released its document, A Shared Future, on (University of Leicester 2002) strategic vision for a future Northern Ireland moving beyond cessation of conflict to development and promotion of good Back, et al. (1998), also sees institutional racism as a strong force relations. The foundation of this approach was defined as in football today, commenting that it is “easy for everyone to partnership, equality and mutual respect (OFMDFM 2005). support a campaign against racism in football when it is targeted Among other issues, the Report specifically addressed the role against pathologically aggressive, neo-Nazi thugs. It might prove of sport in addressing the concerns of a divided society. a little more tricky to generate football-wide support if we were to start asking questions about the attitudes in the boardroom, There is strong evidence that sport can support and underpin on the pitch, and in the training ground”. Black managers are rare, cross community contact, contact between people of different as are black club officials, or even club employees. Widespread races and positively promote greater tolerance and respect. racist stereotypes about blacks abound among the nearly all- white club managers, coaches, administrators and officials, The demographic shifts and population movements of the particularly that they are athletically gifted but intellectually Industrial Revolution of the 19th century saw Belfast develop inferior. Within British football culture in which ‘whiteness’ is in specific ways determined by segregated communities and normalised - even in the era of foreign imports - blacks do distinctive patterns of labour market sectors. Both players and not make suitable managers or coaches (Back et al 2001). supporters increasingly reflected the dominant culture of the20
    • areas in which certain industries predominated. In the case of itself diverse and changing with many elements of differenceGlentoran and East Belfast, that meant the huge shipbuilding and contained within its restructured and evolving social space.engineering sector, which was overwhelmingly Protestant. Bythe end of the 19th century, according to research undertaken A key recurring theme of this audit has been the question of gender.by the Glentoran Community Trust, only one of Glentoran’s The lack of female participation in Glentoran (at a wide number19 registered players was Catholic (Garnham 2008). of levels but, most notably, as attending supporters) has been a remarkable feature. This is not unique to Glentoran. Research inLegacies of division and the sectarian tensions which regularly 2004 demonstrated that of those who attended football matchesmanifested themselves in the decades following the establishment in Northern Ireland, 93% were male (DCAL, 2004). This researchof Northern Ireland saw growing levels of polarisation also showed that the vast majority of attending supporters werereflected in (and sometimes promoted by) sport. Sport has Protestant (78%) white (100%) and over thirty years of age (73%).become an integral part of community relations discourse. A diverse and changing society is simply not reflected in theseIn 2004, Magee identified three main issues that statistics. These observations also emerge from this audit. A potentialdominated Northern Ireland football: and vastly increased number of population segments simply do not attend football matches in general, and Glentoran in particular.1. The Northern Ireland football team as a Protestant symbol2. Politics and governance of the Irish Football Association A final issue around community division and change is that of3. Cross-community tension and sectarian rivalry. inward migration. Since 2004, a significant number of citizens of other EU (and also non EU) member states have arrived inThese divisions, while deep, were also neither necessarily Northern Ireland to live and work. These significantly expandedpermanent nor impermeable. The existence of conflict and communities bring a new energy and dynamism to communitycommunal division over a thirty-year period from 1968 life – but also a very different sense of identity and culture.clearly exacerbated and fuelled tensions. Nonetheless, While research shows that they adapt quickly and astutely toin the divided and fragmented world of Northern Irish the pre-existing divisions in the society they encounter, theirsociety, cross-community linkage and contact did exist. presence fundamentally alters the demographic landscape. Despite the recession and economic crisis unfolding since 2008,Glentoran, while seen as a predominantly Protestant club, there is no evidence that these new migrant communities arenevertheless attracted considerable and consistent support simply going away. Ethnic and national diversity is here to stay.from Catholic and nationalist communities for many years. This This in itself has huge implications for the nature, structure andfact has consistently been confirmed throughout this audit inclusive position of football and the operation of Glentoran.process. Glentoran, in distinction to perceptions of other clubs,maintained a broader level of cross-community support. Particular mention should be made of the Polish community. The largest concentration of Polish nationals in NorthernWhile Catholic attendance at Glentoran matches largely ceased Ireland is now living in East Belfast (estimated to be in thefrom 1970 on, the reasons are interesting and will be developed region of 8,000 people). Their interest in and engagementfurther in this audit. There were strong elements of fear and with Glentoran has immediate and direct relevance forconcern about attending expressed by Catholic supporters – reviewing a sense of community and the imperativesalthough many of these concerns related to physical access, associated with developing an inclusive environment for all.being identified by hostile community elements outsidematches or general concerns about entering what was perceived The wider impact of change, division and communitiesas an alien and threatening community environment. isolated from each other are not remote from the planning and structures Glentoran will need if it is to surviveThese divisions and concerns should not obscure the fact and function to its optimal levels in the years ahead. Athat, in general, attendances at Glentoran matches have perceptive commentator on the nature of change, threatbeen declining significantly over the past three decades. The and identity in similar communities has been Philip Orr.evident element of community polarisation around identity,culture and religion perhaps masks deeper transformations The legacy of the Troubles is about much more than the lost livesdue to de-industrialisation and the evaporation of and bereaved families who are its most tragic consequence. A lottraditional sources of employment and advancement. of people in Loyalist communities are still trapped and troubled, economically and culturally, while middle-class ProtestantsSocial exclusion, poverty and linked issues around community have been able to adapt to change, ‘move on’ and in many casesdisenfranchisement are now the key concerns in looking at thrive… Multicultural challenge may lie ahead for this society.the issues and concerns of the wider East Belfast community. It is easy to accept immigration as an enrichment process if youIn addition to these concerns, the majority community needs are in possession of economic and social comfort. For Loyalistto be considered as something more than a homogenous communities there are not many such comfort zones. To them aand monolithic unit. East Belfast’s majority community is in multicultural future often looks frightening and unjust. (Orr 2008, p 79) 21
    • Professionalism, quality and customer experience implies adoption of a strategy that relies on a clearer business focus which prioritizes the needs and wishes of customers – The existence of significant alternatives to attendance at football and customers who actually pay for and attend matches. matches has had a profound, significant and ongoing impact on Glentoran, its fan base and the perceptions of the Club. For many respondents, the transition from fan or supporter The fact is that technology and digital media now allow a vast to the role of ‘customer’ is a strange and unfamiliar one. range of alternative sporting performances to be viewed live The reality is, however, that younger and non-traditional and in the comfort of home. Cheap and accessible air travel populations are already deeply familiar with the concept in recent years in addition has meant that those wishing to and the implications of such an approach. physically attend premier league matches in either England or Scotland (or further away) can do so at minimal cost. The task therefore for Glentoran is to incorporate what is best and most valuable from its long and proud traditions and re- The professionalization of global soccer means that richer shape the experience of quality football not just to reflect but teams can now provide performances, customer service, engage the community of which it is a part. This audit therefore entertainment and quality football on a scale that is simply has extended the consideration of good community relations not achievable for smaller or less resourced clubs. A changing (and shared engagement) from an exclusive focus of Catholic- community is one element. But the existence of powerful, well- Protestant issues and challenges (although these remain critical resourced and attractive alternatives poses a significant threat and essential). It has incorporated a wider community focus around and challenge to traditional understandings of football. those areas addressed in equality legislation that are as important (and themselves intersect with Catholic-Protestant issues): gender, This has been a powerful factor in the noted and documented national/migrant status, ethnic identity, age and disability. decline in match attendances. Other factors have been consistently noted by respondents in the audit process. These include The harsh realities of the current economic crisis may allow few facilities, quality of the grounds, access, parking, absence of family options in this regard. Immediately before this audit, Glentoran friendly facilities and concerns about antisocial behaviour. came perilously close to bankruptcy. The choices now are limited but clear. Fans will attend and pay only if the customer The key issue is the intersection of two facts: experience matches and indeed exceeds what they can find elsewhere. It is in that framework that this audit is located. 1.  existence of strongly attractive and The competitive alternatives; and Governance and structures 2.  reality of significant change in traditional The patterns of leisure time activity and associated Part of this audit was informed by the enthusiastic and committed expectations for quality, comfort and standards. feedback of many individuals at all levels of the Glentoran operation. The key stakeholders identified organisationally were: Clearly this creates both a threat but also an opportunity. The quality of football is an ongoing issue, especially when richer • Glentoran Board teams are able and willing to scout and secure young, emerging • Glentoran Foundation talent and make attractive offers that smaller clubs simply cannot • Glentoran Community Trust match. This has a series of implications for developing outreach, • Supporters’ Clubs contact and selection at ever-earlier ages through schools linkage • Staff - but also linkage with non-traditional elements of the community. • Players and coaches. At the end of the day, there has been almost universal A significant development was the recruitment of a Good agreement among respondents that no appeal to nostalgia Relations Officer. This is the first such appointment in the or what was once can compare with expertly played quality Irish League and represents a significant development for football in an environment of a customer-experience that the operation and potential of Glentoran as a proactive and is characterised by quality, safety and real enjoyment. innovative response to the needs of a changing community. This audit has located community relations best practice in the context of quality and excellence of sport, services and experience. The development of sustainable and meaningful good community relations will mean therefore a return to the key principles of sport for all. By that “all” is implied a recognition that the community has changed (and is continuing to change) in dramatic and remarkable ways. The challenge is to adapt to the needs and expectations of an ever more sophisticated and demanding public who have direct experience of alternatives that attract and deliver. This22
    • AcknowledgementsThe researchers would like to acknowledge with appreciativethanks the inestimable assistance of Russell Lever, CommunityRelations Officer of Glentoran Football Club. Additional and valuableassistance was given by the Chairman and members of the Boardof Glentoran Football Club - as well as officials and members ofthe Glentoran Foundation and Glentoran Community Trust.A particular word of thanks is due to Judith Hunterof Belfast Metropolitan College and to MichaelBoyd of the Irish Football Association.It would be unfair to name all of the numerous individuals,organizations, community associations, political representativesand sporting bodies who gave so freely of their time and resourcesto facilitate the research and audit process. The generosityof the entire community in East Belfast was unstinting – aswere the crucial contributions from organisations, academicand sporting, across Northern Ireland and beyond.While the responsibility for the opinions expressedis purely that of the researchers, the inputs andcontributions of everyone are deeply appreciated. 23
    • Glentoran Football ClubThe OvalParkgate DriveBelfast BT4 1EWT: 028 9045 3080communityrelations@glentoran.comwww.glentoran.com