Supporters’ Trusts as Collective Action: Swansea City in Focus

  • Jamie Cleland
  • Mark Doidge
  • Peter Millward
  • Paul Widdop
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Relational Sociology book series (PSRS)


This chapter illustrates the emotions, tactics, and successful collective mobilization of Swansea City supporters in late 2001 and early 2002 that led to the formation of a Supporters’ Trust. In particular, it focuses on the relationships between people in online and offline space and how these modes of interaction come together when the club’s future was threatened. It then considers some of the challenges now facing the ownership model of the Supporters’ Trust at the club as a result of the takeover of a majority of the shares by an American consortium in 2016.


  1. Alinsky, S. (1971). Rules for Radicals. London: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  2. Kennedy, D., & Kennedy, P. (2007). Preserving and Extending the Commodification of Football Supporter Relations: A Cultural Economy of Supporters Direct. Sociological Research Online, 12(1).
  3. Weber, M. (2001 [1930]). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Coleman, J. S. (1990). Rational Organization. Rationality and Society, 2(1), 94–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blumer, H. (1951). Collective Behavior. In A. M. Lee (Ed.), Principles of Sociology. New York: Barnes & Noble.Google Scholar
  6. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The Forms of Capital. In J. E. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of Theory of Research for the Sociology of Education. London: Greenwood.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, A. (2008). ‘Our Club, Our Rules’: Fan Communities at FC United of Manchester. Soccer and Society, 9(3), 346–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burkitt, I. (2014). Emotions and Social Relations. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Castells, M. (2013 [2009]). Communication Power. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  10. Castells, M. (2015 [2012]). Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cleland, J. (2010). From Passive to Active: The Changing Relationship Between Football Clubs and Football Supporters. Soccer and Society, 11(5), 537–552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cleland, J. (2015a). A Sociology of Football in a Global Context. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Cleland, J., & Cashmore, E. (2016). ‘Football Fans’ Views of Racism in British Football. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 51(1), 27–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cleland, J., & Dixon, K. (2015). ‘Black and Whiters’: The Relative Powerlessness of ‘Active’ Supporter Organization Mobility at English Premier League Football Clubs. Soccer and Society, 16(4), 540–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Coleman, J. S. (1973). Resources for Social Change. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  16. Collins, R. (2004). Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Conn, D. (2002 [1997]). The Football Business: The Modern Football Classic. London: Mainstream.Google Scholar
  18. Crossley, N. (2011). Towards Relational Sociology. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Crossley, N. (2015a). Relational Sociology and Culture. International Review of Sociology, 25(1), 65–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dunn, C. (2017). The Impact of the Supporters’ Trust Movement on Women’s Feelings and Practices of Their Football Fandom. Soccer and Society, 18(4), 462–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Frink, B., & Prinz, J. (2006). Crisis? What Crisis? Football in Germany. Journal of Sports Economics, 7(1), 60–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gamson, W. A. (1990 [1975]). The Strategy of Social Protest. Belmont: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  23. Garcia, B., & Welford, J. (2015). Supporters and Football Governance, from Customers to Stakeholders: A Literature Review and Agenda for Research. Sport Management Review, 18(4), 517–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Giugni, M. G. (1998). The Outcomes of Social Movements: A Review of the Literature. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 371–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hill, T., Canniford, R., & Millward, P. (2016). Against Modern Football: Mobilizing Protest Movements in Social Media. Sociology. First published online August 9, 2016.
  26. Hirsch, E. L. (1990). Sacrifice for the Cause: Group Processes, Recruitment, and Commitment in a Student Social Movement. American Sociological Review, 55(2), 243–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ibrahim, J. (2015). Bourdieu and Social Movements. Basingstoke: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jasper, J. M. (1997). The Art of Moral Protest. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jasper, J. M. (1998). The Emotions of Protest. Sociological Forum, 13, 397–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kiernan, A., & Porter, C. (2014). Little United and the Big Society: Negotiating the Gaps Between Football, Community and the Politics of Inclusion. Soccer & Society, 15(6), 847–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kossakowski, R. (2017). From Communist Fan Clubs to Professional Hooligans: A History of Polish Fandom as a Social Process. Sociology of Sport Journal, 34(3), 281–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kriesi, H., Koopmans, R., Duyvendak, J. W., & Giugni, M. (1995). New Social Movements in Western Europe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  33. Lomax, B. (2000). Democracy and Fandom: Developing a Supporters’ Trust at Northampton Town FC. Soccer & Society, 1(1), 79–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Luhmann, N. (2017 [1979]). Trust and Power. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  35. Martin, P. (2007). Football, Community and Cooperation: A Critical Analysis of Supporter Trusts in England. Soccer & Society, 8(4), 636–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McAdam, D. (1986). Recruitment to High-Risk Activism: The Case of Freedom Summer. American Journal of Sociology, 92(1), 64–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McCarthy, J. D., & Zald, M. N. (2001). The Enduring Vitality of the Resource Mobilization Theory of Social Movements. In J. H. Turner (Ed.), Handbook of Sociological Theory: Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research. Boston: Springer.Google Scholar
  38. Michie, J., & Oughton, C. (2005). The Corporate Governance of Professional Football Clubs in England. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 13(4), 517–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Millward, P. (2011). The Global Football League: Transnational Networks, Social Movements and Sport in the New Media Age. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pearson, G. (2012). An Ethnography of English Football Fans: Cans, Cops and Carnivals. Manchester: Manchester University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Porter, C. (2015). Loyal to What? FC United’s ‘Shaping Walk’ Through Football’s ‘Muck of Ages’. Sport in Society, 18(4), 452–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rosie, M., & Gorringe, H. (2009). ‘The Anarchists’ World Cup’: Respectable Protest and Media Panics. Social Movement Studies, 8(1), 35–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Smith, C. (2000). Strengthening the Voice of Supporters. Soccer & Society, 1(3), 13–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Smithey, L. A. (2009). Social Movement Strategy, Tactics, and Collective Identity. Sociology Compass, 3(4), 658–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sumbler, P. (2013). From Graveyard to Ambition: The Official History of the Swansea City Supporters’ Trust. Stroud: Amberley Publishing.Google Scholar
  46. Sztompka, P. (2003 [1999]). Trust: A Sociological Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Turner, M. (2017). “Football Without Fans Is Nothing”: Contemporary Fan Protests and Resistance Communities in the English Premier League. In R. Elliott (Ed.), The English Premier League: A Socio-Cultural Analysis. New York/Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. Walters, G., & Tacon, R. (2010). Corporate Social Responsibility in Sport: Stakeholder Management in the UK Football Industry. Journal of Management & Organization, 16(4), 566–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jamie Cleland
    • 1
  • Mark Doidge
    • 2
  • Peter Millward
    • 3
  • Paul Widdop
    • 4
  1. 1.University of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.School of Sport and Service ManagementUniversity of BrightonEastbourneUK
  3. 3.School of Humanities & Social ScienceLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  4. 4.Leeds Beckett UniversityLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations