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British Future: Shared Goals

Insight – Project Evaluation

Research from British Future looking at how club football can be a force for social cohesion, connection and shared local identities.

With Shared Goals, British Future set out to explore how club football can contribute to building social connection and bridging divides. They aimed to demonstrate how clubs can play a central role in defusing local tensions, by harnessing their fans’ feelings of pride and togetherness to promote integration and build shared place-based identities.

The research set out to understand this in three ways:

  1. Using nationally representative polling, and a representative poll of ethnic minority adults, British Future mapped how the public feel about and engage with football in Britain. They assessed perceptions of inclusion in the game, and the views on the role of football clubs in communities.


  1. Staff were interviewed from six football clubs and their community trusts, working in communities around England and Wales, to understand existing good practice of clubs crossing divides and connecting people from different backgrounds, as well as the types of support needed to strengthen this work.


  1. This research was then put into practice. British Future worked with two clubs, Brentford FC in West London and Huddersfield Town AFC in West Yorkshire. Each club was supported to consult fans and local residents to design a campaign aimed at bringing local people from different ethnic, faith and social backgrounds together around a shared sense of pride in their team and their area. These campaigns were then tested to understand their impact on people’s attitudes: both toward their local community and to their attitudes to diversity.

Key Recommendations

For Clubs:

  • Use the power of the badge: build inclusive identities into club communications
  • Consult audiences to test and strengthen your work
  • Platform different ways to enjoy the game, to grow the audience
  • Connect outreach programmes and fan groups to promote social connections
  • Trial a ‘buddying’ scheme through tailored ticketing offers


For league bodies:

  • Incentivise action on inclusive belonging and social connection through EDI frameworks
  • Develop a Belonging and Inclusion Index to benchmark clubs’ progress and share good practice
  • Develop a ‘crossing divides’ fund – targeting clubs in ten disconnected or divided areas, to support proactive efforts for using football to bridge divides.
  • Elevate major ‘all of us’ moments and anniversaries to strengthen shared identity

For government:

  • Levelling up shared pride through football: funds should be offered to football clubs to encourage campaigns and community-building activities that strengthen shared civic pride
  • DCMS to support a sport learning exchange for inclusion and belonging practice
  • Support Welcome hubs in major clubs
  • Value football’s distinct potential to broaden the reach of cohesion, community resilience and anti-prejudice interventions

View the project