This thesis explores the process of implementation of the FA's Charter Standard scheme in England. The football development scheme, for schools and clubs, is the first nationally led initiative to attempt instantiate structures and minimum standards of practice at the junior level of football in England. Implementation of the scheme has taken place within the context of New Labour s modernising drive for sport. Moreover, the area of grassroots football has escaped any sustained analysis in academia. Therefore, the thesis aims to provide insights into this area and re-dress the balance somewhat from the pre-occupation of analysing the elite levels of the game. The nature of implementation is complex and multi-faceted, and a primary aim of the study is to identify and analyse the dynamics of implementation in three distinct geographical areas (or clusters) of grassroots football. The study focuses on the meso level of analysis, which centres on the structures and dynamics of relationships between County FA personnel, grassroots football volunteers, teachers and sport development professionals whose responsibility it is to implement the Charter Standard. The macro level of analysis is also briefly considered, where the primary concern is to highlight how such individuals are constrained or facilitated in implementing the Charter Standard, and the relative positions of power they occupy. A qualitative methodology is utilised to elicit data in respect of implementation, generating themes and issues specific to each of the three case studies (or clusters), allowing for general comparisons. Within the case study approach, the dialectical approach to policy networks is applied to provide a framework in which to analyse and discuss theories and processes of implementation. This has proved useful in highlighting conflict and ambiguity between individuals regarding the ethos, and criteria within, FA Charter Standard criteria. Indeed, it is evident that implementing the Charter Standard is problematic for both professionals and volunteers within the context of modernisation. The study concludes by noting changes in the practice of grassroots football. Volunteers have been drawn into football development work which has altered their experience from a largely spontaneous, leisurely activity of choice, to one in which they are expected to conform to professionalised practices in order to implement, and gain Charter Standard accreditation for their club or school.
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Reference : O'Gorman, J. (2010). Sport development policy implementation: the FA's Charter Standard scheme: PhD Thesis. Loughborough: Loughborough University. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/2134/6413
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