There are several levels to the identity of a football club:
- A team of 11 + subs that play a game of football.
- The football team plus the people around the team that prepare for matches to be played over a season and from season to season including the selection of the team – a broader “team”
- The broader team plus the facilities they use (a playing field at the very least) – the narrow “club”.
- An unincorporated association or a corporate entity that run or own the narrow “club”. The actual “club” (although in the case of a corporate entity, it should be the “company”). The legal structure may be changed to meet changing economic or organizational requirements, including changing status from unincorporated to incorporated, and re-structuring (whether solvent or insolvent, such as in administration). Liquidation and reformation is another kettle of fish.
- The sociological phenomenon that links fans to the “club”. The broader “club” if you like. The owners of the club may be directly accountable to the fans (as in the case of community or supporters trust owned clubs) or not (as in privately owned clubs).
- The business that the unincorporated association or company operate – summed up in the cost of running the broader team and the narrow club and the revenues earned (whether directly or indirectly) from the fans.
At which level does any one person’s greatest identification with a particular club lie?