Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Submitted for the degree of PhD, Technological University Dublin, 2022.


This research investigates the leverage of sports franchises by destination marketing organisations for their tourism potential. It adds to the literature in covering a hitherto under scrutinised field of tourism enquiry focusing on the role of globally renowned professional football teams as agents of tourism in the cities that host them. In doing so the study links theory to practice and provides policy makers with options for implementing initiatives in collaboration with sports franchises, resulting in benefits across the wider stakeholder environment.

Underpinned by a pragmatic philosophy, the research employs a mixed methods approach within a multiple case study design that provides a comprehensive understanding of the way sports franchises and destination marketing organisations interact in the tourism space. Drawing on a diversity of subject matter from existing literature, the transdisciplinary nature of the thesis is complemented by the case studies conducted in Amsterdam and Manchester that incorporate both qualitative and quantitative data.

The destination marketing organisations of the cities featured (in Amsterdam and Manchester) prove adept practitioners in the area of tourism leverage, but their efforts in co-opting the hugely popular football clubs in either city as objects of tourism leverage fail to fully grasp the tourism potential that these organisations represent. The research identifies elements of best practice and crucially the factors that hinder optimal leverage strategies when it comes to the use of major commercially oriented sports franchises. A compelling case is made for the leverage of these entities in locations where the circumstances permit, with the research proposing a way forward under the guise of the framework for sports franchises leverage. The framework adds to the literature on tourism leverage and has significant implications for DMOs in providing a practical template characterised by its flexibility and applicability in wider settings.

The research is a first of its kind linking professional sports franchises to leverage and destination marketing. It enhances the literature in providing insights into how stakeholder theory, destination marketing, and cooperative marketing enjoy an almost symbiotic relationship in the tourism sphere. In focusing on the leverage of renowned football clubs it has implications for policy makers, sports franchises and researchers.