Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Travis Bell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Janelle Applequist, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chris Noland, Ph.D.


Framing Theory, Mass Communications, Political Economy of sport, Political Economy of media


The European Super League (ESL) offers an opportunity for research as a case study which exemplifies the potential for sports to engender seismic societal events. To try to understand the ESL and the events surrounding it, this thesis examined it through the dual frameworks of political economy and framing theory to comprehend the roles played by corporate owners and working-class fans who support the game. An overview of the political economic processes of English football was conducted to create meaningful insights. From there, using framing as a theoretical guide, a thematic media analysis was performed across 251 news articles from The Times and The Guardian that discussed the ESL to uncover frames and patterns of meaning that explicate the situation, both from a standpoint of political economy and more general, non-political economy frames.This study found that resistance to the ESL from fans arguably emerged from their being exploited as consumers and that the media supported fans’ plight in criticizing the desires of greedy owners who view English football primarily as a product, rather than an institution encased in symbolic and cultural capital. It is foreshadowed in the dataset that similar attempts to exploit the sport will inevitably occur again in the future. Other frames indicated that football represents a sense of national identity among English fans of the game, who defended its historic value vehemently amid the ESL crisis. This defense was successful, for now, and similar proposals in the future should be met with the same combined ferocity from working-class people and media outlets to arrest corporate greed.