Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Sending Foucault on loan to the lower leagues : a disciplinary analysis of the loan system in professional football

Olde Wolbers, Enzo


Enzo Olde Wolbers


Luke Jones


While transitions in sports have been thoroughly researched, specifically that of retirement (Wylleman & Lavallee, 2004; Park, Lavallee, & Tod, 2013), little focus has been given to the temporary transition such as the loan system in professional football. Moreover, transition research has been mostly understood from a psychological standpoint. This research focused on the socio-political aspects of the loan system in professional British football utilising a Foucauldian lens. Specifically employing Foucault’s (1991) theories on discipline and power to better understand the discipline ridden football environment. Six professional football players between 18-21 were interviewed with a focus on their loan experiences. The rich data obtained from said interviews, analysed through a Foucauldian lens, highlighted three key themes in the participants’ loan experiences, the lack of communication between player and those in positions of hierarchical power such as managers and coaches, the politics involved in loans, and the adaptation to a new environment. Through Foucault’s concepts of docility resulting from discipline, and surveillance as a disciplinary tool, we are able to understand that players feel reservations of going on loan as they fear being away from the surveillance of their coaches will impact their careers negatively. This was evident by the number of participants who mentioned a fear of being forgotten. Additionally, the players demonstrate moments of stress and anxiety from the stakes of the professional game alongside years of unchallenged problematic football cultures which convince players to conform to a career in which they have little say over. This study contributes to our understanding of how young professional players have to tiptoe through a new power-laden environment in which they must handle the pressures that come with expectation and performing in a new social and disciplinary space, resulting in a mixed feelings towards their loan experiences.


Olde Wolbers, E. (2022). Sending Foucault on loan to the lower leagues : a disciplinary analysis of the loan system in professional football. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jun 12, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jun 12, 2023
Keywords Sports science
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Sport Health and Exercise Science, The University of Hull
Award Date Oct 1, 2022


Thesis (531 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2022 Enzo Olde Wolbers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations