BASIS - The British Association for Sustainable Sport

The Halo Effect at Southampton FC

Southampton FC joined BASIS for a webinar in June to take viewers through the club’s 18-month journey from a position of having good environmental intentions through to the development of their comprehensive sustainability strategy. The Halo Effect, launched in January 2021, is inspired by the club’s crest and heritage and demonstrates the holistic ambitions of the club’s commitment to a sustainable future.

Structured across four pillars, The Halo Effect looks to empower fans by giving them a voice, protect the planet through the development of environmental initiatives, support the local community by giving back to the city and demonstrate leadership through corporate responsibility. Accordingly, at the heart of this strategy is an implicit recognition of a responsibility to ensure a sustainable future for the club, its fans and the local community.

In this short member’s case study, we highlight three of the key take-home messages for developing a holistic sustainability strategy as discussed in detail in the webinar.

Identify and exploit (the small) opportunities

One of the initial drivers in the development of The Halo Effect was a poor performance in the inaugural Sport’s Positive Premier League Sustainability table. By embracing the data as delivered, rather than disputing the results or the value of the ranking, Southampton used the information as an opportunity to improve on a weakness. Recognising the strength and value of their platform to champion environmental and social change by leading the way with visible and urgent positive action.

Through headline halo initiatives across all four pillars, the club is gathering momentum, increasing visibility and looking to create a lasting legacy. Within the strategy, however, there is also the implicit acknowledgement not to neglect small things in the sustainability journey. Education and engagement around even the smallest change ensure that sustainable actions are embedded in the everyday practices of their fans and employees, developing authenticity in the culture. This may simply relate to signage around turning off light switches or ensuring adequate access to recycling bins.

Develop the strategy from the top down

With complete buy-in from the top levels of senior management, it is possible to create the necessary cultural shift to embark on a holistic sustainability strategy, as potential blockers to positive progress are removed. It then becomes easier to develop authenticity behind the headline initiatives, as staff become more motivated and empowered. This empowerment is essential to allow continual evaluation of processes to ensure that all opportunities to enact cultural and operational change are recognised. Without adequate dialogue, or staff engagement, evaluation can become reactive rather than proactive and this itself can become a blocker to pursuing progress.

Simplicity of messaging

The Halo Effect has been packaged for consumption into a neat four-quadrant infographic, each pillar represented by a measurable target and a headline halo initiative. This simplicity of messaging, and the positivity of the tone, is an important component of the strategy to help drive awareness and maximise impact. Southampton FC achieved this by mobilising the creative in-house marketing team, to build a brand that reflects the culture, encourages staff and fan engagement and leverages their platform to drive progress.

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