Chris Toronyi

Football Fans Responses to State Ownership of Football Clubs

Chris Toronyi

Chris is a full-time PhD candidate in the Institute of Sport Business. His research focuses on the intersection of nation branding, diplomacy, sport, club ownership and supporters. Chris teaches a Sport Public Relations and Communication graduate course at LUL and also guest lectures across other institutes.

Chris joined Loughborough University London in October of 2022 after 20-years of working in the branding and marketing world, creating campaigns for Fortune 500 consumer-packaged goods, hospitality, technology, retail, and brand partnership and marketing programs for entertainment brands. Additionally he taught graduate and undergraduate courses as an affiliated professor for 7-years in the Department of Marketing Communication and Department of Communication Studies at Emerson College in Los Angeles and Boston campuses. The courses were grounded in branding and consumer behaviour theories and models, focused on nation branding, entertainment marketing and consumerism as well as injecting social empathy to provide a base for students to become culturally conscience brand marketers.


Chris earned a BBA in Marketing from Texas A&M University and received a MSc in Marketing Communications from the University of London. 

PhD research description

The purpose of his research is to enhance understanding of the supporter stakeholder’s role in the nation branding process in a professional sporting context. The research will look at the football club supporter as an ambassador, the shaping of responses towards the football club and the owner’s state, and how the supporter responses support the nation’s branding activities and the soft power attributes.

States continue to utilize sport at the global and local level as branding tools to support the creation of soft power characteristics: attractiveness, uniqueness, progressiveness, and relevance (Dinnie, 2022; Kemp et al., 2012; Matos, 2006). One of the most popular nation branding sporting strategies includes club ownership (Chadwick et al., 2022; Braun et al., 2013; Black et al., 2004). The prevailing and most public sporting football strategies are situated in the Middle East, specifically Qatar’s ownership of PSG, the UAE (Abu Dhabi) acquisition of Manchester City Football Club, and most recently Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) purchase of Newcastle United (Chadwick et al., 2022; Brannagan & Giulianotti, 2015, 2018; Krzyzaniak, 2018; Haut et al., 2017).

The deployment and success of any nation branding sporting strategy depends on stakeholder involvement (Dinnie, 2008, 2022; Nobre & Sousa, 2022; Andersson & Ekman, 2009; Moilanen & Rainisto, 2009; Pretty et al., 1995). According to Andersson & Ekman (2009) ambassadors provide authenticity and credibility, narrating the brand’s differentiation through word-of-mouth in their relationship networks. Ambassadors provide the key to creating brand value, thus forming, and establishing brand equity, that delivering trust and credibility (Berry, 2000) on the global stage.

The research project will deliver both theoretically and practically, delivering applications for states, sports teams, brand marketers to build brand image theory, relationship and communication programs.

PhD supervisors

Jacky Mueller, and external supervisors Simon Chadwick and James Skinner.

Interests and activities

Chris is an avid Arsenal supporter going back to his youth in Saudi Arabia, his first kit was from a shop in Al-Khobar. You can learn more about Chris at LinkedIn or follow him on X and Threads.