Since the 1990s football clubs have erected numerous statues to past and present heroes as memorial, promotion, and recognition of greatness in the world of sport. This is a relatively new phenomenon which Chris Stride believes is partly fulfilling a need that had previously been taken by the minute silent (which, Stride argues, is over-used making something else necessary for those truly special) and as a statement of brand and ownership. Stride notes that greater commercialisation has led to a certain blandness and sameness found across the country and erecting statues is one method to localise a place and bring identity back to its lost uniqueness.
Both Chris Stride and Ffion Thomas are working on the sporting statues project based at the University of Sheffield. As Thomas explains the project attempts to gather all information regarding sports statues together into one place to allow comparison and analysis which would otherwise be very difficult to achieve. They see the development of sport statues as a modern phenomenon, and one that speaks of our shared heritage and culture. They ask why we choose to erect them, which designs are chosen and why, and what reception these statues receive: are they read differently by different people? Do the statues provide multiple messages?