Football Industries MBA, 2007
Before starting the Football Industries MBA, I completed an BA Honours degree in Sports Science and Business management at Loughborough University. I also did a 4-week work placement with British Airways and Charlton Athletic Community Trust in South Africa – working on a sports development project in the township of Alexander.
Why did you choose the Football and Management MBA?
When completing my dissertation in Loughborough — which looked into the reasons why FIFA give development aid to Africa — I came across the programme. At this time I was also a semi-professional female footballer for Arsenal Ladies, but wanted a career in the commercial management of the industry, as I believed it offered greater job prospects.
How did you fit MBA study into your life?
It enabled me to study and continue my playing career full-time with Liverpool Ladies FC in the national women's premier league.
I was also a full welsh international – and the combination of the two gave me great discipline to achieve key goals
Did you undertake a work based project?
I did a work based project with a sport tours company, within the role of international commercial manager. Whilst there I introduced new ways to generate revenue which included implementing a football in the community programme. I was also responsible for attracting potential sponsors and completion of major sponsorship contracts for the group, writing and implementing business/marketing plans for all the countries CAST operate within, negotiating and signing agreements with FC Barcelona, AJAX Cape Town, Roma, Espanyol, Manchester City, Juventus and AC Milan along with many other responsibilities.
Which aspects of the MBA course do you think will be most beneficial to your career development?
All aspects, as I gained an understanding of both the business and football industry. The most beneficial without doubt was the completion of my dissertation titled: The viability of a commercial department for a football club or national governing body. This gave me the idea to set up a social enterprise.
Can you describe your current role?
In December 2009 I founded Vi-Ability, a national award winning social enterprise, whose vision is:
“For every community to have a thriving and financially stable sports club at its heart, providing opportunities for people to develop employability & life skills to broaden their horizons”
During my MBA I identified two existing problems. Firstly, there were high levels of young people not in education, training and employment. Secondly, the rising number of clubs at risk of, or threatened with administration.
The solution I came up with was to help a team of specialist individuals, develop a 15-20 week work based training programme that will introduce young people to the commercial management of a football club. Teaching them how to design, plan and run activities that will help raise money for the club and involve the local community.
Vi-Ability work with football clubs in 12 local authority areas of Wales, and in regions across the north west of England. We also have programmes operational in Spain: Germany: Sweden: Holland, France and Italy: and are currently expanding into other sports such as hockey: tennis: swimming: and cricket.
Our turnover has tripled, in the first year we posted an income of £83,361 (£15,972) second year £306,926 (£40,747) and third year £385,098 (£7,248). With projections for year end 31 December 2013 nudging towards £500k so overall representing a steady increase with a grant dependency of around 25%.