Football (or 'soccer') is now a multibillion-pound global industry, which means there are more football-related jobs than ever before. Students can now take degrees in sports management, coaching, and analysis, and more. Programs are taught by expert academics, but students can also intern at professional football clubs and governing bodies, where they learn everything there is know about the modern game, including coaching, media, marketing, law, and fan engagement.
So if you are looking to find a job in football, university might actually be the perfect place to kick off your career...
Love him or loathe him, Jose Mourinho, the self-anointed “special one”, is one of the most successful coaches of the modern era. But despite his trophy-laden coaching career, young Jose, by his own admission, was not the most technically gifted player in the world. Arrigo Sacchi and legendary Arsenal and Manchester United managers Arsène Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson are other examples of very successful managers who had modest playing careers. In fact, it is commonly argued by people in football that it can actually help managers if they had only moderate success as a player.
So even if you haven't got the touch to make as a professional footballer, you can still use your love of the game to reach the heights of sporting success. All it takes is commitment and hard work. After all, footballing fairytales are made on the training ground. Or, in the words of Mourinho: "Look, I'm a coach, I'm not Harry Potter. He is magical, but in reality there is no magic. Magic is fiction and football is real."
Jemma Entwistle and Wesley McGrath know all about hard work. The pair graduated from the UK’s University Campus of Football Business (UCFB) with MSc degrees in Football Coaching & Analysis and are now building successful coaching careers in the world of football.
Welsey is an advanced center coach at League One side MK Dons in England, where he helps develop the next generation of professional footballers. During her time at UCFB, Jemma completed several coaching placements to bolster her CV, working with Rochdale AFC, Bolton Wanderers, and Manchester United. She now works as a Female Development Officer at Manchester United Foundation. She said, "My favourite aspect to working in sport is that every day is different. The people that you meet, the players that you meet, and the impact you get to have on their journeys, for me it's really valuable to know that you can look back and think you had an impact on them."
While Messi and Ronaldo make football look like an art form, it's the scientific developments behind the scenes that helps make it all possible. Advances in nutrition and sports science mean players are faster, stronger, and more athletic than ever before. Moreover, players are more tactically aware than ever, and making the right decision at the right moment can be just as important as how fast you can sprint.
Big data and analytics are powerful tools in football. Top European clubs have made huge investments in technology that collate and analyze masses of match data. In many cases, data is run through computer simulation models, which helps coaches and players make better tactical decisions. This can be as simple as pinpointing the perfect spot to place a penalty.
Alternatively, computer models can analyze player performance down to the second. In the years leading up to the 2014 World Cup, the German coaching staff digitally tracked every player. The data measured key indicators like average possession time, number of touches, and movement speeds. During the tournament, German players had the ball in their possession for an average of 1.1 seconds, which was over 2 seconds less than when they played in the 2010 tournament. This allowed Germany to play the more aggressive, fast-paced style that led them to glory in football’s highest prize for the fourth time!
Whilst studying the MSc Football Coaching & Analysis at UCFB, Amy Lomas also worked as a performance analyst for Norwich City. Amy coded data from academy games for coaches to assess in their post-match reports. She saw first-hand how analytics develops young talent, and the experience has put her in a great position to kick-start a career in football. She said, "This was a huge opportunity for me to be able to put myself out there into the real world, knowing that this will help me head in the right direction for my dream career."
Staying financially secure is now a vital part of any club’s long-term survival. Balancing the books means clubs can recruit the best players, improve training facilities, and invest in players. Teams can fall the wrong side of the difficult balancing act between ‘ambition’ and ‘over-spending’. For example, Leeds United, who went from Premier League high-flyers and Champions League semi-finalists in the 2000/2001 season, to relegation to the Championship in 2004, to going into administration and relegation to League One in 2007.
Those in charge of business development attempt to make sure clubs make wise, strategic investments, for a club’s long-term goals. While making money is important for any club, making it in the right way is just as important. In other words, business development in football is a delicate balance between bringing in new streams of revenue and keeping the fans on side.
Mihir Pandya is currently studying for an MSc International Sport Management online with UCFB. Studying online means Mihir can combine his studies with his roles as a Response Management Consultant for Major League Soccer (MLS), where he keeps executive staff up-to-date with the latest developments both on and off the pitch. Mihir's work is a crucial bridge between football’s top brass and the everyday supporter, ensuring that fans continue to feel a part of their beloved club’s success both on and off the pitch.
“I chose to study the degree online because it gives me the chance to continue working at my current job in the United States,” he says. “It also gives me the opportunity to be mentored by the UCFB program leaders and network with sports professionals around the world.”
“The ability to use UCFB’s network is great for any professional as so many of the staff members and alumni are interconnected to the sporting industry all around the world,” he adds. “I currently have some football industry experience but I believe that UCFB and this online degree can take me to the next level. I hope to one day soon work alongside some of the industry legends that I look up to.”
Where to kick-off your career in football
With a worldwide network of campuses and ground-breaking study programs, University Campus of Football Business (UCFB) is the perfect place to kick off your career in football. Students can study at its campus inside and around the iconic Wembley Stadium in London or enroll at the Etihad Campus, a state-of-the-art facility in Manchester, a famous footballing city with a lively student culture, which has the huge Etihad Stadium at its heart.
Alternatively, UCFB offers a range of online courses, meaning you can balance your studies with work or family responsibilities. But wherever you study, you'll get the chance to visit UCFB's global study hubs in the US, Canada, and Australia, where you can learn from some of the biggest names in the sporting industry.
UCFB's innovative degrees are designed to give students all the skills they need to succeed in every area of the football industry. Its programs, both undergraduate and postgraduate, range from coaching and development and sports psychology to more commercially-focused degrees such as international football business. Students can also study multimedia journalism, event management, or marketing. UCFB's unique three-fold learning model means students will also get plenty of practical experience to complement your studies.
After graduating, its alumni are in a prime position to start their careers. Over 90% of UCFB graduates are in employment within six months of graduating, with almost two-thirds working within the global sports industry.
Article written in association with UCFB.