A particularly great element of the FIFA Master course is the quantity and quality of field trips that CIES and the various Universities organise. Today we returned from a visit to the Reebok Stadium, home of Bolton Wanderers. We stayed in the hotel which is fully integrated within the stadium itself. From there we also travelled to Manchester United, Manchester City and the Professional Footballer's Association. Here's a snapshot of each visit:
PFA: Unfortunately Chief Executive Gordon Taylor was caught up in the 'Tevez Affair' and therefore wasn't available to address the class. Instead we listened to George Berry, former Wolverhampton Wanderers player and professional footballer for 22 years. Had a number of interesting stories to tell and gave us all an idea of how the PFA operates and how it assists players in developing their careers.
Bolton Wanderers: Have had moderate levels of success during the 20th Century including a very successful decade in the 1950's. Have struggled to compete as well as the 'big' clubs over the past 50 years due to less available finances but have been in the Premier League for 11 consecutive seasons now. Main goal is to continue in the top flight of English football. Are also innovative in the way they attract new revenue streams by hosting a number of concerts at the ground and facilitating a huge number of functions throughout the Hotel itself.
Manchester United: Have a very strong attitude of 'we win the most trophies and therefore are the best club'. They believe people will follow them because they win. Their philosophy is they don't need to change anything too drastic as their continued formula for success is working and they are the benchmark in world football.
Manchester City: Not only myself but the entire class was very impressed with this club. Yes we realise they now have huge pools of money and resources to draw upon but you still need to know how to use that money wisely. Manchester City have done this very well. From the quality of their presentations, attitude towards their fans and interaction with commercial partners to their overall business model are all very refreshing. It may sound simple but from the minute we walked in we knew they cared about us. Friendly, approachable, confident in their future ambitions without being arrogant. Providing everyone in the class with a £10 gift voucher to use in the merchandise shop was the icing on the cake to a fantastic afternoon's experience. Compare this to Manchester United who made us wait on several occasions during the tour, made very dull and predictable presentations, had the most sour and disinterested tour guide who couldn't crack a smile and wanted us out of the stadium as quickly as possible (have never heard someone use one word answers as often as he did). To cap it all off the coffee was cold. Manchester City couldn't have been more different and professional. Maybe the 6-1 result over the weekend had something to do with it but one result shouldn't affect your ability to host. It wasn't hard to pick which club you would rather support or possibly want to work for in the future.