Becky Easton

Sporting Director MSD draws sports stars and business leaders back to university

First year students at Manchester Metropolitan University might be surprised to see some of their sporting heroes including Vikram Solanki, Gary Bowyer, Kevin Davies and Scott Sellars in the lecture theatres of the university as they study to be among the most qualified sporting directors in the world.

Twenty seven former sports pros and sports business leaders will be among the ‘freshers’ at MMU this year, including former Everton and Scotland footballer David Weir, as the world’s leading MBA-level course for sporting directors welcomes its fourth year of high-profile students.

Among the 23 graduates who received their Masters of Sport Directorship (MSD) qualifications in July - the first globally - were Huddersfield Town’s head of football operations David Moss, Leicester City assistant manager Michael Appleton, former England cricketer Ashley Giles and Aston Villa director of football Steve Round.

Course director Dr Sara Ward of Manchester Metropolitan University Business School said: “Professionalising the industry of sport, from the highly lucrative Premier League, through the many burgeoning Olympic sports and all the way to grass roots non-profit organisations has become a huge priority and this course addresses the needs of this new wave of sporting professionals. It is also great to see a further six female students on the course this year, upskilling themselves and preparing for leadership roles in an industry that has historically be overwhelmingly dominated by men.”

Delivered by MMU, the two-year, part-time course is designed to deliver a rigorous commercial preparation for the demanding role of sporting director across a range of sports, bringing new skillsets to former sportspeople and raising the professional standards to the existing management within a variety of sports.

The MSD course has attracted a number of professionals from grass roots sporting organisations and national governing bodies, and there are six female students starting the course this year. Students and graduates of the course have come from as far afield as South Africa, the USA, Dubai, New Zealand and Germany.

“Many of our students are transitioning between at the very highest levels of sport ‘into off the field’ and backroom roles, but we also have students who are lawyers, agents, managers and journalists connected with sports globally, and that’s what makes the qualification, as well as the cohorts, so unique,” added Dr Ward.

In addition to sessions delivered by MMU lecturers and professors, the MSD students gain insight on the course from leading experts in topics including strategic sports leadership, personal development, masterminding innovation and change, sports governance and best practice. As with a traditional MBA course, the taught elements are supplemented by personal study and dissertation.

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