Studying the Business of Football

In this blog – which first appeared on the PFA Education website - Nathaniel Chalobah talks about his experience.


How did you hear about the Online Certificate in Football Business Management with SBI_Barcelona and their partners VSI Executive Education?

I got in contact with Oshor Williams from the Education Department at the PFA. I mentioned to him that I wanted to get back into education and learn more about the business of football. He then recommended this programme to me for my further development.

Why did you decide to enrol in a programme focused on the business side of football?

It was an opportunity for me to better understand what goes on in the background of the industry I am involved in. As professional athletes we concentrate on doing our job which is to play football. For me personally, after I got injured it was the right moment to study a course that allowed me to learn the business behind football. I was very intrigued by all of it.

What have been your biggest takeaways from the programme?

We have learned so much over the past eight months. For me it was interesting to understand the business objectives of football organizations as I was then able to understand how the clubs I have been involved with such as Chelsea and Watford operate. Understanding the finance behind the industry was an eye-opener for me that I found particularly interesting.

I’ve picked up a lot on the digital marketing side of things, as well as understanding CRM, business analytics, marketing and performance.

What would you say to other professional football players considering enrolling in this programme?

I would encourage them to take it and more concretely to be prepared to learn about aspects that they would have never considered before. Although we are focused on doing our job on the pitch, the learnings benefit you as an individual regardless of what your plans are when you finish playing football. I also think it is beneficial for clubs to have players who become aware of the reasons behind some of the business decisions.

It is an eye-opener about the industry, so I think that is the advice I would pass on to them.

What are the advantages of studying this programme online?

It is very flexible, you don’t have to travel anywhere and you have easy access to the online campus. The live sessions are excellent because you can connect and listen from top industry experts regardless of your physical location.

All it takes is an hour of your time per week to connect to the live sessions. You could spend an hour watching a series or on your PlayStation so it was not strenuous with very easy access.

Tell us about the programme’s guest speakers and faculty...

It has been very interesting because they obviously are all very experienced in their field of expertise and are very keen to share their knowledge and industry insight with the cohort.

For example, we recently had the Head of Performance at Manchester City speak to our group and he shared some insight into how their academy operates and I was able to compare to my own experiences being at Chelsea and Watford.

All the speakers have shared valuable information to us and have been very helpful.

Would you recommend this programme?

Yes, definitely. Like I said before, as footballers we focus on playing the game and doing our job, however, this programme makes you a more complete professional as you understand more about the industry in which you work in.

I gave up a minimal amount of time during each week to study the programme but I got to learn something new every time. The course assignments also allowed me to learn about different aspects of football and gave me the opportunity to get to know my classmates better.

How do you think the programme will impact your future?

I have learned lots of new things since I started the course and I am certain they will help me moving forward. Not just in terms of awareness about the football industry but also it opens a lot of doors for me when it comes time to decide where I want to pay my attention after I finish playing football.

If I decide to work in football after my career is over I am now aware of what I need to know if I decide to go into marketing or sponsorship, media, player representation, etc.  I wouldn’t have known all of this if I hadn’t started the course. It is a true eye-opener for anyone looking to get into any area of the business of football.

The experience I have gained from this will benefit me even if what I decide to embark on is not related to football because the pathways are very similar, from a business perspective.

It has been a productive and rewarding experience.

The programme includes an optional two-day corporate event and graduation dinner in Barcelona. Will you be attending?

I would love to take part. Unfortunately, due to my professional commitments those days I am not certain I will be able to participate. But anything could change until then, as it would be great to attend in person in Barcelona.

For more information on the online business of football programme contact Diego Valdes:

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Nathaniel Chalobah

Watford FC star Nathaniel Chalobah wanted to get back into learning – and with the support of PFA Education, and a programme run by the Sports Business Institute of Barcelona, Nathaniel not only had a great experience – but learnt skills that will help his future career.