This year, UCFB & GIS has introduced a new award to its annual Graduation ceremonies to recognise individuals who have contributed to the world of sport and education and/or have supported the development and growth of UCFB & GIS. In conferring the honour, we connect with outstanding interesting people, who act as role models for our students, ambassadors for the institution and provide inspiration to those who are graduating.

The following people have been recognised by UCFB & GIS for their outstanding contribution to the work and development of UCFB & GIS or have achieved exceptional distinction in a field or activity relevant to the work of UCFB & GIS.

Sean Dyche is an English professional football manager and former player who most recently managed Burnley in the Premier League. Dyche made his professional debut in 1990 and famously scored in an FA Cup semi-final for Chesterfield. He retired in 2007 after a near 20-year playing career and moved into coaching. His first managerial role came at Watford between June 2011 and July 2012.

After leaving the Hornets, Dyche agreed to manage Burnley in October 2012. During his time in Lancashire, Dyche guided the club to two promotions to the Premier League in three seasons, and spearheaded Burnley’s first qualification for European football for over 50 years.

Sean has championed UCFB since he joined Burnley as Manager in October 2012, and he is currently an active member of the GIS Advisory Board. Over the course of 11 years he has often supported UCFB with guest talks to our students and he has participated as himself in the UCFB TV advertisement aired in 2017.  Sean has also supported UCFB with the Sean Dyche Family Scholarship, which is currently in its third year and supports two students (UCFB and GIS). 

Rachel Brown-Finnis is a Broadcaster, public speaker and ex England goalkeeper with over 80 international caps for the Lionesses. Rachel has played for Liverpool, Everton and the England women’s national football team as well as five years playing varsity soccer.  She was England’s first choice goalkeeper at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and UEFA Women’s Euro 2009 and was selected for the Great Britain squad for the 2012 London Olympics. Rachel is currently employed by Everton FC's Community Project.

Rachel has made great contribution to the work and development of UCFB and GIS, being one of UCFB’s first staff members and a crucial part of student support and employability in its first years. Her work in her field is of national significance and Rachel continues to guest lecture at UCFB events. She is also a Women in Sports mentor, allowing opportunities for UCFB and GIS students and graduates.


Jason Roberts is the Director of Development at Concacaf and a Grenadian professional football player. He was awarded an MBE in the 2010 New Year Honours list for services to sport in Grenada and the United Kingdom. Jason was named Concacaf Director of Development in November 2017, and his role is focused on managing and strengthening the Confederation’s core development programmes including grassroots, coaching education, and professional football development initiatives.

The former Blackburn Rovers and Reading forward established the Jason Roberts Foundation (JRF) in 2007, which provides young people opportunities to learn and build confidence through sport in both the UK and the Caribbean. Jason is a founding member of the Sports People’s Think Tank and the PFA’s Sport On-Board Corporate Governance Programme. He is also a current member of FIFA’s Players Status Committee and FIFA’s Legend programme.

Jason is a Member of our GIS Advisory Board, being instrumental in the expansion into North America and the Caribbean. He generously donates his time and support offering his services as a guest speaker for talks in Wembley and Miami. He also ensured visits to UCFB took place to show the benefits of higher education, with many of our students benefitting from the Jason Roberts Foundation Scholarships.

Gary Mellor is a member of our GIS Advisory board and the founder of Beswicks Sports. Gary has an extensive knowledge of the sports, media, and entertainment landscape and has also provided commercial and practical advice to these industries. He advises the football and cricket worlds and has close links in athletics, snooker, golf, and tournament organisations, including arranging international players for high profile events.

Gary has been involved in numerous contractual negotiations at all levels. He has advised numerous Premier League, English Football League, Major League Soccer and United Soccer League clubs on structure, culture, recruitment, commercial and sponsorship. He is also the founder of both Orlando City Soccer Club and Austin Aztex.

Gary has made a significant contribution to the work and development of UCFB and GIS, being an active member of the GIS Advisory Board and helping the global expansion into North America. He has also been a guest lecturer on Sports Law Master’s classes for many years and provided internships and jobs for UCFB graduates at Beswicks Sports.


Mike Phelan is an English Professional Football Coach and Manager. Mike is a highly respected figure in football circles and is best known for his vastly successful time under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. As a player he spent most of his 16-year professional career at Burnley, Norwich City and Manchester United, earning an England call-up in 1989.

Immediately moving into football management upon retirement, Mike took up a role at Manchester United’s Centre of Excellence in the summer of 2001 and was promoted to First Team Coach. Appointed Assistant Manager of Manchester United in 2008, Mike enjoyed five seasons of trophy-laden success until Ferguson’s retirement in 2013. He returned to the club in 2018 to assist Ole Gunnar Solskjær, following time spent as Manager at Hull City.

Mike brings to UCFB a wealth of experience to help create a dynamic learning environment for our students, building their knowledge of the industry, career prospects and providing invaluable insight from a coaching perspective.

For more photos from our Class of 2022 Etihad Campus graduation ceremony, click here.