Following a career that had revolved around scouting, recruiting and coaching young players, when Lee Dykes was appointed as Sporting Director in 2018 at the now-defunct Bury FC he knew he needed extra support to fulfil the role of such a demanding job.

It’s then that he found the MSc in Sports Directorship at VSI.

“I felt as though I needed some support in what was going to be a challenging role at a football club that needed help, quick,” he says. “Never could I have envisaged the 12 months that lay ahead of me, but what the programme and VSI gave me was the opportunity the speak about the challenges I was facing in the role day-to-day.”

Lee added: “That’s what I wanted from the outset – to be among like-minded people in a non-pressurised environment, to help me grow as an individual and obviously do better in my role.”

In his 12 months at the club, Lee saw Bury prompted to League One before then being expelled from the EFL after numerous financial troubles. This was when Lee went south and took up the role of head of recruitment at Championship side Brentford, who narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs last season.

Still a delegate at VSI going through the programme, Lee outlined the benefits of the programme to his career. He said: “What the programme allows you to do is understand how certain structures should be, and it allows you to formulate and design your own methodology around that – where you see that structure and where you see those processes to effectively run a football club and to do it in ways that are befitting to the environment and football club that you’re at.”

Lee added: “Obviously every football club is different and every structure will be different in some way, but there was nothing out there pre-this programme that said ‘maybe this is the right way’. The programme allows you to look at good practice, and what it allowed me to do was substantiate in my own mind where I felt the direction was that I wanted to take then, Bury FC, and in the future at other clubs.”